Dice-K came four outs away from throwing a no-hitter against the Phillies even though the hitters smoked about a half-dozen balls right at the defense. Finally, it was the No. 8-hole hitter Juan Castro who broke up the no-no with a soft, broken-bat single over shortstop.
Close but not quite there.
Having seen just one no-hitter and a couple of close ones, it would have been kind of cool to see Dice-K close it out on Saturday night even though it would have meant a bunch more work. Considering that Kevin Millwood’s masterpiece in 2003 was the only one I’ve seen—at any level—sure, pile it on.
So what were the close ones?
· May 30, 1982 — The Blue Jays’ Jim Gott, in the fourth start of his career to get his first win, went six innings against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium before turning it over to Roy Lee Jackson to close it out. The only hit was a one-out single in the fifth by catcher Rick Dempsey, so the game was hardly dramatic. However, the game was historical because it was the very first game in Cal Ripken’s epic consecutive games streak.
· Oct. 6, 1991 — Dave Hollins ended the no-hitter in the second inning with a double, but with six players in their first or second big-league season, plus the strikeout prone Dale Murphy all in the lineup, David Cone had one of those days. Cone got 19 strikeouts against the Phillies and had a chance to tie the all-time record against Wes Chamberlain and Murphy. Oddly, Cone didn't get that 20th strikeout, but he got Ks on the first six outs, struck out the side four times and didn't get a single strikeout in the seventh inning. Still, Cone had a chance to get 20 Ksin his 141-pitch three-hit shutout.
· Sept. 26, 2001 — Randy Wolf shuts down the Reds at the Vet on Larry Bowa bobblehead night. This was back in the days when people would show up to collect their dolly and then turn around and walk out because they were cynical about the local ballclub. Nevertheless, this one was less dramatic than the Gott/Jackson combo piece since the only hit Wolf allowed was to second hitter of the game. Interestingly, the hit turned out to be the first one in the career of Raul Gonzalez.
· May 10, 2002 — What did you think of Padilla this day? Well, he was pretty good. In fact, the enigmatic right-hander came four outs away from throwing a no-hitter against the defending World Champion Diamondbacks at the Vet. The first hit was a ground-rule double by pinch hitter Chris Donnels that bounced just inside the chalk line in left field and bounced into that area that jutted out in foul territory. Padilla was thisclose from getting it, but the two-hitter might be the best game of his wobbly career.
· April 27, 2003 — Kevin Millwood got it done. The part everyone forgets about this one is that the Giants’ rookie Jesse Foppert tossed a three-hitter in just his second career start. Fortunately for the Phillies one of those hits was a leadoff homer from Ricky Ledee. Otherwise, Millwood might have had to go more than nine innings to get the no-hitter.
· May 14, 2003 — This was just a two-hitter for Curt Schilling in his last start ever at the Vet, but it was easily the most dominating pitching performance of any game on this list. David Bell legged out a flared double in the third inning and Bobby Abreu looped a single in the fifth, but no Phillie made solid contact. Mixed in with those two hits were 14 strikeouts from Schilling, which wasn’t as incredible as the fact that he threw 45 pitches that were completely missed by the Phillies hitters. Not a no-hitter, but it could have been.
· July 25, 2004 — That chatty Eric Milton came the closest of anyone to getting a no-hitter at Citizens Bank Park when the lefty took one into the ninth inning only to lose it when Michael Barrett got a pop up double when center fielder Doug Glanville got a bad read and jump on the ball. The weird part was that manager Larry Bowa put Glanville in for defense in the ninth to replace Ricky Ledee, who happened to make two really good plays in center field during Kevin Millwood’s no-hitter as well as in David Cone’s perfect game in 1999. Nevertheless, Glanville went on to misjudge another fly ball in deep center that led to two runs for the Cubs. As a result, Milton didn’t get out of the ninth, missed out on the win, the shutout and the no-no. Rough day for Glanville.
· April 2, 2008 — How about this… the year the Phillies won the World Series, they lost the first two games of the season to the lowly Washington Nationals. The Nats won just 59 games in 2008, which means after the first series of the year they went 57-101. One of those wins was a combined one-hitter from Tim Redding, Luis Ayala and Jon Rauch in which the Phillies whiffed only twice and scratched out just a second-inning single by Pedro Feliz. Worse, Cole Hamels allowed just one run in eight innings on a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.
So aside from Kevin Millwood and the time I took a no-hitter into the final inning of a fifth grade little league game for the Lancaster Township Phillies against the LT Giants (10 Ks and a run before the first hit), there really haven’t been too many near misses. Perhaps that’s why people tend to go a little crazy over no-hitters or why guys like Charlie Manuel don’t want to see them against his team.
According to Manuel, he has never managed a team that has been the victim of a no-hitter. Moreover, Chuck says the only time he was on the losing end of a no-hitter was in the minor leagues against the Cocoa Astros’ ace, Don Wilson.
Now Charlie says the no-hitter against his Orlando Twins of the Single-A Florida State League was in 1964, but considering the fact that Wilson only had two starts and one win in ’64, it’s more likely that Wilson’s no-hitter against Manuel and his teammates was in 1965.
Aside from the minor detail of the year, Charlie remembers the more important details.
“We had two people in the stands — a scout and a lady that was selling hot dogs. Seriously,” Charlie said.
No sense selling hotdogs when the only person in the stands is a scout, right?
“She started giving them away,” he said, noting that he probably took one considering he didn’t get much in meal money in those days.
“I might have, but I didn’t have any meal money back in those days,” Charlie said. “Maybe a buck and a half.”
Charlie likes to tell the story about the time he broke up a no-hitter from Catfish Hunter if it can be called that. No, his story isn’t completely inaccurate, but it wasn’t the most dramatic setting in baseball history, either. Manuel got Catfish with a leadoff single in the fifth during a game in Oakland on April 16, 1972 to start a two-run rally in a Twins’ 3-2 victory over Catfish’s A’s.
But, technically, yes, Chuck broke up the no-hitter. However, he might have been the only one to notice what was happening.