Red Sox add to storied no-hitter history
Lester's gem is fourth this decade, 18th overall for franchise
The list of great Red Sox pitchers includes the names of countless baseball legends. From Cy Young and Smoky Joe Wood to Dutch Leonard and Mel Parnell, Red Sox aces have amassed a total of 18 no-hitters, most among American League teams.
Missing from those records: Roger Clemens. Pedro Martinez. Curt Schilling. The list of recent efforts is populated by men who came and were gone, whose performances continued to ripple through history while their names faded away.
When Jon Lester threw the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history Monday night at Fenway Park, it occurred just 8 1/2 months after rookie Clay Buchholz also threw one in his second career start. Limited to a pitch count of 120, Buchholz needed just 115 pitches to no-hit the Baltimore Orioles. Previously, only Bobo Holloman (1953) and Wilson Alvarez (1991) had thrown no-hitters in their first or second Major League starts.
"It's what you dream about growing up," Buchholz said.
A year before Buchholz was the Red Sox's previous no-hitter, which in fact wasn't a no-hitter at all.
Barely a year had passed since Devern Hansack was fishing lobsters off the coast of his native Nicaragua. It was the final day of the 2006 season when Hansack, making his second start in Boston, twirled five hitless, rain-soaked innings against the Orioles.
But Hansack's effort didn't count. In 1991, the MLB Committee for Statistical Accuracy ruled that "An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings."
"I wasn't disappointed," Hansack said after that game, "because nobody can stop the rain."
In 1992, Red Sox free-agent bust Matt Young wasn't denied his bid by a force of nature. He threw eight hitless innings against the Cleveland Indians, but because the Indians managed to score two runs against Boston -- and because they took a lead through the top of the ninth -- they didn't need to bat in the bottom of the inning for the win.
Although Young's effort was a complete game, it didn't last nine innings. It didn't count.
Just as interesting as the almost-no-nos, which include broken-up efforts like rookie Billy Rohr's 1967 one-hitter against the Yankees, are the efforts that, like Buchholz's, came to fruition.
Derek Lowe threw his on April 27, 2002. Boston fans knew and still know his name, largely for winning the deciding games in each of the Red Sox's 2004 postseason series.
But they could hardly have anticipated the day when Lowe allowed just one walk in nine innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. He was just three weeks into his first full season as a starting pitcher, after struggling in relief in 2001.
Some will remember Hideo Nomo's unlikely no-hitter in 2001. The rest might have trouble recalling that Nomo, not Daisuke Matsuzaka, was the Red Sox's first Japanese starter.
Nomo spent a single season in Boston, and it was in his first start, on April 4, 2001, that he struck out 11 Orioles while allowing just three walks over nine innings. It was a performance that put to rest, if only for a day, a whirlwind of management trauma in Boston.
Red Sox no-hitters
|Jon Lester became the 18th pitcher in Red Sox history -- and just the fifth left-hander -- to throw a no-hitter on Monday vs. the Royals. It was also the first complete game of his career.|
|May 19, 2008||Jon Lester||Kansas City|
|Sept. 1, 2007||Clay Buchholz||Baltimore|
|April 27, 2002||Derek Lowe||Tampa Bay|
|April 4, 2001||Hideo Nomo||Baltimore|
|Sept. 16, 1965||Dave Morehead||Cleveland|
|Aug. 1, 1962||Bill Monbouquette||Chicago|
|June 26, 1962||Earl Wilson||Los Angeles|
|July 14, 1956||Mel Parnell||Chicago|
|Sept. 7, 1923||Howard Ehmke||Philadelphia|
|June 3, 1918||Dutch Leonard||Detroit|
|June 23, 1917||Ernie Shore||Washington|
|Aug. 30, 1916||Dutch Leonard||St. Louis|
|June 21, 1916||George Foster||New York|
|July 29, 1911||Smokey Joe Wood||St. Louis|
|June 30, 1908||Cy Young||New York|
|Sept. 27, 1905||William Dinneen||Chicago|
|Aug. 17, 1904||Jesse Tannehill||Chicago|
|May 5, 1904||Cy Young||Philadelphia|
"You could see on his face that he was very focused -- nothing bothered him," said pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, who took over as manager when Jimy Williams was dismissed later that year. "It's one of those situations where a bomb could have gone off on the side of the mound and he'd still be looking in for the sign."
Nomo's no-no in Baltimore was the second of his career, after he threw the first -- and only -- no-hitter in the history of Colorado's Coors Field as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He remains one of four pitchers to throw no-hitters in each league.
That came 31 years after the franchise's previous no-hitter, when 22-year-old ace Dave Morehead shut down Cleveland on Sept. 16, 1965, in an otherwise forgettable year for the Red Sox. In that game, Morehead beat the Indians' Luis Tiant before an announced crowd of 1,247, but the bigger news that day was that owner Tom Yawkey had fired GM Pinky Higgins.
Bill Monbouquette, a native of Medford, Mass., tossed a no-hitter against the White Sox on Aug. 1, 1962, barely a month after Earl Wilson's June 26 no-hitter. Wilson, who joined the Red Sox in 1959 as the first black pitcher in franchise history, backed up his effort with a third-inning home run.
Parnell's 1956 performance, against the White Sox after a one-hour rain delay at Fenway Park, was Boston's first in 33 years. It also marked the last hurrah in the last year of Parnell's illustrious -- and injury-shortened -- career.
The rest include a pair of no-hitters each by Cy Young and Leonard, but none is as legendary as the no-hitter tossed by Ernie Shore in 1917. Shore, who shared the rotation and was traded to the Yankees with Babe Ruth, cleaned up for Ruth on one summer day in 1917.
Ruth was tossed from a game against the Washington Senators after walking the leadoff hitter, Ray Morgan, and punching the umpire, Brick Owens, squarely in the jaw. In came Shore from the bullpen, and out went Morgan on Shore's second pitch. He was caught stealing.
Shore retired the next 26 batters in order, an accomplishment that was called a perfect game until the 1991 rule changes deemed it a "combined no-hitter."
"In a perfect game," the rules state, "no batter reaches any base during the course of the game" -- a stipulation that counted Morgan's appearance on first, and Ruth's appearance on the mound, against Shore's effort.
The memory lives on. As Red Sox fans well know, no-hitters are invincible against procedure as well as precedent.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.