Thursday, April 4, 2013

Twins No Hitters Broken Up in the Ninth

The Rangers sure like to get within one out of accomplishing something big. A couple of years ago, Texas was an out away in more than one game from the club's first World Series title. On Tuesday night, Yu Darvish did his best to fit in with the Rangers by getting within one out of a perfect game. He too would fall short of making history.

Since the Twins moved to Minnesota in 1961, there have five times when a Twins pitcher has taken a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Many fans might remember Scott Baker's almost perfect game back in 2007. There have been other men to get close only to fall short for the club.

Here is a look back at the five Twins pitchers that made it within three outs of throwing a no-hitter.

September 27, 1961: Minnesota vs Cleveland
Pitcher: Al Schroll (9 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 4 SO)
Out of Minnesota's last seven games in their inaugural season, this was the lone win for the Twins. It was definitely a strange no hitter as Indians put four runs on the board. All of the runs for Cleveland came in the final frame. Schroll's control had been all over the place and this was evident in the ninth. He gave up a single to lose the no-hitter and a couple walks followed this. Terry Francona was the next batter and he knocked a triple to clear the bases. Schroll calmed down enough to get the next three outs and Minnesota was victorious 10-4.

June 26, 1964: Minnesota vs. Chicago (1st Game of Double Header)
Pitcher: Gerry Arrigo (9 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 SO)
In a game that barely lasted two hours, Arrigo only allowed one hit and it was to the leadoff man in the top of the ninth. One man reached second base for the White Sox and this was only after Arrigo hit two batters in an inning. All of the offense for the Twins would come off the bat of Harmon Killebrew. Following a Tony Oliva double, Killebrew smashed a go-ahead ahead home run to seal the Twins 2-0 victory.

June 1, 1968: Minnesota at Chicago
Pitcher: Dean Chance (8.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 8 SO)
Chance got no support from his teammates as he took a no-hitter into the ninth and still ended up with the loss. Minnesota left nine runners on base and the team was 0-2 with runners in scoring position. When Chance headed to the mound for the ninth, he still had to feel pretty good about his chances. He was able to get the first out of the frame before back-to-back singles had the Sox sitting pretty. Chance coaxed a groundout to get the runner at second and this left runners on the corners with two outs. Dick Kenworthy would win the game with a single and the Twins fell 1-0.

August 7, 1976: Minnesota at Texas
Pitcher: Steve Luebber (8.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 SO)
The Twins took an early 1-0 lead in this game and it looked like that was all Luebber would need on the mound. He was perfect through six innings before a couple of walks in the seventh. When he came out for the ninth inning, the Twins were up 3-0 and the frame got off to a good start. He got a groundout and a flyball to record the first two outs. The next two men would reach on singles and a throwing error by the outfielder didn't help matters. Minnesota would turn to Bill Campbell for the final out and he struck out Jeff Burroughs to end the game.

August 31, 2007: Minnesota vs. Kansas City (2nd Game of Double Header)
Pitcher: Scott Baker (9 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 SO)
This game happened six seasons ago but it is probably still fresh in the minds of Twins fans. Baker had been untouchable for eight innings and he looked to be on the way to the first perfect game in franchise history. The Twins put together a long bottom of the eighth inning by piecing together three hits and scoring a couple of insurance runs. This might have let the pressure mount for Baker. He walked John Buck, the first batter of the ninth, to end the perfect game. After a groundout, Mike Sweeney pinch-hit and knocked a single to center field. It was the only hit of the game and Baker was that close to being perfect.

1 comment:

Mariam said...

Here’s a footnote to that 1976 Steve Luebber game: I’ve always been a long distance fan, growing up in New Jersey and now living in NYC. I remember hearing the final score of that game, with no details at all (that was normal in the pre-cable, pre-Internet days; I had to wait to see the box score to learn anything more about my Twins). I got a little curious and tried to pick up WCCO for a game report; I was able to do this on some, and only some, nights after 11 P.M. I was startled to get the station and hear Herb Carneal broadcasting a game. How could this be? It wasn’t a double header. I finally realized that the game was being broadcast on delay because something—Gophers?, Vikings pre-season?—had taken priority.

I listened for a few minutes and heard Luebber walk his old teammate Danny Thompson in the 7th inning. I could hear the Texas fans cheering and thought, “They are cheering a walk??” It was then that I learned that Danny was Texas’s first baserunner. Well, I knew this would not be a no-hitter, because, in real time the game was already over, and surely I would have heard if Luebber had succeeded in pitching a no-no. But, out of respect for his effort, I thought I’d listen until the hit came. And then it didn’t and didn’t and didn’t until two out in the ninth. Meanwhile the hitter (Tom Grieve, I believe) kept fouling off pitches and the tension was unbearable, except that I knew he would indeed get a hit, or the next batter would. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. Weird as anything.