Still riding the no-hitter fever from Friday night (and trying to ignore last night’s performance), there was a lot of discussion on MLB Radio yesterday about a one-pitcher no-hitter versus a combined staff no-hitter.
The way I see it, the only no-hitter that’s legitimate is the one-pitcher no-hitter.
A combined no-hitter is just well-pitched game. Same as three relievers combining to shut out a team. Nice job, but not worthy of extra fanfare. And none of the pitchers in that scenario gets credit for a shutout. Because they don’t deserve it.
Imagine a combined winner of the Boston Marathon. The first runner needed help to finish.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a combined team shot the lowest score ever at the Masters, with the first golfer playing twelve holes and the guy who took over for him the last six?
No. That would be a joke.
Just like combined no-hitters.
But there is one of those oddities that’s actually worth remembering and talking about. The very first combined no-hitter in baseball history happened by accident in 1917. This was before major league managers got too scared to let pitchers pitch. And the starter of that game was one of the most famous baseball players of all time.
In 1917, Ruth was a Hall-of-Fame caliber pitcher with the Red Sox. In the first inning of a game in late June, he walked the first batter of the game but didn’t agree with the umpire’s call on ball four.
So he argued with the umpire. So much so, that he was ejected from the game.
After one batter.
The Red Sox had to scramble to get another pitcher ready. They grabbed the guy who was supposed to start the next day, Ernie Shore.
Shore entered the game with a runner at first, which he immediately picked off. Then he retired the next two hitters in the first.
And all three hitters in the second. And third. And fourth. And fifth. And sixth. And seventh. And eighth. And ninth.
He actually pitched better than a perfect game. He got twenty-seven outs while facing only twenty-six batters.
It was a called no-hitter. And in some ways, that’s the only legitimate multi-pitcher no-hitter ever. Because it was out of necessity and not misguided analytics.
Either way, that debate felt a lot more interesting to talk about than the Rangers loss last night.