Looking at May No-Hitters

Mat's Monthly Review of No-Hitters: May Edition

MLB, without proper input from physics apparently, has provided nastier pitches that deaden the ball after it leaves the bat. May included four additional no-hitters for the year, bring the season total to six. 2021 is well on the way to breaking the record of eight no-hitters in a season, set in 1884. The most recent past gave us seven no-hitters in 1990, 1991, 2012, and 2015. Forecasting no-hitters is tricky but even a glance at numbers makes 5-10 more no-hitters certainly feasible.

MLB’s short-sightedness in changing the no-hitter requirement from nine innings while changing doubleheaders to two seven-inning contests will help keep the no-hitter count down. On April 25th, Madison Bumgarner threw a seven-inning complete-game shutout where Atlanta failed to get a hit. In the other game of the doubleheader, Atlanta only managed one hit. One hit in a doubleheader was also a record, barely. In 1992, Boston starter Matt Young give up no hits but enough walks and errors and lost 4-0 at Cleveland. With the home team winning in the ninth, Young only completed 8 innings. In the nightcap, Roger Clemens pitched a two-hitter, giving Cleveland two hits for the doubleheader. A disputed a no-hitter and a strong batting team that just couldn’t hit 19 years apart. It is funny how baseball repeats itself.


Four for May


John Means struck out 12 in his no-hitter on May 5th. The only blemish on his was a dropped third strike in the third inning allowing Sam Haggerty to reach base. Haggerty was throw out at second on a steal attempting, making this the first non-perfect no-hitter where the losing team did not record a walk, hit by pitch, or error.

Reds’ pitcher Wade Miley, in a battle of Ohio, no-hit Cleveland on May 7, the second time this season Cleveland was on the wrong end of a no-no.

Spencer Turnbull no-hit Seattle in a 5-0 Tigers victory on May 18. Followed by Corey Kluber, who found his old form and stuck out 9, walking one, and leading the Yankees over Texas 2-0 for a May 19 no-hitter.


100, 200, and 300


May has some interesting games among its 54 no-hitters.

The 100th no-hitter in baseball history was on May 8, 1929. On that day, the 13th game of the New York Giants season, Carl Hubbell no-hit the Pirates 11-0. The lefty screwballer gave up four walks, struck on one, and survived three errors. He also knocked in a run with a sacrifice.

The 200th no-hitter was authored by Dennis Eckersley on May 30, 1977. Pitching for Cleveland, Eck topped Frank Tanana 1-0. He struck out 12 Angels and a walk; Tony Solaita was the only blemish that kept the Cleveland fans from seeing a perfect game. Tanana didn’t do bad either, pitching a complete-game five-hitter, giving up one earned run, striking out six, and walking one.

By May 7, 2019, Mike Fiers notched the 300th no-hitter. Walking two and striking out six, Fiers threw 131 pitches leading the A’s over the Reds 2-0. Fiers has two complete games for his career, both are no-hitters.


Perfection in May


May has provided us with 24 perfect games. In his 636th career game, Cy Young was perfect on May 5, 1904. He struck out eight Philly Athletics as the Boston Americans won 3-0.

Catfish Hunter with the Oakland A’s was perfect against the Twins on May 8, 1968.

May 15, 1981, was a cold and windy Friday in Cleveland. My father had a bonus in his paycheck and wanted to spend the money on baseball. My mother, not a fan of being in a ballpark right on the lake on a cold and winding evening, claimed we couldn’t go to the game because it was a “school night.” I had GONE to school that day. My father and I watched Large Lenny Barker beat the light hitting Blue Days 3-0. Barker struck out 11 including former Celtics president Danny Ainge once. Despite an announced crowd of 7,290 approximately 250,000 people claim to have been at the game. When I told three participants in the game (Lenny Barker, Mike Hargrove, and Joe Charboneau) why I missed the game, they all asked the same question, “Does that mean you got to go out late on Sundays?”

David Wells reportedly attended a Saturday Night Live after-party on Saturday, May 16, 1998. Well, it would have been May 17, 1998. Leaving the party around 5:30 AM, he took the mound at 1:00 PM for the Yankees. Nursing a hangover, or perhaps sobering up, he threw a perfecto against the Twins.

In his 463rd game on May 18, 2004, Randy Johnson was perfect as the Diamondbacks beat Atlanta 2-0.

May 2010 gave us two perfect games 20 days apart. On Mother’s Day, May 9th, Dallas Braden was perfect on the bump for Oakland as they beat Tampa Bay 4-0. Not to be outdone, Roy Halladay was perfect against another Florida team, leading the Phillies to a 1-0 perfect game against the Marlins.


May’s Other Notable No-Nos


Nolan Ryan had two of his no-hitters happen in May. Pitching for California on May 15, 1971, Ryan struck out 13 and walked three Royals in a 3-0 winning on two days rest. On May 7, 1991, now with Texas, Ryan struck out 16 Blue Jays, while walking 2 and once again won 3-0.

There was only one extra-inning no-hitter in May, Fred Toney had to go 10 innings on May 2, 1917, to his no-hitter. Pitching for the Reds, striking out only three Cubs, and walking two, he kept his fielders working the entire game. His opponent for the game, Chicago’s Hippo Vaughn did not do bad either. He gave up on unearned in the 10th, gave up two hits, two walks, and striking out 10 in a 1-0 game. Not too bad for a game that lasted one hour and 50 minutes.

Joe Benz and Don Nottebard, gave up 1 run in their May no-hitters, but still won their games.

Al Atkinson had two May no-hitters, on May 1, 1884, and May 24, 1886. The Philadelphia Athletics pitchers won those games, 10-1 and 3-2 respectively. Yep. Two no-hitters and gave up runs in both. Sadly, I can’t find reliable game information about those games.

Sandy Koufax turned his 250th career game into an 8-0 no-hit win as the Dodgers bested the Giants. Justin Verlander, another of the 3 or more no-hitter club, got his second no-hitter on May 7, 2011, striking out four Blue Jays in a 9-0 Tigers’ win.


A.J.’s “Gem”


The most interesting May no-hitter might have to be A.J. Burnett’s May 12, 2001 “gem”. Burnett walked NINE batters and stuck out 7, also hitting one batter. He only had one double play. The Padres left nine runners on base and were 0 for 9 with men in scoring position. He had three 1-2-3 innings and allowed runners to get to third base in three innings. He somehow managed to do this with just 129 pitches.


Photos by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire and Chuck Andersen/Wikimedia Commons | Adapted by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)

Mat Kovach

Despite being an Indians fan in the late 70's I grew to love baseball. I started throwing spitballs when I was 10 and have been fascinated with competitive shenanigans in baseball ever since.

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