New York Mets: Pitchers Who Have Come Closest to the Team's First No-Hitter
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The no no-no's streak is surprising not just for its 50-year span. The Mets have had any number of pitchers capable of blanking an opponent for nine innings.
In fact, seven pitchers have thrown no-hitters after leaving the Mets, according to NoNoHitters.com, a website that keeps a running update of the Mets' futility. Another 10 came to the Mets with no-hitters under their belts.
Nolan Ryan, of course, posted seven no-hitters in his post-Mets career. Tom Seaver threw one for the Cincinnati Reds in 1978, the season following his departure from New York. Dwight Gooden and David Cone added further insult by pitching no-hitters for the Yankees.
Hideo Nomo and Mike Scott also chalked up no-hitters after leaving the Mets. The most recent Mets alum on the list is Philip Humber, who pitched the 21st perfect game in major league history for the Chicago White Sox last month.
The Mets have come close to breaking into the no-hit club. There have been 35 one-hitters in team history. In some of them, an early inning hit was followed by pitching perfection.
Many others were denied in the late innings. Here are six that were stopped in the eighth and ninth innings.
Tom Seaver vs. Chicago Cubs, 1969
Tom Seaver couldn't have asked for more in 1969. He was 25-7 on the year with a 2.21 ERA. He fanned 208 batters. His New York Mets ended a miraculous season with a world championship.
Strike that. Seaver could have asked for something more. He could have asked for just one more out.
Seaver was on fire on July 9, 1969. The Chicago Cubs were getting burned. Eleven of them struck out. His sizzling fastball was unhittable.
The crowd of just over 50,000 at Shea Stadium knew they were witnessing an historic performance. Going into the ninth, Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy intoned, "Ladies and gentlemen, after eight innings Tom Seaver is walking into the dugout pitching a perfect ballgame." As if anyone needed to be alerted.
Top of ninth. Catcher Randy Hundley tried to bunt his way on. Seaver fired the bunt to first. One out. Hundley was booed back to the bench.
Next up: a rookie reserve outfielder named Jimmy Qualls. Seaver had never faced him before. He had probably never heard of him before. He had no idea how to pitch to him, but how much trouble could a part-time, weak-hitting rookie pose?
Enough to end a perfect game. Qualls lined a solid single to left-center. No no-hitter. No perfect game.
Qualls left baseball in 1972 with a career 31 hits and a place in history.
Seaver went on to pitch his first and only no-hitter nine years later. For the Cincinnati Reds.
Tom Seaver vs. San Diego Padres, 1972
Photo: Topps, via Baseball-Reference.com
Tom Seaver got another crack at a no-hitter on July 4, 1972, against the San Diego Padres.
It wasn't a near-perfect game, like his effort against the Cubs on July 9, 1969. Seaver walked four Padres in the game (two in the fourth inning, two in the eighth). It was still a masterful performance.
Seaver set down 11 Padres on strikes, just as he did against the Cubs three years earlier. The Mets secured the first out in the ninth inning, just as they did against the Cubs.
This time, however, Seaver was facing a batter who was a greater threat than a reserve outfielder. Leron Lee, who was having a career season, came to the plate.
The result was the same. Single to center. No no-hitter again.
That hit was one of 111 that year for Lee, who ended 1972 with a .300 batting average. He never got more than 79 hits in a season after that.
Seaver remains the only Met to take a no-hit bid into the ninth inning.
Gary Gentry vs. Chicago Cubs, 1970
Ernie Banks denied Gary Gentry a no-hitter in 1970.
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Losing a no-hitter is hard to swallow, but losing one to a Hall of Famer is at least a good excuse.
The confines of Wrigley Field were indeed friendly for Gary Gentry on May 13, 1970. Going into the eighth inning, he had struck out 12 Cubs and had just one blemish on the scorecard: a walk issued to Ron Santo to lead off the fifth.
Otherwise, Gentry was cruising. Santo came up again in the 8th inning and flied out to center. The next batter, Johnny Callison, flied out to left.
Ernie Banks was next. He singled to right.
Just goes to show that the friendly confines were always friendlier to Mr. Cub.
David Cone vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1991
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The Mets had a mediocre year in 1991. It would have been a lot better if their pitchers were as stingy with runs as they were during 10 days in September.
On September 10, Pete Schourek hurled a complete-game shutout against the Montreal Expos. He had set down every batter he faced until there were two outs in the fifth, when he walked Andres Galarraga and surrendered a base hit to Ken Williams.
Schourek gave up another walk in the sixth but no more hits. He ended the game with a 9-0 one-hitter.
It was also the first time in Mets history that they lost a one-hitter. Lankford's hit followed two walks and a wild pitch that put runners on second and third. Cardinals 2, Mets 1.
Cone got some payback six days later. He didn't lose, but it was still a bittersweet victory.
This time, Cone denied the Cardinals a hit through seven innings. His no-hit chance ended with a leadoff double by Felix Jose in the eighth.
"I'm going to get one someday," Cone said after the game.
He got it, and he got it in New York. On July 18, 1999, he pitched a perfect game for the Yankees.
Tom Glavine vs. Colorado Rockies, 2004
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Here's a statistic that's a bit difficult to fathom. Tom Glavine was in his 18th major league season when he pitched his first one-hitter.
It's that much harder to fathom because Glavine did it with the Mets, during one of the worst years of his career.
Glavine could still draw a crowd, though, and more than 37,000 fans came out on May 23, 2004, to watch him pitch. As the game went on, there was every reason to believe they would see the first no-hitter in Mets history.
Glavine had a perfect game going into the seventh when he walked second baseman Denny Hocking. His no-hitter was intact going into the eighth, but he had to get past power hitters Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Holliday.
Burnitz flied out to left. Holliday went down swinging. On deck: first baseman Kit Pellow.
Don't worry if you don't remember him. He only lasted three seasons in the big leagues.
He also broke up a no-hitter. Pellow blasted a double to deep right field.
Shades of Jimmy Qualls.
John Maine vs. Florida Marlins, 2007
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As the Mets fell apart in September, 2007, John Maine gave the Mets one glimmer of hope.
The Mets were right in the middle of The Historic Collapse. A seven-game lead in the NL East on September 12 had vanished. Going into their game against the Florida Marlins on September 29, the Mets were one game behind the Philadelphia Phillies.
A loss combined with a Phillies win and the season was over for New York. "Must-win" is an overused phrase, but there was no better way to put it. Maine had to win.
After weeks in the doldrums, the Mets' offense finally woke up. By the seventh, they had given Maine a 12-run cushion.
Maine opened the Marlins' eighth with a strikeout, followed by a fly-ball out. Catcher Paul Hoover, who had spent a lifetime in the minors and had just 14 major league at-bats, was next.
No doubt possessed by the spirits of Jimmy Qualls and Kit Pellow, Hoover dribbled a weak hit that hugged the third-base line. It was hit too slowly for David Wright to make a play. Hoover was on with an infield hit.
Maine was out. With a 12-run lead (with one run to come), manager Willie Randolph pulled his starting pitcher. He wanted to save Maine's arm for the playoffs.
Now there's one for the history books.