This week’s MLB action has seen not one but two almost-no-hitters, surely leaving the pitchers that threw them feeling frustrated.
Last night, Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Rich Hill tossed nine no-hit innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates before surrendering a solo home run to Josh Harrison in the bottom of the 10th.
Similarly, on Tuesday, Boston Red Sox right-hander Doug Fister allowed a leadoff home run to Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor before getting 27 outs and allowing just two walks for the rest of the game in a 9-1 victory.
Hill and Fister are the latest cases of MLB pitchers who came oh so close to having their names etched into baseball history forever, only to have it snatched away for one reason or another.
That said, the following five arms who traveled a similar path can surely sympathize.
1 Harvey Haddix, 1959
Many devoted readers have probably never heard of Harvey Haddix. The left-hander won 136 games over a 14-year career and is perhaps best known for his tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was with Pittsburgh that Haddix became famous for all the wrong reasons. In a game against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959, Haddix turned lots of heads in throwing twelve perfect innings.
Sadly, everything would unravel for Haddix and Pittsburgh in the 13th frame. Milwaukee's leadoff batter reached base thanks to an error by third baseman Don Hoak, ending hopes for a perfect game but leaving a no-hitter intact. The runner was then sacrificed to second and slugger Hank Aaron was then intentionally walked.
Joe Adcock then notched the game-winning hit, but that did anything but negate Haddix's performance. Bullpens were not used as frequently as they are today so that Haddix could throw 12 innings on without allowing a baserunner is incredible.
It's just sad that he wasn't able to finish the job and truly earn his spot on the right side of baseball history.
2 Matt Moore, 2016
August 25 of last season was a rough night for San Francisco Giants southpaw Matt Moore, who came within one out of a no-hitter against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
Moore had a 4-0 lead with two outs in the ninth inning and only had to retire Corey Seager to come away with the no-no. Fate had other ideas as Moore, on his 133rd pitch of the evening, allowed a bloop single to right field.
To add insult to injury, manager Bruce Bochy then pulled Moore from the game and Santiago Casilla recorded the final out.
Moore is far from a superstar caliber pitcher but given how the Giants' pitching staff has had a knack for tossing no-hitters over the last decade (e.g. Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez), his effort going up in flames was tough to watch.
3 Pedro Martinez
Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez is one of the best pitchers to never throw a no-hitter or perfect game. The sad part is that he came close to achieving that feat not once but three times in his 18-year career.
The first instance was in 1995 when Martinez was 23 years old and playing for the Montreal Expos. He threw nine perfect innings against the San Diego Padres and entered the bottom of the 10th with a 1-0 lead, but immediately gave up a hit and was removed.
Fast forward to 1999, when Martinez was in his prime with the Boston Red Sox, and he allowed just a solo home run to New York Yankees slugger Chili Davis in a 3-1 victory that saw him strike out 17 batters and walk none.
In 2000, in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that is better known for the eight total ejections on Tampa Bay's end, Martinez was two outs away from a no-hitter before allowing a single to John Flaherty.
These three instances don't take away from Martinez's greatness as a pitcher but still serve as cruel reminders of the one thing he failed to accomplish in a Hall of Fame career.
4 Mike Mussina
Mike Mussina had five instances where he came close to tossing a no-hitter or perfect game, but the fifth one has to be the one that stings the most.
Mussina was in his first season with the New York Yankees and pitching against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Adding to the moment was that this was ESPN's Sunday Night Game of the Week.
Mussina was just one out away from a perfect game but sadly allowed a single to pinch-hitter Carl Everett. Even worse is that he had Everett down to his last strike, so odds are greater than not that Mussina has played this moment in his head over and over again more than a few times.
This near no-no definitely hurts, but there's still one in particular that hurts much worse.
5 Armando Galarraga, 2010
It was June 2, 2010 when Detroit Tigers righty Armando Galarraga was untouchable. The Cleveland Indians had no answer for him all game long and with two outs in the ninth inning, everyone was waiting with bated breath.
Rookie Jason Donald came up for Cleveland and hit a routine ground ball to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who then tossed the ball to Galarraga. The pitcher stepped on the bag for the out and the celebration began.
But there was just one problem. Though replays showed Donald was out, first base umpire Jim Joyce called him safe. This was years before rules allowed managers to challenge calls, so Galarraga had no choice but to get back to the mound and finish the game. The next batter was retired and Galarraga had to settle for a one-hitter.
Even worse is that immediately after the game, Joyce admitted that he blew the call. Galarraga was out of baseball two years later and is still best known for this, the perfect game that never was.
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