Astro-nomical Anomaly |
By Vic Ziegel
© New York Daily News
published online June 12, 2003
Their names are Roy Oswalt and Peter Munro and Kirk Saarloos and Brad Lidge and Octavio Dotel and, finally, Billy Wagner and the next time some wiseguy bets you a sum of money to name the last pitcher who no-hit the Yankees you just tell him Roy Oswalt and Peter Munro and Kirk Saarloos and Brad Lidge and Octavio Dotel and take a deep breath, just to make it interesting, Billy Wagner.
Has there ever been a more bizarre no-hitter? The answer is no. Six times no.
Oswalt, the starter, pitched a perfect first inning. His second inning was two pitches, a ball, a strike, a groin injury, a departure.
Munro, next, worked 2-2/3 innings. The Yankees loaded the bases in the third on an error, a walk, a hit batter. Did you see a hit in there? I didn't think so. The inning ended with a grounder.
Saarloos, pitcher No. 3, pitched to four hitters. No hits.
Lidge, who became the winner, threw two innings. No hits.
And then Dotel. One inning. Four strikeouts. A record held by many. No hits.
Finally, Wagner. One inning. No hits. That was that. Nine innings. A baseball game. A no-hitter.
It ended after one pitch to Hideki Matsui, who tapped a ground ball to the first baseman, Jeff Bagwell. He flipped the ball to Wagner, who was about five steps ahead of Matsui. After Wagner stepped on the bag he pumped his fist.
Not too far away, Jeff Kent, who used to play second base under the el in Flushing, didn't understand Wagner's enthusiasm. After all, the score was 8-0, all Houston. Nothing to get excited about, Kent was thinking.
"What are you doing?" Kent called out to Wagner.
"We pitched a no-hitter," was Wagner's answer. He meant Roy Oswalt and Peter Munro and Kirk Saarloos and all those other people.
Jimy Williams, the Houston manager, has been a baseball man long enough to identify the proper no-hitter. He was kind enough to pass along some of his wisdom. "Usually," he was saying after the game, "one guy goes the route. Maybe two. Not six."
Let's face it, there's no easy way to describe this game. Dotel tried. "A no-hitter with six pitchers is kind of tough," he said. "I'm gonna be in the record book for a long time."
Unlike your scary, garden variety no-hitter - one guy going the route, maybe two, not six - there was no pressure on him, Dotel insisted. "I wasn't thinking about a no-hitter," he said. "I was thinking get three outs and that's it. Three guys up and three guys down. I just wanted to do my job."
His job was to turn the game over to Wagner, who would pitch the last inning and turn the key in the lock.
The five pitchers who got Houston to that point - Oswalt and Munro and Saarloos and Lidge and Dotel and Hekyll and Jekyll - were in the clubhouse, sharing a long couch in front of the TV set. That's when they found out they were three outs away from, no kidding, a no-hitter.
Nobody was more thrilled than Lidge. "He's our trivia guru," Saarloos said. So when the announcers were telling people that it was 6,980 games between Yankee no-hitters, "(Lidge) was real excited about his new trivia question," Saarloos said.
The game might have meant just a little more to Munro. He was born in Flushing, grew up in Little Neck, a Met fan.
Yesterday afternoon, enjoying his return to New York, he and his wife visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "I try to go there as much as I can," he said. "The Met and the Guggenheim." And then it was up to the museum on River Ave., where he was himself on display for his dad, his brother, his sister-in-law, his godson and assorted cousins. Who could have guessed what was in store for them?
"It doesn't matter how you get it done as long as you get it done," Munro said.
Yep, he got it done. He and the five other guys, whose names appear, for all time, in the opening paragraph.
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