20 May 2008

Red Sox Lester Tosses No Hitter...Good Sign for Kansas City???

I'm so tired of hearing about the Red Sox.

First it was beating the Yankees in four straight games after being down 0-3 in the 2004 ALCS.

Then it was winning their first World Series in 86 years.

Then their highly-touted rookie threw a no-hitter while the Yankees' best prospect was touting a 2-3 record and a 5.65 ERA.

Then it was winning another World Series, just three years later. That made them the only multiple-championship team of the new millenium.

And now this.

Not only are the Red Sox in first place. Not only did one of their young pitchers make a successful comeback from cancer last year (he was 4-0 with a 4.57 ERA in 63 innings). But now Jon Lester has thrown a no-hitter.

While the Yankees are in last place.

Granted, it was only against the Royals, who have the worst team OPS and the fewest runs scored in the American League. But still, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The Royals had not been no-hit since 1973, as Rob Neyer points out. I sure haven't ever tossed one.

Lester's no-no comes in the Red Sox 47th game of the season, and is 73 regular season games since the one that Clay Bucholz threw last September 1st. That seems pretty close to me, so I looked up how frequently no-hitters have happened.

It turns out that they're really not as uncommon as you think. There are literally hundreds of times that teams have been no-hit, 256 of them, in fact, and that doesn't include the games that went into extra innings and got broken up, or official games shortened by rain or darkness, or 8-inning no-no's lost by the away team (like Andy Hawkins in 1990).

Frequently we get to see several no-hitters in the same year. Heck, there were seven in 1990, and then seven more in 1991! Besides those, there hasn't been a year with more than three no-hitters since 1976, but there have been three each in 1977, 1981, 1983, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2001, and 2007. And both 1981 and 1994 were strike-shortened years, don't forget.

In terms of proximity, that is, how soon a team has someone throw a no-no after a no-no, the Red Sox are far from that record. Before this 73-game span between no-no's the next closest recent span was (get this...) by the Red Sox, between Hideo Nomo's on 4 April 2001 and Derek Lowe's on 27 April 2002.

Back in 1974 and 1975, Nolan Ryan no-hit the Minnesota Twins in the California Angels' 160th game of the season, and then no-hit the Baltimore Orioles in the 49th game of the 1975 season. Ryan also had no-hitters against the Royals and the Tigers, eactly two months apart, in 1973, that one against the Royals being the last time Kansas City was no-hit. (Ironically, the Royals had no-hit the Tigers themselves just twoweeks earlier.) Warren Spahn repeated the feat even quicker, from 16 September 1960 to 28 April 1961, about one month's worth of games.

Back in the 1800's, especially in the old American Association, it was pretty common for the same team to pitch two no hitters in about a week's time. The Louisville Eclipse did it 8 days apart in 1882. The Columbus Buckeyes did it 7 days apart in 1884. The Philadelphia Athletics did it just 5 days apart in 1888.

That, however, is not the quickest repeat no hitter by one pitcher, as that record is held by Johnny Vander Meer, who pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938. He no-hit the Boston Braves on July 11th and then no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers just 4 days later, on the 15th.

But the quickest repeat of a no-hitter by one team came back in 1917, St. Louis Browns no-hit the Chicago White Sox twice in two days, May 5th and 6th. Granted, there was a double-header on the 6th, and the no-no was in the second game, so no team has ever been no-hit in consecutive games, but still, it's gotta be pretty demoralizing to play three games in two days and only get a hit in one of them. (They lost the other game, too, 8-4.)

Here's the best part: The White Sox won the World Series in 1917.

So, Kansas City fans: Let's hope the Royals get no-hit by Justin Masterson tonight!

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