Mariners' no-no comes week after Mets' first
Seattle Six follow Johan's lead on Freaky Fridays in June
It is fast becoming Friday Night Lights Out in Major League Baseball.
On the first Friday night in June, it was the Mets' Johan Santana throwing a no-hitter at Citi Field against the Cardinals -- merely the first such masterwork in the history of a franchise that housed the likes of Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.
Seven nights later, across the continent in Seattle, half of the Mariners' pitching staff joined hands in dismissing the Dodgers without a hit in a 1-0 decision.
Pay close attention, fans. Your hometown team might be hosting the next Freaky Friday Night.
The Mariners, showing uncommon bullpen depth, jumped on board the no-hit train in front of 22,028 at Safeco Field. One seventh-inning run, scored by the great Ichiro Suzuki (three hits) on a two-out single by Kyle Seager was enough for the tag team of Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, winning pitcher Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen.
Ten weeks into the season, we've already witnessed four no-hitters, including a perfect game by Philip Humber of the White Sox in Seattle on April 21. Jered Weaver, in Anaheim against the Twins on May 2, was next in the no-hit parade, followed by Santana and now the Seattle Six.
It is no coincidence, hitters will tell you, that three of the four no-hitters have come on the West Coast. A heavy Pacific Ocean marine layer in the first few months of the season combines with expansive ballpark designs to make San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Oakland and San Francisco notoriously difficult run-producing locales.
"Playing in Seattle and L.A.," former Mariner and Dodger Adrian Beltre, now with the Rangers, said on Sunday, "you can hit a ball as hard as you can and watch it fall into a guy's glove. The air is so thick. It can get to you mentally.
"The ball travels much better in the East and Central divisions than in the West. It can be tough for a hitter on the West Coast."
It was tough on the Dodgers on Friday night. The Seattle Six collaborated on the 10th combined no-hitter in history.
It's the first combo plate served by a collective of arms since the Astros performed the trick in 2003. Houston put away the Yankees on June 11 that season with a decidedly more impressive six-pack alignment: Roy Oswalt (one inning), Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, winning pitcher Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and closer Billy Wagner.
In the Yankees' lineup that night, hitless in three at-bats, was Juan Rivera. Batting cleanup for the Dodgers on Friday night, Rivera was 0-for-2 with a walk.
The losing pitcher in that 2003 Astros no-hitter was Jeff Weaver, big brother of Jered. In 2008, the Angels' ace had combined with Jose Arredondo on an unofficial eight-inning no-hitter in a loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
"We lost," Weaver said afterward. "That's no no-hitter."
Millwood, whose distinguished career began in 1997 with the Braves, did most of the work -- six dominant innings -- before a right groin strain forced him to watch his buddies finish the job.
Millwood, who walked only one man and erased him immediately with a double-play ball, is no stranger to these events. He threw a solo no-hitter for the Phillies on April 27, 2003, against Barry Bonds and the Giants.
|Chris Bosio||Red Sox||04/22/1993|
Bobby Abreu was one of Millwood's teammates at the time. Abreu was was one of three Dodgers to reach on Friday night against Seattle with a walk, opening the eighth against Pryor.
When Jerry Hairston followed with a walk, Luetge and League finished the inning, leaving Alex Castellanos -- having run for Abreu -- stranded at third.
Luetge's one out was a sacrifice bunt by James Loney. The big one came next on a fly ball by A.J. Ellis against League not deep enough to left to score Castellanos. The threat died when League struck out Tony Gwynn.
The ninth inning featured a superb play by shortstop Brendan Ryan on a slow roller leading off by Dee Gordon, perhaps the fastest player in the National League.
After Elian Herrera lined out to Ryan, the last out came on a sharply struck grounder to second by Andre Ethier, the primary threat in the Dodgers lineup with Matt Kemp sidelined by a strained hamstring.
As Mariners flooded out of the dugout in celebration, the television cameras focused on catcher Jesus Montero leaping into the waiting arms of Wilhelmsen, the 6-foot-6 closer.
This was appropriate for several reasons. Catchers rarely get enough credit or attention for no-hitters, but this was no garden-variety gem. Montero had to guide six pitchers through it. Then there is the matter of this catcher's reputation as a hitter first and a receiver of questionable skills second.
Montero was acquired from the Yankees over the winter for starter Michael Pineda in part because New York felt it had the catching position covered for years to come with several quality prospects.
The Mariners, desperate for a bat, weren't entirely sure if they were acquiring a designated hitter or an everyday catcher. But Montero, on this occasion, certainly looked like the real article behind the plate.
The Seattle Six thanked the kid profusely.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.