ON THIS DATE (September 1, 2007)
Fifteen days after making his major league debut against the Angels
in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, a day that began with
manager Terry Francona telling a sleepy morning assemblage of
reporters that "[it] doesn't matter if he throws a no-hitter, he's
going back down," 23-year-old Clay Buchholz made Francona an
accidental prophet of sorts with the 17th no-hitter in franchise
history and 20th by a rookie in major league history in a 10-0 win
over the Orioles. The sellout crowd of 36,819 made the rafters of old
Fens vibrate with sound while Buchholz's teammates hung on the
railing until umpire Joe West signaled that the 115th pitch from
Buchholz, a backup curveball, was strike three on Markakis.
ran down two line drives by Corey Patterson, one in the sixth when he was in
right-center and caught up with it in left-center, then again for the second out
in the ninth, after Brian Roberts had struck out to start the inning. After
walking the first two batters in the fourth, prompting a visit from pitching
coach John Farrell, Buchholz set down the minimum number of Orioles.
In two major
league starts, Buchholz, who hails from Nederland (sounds like Neverland),
Texas, already has more no-hitters than Pedro Martinez. When Martinez signed
with the New York Mets, it presented the Sox with the sandwich-round draft pick
they used in 2005 to choose Buchholz, a converted shortstop from Angelina
(Texas) Junior College. He also has more no-hitters than Curt Schilling, the
40-year-old who, on June 7, came within one out of a no-no in Oakland, and
41-year-old Tim Wakefield, whose stiff back presented Buchholz with the
opportunity to start last night.
It was the
first no-hitter by a Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe no-hit Tampa Bay at Fenway
Park April 27, 2002. The last no-no by a rookie was by Anibal Sanchez, the
former Sox prospect who did it Sept. 6, 2006, for Florida against Arizona. The
last AL rookie to do so was Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox, also against
Baltimore, Aug. 11, 1991.
rookie pitcher ever has thrown a no-hitter. Forty years ago, a kid pitcher from
Toronto, lefthander Billy Rohr, came within an out of a no-hitter against the
Yankees April 14 in Yankee Stadium, a single by Elston Howard spoiling his
no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth. Last season, in the last day of the
regular season, Oct. 1, Devern Hansack threw a five-inning no-hitter against the
Orioles, a 9-0 game that was shortened by rain.
The Sox, who
scored a run in the second inning, scored three more on Ortiz's bases-loaded
double in the fourth off Orioles starter Garrett Olson. The Sox batted around
again in the sixth, scoring four times on Mike Lowell's double and Kevin
Youkilis's three-run home run, and twice more in the eighth, when Buchholz's
roommate in Pawtucket, Jacoby Ellsbury, doubled home Pedroia and Lowell.
In the GM's
booth, meanwhile, Epstein and McLeod were fretting about Buchholz's pitch count.
The most pitches he had thrown in any start this season was 98, which is why
Bryan Corey was warming up in the bullpen in the eighth. Buchholz was at 103
pitches after eight innings, helped immensely by Jay Payton's first-pitch swing
on the comebacker Buchholz snared for the last out of the inning, a ball that
Pedroia said he was in position to field had it gotten past the pitcher. It also
helped that Buchholz, who walked three and hit a batter, picked off Roberts, who
was loitering off the first base bag after drawing a walk to open the sixth.
Pedroia's seventh-inning backhand play on Miguel Tejada's shot up the middle -
Pedroia capped the play with a great popup pivot and throw - will go down as the
no-hit saver. And we'll always have the frozen frame of Joe West ringing up Nick
Markakis on a game-ending 1-and-2 curveball.