While trolling the pages of Deadspin today and watching this pretty awesome GIF of five Yu Darvish pitches overlaid on one another, I came across what has to be one of the most depressing lists to ever be published in the public sphere.
Thanks to what had to be some tireless work by the author of this page–Stew Thornley–you and I have the chance to go through the last 52 years of baseball history and see the list of every no-hitter or perfect game that was broken up in the ninth inning. According to the article “Lost in the Ninth,” published on MilkeesPress.com, roughly half of the no-hitters carried into the ninth inning since 1961 made it through the inning. The number jumps to 60-65 percent after one out had been recorded, and nearly 80 percent with two gone. So who are those unfortunate souls who had their dreams crushed, who come so close only to fall flat on their faces, who nearly etched their names in baseball lore but ultimately were stopped short?
View all 139 of them on the site.
There’s plenty of other interesting bits of tid over there as well. Thornley neatly lists all of the perfect games that were broken up with two outs in the ninth, and various other scenarios. But the amount of detail per listing is pretty incredible–or highly depressing depending on how you look at these kinds of things. He gets down into the date of the game, who the pitcher(s) was/were, what team they were facing, and how the goose egg was cleared, be at a single, home run, or hit by pitch (talk about a rough way to lose one–and it happened more than once).
All of this, of course, is relevant now because Yu Darvish, the focus of that awesome GIF I mentioned at the top, had his bid for a perfect game broken up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the woeful Houston Astros earlier this month.
Some trivia, courtesy of “Lost in the Ninth”:
- The most frequent spoiler of the expansion era is Horace Clarke of the New York Yankees, who broke up three no-hitters in the ninth inning, all within a month in 1970. Nelson Liriano of the Toronto Blue Jays broke up two no-hitters within a week in April of 1989.
- One of the no-hitters Liriano broke up was by Nolan Ryan. Ryan holds the major league record for the most no-hitters as well as the most one-hitters. He also had a no-hitter broken up in the ninth five times. The National League record-holder for one-hitters, Steve Carlton, never pitched a no-hitter nor did he ever carry one into the ninth inning.
- Tom Seaver experienced ninth-inning disappointment three times, once having a perfect game broken up, before finally pitching a no-hitter in 1978. The real tough-luck pitcher, however, is Dave Stieb, who had a no-hitter broken up in the ninth in 1985, then two—both with two out in the ninth and one on a bad-hop single—in his final two starts of the 1988 seaons. The following August, he had a perfect game spoiled by Roberto Kelly with two out in the ninth. Stieb, like Seaver, did eventually complete a no-hitter.
- Preston Gomez’s legacy as a manager includes twice pinch-hitting for a pitcher who had a no-hitter through eight innings but still trailed in the game. One was Clay Kirby in July of 1970, the other Don Wilson (who had already pitched two no-hitters in his career) in September of 1974. In both cases, the relief pitcher was unable to complete the no-hitter in the ninth inning.
- Except for Ken Landreaux’s one-out double in the ninth, Bruce Kison would have been the holder of the most lopsided no-hitter ever, as his Angels beat the Twins, 17-0, in April of 1980.