Armando Galarraga just pitched the most famous one-hitter of the decade. His disappointment was understandable, but even the blown call put him in a pretty exclusive group. Since 1920, there have been just 136 no-nos, and just 489 one-hit shutouts. This year, before last night, there were exactly three of each: Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, and Roy Halladay all twirled no-hitters, and Matt Cain, Mat Latos, and Johnny Cueto all pitched one-hitters. Galarraga is the fourth.
Galarraga wasn’t the only one to have his no-no bid ruined by an infield single, either: Latos and Cueto were similarly both undone by infield singles to shortstop. But Cueto only took his no-hitter into the third inning, and Latos only took his into the sixth, so the level of scrutiny was nowhere near the same. (Cain gave up a double to deep right-center in the second inning, so he wasn’t quite as heartbroken.)
This has been a rather remarkable season: three no-hitters (two of them perfect games) and four one-hitters, in three of which the only hit was an infield single. The last year that there were this many combined no-hitters and one-hitters was 2007, with no-nos from Clay Buchholz, Justin Verlander, and Mark Buehrle, and one-hitters by Scott Baker, Dustin McGowan, Curt Schilling, and Felix Hernandez. The last time there were more than seven combined no-hitters and one-hitters was 2001, when there were three no-hitters (A.J. Burnett, Hideo Nomo, and the otherwise-forgotten Bud Smith) and eight one-hitters (Buehrle, Nomo, Mike Mussina, Kerry Wood, Mark Mulder, Jon Lieber, Randy Wolf, and Todd Ritchie).
The real challenge for Galarraga will be to keep pitching effectively, like Felix Hernandez, rather than turn back into a pumpkin, like Todd Ritchie. But he shouldn’t feel too bad about failing to join one of baseball’s elusive clubs. He already joined another.
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