The Non-Shutout No-Hitter

Anibal Sanchez came close to throwing his second career no-hitter Friday night against the Rockies. He would have become just the 29th pitcher to hold a team hitless on multiple occasions. Before Dexter Fowler led off the top of the ninth inning with a single to right — slightly out of second baseman Omar Infante’s reach — Sanchez had walked three batters and allowed a run without surrendering a hit.  After a double play wiped Fowler away and Carlos Gonzalez grounded out, Sanchez had pitched a one-hit, one-run game with an 89 game score.

The concept of throwing a no-hitter while allowing a run piqued my interest as it feels counterintuitive. I immediately correlate no-hitters with shutouts, fair or not, and anything against that grain feels strange. A no-hitter is certainly a remarkable feat, but the wiggle room allowed for walks and runs can strip away some of its luster. Would you rather have a one-hit shutout or a one-run no-hitter? Or how about a one-hit shutout with no walks issued or a no-hitter with seven walks?

These are the types of inane questions I ask myself during games, but given Sanchez’s almost-accomplishment, I questioned how many of the no-hitters thrown in baseball history involved the hitless team scoring one or more runs.

Not counting playoff games or combined no-hitters, there have been 258 no-hitters thrown by individual pitchers since 1875. Of that total, 138 no-hitters have been thrown since 1950. And of that total, there have only been seven no-hitters in which the team held hitless managed to score a run, the last of which was thrown in 1993 by the late Darryl Kile.

Let’s take a look back at these games, shall we?

Bob Feller: July 1, 1951
The Indians beat the Tigers, 2-1, behind the no-hit performance of Cleveland’s greatest pitcher. Feller walked three, struck out five, and allowed the one unearned run in the top of the fourth inning. Johnny Lipon reached on an error by shortstop Ray Boone. He then stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw, scoring on a sacrifice fly off the bat of George Kell. Feller finished with an 87 game score for his efforts.

Don Nottebart: May 17, 1963
The Houston Colt .45s beat the Phillies and starter Jack Hamilton, 4-1. Nottebart was an unremarkable pitcher, but on this day he managed a 90 game score, keeping the Phils sans hits while walking three batters. The lone run scored in the top of the fifth, when Don Demeter reached on an error by shortstop J.C. Hartman, and advanced to second base on the throw. Clay Dalrymple sacrificed Demeter to third, and a sac fly from Don Hoak brought him in.

Ken Johnson: April 23, 1964
Johnson’s game is the noteworthiest of the bunch, because his Colt .45s actually lost the game! Johnson allowed an unearned run on two walks, striking out nine en route to a gaudy 92 game score. His opposition, Joe Nuxhall, scattered five hits and a walk over nine shutout frames, producing an 82 game score. A mighty impressive game all around, which remains the only time in baseball history that a pitcher threw a complete game, no-hitter, and lost.

Dean Chance: August 25, 1967
Chance and the Twins beat the Indians, 2-1, in the second game of a doubleheader. Chance walked five and struck out eight batters, but the run he allowed was earned, unlike the three pitchers mentioned above. Chance then had the dubious distinctions of walking a ton of batters in a no-no, and allowing an earned run. The run scored in the bottom of the first, as an error following two walks loaded the bases, and a wild pitch allowed Lee Maye to score.

George Culver: July 29, 1968
If Chance’s non-shutout no-no was rendered a bit less impressive because he walked a ton and surrendered an earned run, Culver’s isn’t too far behind since he walked more batters than he whiffed. Culver’s Reds defeated Chris Short and the Phillies, 6-1, and though his run was unearned, he walked five batters against just four strikeouts. The run scored in the bottom of the second, as Dick Allen reached on an error, advanced to second on the errant throw, and later scored on a Cookie Rojas sacrifice fly.

Joe Cowley: September 19, 1986
Cowley joins Chance as being the only pitchers in this group to allow an earned run in a no-hitter. Cowley might also be one of the least accomplished pitchers to throw a no-no. He made just 95 appearances in five seasons and was out of the game by his 28th birthday. On this day, he walked seven batters. No-hitters are cool, but in my view the impressive nature of the feat is vastly diminished when the walks tally exceeds five.

Darryl Kile: September 8, 1993
In the best non-shutout no-hitter of the bunch, Kile walked just one batter and allowed an unearned run, finishing with a 93 game score. Kile walked Jeff McKnight in the top of the fourth, and allowed him to score on a wild pitch later in the inning. He struck out nine Mets batters in a 7-1 Astros win.


It’s a shame Anibal couldn’t finish off his no-hitter, as he would have then joined three groups with limited membership: the 30th member of the multiple no-hitter club, the 8th member of the non-shutout no-hitter crew, and the third member of the earned runs in a no-no troupe.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

46 Responses to “The Non-Shutout No-Hitter”

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  1. Jim says:

    What about Andy Hawkins? Pitched a no-hitter and lost.

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    • James says:

      They clarified the official definition of a no-hitter to require at least 9 IP.

      Another interesting list would be where the pitcher threw 9 no-hit innings but it wasn’t a no-hitter. The only one that comes to mind is Pedro with the Expos.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        Jered Weaver’s 8 inning no hit lost to the Dodgers would have counted otherwise.

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      • Shattenjager says:

        Ernie Shore threw nine innings without allowing a hit or a walk on June 23, 1917, but it’s not a no-hitter (for him).

        Starter Babe Ruth walked the first batter, argued with the umpire, and got thrown out of the game. Shore then came in. The baserunner attempted to steal second but got thrown out. Shore got the next 26 men out.

        So he threw 9 innings, allowed no walks, no hits, and no errors, but all he gets credit for is part of a shared no-hitter with Ruth.

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        I thought part of the technical definition was that you had to win the game.

        Which I always thought was idiotic (it’s “no-hitter,” not “no-hit win”), but it’s precisely the apparent idiocy that led me to remember the rule. Maybe they’ve since changed it back.

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  2. Rick says:

    Andy Hawkins had one for the Yankees against the White Sox in which he lost 4-0 with an eighth inning that went:


    All four runs scored in that sequence. He later lost official credit for the no-hitter because the definition of a no-hitter was changed requiring nine innings pitched (the Yanks were on the road and the bottom of the ninth was not played).

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    • Deacon Drake says:

      Thanks Rick… I actually have a baseball card commemorating the game, and was wondering why that didn’t make the list.

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    • Drew says:

      When I saw this post I immediately thought of that game and was confused not to see it here. Thanks for the summary!

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    • Dan F says:

      Andy Hawkins threw a no-hitter for the Yankees while losing 4-0 to the Chicago White Sox. Since Chicago was ahead after 8 1/2 innings, the White Sox did not go to bat in the bottom of the ninth… the game officially went nine innings but MLB wants to say that just because the pitcher himself did not pitch nine innings that it does not count! Yes it does, the game went nine innings, therefore it counts! MLB needs to remove its heads from its rear ends and include an exception to that stupid rule to allow official recognition for those who pitched eight innings but did not pitch the ninth inning due to being the pitcher of the road team since the home team is not required to go bat in the ninth if it is leading the game after 8 1/2 innings!

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  3. Baseball Bob says:

    This list doesn’t include those no-hitters, no longer recognized as such by MLB but still real in many of our minds, in which the no-hit pitcher not only allowed a run but also LOST the game. The one I have in mind was Andy Hawkins of the Yankees, when on July 1, 1990 he threw a no-hitter in Chicago, but his defense knifed him (the walks didn’t help) and he allowed FOUR runs in the eighth inning to lose 4-0. I think it was this game that caused MLB to redefine a no-hitter to say that it must be a 9-inning complete game, eliminating losing no-hitters on the road (but not at home??) and wiping out Hawkins’ feat.

    I actually listened to this game on the radio, driving from New York to my home in Maine, and my recollection is that the 8th inning featured THREE errors and a couple of walks, and that there were two outs with no one on when the carnage started.

    Anyway, if we are talking about no-hit efforts with runs allowed, it would be interesting to list the games wiped off the list by the decision of MLB, and include them in your article.

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    • Max says:

      In Game 4 of the 2001 ALCS, Paul Abbot started for Seattle against the Yankees. He was pulled after pitching 5 innings, finishing with the following line:

      5 IP, 0 ER, 0 R, 0 H, 2 SO, 8 BB.

      I know it’s a little different, but I think it should still interest anyone who chose to read this article.

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  4. Rex Manning Day says:

    It doesn’t quite fit into this list, since he still won and it was still a shutout, but AJ Burnett’s 2001 no-hitter is worth a mention. 0 hits, 7 K, 9 BB. Nine walks!

    In that game, Burnett threw 129 pitches. Only 65 of them were strikes.

    If you could boil Burnett’s entire career down into just one game, it would probably (on his better days) look a lot like that one.

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  5. hal p says:

    That seems like a pretty inane rule. We agree that if a pitcher pitches all 8 innings for his team in a loss on the road, that’s a complete game?

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  6. LondonStatto says:

    I’d rather have the no-hitter – they’re rarer than shutouts.

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  7. phatti says:

    I remember the post game press conference from Hawkins. He looked shell-shocked, saying “this isn’t what I expected a no-hitter to feel like.”

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  8. RCG says:

    Doesn’t that Dodgers-Angels game from a couple years ago count? The final was 1-0 Dodgers but they were no-hit. Or is that another example of a game like the Hawkins no-hitter?

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      Game was played at Dodger, Jered Weaver got the loss and only pitched 8 innings.

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        Jose Arredondo also pitched in that game. It is (assuming you count it as a no-hitter despite the 8-innings problem) one of two joint no-hitters in which the no-hit team won.

        The other was a (9-inning) 1967 2-1 loss by the Orioles to the Tigers pitched by Steve Barber and Stu Miller– an unusually embarrassing game inasmuch as the Orioles pitchers somehow managed to lose the game despite getting a run in support of their bid! (The only other instance in which a pitcher received a run in support of a no-hit bid, but his team lost in nine innings anyway, was the 1992 Matt Young game, alluded to below.)

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  9. B N says:

    “Or how about a one-hit shutout with no walks issued or a no-hitter with seven walks?”

    So… basically, would you rather be Walter Johnson or Nolan Ryan?

    I’ll take “Nolan Ryan for a day, Walter Johnson for a career”?

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  10. Mel Hall says:

    It was really windy in Chicago during the Hawkins game and I recall Leyritz and Barfield each misplaying back-to-back fly balls in the OF for errors.

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    • David K says:

      Leyritz playing the OF — that’s playing with fire right there. Did they have Rick Rhoden DH that game too? Those were the lean years for Yankee fans.

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  11. Spunky says:


    It doesn’t count for the same reason Hawkins’ didn’t–his team was away and lost so he didn’t pitch all nine innings:
    (search for “not credited”). Also that was a combined effort, with Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo.

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  12. SC2GG says:

    Something I’ve always wondered is how we are well aware of games like the one that just happened where he gave up his 1 hit in the final inning, but yet, if a pitcher throws what would be a perfect game, except for giving up say a leadoff single to the first batter of the day so we completely forget about it because it wasn’t a hit in the 9th inning as if this is somehow more special. Just bugs me.

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      That’d be too many games for me to remember. I suspect this is the same logic most people use, and though flawed is useful. Too much data is bad and not all of us is in the business of baseball stats.

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    • Baseball Bob says:

      Probably the best-known game of this sort occurred on June 23, 1917. Babe Ruth was on the mound (remember him?) for Boston, and he walked the first batter on a 3-2 pitch that he thought was a strike. The young Ruth argued the call and was ejected. Ernie Shore came in to pitch, PICKED THE RUNNER OFF FIRST BASE, and retired the next 26 batters he faced. It is a combined no-hitter, but in fact Ernie Shore pitched as perfect a game as you possibly can (he faced 26 batters, and retired 27!) but does not get credit for a no-hitter, a perfect game, or really anything (I think it IS the longest relief outing without a baserunner, if that is something).

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    • steex says:

      The most obvious reason is that the sports media will start informing you in the middle of a game that Anibal Sanchez has a no-hitter through X innings, so I find out about it even if I’m sitting at home watching White Sox @ Tigers. Then they make a point to tell you again when it’s broken up, or if you’re not still at the TV, you probably go back to see what happened.

      On the other hand, a guy who gives up a leadoff single and then retires 27 consecutive batters never had the potential for the no-hitter, so it’s unlikely to be given much special attention other than during the regular baseball coverage. I’d still find out about it reading the boxes and recaps, but will never have thought about it as a potential no-hitter even though the end result was more impressive than Sanchez’s performance.

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    • marc w says:

      My favorite of this type was Chris Bosio’s no hitter in 1993, in which he walked the first two batters, went to 3-0 on the 3rd, and then retired 27 in a row.

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  13. Steven says:

    So this ‘has to be nine innings to be a no-hitter’ rule seems a little odd. If the home-team pitcher throws a 9 inning no-hitter but loses, is it a no-hit loss? If an away pitcher pitches 8 &2/3 no-hitter but loses on a 2 out walk-off error in the 9th that isn’t a no-hit loss? What about throwing 9 innings of no-hit ball but losing on a walk-off error in the 10th? Is this the only way for an away pitcher to get a no-hit loss? Are there examples of any of these scenarios?

    As you can see I have lots of questions.

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  14. Xeifrank says:

    As long as my team won, I’d rather have the no-hitter!
    1. Team win >
    2. No-hitter >
    3. Shut-out

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    • Steven says:

      But shut-out implies team wins, so isn’t your hierarchy flawed in that
      Team Wins > No-Hitter > Shut out = Team Wins, or in other words:
      Team Wins> No-Hitter > Team Wins, a contradiction.

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      • jorgath says:

        The obvious response is that a shut-out is a bonus to a team win. A no-hitter is either a bonus to a team win or a consolation prize for a team loss. So, the response would be:

        1. Team Win
        2. (+No-Hitter if possible)
        3. (+Shutout if possible)
        4. (If team loss) (+No-Hitter if possible).

        Furthermore, since by my understanding a SHO is technically a CG with no runs scored, a pitcher can throw a CG-SHO and still lose…if the run scores in the 10th.

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      • Ian R. says:

        Nope. A complete game is a complete game, regardless of the number of innings – it can be exactly 9, less than 9 (in the case of a road loss or a weather-shortened game) or greater than 9. Regardless, you have to pitch the WHOLE game and give up no runs in order to be credited with a shutout; therefore, a shutout must be a victory.

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  15. joe says:

    “If Chance’s non-shutout no-no was rendered a bit less impressive because he walked a ton and surrendered an earned run, Culver’s isn’t too far behind since he walked more batters than he whiffed.”

    No No = no hits, no runs (hard to do that in a non shutout)
    No Hitter = no hits

    While I realize the two are used interchageably because people don’t know any better, I like the non shutout no hitters, if for no other reason to see how many people refer to it as a “no no”

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  16. chris says:

    You could have gone more in depth on the no-hit loss. Your story was weakly put together. I expect more from your work.

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  17. warden226 says:

    Was Matt Young’s non shutout no-hitter omitted from this article because he only tossed 8 innings in his no-hitter loss?

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    • RéRé says:

      I’m sure that’s the reason, warden. I was at that double header in April of ’92. The Indians won the 1st game despite being no-hit and then lost game 2 when Clemens tossed a 2 hitter. Not a lot of Cleveland offense that day, but they didn’t walk away empty handed.

      It’s also mildy entertaining that your article references the “powerful Indians”. They had the personnel for their mid-90′s resurgence, but they clearly weren’t there yet in ’92, finishing 11th in the AL in runs scored. Although, for the purposes of that Matt Young game, they were 2nd in the AL in hits.

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  18. abatheguy says:

    Time to add Angels pitcher Ervin Santana to this list. :)

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  19. Dan F says:

    The same occurred for Matt Young and the Red Sox in 1992. This time it was early in the game. A walk and error and a walk and a fielders choice. He only had to pitch 8 innings as well. He lost, 2-1!

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