I don’t often write about baseball, but when I do, I write about my favorite team, the Houston Astros, which of course is also the team which, most games, I detest. These feelings of bitterness and despair generally begin near the middle of the 7th inning nightly, and for the entire rest of the season after the all-star break, give or take.
Today seems the perfect time to start picking on my beloved Astros this season, since last night they were the victims of a 10-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants, during which Giants pitcher Matt Cain threw a perfect game.
For you non-baseball fans, a perfect game is almost as rare as a progressive Republican, an electrifying Dewhurst speech, or a unicorn sighting. There have only been 22 perfect games in Major League Baseball history. A perfect game means that nobody from the other team ever got on base: 27 up, 27 down. A perfect game is different from a no-hitter, since in a no-hitter a batter can get on base without a hit – through a walk or a pitch that hits the batter, for example. In a perfect game, nobody from the other team ever gets on base.
So after the Astros were shut out last night by a perfect game, I started looking up stuff out of curiosity, mostly about no-hitters. Since it’s possible for a team pitching a no-hitter to actually lose a game, through any combination of walks and/or errors, I wondered what hapless pitchers have been inflicted with such a good-night-turned-bad.
Interestingly, there has only been one officially-recognized no-hitter in which a pitcher who pitched the complete game lost his no-hitter, and it was Ken Johnson of the Colt 45s, in 1964, against Cincinnati. Pete Rose was the winning run, getting around the bases via error, then groundout, then another error. That buzz-kill alone was probably enough to change the name of the team for next season, to – you guess it – the Houston Astros.
Here’s more no-hitter trivia: in total, there have been a total of two 9-inning no-hitters resulting in a losing effort for the team, which seems like a total bummer to the hapless pitchers who have certainly done their job, but there you have it. While Major League Baseball doesn’t recognize a game as a no-hitter if only 8 innings were pitched, in 1990 Andy Hawkins of the Yankees pitched an 8-inning no-hitter and his team still lost the game 4-0 to the Chicago White Sox, the highest score ever achieved by any team which had no hits. I’m guessing it was a tense Yankees locker room that night.
But no more tense than the Astros locker room many nights.