Monday, June 11, 2012

No-Hit Oddities: Featuring Cards, Dodgers & A's

Did you know...Prior to Johan Santana's no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1, the last time a defending World Series champion was victimized by a no-hitter:  June 11, 1990 - Texas Rangers' Nolan Ryan no-hit the Oakland A's at the Coliseum; final score:  5-0.  Ryan walked two and struck out 14, improving his record to 5-3.  The A's went on to play in the World Series that year, but were somehow  swept by the Cincinnati Reds in four games.

Strangely enough, the 1973 World Champion A's were no-hit in on July 19, 1974 by Cleveland's Dick Bosman in front of 24,302 screaming Cleveland fans, by a final score of 4-0.  In a game that only took 1:56 to complete, Bosman struck out 4 and walked none, while improving his record to 2-0.  Bosman's own 4th-inning throwing error allowed the only runner of the game to reach base for Oakland, depriving himself of a perfect game.  The A's shrugged off the loss, and went on to play in the World Series that year, beating the LA Dodgers in six games.

The year prior, the defending World Series champion A's (who else?) were no-hit at home on July 30, 1973 by the Texas Rangers' Jim Bibby; final score:  6-0.  Bibby walked six and struck out thirteen, as he improved his record to 5-6.  And yes, Oakland went on to play in the World Series that year, beating the New York Mets in seven games.

Prior to that, the last time a defending World Series champion was no-hit:  September 17, 1968 - At Candlestick Park, the San Francisco Giants' Gaylord Perry beat Bob Gibson and the St Louis Cardinals, by a score of 1-0.  The Giants scored their lone run in the first inning, and Perry made it stand up as he improved his record to 15-14; walking two and fanning nine.  Gibby was nearly as good, allowing just four hits in eight innings of work; walking two and fanning ten, as his record fell to 21-8.  The Cards went on to lose the World Series that year, as Gibson lost Game Seven to Mickey Lolich and the Detroit Tigers, 4-1.

Prior to that, the last time a defending World Series champion failed to get a hit:  October 8, 1956 -  Game Five of the 1956 World Series - Don Larsen retired all 27 Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium, as  New York won the game by a 2-0 score.  Larsen struck out seven, including pinch hitter Dale Mitchell on a called third strike to end the perfect game.  The Yankees also won the Series, but it took seven games to dethrone the Dodgers.

Speaking of the Dodgers...The last two times they won the World Series, they also happened to be no-hit during the regular season each time.  Believe it or not!  On September 26, 1981, the Houston Astros' Nolan Ryan held LA hitless at the Astrodome; final score:  5-0.  Ryan walked three and struck out eleven, improving his record to 10-5, while lowering his ERA to 1.74.  LA advanced to the World Series in that strike-shortened season, and finally beat their primary nemesis - the New York Yankees - in six games.

Then on September 16, 1988, Cincinnati's Tom Browning was perfect - 27 up and 27 down - in beating LA at Riverfront Stadium; final score:  1-0.  Browning threw exactly 100 pitches in the game, while  recording seven strikeouts, as his record improved to 16-5.  The "hitless wonder"-Dodgers advanced to the World Series; shocking the "Bash Brother"-Oakland A's in five games.

Proving that being victimized by a no-hitter is really no guarantee to winning the World Series for LA; Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers - at Dodger Stadium - on July 28, 1991, striking out five in the process.  El Presidente threw 96 pitches in the game, improving his record to 11-6.  The Dodgers failed to make it to the postseason that time, finishing second in the National League West.

Whereas the Dodgers are hoping their most recent no-hit loss last Friday evening in Seattle will somehow lead them back to their first World Series title in twenty-four years, the Cardinals are hoping to keep the other streak alive, which currently stands at five (including the '56 World Series).  That's how many consecutive times a defending World Series champion has managed to at least make it back to the Fall Classic after succumbing to a no-hitter.  Counting the postseason, the defending champs are 2-3 in those unusual situations.

Of course, the Redbirds would like to improve that record to 3-3, as they hope to defy the postseason odds just one more time this year.  Actually, I seriously doubt anybody in the world is even aware of this unique oddity; although now you know.

Do you love Cardinals trivia as much as I do?  I'm the author of St Louis Cardinals IQ - The Ultimate Test of True Fandom - Volumes I & II (see below):

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