HomeTeamsBravesEven Pitchers Throwing No-Hitters Don’t Often Complete What They Started.

Even Pitchers Throwing No-Hitters Don’t Often Complete What They Started.

Potential free agent Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves learned that lesson Saturday when he was lifted after seven hitless innings against the New York Mets at CitiField in Flushing.

The 30-year-old left-hander had been bidding for the first nine-inning no-hitter by an Atlanta pitcher since Kent Mercker on April 8, 1994. Mercker was also the starting pitcher in a combined no-hitter by the Braves three years earlier.

Fried threw 109 pitches and would have been perfect except for three walks. He was also helped by spectacular defense from center-fielder Michael Harris II, who made two highlight-film catches – one with his back to the plate.

Not since Kevin Millwood in 1999 had anyone wearing Braves livery produced a pair of no-hit bids of six innings on more within a three-start span of the same season. Before his May 11 masterpiece in Queens, Fried had frustrated the Seattle Mariners for six hitless frames on April 29.

Fried said after the game that his command was off, resulting in three walks and several 3-2 counts. “I threw the ball better in L.A.,” he said, referring to his previous start.

“I have to put it into perspective. I need to be much more economical to pitch a no-hitter by myself.”

Earlier this season, Fried threw a complete-game shutout, nicknamed “a Maddux” after former Braves ace Greg Maddux, a control artist known for throwing less than 100 pitches per start. Such a performance is rare anywhere these days, when managers routinely summon their relief men after a starter approaches triple digits in pitches thrown.

Since the Braves need Fried to stay especially strong with Spencer Strider out for the season after elbow surgery, they were not about to risk the health of his left arm – or his stamina. They remember what happened when a less-than-healthy Fried staggered into the playoffs against Philadelphia in both of the past two Octobers.

Other teams feel the same way. They remember that Johann Santana cashed in his career when he threw 134 pitches in the only complete-game no-hitter ever pitched for the Mets rather than against them (the Mets had a combined no-hitter on April 29, 2022, when Tyler Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Diaz fanned 12 Phillies while holding them hitless in a 3-0 victory.

This year, there’s only been one no-hitter – by previously-unknown Houston youngster Ronel Blanco on April 1, the earliest date a hitless gem has ever been thrown.

It was one of 20 combined no-hitters in baseball history.

In one of them, the Houston Astros needed a record six pitchers to hold the Yankees hitless on June 11, 2003. Roy Oswalt started, got hurt, and gave way to a parade of relievers, with Cooperstown contender Billy Wagner finishing the 8-0 game. In 2012, the Seattle Mariners duplicated the feat of six pitchers combining for a no-hit gem.

The Astros also produced a no-hitter – the latest by calendar date – on Nov. 2, 2022 with a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Cristian Javier, who started it, joined Don Larsen (1956 World Series perfect game) as the only pitchers to throw six hitless frames in a World Series game. Three Astros relievers preserved that win for Javier.

Fried wasn’t so fortunate. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, late-signing designed hitter J.D. Martinez hit a ball against Atlanta closer Raisel Iglesias that just cleared the right-field fence, ruining both the no-hitter and the shutout. It was his first home run as a member of the Mets, though he hit 33 for the Dodgers last season.

Had he managed to retire Martinez, Iglesias would have put the icing on the cake celebrating the fourth no-hitter in Atlanta Braves history. Knuckleballer Phil Niekro, en route to the Baseball Hall of Fame, threw the first, victimizing the San Diego Padres in 1973. Then there were the two Mercker gems.

Oddly, Atlanta’s Hall of Fame trio of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Maddux never produced a no-hitter during their decade as teammates with the Braves. They are the only starting troika in Cooperstown that played together for at least 10 years.

Of the four 2023 no-hitters, three were complete games: by Framber Valdez (Astros), Michael Lorenzen (Phillies), and Domingo Germán (Yankees). The Germán gem, an 11-0 win against the hapless Oakland Athletics on June 28, was the 24th perfect game in baseball history.

Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writer
Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a national baseball writer for forbes.com; weekend editor of the Here’s The Pitch newsletter; columnist for Sports Collectors Digest; and contributor to USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Memories & Dreams, and many other outlets. He’s also the author of more than 40 books. His email is ballauthor@gmail.com.


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