The Tampa Bay Rays were almost bit by the no-hit bug once again. Brendan Morrow of the Toronto Blue Jays carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth inning. After getting the first two outs in the inning, the no-no was lost on a base hit by Evan Longoria who just got the ball past a diving Adam Lind. Morrow got the complete game victory by giving up just one hit while striking out 17 and walking only 2. As impressive and disappointing this performance was, Morrow is one in the long line of pitchers to lose a no-hitter in the ninth. Stew Thornley on his webpage milkeespress.com highlights the perfect games and no-hitters that have been lost in the ninth inning since 1961. Click here to see the list.
While there have been many pitchers to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning, I believe that there is one out of them all who was the most impressive than the rest. Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays was a workhorse of a pitcher who lost three no-hitters with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (Stieb also lost a no-hitter in the ninth with no outs in 1985). What I believe to be most impressive is the last two that Stieb lost were done in back-to-back starts. Stieb had no-hit the Cleveland Indians on September 24, 1988 until giving up a hit to Julio Franco. During his next start on September 30, 1988, Stieb lost another no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. This time the lost no-no came at the hands of Jim Traber of the Baltimore Orioles. Stieb finally achieved his long overdue goal of pitching a no-hitter by defeating the Cleveland Indians on September 2, 1990.
Only one pitcher in the history of the game has thrown two consecutive no-hitters. That fortunate fellow was Johnny Vander Meer who no-hit the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers whle pitching for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938. What makes his achievement more impressive is that he threw the no-hitters four days apart: June 11, 1938 and June 15, 1938.
In a related article Wayne Graczyk of the Japan Times writes the following article: Rash of MLB no-hitters recalls NPB gems from past. I have always been fascinated by the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB)and look to find out any new information on the league. The league's roots can be traced back to 1934 and was re-organized in 1950. Graczyk's article notes that there have been 17 perfect games in the history of the NPB and he describes some of the more unique ones. Check it out for an interesting read.