Just a few days ago, New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey nearly no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies, but instead settled for a one-hitter. It was the opposing pitcher, Cole Hamels, who denied him of the no-no. While that is quite rare, a pitcher losing a no-hitter deep into the outing because he was pulled by his manager is a situation perhaps even tougher to grasp.
Today, the aforementioned scenario occurred. Kevin Slowey of the Minnesota Twins was seven innings deep with no hits allowed, when manager Ron Gardenhire pulled the plug on his outing, much to the chagrin of a crowd that booed him in response.
Elbow tendinitis made Slowey miss his previous start. He had also thrown 106 pitches in today’s start. While he knew it wouldn’t be a crowd-pleasing move, and was even quoted saying “I would boo me too”, Gardenhire took Slowey out of the game to avoid risking a serious injury that would result from re-irritating the elbow. Because he had thrown so many pitches, Slowey’s elbow would have been in jeopardy had he continued to pitch.
The Twins went on to win the game 4-2, and Jon Rauch lost a combined no-hit bid on a double by Cliff Pennington. While he did not get a no-hitter, Slowey was the game’s winning pitcher and improved to 11-5 on the season.
The last time a pitcher was pulled during a potential no-hitter was May 2002. Damian Moss, who was a rookie and just 26 at the time, was also relieved after seven innings of no-hit work, as his pitch count had reached 116. David Cone was also replaced in the midst of a no-hitter in 1996, and his reason was the same as Slowey’s: it was his first start back from injury.
Had Slowey stayed in and finished the no-hitter, it would have been this year’s sixth. Never since 1884 have there been more than six no-hitters (without including combined no-hitters) in a season.