Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The No-Hitter That Wasn't

Nineteen years ago today, the Yankees played their final game in old Comiskey Park, wrapping up a three game weekend series against the White Sox. The Yankees were in the midst of a historically bad season that was about to get worse.

Major League Baseball on the other hand was also in the midst of a good historic season. After zero no-hitters in 1989, and just one in both 1987 and 1988, no-hitters were growing on trees in 1990. Entering play that day, there had already been four, including Nolan Ryan's record sixth (he would add a seventh the following year) and two, from Dave Stewart and Fernando Valenzuela, just two days before on June 29th. Before the season ended, a modern record seven no-hitters were thrown. That mark would be tied the following year, but the events of July 1st would prevent 1990 from tying the 1884 record of eight no-hitters in a single year.

Andy Hawkins took the mound for the Yankees that day. Despite leading the team in wins with 15 the previous year (more than twice as many as any teammate), Hawkins was a bad pitcher. He had an ERA+ of just 80 to go with his 15 wins, and entered that July 1st game at 1-4 with a 6.49 ERA. He was surrendering a ghastly 10.85 H/9, but for that afternoon at least, he was able to put his troubles behind him.

Hawkins was perfect through four and two thirds, before surrendering back-to-back walks in the fifth. He induced a Sammy Sosa flyout to end the inning, then worked a perfect sixth. He allowed a leadoff walk in the seventh, but then retired the next two batters with a caught stealing sandwiched in between.

Meanwhile, the Yankee offense was as anemic as it would be that entire awful season. Chicago starter Greg Hibbard was perfect through five and a third, before surrendering consecutive infield singles to 8 and 9 hitters Bob Geren and Alvaro Espinoza. Hibbard then got Roberto Kelly and Steve Sax to end the threat.

In the seventh, the Yankees would get their final two hits of the afternoon, as Jesse Barfield and Jim Leyritz contributed two out singles. Mike Blowers then flew to center to end the inning. All three would figure prominently in the game's undoing in the bottom of the eighth.

Hawkins retired the first two batters before the wheels came off. Sosa bounced what should have been an inning-ending grounder to Blowers at third, but he reached when Blowers booted it. After Sosa stole second, Hawkins issued his fourth and fifth free passes of the afternoon, loading the bases.

Hawkins coaxed a flyball to left off the bat of future Yankee Robin Ventura. This too should have ended the inning, but Leyritz dropped it, clearing the bases and putting the Yankees in a 3-0 hole. The next batter, the late Ivan Calderon, flew to right, where Barfield dropped the ball, scoring Ventura and capping the scoring at 4-0. A pop to short off the bat of former Yankee Dan Pasqua ended the six out inning for the ChiSox.

The Yankees went quietly in the ninth, as Chicago managed to work around an error of their own. Hawkins' final line: 8 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 3 K. Because he didn't go nine innings and his team didn't win, he is not credited with an official no-hitter. Not nearly as unjust as Harvey Haddix' 12 perfect innings in a losing effort, yet perfectly indicative of the ineptitude that was the 1990 Yankees.

Less than two weeks later, the Yankees would be on the other end of a no-hitter that wasn't. On July 12th, facing the same White Sox at Yankee Stadium, Melido Perez, a future Yankee and brother of then-Yankee Pascual Perez, surrendered no hits in a complete game outing that was shortened to seven innings by rain. Again, because he didn't go nine innings, the game doesn't count as an official no-no.

Hawkins, by the way, took the loss in that one as well. But perhaps the start he made between the two White Sox games was the cruelest of all. Facing the Twins in the first game of a July 6 doubleheader at the Stadium, Hawkins threw nine shutout innings. Unfortunately, the Yankees' dead bats society couldn't push a single run across. Hawkins stayed in, throwing a scoreless tenth and eleventh. He had two outs in the twelfth when back-to-back singles scored the two men he'd previously walked. The Yankees lost 2-0. Over two starts Hawkins threw 19.2 innings, gave up just six hits and two earned runs, and had two losses to show for it. Such were the 1990 Yankees.

Tomorrow we'll be back with a look back at a more pleasant no-no.


  1. I completely forgot about this game. Man, what a season. Thanks for reminding me about this repressed memory, especially since I'm now mired on forcing myself to relive those games in a "confronting your demons" act of therapy, when I should be researching atypical antipsychotics.

  2. Sorry for digging up unpleasant memories. Don't put yourself through looking at the old box scores. Just deny that the 1990 Yankee season ever even happened. Kind of like my outlook on the last two Rocky movies.