Odd No-Hitter Caps Miami’s Year
Miami — The reaction was muted. Henderson Alvarez’s arms went up, and he gave a little hop after Matt Tuiasosopo struck out. Alvarez had just completed his ninth inning of no-hit baseball in Sunday’s regular season finale against the Detroit Tigers.
Where was everybody? Catcher Koyie Hill didn’t run out to greet him and leap into his arms. None of Alvarez’s teammates mobbed him. The celebration would have to wait half an inning.
Locked in a scoreless game with the American League Central Division champions, the Miami Marlins orchestrated a ninth-inning rally to secure the fifth no-hitter in franchise history. His jaw working feverishly on a piece of gum in the dugout, Alvarez ultimately emerged to the on-deck circle and from there watched the unthinkable conclusion.
Luke Putkonen’s first delivery to pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs with two outs and the bases loaded was wild, giving the Marlins a 1-0 walk-off win and Alvarez the Marlins’ first no-no since current Tiger Anibal Sanchez did it to the Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the season’s third no-hitter also was the first in a regular-season finale since Mike Witt no-hit the Angels as a member of the Rangers in 1984.
“That’s how the Fish roll right there,” said rookie manager Mike Redmond, after the 62-100 campaign that ended on a season-high four-game winning streak. “A walk-off, no-hitter wild pitch. Why not? That was crazy.”
And rare. Since 1940, of the now-21 no-hitters that ended in a 1-0 victory, this was just the third instance when the winning pitcher tossed nine scoreless ahead of a walk-off victory.
The Marlins spilled onto the field as Giancarlo Stanton, who initiated the game-winning sequence with a one-out single, darted home. Alvarez’s jersey, which he shed during the celebration because it was choking him as teammates tugged on it, landed in the hands of Jose Fernandez. He raised it toward the stands and incited a roar from an already frenzied crowd of 28,315.
Upon striking out Tuiasosopo, Alvarez thought the game was over. Lost in the emotion as the ninth inning neared somwhere along the way he dreamed up a Marlins’ run.
“I went into the ninth with some nerves and I thought the game was 1-0,” he said. “That was the excitement I had. When I got to the third-base line and as I walked into the dugout, I asked (Placido) Polanco like, ‘Hasn’t the game ended?’ He said, ‘No (we have to score).’ ”
Three Tigers reached on Alvarez — Prince Fielder on a first-inning hit-by-pitch, Jose Iglesias on an Adeiny Hechavarria error in the sixth and Andy Dirks on a two-out walk in the ninth — during the 99-pitch effort. The Tigers, ahead of their playoff series with the Athletics, rested several regulars, including Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Alex Avila.
As in any no-hitter, Alvarez benefited from some nice defensive plays and a little luck. In the sixth, counterpart Justin Verlander sliced a pitch down the right-field line that bounced just foul in front of a charging Stanton. Three innings earlier, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made a nice leap to snare a Ramon Santiago liner.
Alvarez preserved the no-no himself with one out in the ninth. He speared Don Kelly’s sharp bouncer back up the middle that looked earmarked for center field.
“We played the game hard like it was the first day of the season or like we were going to the playoffs,” Alvarez said. “We came out to battle that ninth inning.”
Added catcher Koyie Hill: “It’s a good one to end on for sure.”