Yesterday afternoon, David Bush of the Brewers no-hit the Blue Jays through seven innings. He gave up a leadoff triple to Lyle Overbay to start the eighth, and Overbay scored on the very next play when Alex Rios singled. Bush finished the inning, leaving the game with an 8-1 lead. He then had to watch as Toronto tagged the Milwaukee bullpen for six runs in the top of the ninth, including a home run by Overbay and a grand slam by Joe Inglett. The game ended with the tying run on first.
Although the Blue Jays came up short, it was a pretty good offensive showing for a team that didn’t get its first hit until the eighth inning. This got me wondering what the record was for most runs scored by a team that lay fallow for the majority of a game only to come alive in the late stages. Let’s take a look at the best late standing starts since 1957.
Eighth inning, none out: Seven Runs; Brewers 8 – Blue Jays 7 (June 19, 2008)
As it turns out, the Jays mustered the most runs by any team that was being no-hit as of the start of the eighth inning or later. If A.J. “On the Whole I’d Rather Be in Chicago” Burnett hadn’t coughed up eight runs to the Brewers, the Toronto record rally would have been a lot more dramatic, giving the Jays a win to celebrate rather than just an arcane record.
The old mark was six, and was held by three teams. Most recently, in the second game of a doubleheader on May 1, 2003, what could have been the highlight of a very dismal season instead became just another one of Detroit’s 119 losses, as the Orioles beat Mike Maroth 6-4 after he had held them hitless for seven frames. Back on June 24, 1979, Wayne Twitchell of the Expos lost his perfect-game bid and had a 5-0 lead go south when the Pirates got four in the eighth, tied it in the ninth, and won it in the 10th. Eleven days earlier that same season, the A’s Mike Norris lost his no-hitter and the Indians scored six in the home eighth to win 6-4.
Eighth inning, one out: Five Runs (three teams tied)
- Cardinals 13 – Blue Jays 5 (June 5, 2003): Woody Williams gave up the one-out single to Orlando Hudson and then retired the side; he bowed out with a 13-0 lead. Dustin Hermanson came in to start the ninth and surrendered the five-spot without retiring a batter. Esteban Yan got the final three outs.
- Cardinals 10 – Braves 5 (August 22, 1989): With one out in the eighth, Ted Power gave up his first hit, a two-run homer by pinch-hitter Tommy Greg. An error and a Lonnie Smith double were then followed by a Dale Murphy home run. Three relievers finished off the Braves from there.
- Yankees 5 – White Sox 2 (July 26, 1987): Rich Dotson was cruising along, retiring the first 22 Yankees he faced. Mike Pagliarulo shattered his dreams with a one-out single, then Mike Easler doubled him to third, and Dan Pasqua erased the 2-0 White Sox lead with a three-run bomb for the Bombers. Dotson was sent back out for the ninth and surrendered home runs to Gary Ward and Dave Winfield while his teammates were succumbing to the charms of Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti.
Eighth inning, two out: Six Runs*; Yankees 6 – Indians 4 (August 3, 1990)
This one is marked with an asterisk because the Yankees actually only scored four runs after getting their first hit. They had already scored two in the first on a hit batsman, an error, a wild pitch, and a groundout to take a 2-1 lead. With that initial mayhem out of the way, Tom Candiotti almost got out of the eighth without allowing a hit, but an error by shortstop Felix Fermin prolonged the inning long enough to allow Oscar Azocar an opportunity to single and knock Candiotti out of the game. Mel Hall followed with a three-run homer off of Doug Jones to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. All of that left Candiotti with the unlikely pitching line of 7.1 1 5 0 2 7. It is possible that there is a team or teams that have scored five runs in this situation, or also four. Further research is needed.
Ninth inning, none out: Five Runs; A’s 6 – Orioles 4 (July 15, 1974)
The Orioles had already scored a run off of Wayne Garland when Reggie Jackson led off the second with a walk, advanced to second on a groundout, stole third, and scored on an error by Bobby Grich. Garland, leading 4-1, lost his no-hitter when Dick Green led off the ninth with a single. An error by Boog Powell and two more singles chased Garland, who gave way to Grant Jackson. Reggie Jackson smacked a double to tie it, and two more runs scored on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.
Ninth inning, one out: Three Runs (three teams tied)
- Blue Jays 4 – Rangers 3 (June 17, 1995): David Cone‘s bid for his first career no-hitter came a cropper when Benji Gil singled with one out. He moved to third on a single by Rusty Greer one out later, but Cone would have escaped with a shutout if not for an Alex Gonzalez error which plated one and kept the game alive for Shawn Hare to poke a two-run single before Cone struck out Ivan Rodriguez to end it. On September 2 of the following year, Cone pitched seven innings of no-hit ball before being yanked because of his pitch count (it was his first start after four months on the disabled list). He finally got resolution on those lost opportunities in 1999 with a perfect game.
- Phillies 10 – Astros 3 (July 20, 1983): The Phillies had staked Charlie Hudson to a 10-0 lead heading into the ninth, and when he struck out Harry Spilman to open the inning, it looked good for his no-hit bid. Craig Reynolds ruined that idea, though, singling up the middle. A shutout was still in the cards when Omar Moreno was retired, but then Denny Walling and Dickie Thon hit back-to-back home runs to kill off that notion as well.
- Braves 9 – Cardinals 3 (May 15, 1965): Bob Hendley had a sweet deal going, up by the forfeit score, but Curt Flood busted his no-hit bid with a triple that scored George Altman, who had reached on an error. Two singles and another error finished the damage.
Ninth inning, two out: Three Runs (two teams tied)
- Red Sox 6 – Brewers 3 (July 21, 1975, Game 1): Rick Wise had famously pitched a no-hitter in which he also hit two home runs. Now, with the designated hitter in effect, he would have had to settle for just the no-hitter. Instead, Red Sox George Scott trashed that with a two-run homer, and Bobby Darwin followed with a solo shot.
- Braves 3 – Astros 2 (September 13, 1969): “It turned out to be one of those mean, tough ballgames you try to win even while you’re sitting on the bench.” So wrote Jim Bouton in Ball Four. Larry Dierker and Phil Niekro squared off in a pitcher’s duel that saw Dierker lose his no-hit bid on a Felix Milan single with two outs in the ninth. Even if he’d retired Milan, he would have still had to come out for the 10th, as Niekro was keeping Houston at bay as well (he’d scatter six hits through 11 innings). The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the top of the 13th and Dierker was finally given the rest of the night off in favor of Fred Gladding. “They belted him all over the lot,” Bouton wrote, “so [Don] Blasingame came in and walked in the winning run. Heartbreaker.” Bouton admired Dierker’s stoicism in the wake of the loss; he said it was why Paul Richards approvingly described him as “a cold-blooded, fish-eyed son of a bitch.” Dierker was still in his early 20s at the time.
Perhaps there is a bit of bias talking here, but I would have to nominate the Mets as the most interesting extra-inning team of all time–or at least in the era since they came into existence. In this particular extra-frame outing, Jim Maloney of the Reds whiffed 17 Mets through 10 innings without allowing a hit; New York’s only offense to that point was an Ed Kranepool walk to lead off the second inning. Meanwhile Frank Lary and Larry Bearnarth were shutting out the most potent offense in the National League. They were helped in small part by two Leo Cardenas sacrifice bunts; both came with the pitcher on deck. Maloney’s string ran out when Johnny Lewis led off the top of the 11th with a home run. Maloney allowed another single and struck out one more, which tied him for the National League record at the time, with 18.
Thirteenth inning, one out: One Run; Braves 1 – Pirates 0 (May 26, 1959)
One of the most famous games in baseball history, the likes of which we will never see again. Harvey Haddix set down 36 consecutive Milwaukee Braves while his teammates were putting 45 balls into play against Lew Burdette. Twelve of them fell for hits, but the Pirates also could not score. Haddix batted in the top of the 13th, and then lost his perfect game in the bottom of the frame. Felix Mantilla reached on a Don Hoak error to start the home half, Eddie Mathews laid down a sacrifice (he was slugging .619 at the time), and Hank Aaron was walked intentionally. Joe Adcock ended the game by popping one over the fence. The 3-0 win became a 1-0 win, though, when Aaron stopped running after reaching second base and Adcock passed him. It makes for two things from the ’50s that I’ve always found frustrating to read about: the Korean War, and this game.
Thanks to Bil Burke for his research.