It's been 3,914 regular season games since the Oakland Athletics recorded no hits against Baltimore Orioles pitchers Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, and Gregg Olson on July 13, 1991. Now that the Cincinnati Reds failed to record a hit against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta on Thursday, it's now the longest active no no-hit streak in MLB (visualization from Scott Lindholm as of the end of April 21):
If you click the "All-Time" tab on that chart, you'll see that the A's are probably a little over 10 years away from the American League record of 5,550 games held by the 1973-2008 Kansas City Royals, and just under 25 years away from the MLB record of 7,920 games owned by the 1965-2015 Chicago Cubs.
The A's surpassed their previous franchise record no no-hit streak of 3,623, owned by the 1923-1947 Philadelphia A's, 291 games ago in the 51st game of the 2014 campaign.
Close calls: No-hitters broken up by the A's in the 9th
The last 25 years haven't been without their dangers. The A's have recorded only one hit in a game 19 times in the last 3,914 contests, according to Baseball-Reference.com:
|A's one-hitters at the plate since 7/13/91|
|Date||Opp||Broken up by||Off of||Inn||Out||Rslt||Other opposing pitchers|
|8/14/91||SEA||Mike Gallego||Randy Johnson||9||0||L 0-4||--|
|5/16/93||SEA||Lance Blankenship||Randy Johnson||9||1||L 0-7||--|
|8/23/93||DET||Scott Lydy||Mike Moore||6||1||L 0-9||--|
|6/21/94||KCR||Terry Steinbach||Mike Magante||5||2||L 0-2||
|6/15/95||KCR||Mark McGwire||Mark Gubicza||4||1||L 0-7||--|
|9/2/96||NYY||Jose Herrera||Mariano Rivera||9||1||L 0-5||David Cone|
|5/2/98||TOR||Ben Grieve||Roger Clemens||7||0||L 0-7||Paul Quantrill|
|5/21/06||SFG||Jay Payton||Matt Cain||3||0||L 0-6||--|
|6/20/06||COL||Jason Kendall||Jason Jennings||1||0||L 0-6||
|7/7/06||LAA||Mark Kotsay||John Lackey||1||0||L 0-3||--|
|6/7/07||BOS||Shannon Stewart||Curt Schilling||9||2||L 0-1||--|
|8/16/10||TOR||Conor Jackson||Shaun Marcum||7||0||L 1-3||--|
|9/2/10||NYY||Mark Ellis||CC Sabathia||2||0||L 0-5||Jonathan Albaladejo|
|8/21/11||TOR||Jemile Weeks||Luis Perez||6||1||L 0-1||Casey Janssen|
|4/10/12||KCR||Cliff Pennington||Danny Duffy||3||1||L 0-3 (7)||Aaron Crow|
|5/19/12||SFG||Seth Smith||Ryan Vogelsong||5||1||L 0-4||
|5/22/12||LAA||Cliff Pennington||C.J. Wilson||5||1||L 0-5||Ernesto Frieri|
|5/21/14||TBR||Brandon Moss||Erik Bedard||4||2||W 3-2||
|7/31/15||CLE||Eric Sogard||Danny Salazar||3||0||L 1-2||Cody Allen|
In bold are the four occasions that the A's have gotten their lone hit in the ninth inning. Thanks to sports researcher Stew Thornley, I can also say that these are the only four occasions in the last 25 years that the A's have broken up a no-hitter in the ninth inning or later. That is, there have been no multi-hit ninth innings that my one-hitter search would have missed.
Seattle's Randy Johnson, twice
The Big Unit has two no-hitters to his credit, one against the Tigers in 1990 and the other his perfect game against the Braves in 2004. Randy Johnson also has five nine-inning one-hitters, and two of them were against the A's.
The first one: August 14, 1991
The A's were so close to being no-hit twice in just over a month. The A's entered their August 14, 1991 contest against the Seattle Mariners 64-50, four games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL West and 3.5 games ahead of the Mariners.
Coming off a 1990 All-Star Game appearance, Johnson was struggling with his command, and would concede a league-most 152 walks by the end of 1991. He had a 3.98 ERA that year, and by ERA+ that would end up the fourth-worst season of his career. He would not have a season worse than that until 2006.
But he still struck out 228 batters in 1991, and those strikeout totals killed the A's on August 14, 1991 in their 4-0 one-hit loss to Seattle at the Kingdome:
|Randy Johnson W (11-8)||9||1||0||0||3||12||0||30||138||87||94|
The A's did not get their first baserunner until Scott Brosius drew a walk to lead off the top of the sixth inning, but Brosius was promptly retired after what looks like a crazy play in the box score that involved a stolen base, an E3 that advanced Brosius to third base, and a 3-2 putout at the plate. Johnson thus entered the ninth inning having faced the minimum through eight with Brosius, Mike Gallego, and Mike Bordick due up.
Brosius drew another leadoff walk. Who knows whether having to pitch out of the stretch at that late stage screwed things up for Johnson, but with Brosius running, Gallego slapped a line drive single through the left side to leave Johnson three outs shy. Gallego wasn't trying to protect Brosius, he told Bob Sherwin and Bob Finnigan of the Seattle Times, it was a straight steal:
No, he didn't. "It was not a hit-and-run play," Gallego said. "It was a straight steal, and I just liked the pitch. And, yeah, it was up and in and might not have been a strike."
The line shot went cleanly through the left side, ending the no-hit tension but generating Seattle concern about the game's outcome.
Seattle need not have worried. Brook Jacoby struck out pinch hitting for Bordick, and then Rickey Henderson walked to load the bases, but Willie Wilson and Jose Canseco both struck out to complete Johnson's 138-pitch shutout.
The second one: May 16, 1993
1993 was a dark season for the A's, the first of six consecutive seasons under .500. Oakland would end up 68-94, seventh out of the seven teams in the AL West, and 26 games out of first. The Mariners did a little bit better in '93, finishing 82-80 but still 12 games behind the dominant Chicago White Sox.
For Randy Johnson, 1993 meant a second All-Star selection and finishing second in the AL Cy Young Award voting behind Chicago's Jack McDowell. McDowell had 22 wins that year, but it's ludicrous Kansas City's Kevin Appier didn't win it that year. Johnson struck out 308, and for the first time in his career he made at least 30 starts and conceded fewer than 100 walks, finishing with exactly 99.
The A's ran into the start of Johnson's extended run of total dominance on May 16, 1993 just as Oakland's run of dominance was clearly over:
|Randy Johnson W (6-2)||9||1||0||0||3||14||0||30||123||79||96|
Oakland waited for the eighth inning to get a baserunner, a one-out Kevin Seitzer walk. But once again Johnson got through eight facing the minimum after Brent Gates grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.
With the A's trailing 7-0 headed into the ninth, Johnson repeated history by walking the first batter, but he got one step closer to no-hitting the A's by retiring Terry Steinbach on a grounder to short. Lance Blankenship saved the day with a bloop single into right that contemporary accounts say "Jay Buhner didn't have a chance to make a play."
Jose Herrera and Mariano Rivera: September 2, 1996
Art Howe's first year as A's manager came as the A's finished with their lowest attendance since 1980. The 1996 club's 78-84 record was the best since 1992, but the A's were still three years away from hopping over .500.
The Yankees were just beginning their run of extreme dominance that would eventually draw comparisons to the Bronx Bombers of 1939. Joe Torre was on his way to his first World Series win with the Yankees, and the batting order on his lineup card for September 2, 1996 was Jeter, Williams, O'Neill, Fielder, Martinez, Strawberry, Hayes, Duncan, and Girardi.
Pitching for the Yankees that day was David Cone. It was his first game back after surgery to remove an aneurysm near his right armpit that had kept him from pitching since May, so he was on a pitch limit. Fortunately for Cone, he didn't need that many pitches to get through seven no-hit innings:
|David Cone W (5-1)||7||0||0||0||3||6||0||1.72||23||85||55||80|
But the three walks, including two in the first inning, were enough to force Joe Torre to turn to his primary setup man, Mariano Rivera, to try to preserve the no-hit bid for two innings.
In the ninth, Rivera retired Mike Bordick on a grounder to short, but Jose Herrera "slapped a grounder to third that did not rise six inches above the grass and nicked off [Charlie] Hayes's glove. It caromed to shortstop and Herrera dived headfirst into first base to narrowly beat Derek Jeter's throw," wrote Jack Curry of the New York Times. The A's kept this streak alive with an infield single.
Rivera went on to strike out Tony Batista and then Jason Giambi grounded to second to give the Yankees a 5-0 win. David Cone would go on to throw MLB's 16th perfect game on July 18, 1999. Rivera went on to become the all time saves leader with 652.
Curt Schilling: One out away on June 7, 2007
The A's went almost 11 years between one-hitters, perhaps not coincidentally this included the early golden age of Billy Beane's tenure as general manager that included eight winning seasons from 1999 to 2006. In 2007, however, Bob Geren took over for Ken Macha, and between that and a number of other personnel moves the A's were headed to a 76-86 year.
Like the one 11 years prior, this June 7, 2007 one-hitter came against a club that would go on to win that year's World Series, the Boston Red Sox. The names on Terry Francona's lineup card that Thursday June afternoon were Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, Alex Cora, and Coco Crisp.
Pitching for the Red Sox was Curt Schilling.
|Curt Schilling W (6-2)||9||1||0||0||0||4||0||3.49||29||100||71||89|
Of these four one-hitters, Schilling's was the only one where the starter did not allow a walk. The perfect game was broken up in the bottom of the fifth when Dan Johnson reached on an error charged to shortstop Julio Lugo in the fifth inning.
The error proved critical, as it meant leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart got to bat for a fourth time with two out in the bottom of the ninth after Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall both grounded out to short:
The Associated Press' game story will tell you the rest:
Maybe the next time a Boston pitcher takes a no-hit bid into the ninth inning, he'll listen to catcher Jason Varitek.
"We get two outs, and I was sure, and I had a plan, and I shook Tek off," Schilling said. "And I get a big 'What if?' for the rest of my life."
It was the closest Schilling ever came to a no-hitter.
Can the A's hold on for another 25 years?
Well they've made it this far, so let's say yes.
Except, uh oh, the A's face the Cubs in August. Hopefully they miss Jake Arrieta. Jon Lester, too.