Friday April 10th, 2015

On Thursday afternoon, the Indians came within two outs of completing a combined no-hitter against the Astros before Jed Lowrie clubbed a solo home run off reliever Nick Hagadone, Cleveland's third reliever of the day. The game began with starter Trevor Bauer, who over six innings did not yield a hit but was hardly a model of efficiency. While Bauer struck out 11 Astros, the 24-year-old righty was effectively wild, getting first-pitch strikes on just 12 of the 23 hitters he faced, walking five and needing 111 pitches to record his 18 outs.

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For the afternoon, Bauer generated 16 swings and misses, eight from among his 30 sliders, and yielded just seven balls in play. The first time through the order, every Astro either struck out or walked. Bauer had to escape a two-on, one-out jam in a 26-pitch first inning and a two-on, two-out jam in a 28-pitch second; strikeouts of Evan Gattis and Chris Carter ended the first of those threats, and a popout of Jose Altuve quelled the second. By the end of the third, Bauer was already at 71 pitches, but from Altuve until George Springer's walk to lead off the sixth, he retired 10 straight.

Had Hagadone been able to put a bow on the work of Bauer and relievers Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison—each of whom had thrown a hitless inning—the Indians would have completed the majors' 25th no-hitter since the start of the 2010 season; five were thrown last year. Two of those previous 24 no-hitters required more than one pitcher, including the Phillies' Cole Hamels-led effort last September. Those weren't the only times that a pitcher left a game with a no-hitter intact, however. What follows here is a look at eight such efforts which, like Bauer's, lasted at least six innings before pitch counts, injuries or the game situation dictated a change.

Kevin Slowey: Twins vs. Athletics, Aug. 15, 2010

A more-or-less–league-average starter for what remains the last Twins team to reach the postseason, Slowey had missed his previous turn in the rotation due to tendinitis in his elbow. He wasn't exactly sharp on this particular Sunday afternoon, getting first-pitch strikes against just 12 of the 25 A's he faced (a lineup that included the aforementioned Carter, incidentally), but he walked only three and struck out five over the course of seven innings and 106 pitches.

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Though Slowey hadn't allowed a hit, his recent health woes led manager Ron Gardenhire to take the long view and pull his starter after seven. Alas, reliever Jon Rauch served up a double to Cliff Pennington, the second batter he faced, and he wound up yielding two runs before order was restored in what ended as a 4–2 win.

"I would boo me too," said Gardenhire afterward. "I took a pitcher out with a no-hitter going. But I would do it 1,000 times the same way … I'd be booing too because I want to see a no-hitter, but I also know I'm responsible for this guy's arm."

Rich Harden: Rangers vs. Twins, Aug. 23, 2010

Eight days after Slowey's near-miss, the Twins were on the other end of the equation, kept at bay by the oft-injured Harden, a once-dazzling righty who stayed healthy so rarely that he reached the 162-inning mark, qualifying him for the ERA title, just once in nine major league seasons.

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The 28-year-old Harden came into his Monday night matchup at Target Field carrying a 5.45 ERA and fresh off a stint on the disabled list for shoulder tendinitis, that after an earlier seven-week DL stay due to a gluteal strain. He threw first-pitch strikes to just 11 of 23 hitters and walked five, but erased two via double plays. His walk to Michael Cuddyer with two outs in the sixth inning, however, pushed his pitch count to 111, forcing manager Ron Washington to pull him.

Matt Harrison got the final out of the frame, Darren O'Day pitched a hitless eighth, and Neftali Feliz got the first out of the ninth before walking Orlando Hudson and then giving up a single to Joe Mauer, who came in batting .330/.408/.488, having won the AL batting crown in three of the previous four seasons. Feliz recovered to close the door for a 4–0 win.

Chris Tillman: Orioles vs. Rays, April 2, 2011

Though well-regarded as a prospect, the 22-year-old Tillman had failed to stick in the Orioles' rotation to this point, getting battered for a 5.61 ERA over 23 starts in '09 and '10. He broke camp with the team to start the '11 season, took the ball in the second game and kept the Rays at bay in a scoreless duel with James Shields at Tropicana Field. Though he needed 46 pitches to clear the first two innings, he got through the next three innings on 34 pitches, at one point retiring 11 straight hitters before Ben Zobrist walked with one out in the sixth. Tillman recovered to strike out Johnny Damon and Sean Rodriguez, the latter his fifth whiff of the day, but with 101 pitches under his belt, Buck Showalter pulled the young righty.

Reliever Jeremy Accardo retired the first two batters he faced but surrendered a single to B.J. Upton, who ended the inning by being thrown out at home after a steal, an intentional walk and a Kelly Shoppach single. The game remained scoreless until Brian Roberts broke it open with three-run homer in the eighth, and the Orioles won 3–1, though Tillman would scuffle to the point of making just 13 starts with a 5.52 ERA, returning to Triple A Norfolk for a big chunk of the season.

Aaron Harang: Padres vs. Dodgers, July 9, 2011

Fresh off the DL after a four-week stay due to a stress fracture in his right foot, Harang and rookie Rubby De La Rosa had dueling no-hitters going at Dodger Stadium until the Padres' Cameron Maybin singled with no outs in the fifth. Meanwhile, Harang had struck out six and thrown 95 pitches through six innings, but with the game still scoreless, manager Bud Black began the bullpen parade.

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Josh Spence and Chad Qualls combined to work a hitless seventh, the latter working around an error and an intentional walk, and Mike Adams had to do the same, albeit with an unintentional walk, in the eighth. The Padres and Dodgers both remained scoreless into the bottom of the ninth, with Maybin's hit standing as the only one of the game, until Luke Gregerson yielded a two-out double to Juan Uribe and then a walkoff single to Dioner Navarro.

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

Kevin Millwood: Mariners vs. Dodgers, June 8, 2012

Author of a full-length no-hitter for the Phillies against the Giants back in '03, the 37-year-old Millwood was by this point enjoying a resurgence during the final season of his 16-year major league career. During the previous month, he had reeled off a stretch of 18 scoreless innings, including a two-hit–complete-game shutout at Coors Field.

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On this night at Safeco Field, Millwood and the Dodgers' Nathan Eovaldi matched zeroes through six innings, with Millwood's leadoff walk of Juan Rivera to start the fifth his lone blemish; even then, Rivera was erased via double play on the very next pitch. Millwood had thrown just 68 pitches through six innings, but on his first warmup pitch before the seventh, he suffered a groin strain and departed.

Manager Eric Wedge called upon a string of five relievers—Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen—to finish the 10th combined no-hitter in MLB history, with only Wilhelmsen throwing a complete inning. The game's lone run came when Kyle Seager drove in Ichiro Suzuki with a single off Scott Elbert in the seventh.

Erik Bedard: Astros vs. Mariners, July 20, 2013

Barely hanging onto a job and pitching for his fourth team in as many seasons, Bedard retired the first 12 Mariners he faced and 16 of the first 17—nine by strikeouts—with a leadoff walk by Kendrys Morales to start the fifth inning as the lone exception. With one out in the sixth, and the Astros sporting a 2-0 lead, Bedard walked both Michael Saunders and Brad Miller, who advanced on a passed ball by Jason Castro; a sacrifice fly scored the former and another passed ball plated the latter before Bedard escaped.

Both runs were unearned and the no-hitter remained intact, but when Bedard walked Justin Smoak with one out in the seventh, he was done, having thrown 109 pitches and struck out 10 while walking five. Reliever Jose Cisnero struck out pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley but walked Mike Zunino, then yielded a two-run double to Saunders, giving Seattle a 4–2 lead it would maintain.

Aaron Harang: Braves vs. Mets, April 18, 2014

Him again? Signed by the Braves during spring training after the Indians released him, Harang had already flirted with a no-hitter in his first start with his new team on April 2, when both he and opposite number Matt Garza, making his Brewers debut, held the other side without a hit until Garza surrendered a solo homer with two outs in seventh; Harang gave up a leadoff single to Logan Schafer to start the bottom of the seventh.

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In this one, Harang no-hit the Mets for seven innings, but in walking six and striking out five, he ran his pitch count to 121. The Braves came into the eighth clinging to a 1–0 lead, but they rallied for four runs against relievers Gonzalez Germen and Scott Rice, and the combination of a high pitch count and long stay on the bench made manager Fredi Gonzalez's decision to pinch-hit for Harang with two outs an easy one. Luis Avilan took over and got the first two outs of the eighth before David Wright singled, but the Braves won going away, 6–0.

Cole Hamels: Phillies vs. Braves, Sept. 1, 2014

Like Bauer, Hamels was similarly wild but effective, generating 18 swings-and-misses and striking out seven but throwing first-pitch strikes to just 13 of 24 hitters, walking five (tied for his season high) and hitting a batter. He walked the first two batters of the afternoon, Jason Heyward and Emilio Bonifacio, and put the leadoff hitter on in each of the first three frames. With runners on second and third and two outs in the third, Marlon Byrd's diving grab of a Chris Johnson liner kept the no-hitter intact, and from there, Hamels retired nine of the final 10 hitters he faced.

Hamels departed after six innings and 108 pitches, and by comparison, the Phillies' bullpen was a model of efficency. Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched perfect frames, needing just a combined 39 pitches to complete the 11th combined no-hitter in major league history and the first for the Phillies' franchise.

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