Mike Fiers’s curveball was working Friday night. The pitch appeared to come out of his hand on an incline, arc over the plate, then drop into the strike zone, and Fiers could put it wherever he wanted. It was unhittable. So was Fiers. In just his third start since being acquired by the Astros along with Carlos Gomez, Fiers, armed with that remarkable curveball, threw the fifth no-hitter of the 2015 season Friday night.
That he didn’t give up a hit was only part of what made the game so exceptional for Fiers, however. The team he no-hit was the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, who added Chase Utley to their lineup for the first time Friday night. Utley, incidentally, had a hit in each of his eight games since being activated from the disabled list coming into Friday night’s matchup against Fiers.
More than that, Fiers, a 30-year-old former 22nd-round pick who pitched exclusively in relief in his first year as a professional and didn’t make his first major league start until just two weeks shy of his 27th birthday, had never pitched into the ninth inning in any of his previous 58 major league starts. He had also never thrown more than 113 pitches in a major league game. On Friday night, Fiers entered uncharted water on both counts. He entered the ninth having thrown 120 pitches (he finished at 134), and remained unhittable.
Most Recent No-Hitters, By Team
Chicago Cubs: Jake Arrieta | April 21, 2016.
Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta threw the first no-hitter of the 2016 season, the second of his career and the 15th in franchise history, in a 16–0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, April 21.
Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer | Oct. 3, 2015
In his final regular start of the 2015 season, Max Scherzer struck out 17 New York Mets batters over nine hitless innings for his second no-hitter of the season.
Houston Astros: Mike Fiers | Aug. 21, 2015
Mike Fiers celebrates after tossing a no-hitter en route to the Houston Astros defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 at Minute Maid Park — the fifth no-hitter of the 2015 season.
Seatte Mariners:Hisashi Iwakuma | Aug. 12, 2015
Hisashi Iwakuma walked three batters and struck out seven while throwing a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 12, the first complete game of his four-year MLB career.
Cole Hamels | July 25, 2015
Cole Hamels faced just two batters over the minimum and amassed 13 strikeouts on 129 pitches in throwing a July 25 no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs.
San Francisco Giants: Chris Heston | June 9, 2015
Chris Heston, in his 13th career start, threw the first no-hitter against the New York Mets since 1969. It is the first no-hitter of the 2015 season and the 17th in Giants history.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw | June 18, 2014
Kershaw threw his first career no-hitter -- and the Dodgers' second no-hitter in less than a month -- against the Rockies in L.A. on Wednesday, June 18. His gem included 15 strikeouts and zero walks, but a Hanley Ramirez throwing error ruined his perfect game bid. Here's a look at the most recent no-hitters by team.
Miami Marlins: Henderson Alvarez | Sept. 29, 2013
Alvarez threw the only no-no to end on a wild pitch, and the fourth season-ending no-hitter ever in the Marlins 1-0 win. With the Tigers' playoff slot settled, they rested four starters and had pulled three others by the seventh inning. Miguel Cabrera, who won his third consecutive batting title, never stepped to the plate.
Cincinnati Reds: Homer Bailey | July 2, 2013
Bailey pitched his second no-hitter in 10 months, becoming the first player in baseball to throw MLB's two most recent no-no's since Nolan Ryan in 1974-75. Bailey allowed just one walk and struck out nine against the Giants in a 3-0 win, surrendering his perfect game in the in the 7th inning when he walked Gregor Blanco. Bailey would later get Blanco to ground out in the 9th to end the game, becoming the third pitcher in Reds history to throw multiple no-hitters.
New York Mets: Johan Santana | June 1, 2012
After 35 one-hitters, the Mets finally got the first no-no in franchise history. Johan Santana, who missed all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, struck out eight and walked five as New York beat the Cardinals 8-0. It left the Padres as the only team without a no-hitter.
Los Angeles Angels: Jered Weaver | May 2, 2012
Weaver pitched the 10th no-hitter in franchise history, striking out nine in a 9-0 victory over the Twins, who never came close to getting a hit. Weaver allowed just two baserunners. Chris Parmelee reached in the second inning when he struck out and advanced on Chris Iannetta's passed ball, and Josh Willingham worked a walk in the seventh. Weaver became the first Angels pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Angel Stadium since Nolan Ryan on June 1, 1975.
Chicago White Sox: Philip Humber | April 21, 2012
Philip Humber threw the first perfect game in almost two years, striking out nine for his first win of the season. It was the third perfecto in White Sox history, joining Mark Buehrle (Tampa Bay in 2009) and Charles Robertson (Detroit in 1922). Humber, a former first-round draft pick of the Mets who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005, needed only 96 pitches to complete the gem.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander | May 7, 2011
Verlander threw his second career no-hitter, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 9-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Verlander barely missed a perfect game. The only runner he allowed came with one out in the eighth inning, when rookie J.P. Arencibia drew a 12-pitch walk.
Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano | May 3, 2011
In his previous start Liriano had lasted three innings and his ERA had ballooned to 9.13. But he delivered the seventh no-hitter in Twins history, and the first since Eric Milton in 1999, as he struck out two and walked six in a 1-0 win over the White Sox. The 123-pitch effort was just the first complete game of Liriano's six-year career.
Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Garza | July 26, 2010
Garza pitched the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0. Garza faced the minimum 27 batters, allowing only a second-inning walk.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Edwin Jackson | June 25, 2010
Jackson overcame a wild start, leading the Diamondbacks to a 1-0 victory over the Rays. Jackson threw 149 pitches and walked eight, all but one in the first three innings, in the second no-hitter in D-backs' history.
Oakland Athletics: Dallas Braden | May 9, 2010
Braden was perfect on Mother's Day, recording the first perfect game for Oakland in 42 years. He was also the beneficiary of some flashy glovework, courtesy of Kevin Kouzmanoff, who sprinted to the dirt in front of Oakland's dugout to catch a foul popup by Dioner Navarro for the second out in the sixth.
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez | April 17, 2010
Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in Rockies history, dominating the Braves in a 4-0 victory. Jimenez walked six -- all in the first five innings -- and struck out seven. He was helped by Dexter Fowler's diving catch on Troy Glaus' drive to left-center field in the seventh inning.
Boston Red Sox: Jon Lester | May 19, 2008
At 22, Lester learned he had lymphoma, but after beating the cancer, he returned to win the clinching game of the 2007 World Series. Then in May 2008, Lester no-hit the Kansas City Royals, allowing just two walks and striking out nine in one of the most inspiring comebacks in baseball history.
St. Louis Cardinals: Bud Smith | Sept. 3, 2001
Smith became the 18th rookie since 1900 to throw a no-hitter, tossing a whopping 134 pitches in a 4-0 victory over the Padres. Smith made just 14 more appearances in the majors and was gone for good one year later, at 23.
New York Yankees: David Cone | July 18, 1999
With Don Larsen, the only man ever to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, on hand for Yogi Berra Day, David Cone tossed a perfect game of his own, silencing the Montreal Expos in a 5-0 win. Cone survived a 30-minute rain delay in the third inning, and needed just 88 pitches to complete his perfecto, which ended when he got Orlando Cabrera to pop out to third.
PIttsburgh Pirates: Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon | July 12, 1997
Cordova, a major league starter for less than a year, pitched the first nine innings of a no-hitter against the Astros. Rincon pitched another inning of no-hit ball when the scoreless game went to the 10th. The no-hitter wasn't secured until Mark Smith's walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th.
Texas Rangers: Kenny Rogers | July 28, 1994
Rogers became the first AL lefty to throw a perfect game when he shut down the Angels 4-0, the first no-hitter at the brand-new Ballpark at Arlington. Center fielder Rusty Greer preserved it with a diving catch on Rex Hudler to start the ninth. Greer had a much easier time handling the final out, a routine fly ball from Gary DiSarcina.
Atlanta Braves: Kent Mercker | April 8, 1994
Three years after pitching the first six innings of a no-hitter -- ultimately completed by teammates Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena -- Kent Mercker went solo in tossing nine innings of no-hit ball in a 6-0 victory over the Dodgers.
Kansas City Royals: Bret Saberhagen | Aug. 26, 1991
Bret Saberhagen had already won two Cy Young awards and pitched a shutout in the clinching Game 7 of the World Series in 1985, but had never thrown a no-hitter. He helped himself by snaring an eighth-inning line drive by Ozzie Guillen that would have been a hit. The last out was made by future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas on a ground out to second base.
Baltimore Orioles: Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson | July 13, 1991
Milacki, (inset left to right) Flanagan, Williamson and Olson combined for a no-hitter in by blanking the A's. Olson pitched the first six innings but left after he injured his hand deflecting a ball hit by Oakland's Willie Wilson. Flanagan, Williamson and Olson each pitched one hitless inning.
Toronto Blue Jays: Dave Stieb | Sept. 2, 1990
Four times previously, Stieb had taken a no-hitter into the ninth. Three times he lost it with one out to go, including back-to-back starts in Sept. 1988, the only time that's ever happened in baseball history. His luck finally changed on this night when he got Cleveland's Jeremy Browne to line to right for the final out of a 3-0 shutout. ''I had much better stuff the other times, much better control. I always knew it took a lot of luck to get a no-hitter,'' he said afterward.
Milwaukee Brewers: Juan Nieves | April 15, 1987
Nieves became the second-youngest pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter when he shut down the Orioles 7-0 at age 22. 18 months later, an arm injury ended his career.
Cleveland Indians: Len Barker | May 15, 1981
With a losing career record, Barker was an otherwise forgettable pitcher, except for what he achieved in May 1981, when he pitched just the tenth perfect game ever. ''I run into people almost every day who want to talk about it,'' he said in 2006. ''Everyone says, 'You're probably tired of talking about it.' I say, 'No, it's something to be proud of.' It's a special thing.''
The only baserunners Fiers allowed in the game came via three early walks. Fiers walked the third batter he faced, Justin Turner, with two out in the first, then walked Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson leading off the second and third, respectively. But none of those three runners reached second base, and after the walk to Pederson, Fiers retired 21 straight to complete the no-hitter.
Fiers didn’t need any extraordinary plays from his defense to keep the Dodgers hitless. The only play I saw that required anything other than what might be termed ordinary effort came on the first batter of the ninth inning. That batter, Utley’s former and once again current double-play partner Jimmy Rollins, hit a fastball to the 373 sign in rightfield that Jake Marisnick, the hitting star of the Astros’ 3–0 win, glided over to snag on the warning track with his back to the plate.
Prior to that, Fiers had struck out five batters in a row stretching back to the seventh inning, two of them (lefties Ethier and Carl Crawford) on three pitches. One of the five came on what, in my opinion, was his best curveball of the night, a wicked yakker (see GIF below) that appeared to be floating above Enrique Hernandez’s head before falling off a table to become a belt-high strike. Pederson followed Hernandez to the plate and took three straight balls, just the second 3–0 count of the game on a Dodgers hitter, but Fiers battled back and struck out the slumping rookie with a perfectly placed 89-mph fastball on the inside corner.
Fiers had shown little emotion to that point, but he leapt off the mound and pumped his fist when home plate umpire John Tumpane punched out Pederson. Fiers then reportedly informed his manager, A.J. Hinch, that there was no way he was going to come out of the game despite having already exceeded his career high in pitches by seven.
“I told him I wasn't going to come out of the game,” Fiers told reporters after the game. “He'd have to throw me in the clubhouse, lock me somewhere.”
In the ninth, after Rollins’s deep fly caused the righthander’s heart to skip a beat, Fiers got Utley to hit a more conventional fly-out to right. He then got ahead of Turner 0-1 and 1-2 before evening the count with an overthrown fastball that sailed high, pulling catcher Jason Castro out of his crouch. Fiers regrouped and painted the outside corner with a 91-mph fastball that Turner swing through for strike three, his 10th strikeout of the game, sealing the no-hitter.
Fiers’s no-no is the first in Minute Maid Park history. It is also the first by Houston since six Astros combined to no-hit the Yankees in New York on June 11, 2003, and the first by a single Astros pitcher, as well as the first in Houston, since the late Darryl Kile no-hit the Mets at the Astrodome a decade earlier on Sept. 8, 1993. The last time the Dodgers were no-hit was also a combined no-hitter, that coming at the hands of Kevin Millwood and five Mariners relievers on June 8, 2012. The last time a single pitcher no-hit the Dodgers was when Kent Mercker did it on April 8, 1994 in the first no-hitter in the major leagues after Kyle’s. Meawhile, Fiers is the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter after being traded in the same season since Jim Bibby threw one for the Texas Rangers on July 30, 1973 after being traded from the Cardinals on June 8 of that year.
Fiers’s no-hitter comes just nine days after Hisashi Iwakuma broke a three-year no-hitter drought for American League pitchers and is the first no-hitter by an American League team other than the Mariners since Jered Weaver’s on May 2, 2012. The last five no-hitters by American League pitchers have now been thrown by AL West teams (Weaver, Angels; Millwood and company, Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma, Mariners; Fiers, Astros). This is now the fourth season out of the last six to yield at least five no-hitters, matching last year’s total with exactly that amount.