Tuesday, July 12, 2005

July 12th, 1997

Astros Play at Pirates

I'd like to say that every time I see something notable in a baseball game I instantly recognize it and make a note. But of course, that's not true, and this game is a perfect example of it. I was at the town where my family has a summer house and being that July is hot, even by the beach, a pair of friends and I decided to stay inside, order some buffalo wings and watch TV. After a round of channel surfing, we discovered ESPN was showing this Astros-Pirates game and discovered further that Pittsburgh starter Francisco Cordova was pitching a no-hitter.

Cordova kept retiring Astros without surrendering a hit but Astros starter Chris Holt and reliever Billy Wagner refused to surrender a run and after nine innings the game was still tied at zero. For the tenth, Pirates manager Gene Lamont decided not to send his weary starter out for another inning and instead went to lefty Ricardo "Ricky" Rincon. While I wondered aloud to my friends how many no-hitters had been pitched by more than one pitcher (a question to which I still don't know the answer) Rincon set down the Astros in order, bringing the Pirates up for their half of the tenth.

Facing Astros pitcher John Hudek the Pirates got two on with two outs for pinch-hitter Mark Smith. Smith drilled a Hudek pitch over the wall for a game winning, walk off three-run home run. Equally important to the Pirates as the victory, which moved them in a tie for first with the 'Stros, was the no-hitter. Although I didn't know it at the time, it was (and is) the only multi-reliever extra inning no-hitter in all of Major League Baseball history.

So I may not recognize every interesting baseball moment the instant I see it. But at least I can look 'em up later and share 'em with the world.

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