Sunday, July 16, 2006

Durham no-hitter

Jason Hammel and Juan Salas combined on a no-hitter Sunday for Durham.

Hammel worked 8 1/3 innings and Salas got the final two outs in the Bulls' 4-1 win over the Columbus Clippers. Columbus scored in the ninth on a hit batsman, two errors and a wild pitch.

According to Tampa Bay's media guide, it's the fifth no-hitter in the Rays' organization. None of the previous four were combined no-hitters.

Jason Standridge -- June 28, 1999 with low-A Charleston (S.C.), seven innings
Doug Waechter -- Aug. 10, 2000 with short-season Hudson Valley
Gerardo Garcia -- May 22, 2002 with Class AA Orlando
Chad Gaudin -- July 15, 2003 with Class AA Orlando, a seven-inning perfect game

I've seen four no-hitters, but one barely counts.

In college, three pitchers combined on a rainy, six-inning perfect game. Hey, the school still claims it. Fortunately, I've seen more.

While I was in college, I witnessed two within two weeks. It was toward the end of a summer term when a friend and I decided to make the 40-minute drive to the nearest minor-league franchise, which was playing a doubleheader. A third friend declined to go because he had to study or something. Game 1 was the no-no. When the two of us got back to campus, we called the third guy: "Hey, you missed a no-hitter."

Two weeks later, it was the day or two before the fall term started. The same friend and I made the same drive. The same third friend declined to go. It was a combined no-hitter. When we got back, we (of course) called: "Hey, you missed another one." Hysterical laughter on our part followed.

In 1999, I went to a series at Bank One Ballpark (hasn't the name changed?) in Phoenix. Jose Jimenez of the St. Louis Cardinals tied up with Arizona's Randy Johnson. The Big Unit was going through a month where he might have given up a combined 15 hits and didn't win a game. He didn't win that night, either. I remember the Seventh Inning Stretch came about the 1-hour, 10-minute mark and Buck Showalter arguing a nothing call to try to distract Jimenez. It didn't matter.

There was a near-miss in 1998, one that I remember because it was at Dodger Stadium and their fans backed up their reputation. Chan Ho Park was perfect after seven. There were two fans next to me. During the bottom of the seventh, one looked at the other and uttered the phrase: "Let's go. We can listen to Vin (Scully) for the rest of this one." There might have been a confrontation had they seen my facial expression. Jason Kendall hit Park's first pitch of the eighth inning for the Pirates' lone hit.

One major joy that 1998 night was knowing that the AP would send out a no-hitter bulletin after six innings and my co-workers would see it, realize I was at the game and start cussing me. I found out later that two other friends who were on an East Coast trip watched SportsCenter that night. SportsCenter's segment on the game had "... Park perfect through three (highlight) ... Park perfect through four (highlight) ..." Those two were screaming at the TV in disgust until that single.

Enough of my no-hitter stories? Anybody have their own?

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