Rays allow no hits, but don’t get a no-hitter

by Gary Shelton on July 8, 2021

in general

Kiermaier drove in five runs in the first game./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday,, 3 a.m.

Officially, it wasn't a no hitter. The accountants who run Major League Baseball, the guys who make the rules, say so.

On the other hand, did you see any Cleveland hits in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays?

Let's see. None at the top of the batting order. None in the middle. None by the bottom of the lineup. None anywhere.

Just asking, but when a team gets no hit, doesn't that make it a no-hitter?

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Sadly, for a relay team of Rays' relievers, it won't count as one in baseball lore. Baseball requires a team to throw nine innings of no-hit baseball before it can be designated as one -- even though the Rays' pitchers had nothing to do with the length of the game.

I mean, really? Baseball has 10,000 different statistics, including one that lists the number of catches a left-handed outfielder makes with his cap. Someone can't make 10,0001 to include a seven-inning no-hitter?

(Just a thought: Is it still a shutout when it only goes seven innings? Is it still a win?)

The Rays pieced together the game on performances by Collin McHugh (two innings), Josh Fleming (2 2/3 innings), Diego Castillo (one third of an inning), Michael Wisler (one inning) and Pete Fairbanks (one inning). The Indians managed just two walks.

“They make the rules and we’ve got to follow them," Fairbanks said. "We’ll take not giving up any hits and getting a W."

Fairbanks was asked if he'll tell his children he was part of a no-hitter.

"I'll tell them I was part of a seven-inning no hitter," Fairbanks said.

Said Rays' manager Kevin Cash: "Whatever. They didn’t give up any hits. I think they did a tremendous job. That's tough to do. Seven innings, nine innings, it’s tough to do. McHugh’s on as good a reliever run as I’ve ever seen.

“if MLB has said they’re not going to honor it, that’s what we go with. We can still appreciate it and certainly celebrate that the guys pitched really, really well. I’m not going to challange how they view it."

Regardless of how you remember it, the Indians -- in a woeful slump -- had no hits. Zip. Nada. Nil.

The closest Cleveland came was in the third, when Oscar Mercado hit a grounder to short on which rookies Wander Franco and Taylor Walls collided. The play was scored a hit, then changed to an error.

"I initially thought it should have been an error," Walls said. "It's  a routine play for both us , whether he makes it or I make it. We make that play 10 out of 10 times. That’s something the pitcher shouldn’t have to regret."

The Rays also won the first game of the double-header, 8-1. Kevin Kiermaier drove in five runs in that one with a two-run double and a three-run homer.

In that game, rookie Vidal Brujan made his debut. In the first inning, he had a hit, a stolen base, scored a run, drove in one and made a good defensive play. In the second game, both Franco and Walls were impressive on defense.

"It’s not the future," Cash said. "We’re in the present now with these guys and they’re going to help us. All three of them are very talented players. Very versatile. highly athletic and do special things. Wander and Wallsy put on a defensive clinic today. And Bru -- for s a guy who doesn’t have many reps in the outfield -- to go and track that last out down...it just shows his athleticism."

Kiermaier was glad to contribute offensively.

"I'll say it again: Hitting is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in  my whole life, but that’s why I love it so much," Kiermaier said. "Trying to chase  consistently, success, the quality of at bats. However you want to say it. the chase is the best part about this game."

Michael Wacha allowed just one earned run and four hits through six innings to get the win.

The Rays are off tonight. On Friday, they are home against the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Shane McClanahan will start for the Rays against a pitcher to be determined for the Jays.

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