Last Friday, Yu Darvish lost a no-hitter with two out in the ninth inning. It was the second time in his career that happened -- he also lost one in 2013, that one a perfect game with two out in the ninth.
As you likely know, the Cubs have not been no-hit since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against them September 9, 1965. This no-no-hit streak is being chronicled on the CubsNoHitStreak Twitter feed. Through Sunday's game, the count was up to 7,699 consecutive games, which is a major-league record.
But did you know this streak came close to ending five times since Koufax's gem? Thanks to this comprehensive listing, I can tell you about the five games in which a pitcher has taken a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Cubs since September 9, 1965.
July 9, 1969, Tom Seaver, Mets, at Shea Stadium. Seaver retired the first 25 Cubs when Jim Qualls, a spare-part outfielder who likely was starting only because Don Young had made his famous fly-ball drop the previous day, singled. Qualls was the Cubs' only baserunner; Seaver struck out 11 and posted a Game Score of 96.
April 16, 1971, Juan Marichal, Giants, at Candlestick Park. Marichal had issued one walk but no hits through eight innings. Looking at this boxscore, you might wonder why Leo Durocher pulled pretty much all his starters after six innings. I checked the Tribune recap; there had been two rain delays and the game was being played under cool, drizzly conditions and Leo simply didn't want to get any of his regulars injured. Leading off the ninth, Ken Rudolph, a catcher who really couldn't hit at all and who was 0-for-17 for the season at that time, singled off Marichal. The next hitter, Jim Hickman, also singled and Marichal wound up with a two-hit shutout.
September 24, 1975, Tom Seaver, Mets, at Wrigley Field. Seaver had issued three walks but no hits and there were two out in the bottom of the ninth when Joe Wallis, who was playing in his 15th major-league game, broke up the no-hitter with a single. After Wallis stole second, Seaver intentionally walked Jose Cardenal before striking out Andre Thornton... but that didn't end the game, as it was scoreless. Both Seaver and Cubs starter Rick Reuschel threw 10 scoreless innings; the Cubs eventually won it in the 11th on a bases-loaded walk to Bill Madlock by reliever Skip Lockwood. This is the only game of the five where the Cubs were one out away from being no-hit. Seaver eventually did throw a no-hitter, for the Reds against the Cardinals June 16, 1978.
April 10, 1997, Alex Fernandez, Marlins, at Wrigley Field. The Marlins scored one run off Cubs starter Frank Castillo in the first inning and then the two hurlers settled into a pitchers' duel on a freezing-cold afternoon. Fernandez retired the first 14 Cubs before Shawon Dunston reached on an error, but the Cubs had no more baserunners through eight innings. With one out in the ninth, Dave Hansen scratched out an infield hit, the only hit the Cubs had. They loaded the bases with one out on two more Marlins errors, but couldn't score and lost 1-0.
July 25, 2004, Eric Milton, Phillies, at Citizens Bank Park. The Cubs had just one baserunner through eight innings -- Mark Grudzielanek, who walked to lead off the game. He was immediately erased on a double play. The Cubs trailed 2-0 entering the ninth, when Michael Barrett lofted a little popup into short center field that wound up as a double. Milton struck out the next two hitters, but one out from victory, he allowed a single to Grudzielanek and a double to Corey Patterson. The double scored both runners and tied the game, but LaTroy Hawkins blew the game in the bottom of the ninth and the Cubs lost 3-2.
There you have it... the five times the Cubs have come within three outs or fewer of being no-hit in the last 49-plus years. (They also went to two out in the eighth against A.J. Burnett July 31, 2012.) The link above (with the comprehensive list of these games) is fascinating to read; there are games you will likely remember, including the fact that former Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb lost no-hitters with two out in the ninth... on consecutive starts in 1988. (Stieb eventually did throw a no-hitter, September 2, 1990, to this day the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history.)
Even with this year's offensively-challenged team, I believe that with both Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro having good offensive seasons, the streak will continue.