And thus, it's over.
46 days short of 50 years and 80 games shy of 8,000, the longest streak without being no-hit in major-league history ended on a sunny Saturday at Wrigley Field when Cole Hamels of the Phillies no-hit the Cubs 5-0.
Give the man credit. Cole Hamels is a very, very good pitcher and the Cubs have been having a rough time hitting lately. The irony is: the mediocre-to-bad teams the Cubs put on the field the last three years managed to keep the streak going. This team, which is supposed to be better, was the one that couldn't get a hit for one nine-inning game.
It almost got broken up on the very last play, a fly ball to center field by Kris Bryant. Odubel Herrera went back on it, turned the wrong way, then made a diving catch to preserve the no-no. Even though it went against the Cubs, it's worth watching:
Hamels became just the third visiting pitcher in Wrigley Field history to throw a no-hitter, and the first to not be a Cincinnati Reds hurler. The first was Fred Toney, May 2, 1917, a game once famed as a "double no-hitter," where the Cubs' Hippo Vaughn took a no-hitter into extra innings, but then gave it up. Vaughn was once considered to have thrown a no-hitter, but that was taken away a number of years ago when MLB ruled a pitcher had to actually have given up no hits and finished the game (and have it go at least nine innings, too) to get credit.
The other was Jim Maloney, who threw a 10-inning no-hitter against the Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader August 19, 1965, oddly, just three weeks before Sandy Koufax' perfect game September 9 of that year became the last time before Saturday that the Cubs had been no-hit. Maloney issued 10 walks in that 1-0 win; that's the last complete-game, 10-inning no-hitter in baseball history.
This game was the seventh time the Cubs have been no-hit; I will have a complete listing of those tomorrow morning. The Cubs had been tied with the Yankees for the fewest times being no-hit for any of the "Original 16" teams. Here's the complete list, including today's gem by Hamels:
Red Sox: 11
Twins: 11 (includes original Washington Senators)
White Sox: 13
Orioles: 17 (includes St. Louis Browns)
For those of us who took pride in the Cubs getting this far without being no-hit, we at least had the consolation of seeing baseball history. Hamels' no-hitter is the 290th in major-league history (and had already been added to the no-hitter Wikipedia page by the time I started writing this recap) and he was absolutely outstanding. It is just the 18th no-hitter where a pitcher registered 13 or more strikeouts. Now, what do the Phillies do? Hamels has been the subject of many trade rumors -- including being sent to the Cubs -- but what kind of message do they send to their fanbase if they trade him right after he throws a no-hitter?
The Cubs came close to a hit only a couple of times, including that last out. Bryant also hit a ball in the first inning that would have been a home run with the wind blowing out Friday, but with breezes off the lake Saturday, it was an out at the warning track. Herrera also made a great diving catch off a David Ross drive in the eighth inning to preserve things for Hamels.
I do wonder if things might have turned out differently if Joe Maddon had challenged the "neighborhood" play on Anthony Rizzo in the first inning. Generally, that play is given and not really subject to challenge, but it sure looked like Freddy Galvis wasn't even in the same zip code when he took a relay throw from Cesar Hernandez. Maddon came out to discuss it with the umpires, who got together to talk about it, but no review was requested. What if the reviewers had allowed Dexter Fowler, who had led off the bottom of the first with a walk, to be safe? Then the Cubs would have had two men on and one out and maybe they get to Hamels.
But they didn't. And now we have witnessed history and the Cubs No-Hit Streak Twitter account sent out this sad tweet:
No. 7,921: Cole Hamels has no-hit the Cubs. The Streak dies.— Cubs No-Hit Streak (@CubsNoHitStreak) July 25, 2015
Personally, I hope he keeps the account going and starts again Sunday with No. 1 of a new streak (presumably, the Cubs will get a hit or more tomorrow!).
There isn't much to say about Cubs pitching. Jake Arrieta wasn't sharp, but he really only made one mistake, hanging a breaking ball to Ryan Howard with two on in the third for a home run, the only runs he allowed in six decent innings. He struck out eight. James Russell had a rare bad outing, helping the Phillies put the game away with a two-run eighth that featured a ridiculously bad throw from Rizzo to... well, somewhere. Starlin Castro appeared out of position, but Rizzo's throw went nowhere near any base. The way Hamels was dealing, it really didn't matter.
For me, it was my third no-hitter. I saw Jack Morris of the Tigers no-hit the White Sox on April 7, 1984 and, of course, Carlos Zambrano's no-no against the Astros in Milwaukee September 14, 2008. I'm not happy the Cubs lost, as they need to start piling up wins, and need one Sunday to avoid getting swept in this series, but at least I can say I witnessed one of the best pitching performances in recent history.
Incidentally, Joe Maddon is no stranger to this sort of thing. While he was manager of the Rays -- and while they were a playoff-contending team -- they got no-hit four times. Three of them (Mark Buehrle, Felix Hernandez, Dallas Braden) were perfect games. The fourth was thrown by Edwin Jackson. (No, I am not making that up.)
The longest active streak without being no-hit now belongs to the Reds, who were last no-hit June 23, 1971 by Rick Wise of the Phillies (naturally!), who hit a pair of two-run homers to win that game 4-0. That streak stands at 7,035 games -- so the Cubs' record streak is more than five and a half seasons longer!
Thought you all would like to see my scorecard from this game, so here it is (link opens .pdf).
Now let's go back to getting hits and winning on Sunday. Jason Hammel will pitch against Aaron Nola.