The no-hitter is one of the most notable achievements in baseball. A no-hitter can happen on any given night during the MLB season. The phrase, no-hitter, also goes by the phrase no-hit game and a no-n0.
A no-hitter occurs when the pitcher does not allow any hitter to reach base via a base hit. However, during a no-hitter, there can be walks, errors, and hit by pitches. Also, a no-hitter can take place by one pitcher, or multiple pitchers, but it must take place by recording 27 outs without a hitter getting on base via a hit.
So, what is the difference between a no-hitter and a shutout? Has anyone thrown a no-hitter and lost the game? What happens if a game goes into extra innings?
What is the Difference Between a No-Hitter and a Shutout?
When a pitcher takes the mound, the idea is simple: don’t let the batters achieve anything. Unfortunately for the pitcher, the batter has multiple ways to get on base. They can walk. They can get hit by a ball. And they can use the most popular method: they can score a hit.
What are Some Pitching Achievements to Know About?
- A perfect game: A game in which a pitcher, or multiple pitchers, never allows a single batter to a base throughout the entire nine innings of the game. In this case, a walk would result in moving from a perfect game to a potential no-hitter. In Major League Baseball, this is one of the most elusive achievements. The last perfect game took place in 2012 with Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. However, this blog post is as of 5-27-2021, so there may be a different answer.
- A no-hitter: The no-hitter is a little looser with the qualifications, which is why it happens more often. A pitcher can technically walk a player, allowing them to get to the base without ever throwing a hit in the game. But the same rules apply to no hits throughout nine innings of baseball. You don’t have to achieve a no-hitter through strikeouts, though. For example, a pitcher could theoretically throw nothing but fly-outs and still score a no-hitter. Other elements, like bases granted through errors, won’t count as hits.
- A shutout: Also an excellent defensive achievement, a shutout means a team didn’t allow another team to score a run. For example, if the Tigers generate ten hits against the Yankees but don’t score a run, it’s still technically a shutout, even if it’s not a no-hitter.
- A complete game: This refers to a pitcher lasting all nine innings with a team. With extra innings, it may refer to a pitcher closing out those innings, as well. A pitcher may allow hits, a home run (or more), and plenty of runs during this period. However, generally, a complete game is considered an achievement for endurance and quality; after all, a manager is more likely to send in a replacement if a pitcher is struggling.
Has Anyone Ever Pitched a No-Hitter and Lost?
Can you pitch a no-hitter and lose a game? The answer is yes, which may surprise fans. Ken Johnson of Houston Colt .45s—not yet the Houston Astros—once pitched a no-hitter in a losing effort. Here’s how it went down.
- The Colt .45s failed to get on base enough to win the game
- In the ninth inning, despite Ken Johnson’s efforts, several errors occurred that let the opposing team, the Cincinnati Reds, score
- Ken Johnson never allowed a hit, but it didn’t matter—the game was lost
True: it’s such a rare event that we’re still talking about the Cincinnati Reds and Houston all these years later. But through a series of errors, it’s possible for a pitcher not to allow a hit and for players to get on base. From there, it’s possible for the opposing team to win a no-hitter game, even if they’re the ones without any hits.
What Happens if the Game Goes Into Extra Innings?
Let’s say the Marlins are playing the Phillies. A pitcher for the Marlins has a no-hitter going into nine innings and finally gets the third out of the inning. Not only is it a shutout, but the starting pitcher has thrown a no-hitter through nine. However, what if the score remains 0 against 0?
Technically, you’ve thrown a no-hitter if you’ve allowed no hits in nine innings and won the game. But with extra innings, there’s still the possibility that you’ll allow a hit, which can technically break up the “no-hitter” effort. This fact is crucial to consider in the postseason, where extra innings can be that much more critical—and starting pitchers still throwing good stuff may be asked to remain on the mound.
What Season Has Had the Most No Hitters?
According to Baseball Almanac, there have been two seasons in which seven no-hitters throughout both halves of Major League Baseball: 1990 and 2015. However, the record belongs to the 1884 season, in which eight no-hitters were thrown. In 2021 as of 9-12-2021 there have been nine no-hitters, which is the new no-hitter number. The last current no-hitter took place on 9-11-2021 with the Brewers vs the Chicago Cubs, which took more than one pitcher to accomplish that.
Random Facts About No-Hitters
Major league history contains all sorts of legendary tales of no-hitters, near no-hitters, and no-hitters continued by a reliever or two. Here are some random facts about no-hitters that may surprise you:
- Playing for the Mets, Astros, Angels, and Rangers, Nolan Ryan holds the record for no-hitters, having thrown seven in his career.
- Legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax comes next-highest on the list, having thrown four no-hitters for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Vander Meer is the only player to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts.
- Despite being “no-hit” by two pitchers for the Baltimore Orioles, the Detroit Tigers won a 2-1 victory on April 30, 1967.
Conclusion: What is a No Hitter in Baseball?
In conclusion, a no-hitter happens when a pitcher does not allow any batter to reach base via a hit. However, a pitcher can walk hitters since that does not count against the no-hit bid. If a pitcher does not allow anyone to hit and or reach base over nine innings, a perfect game happens.
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