Twice in the span of less than two weeks, the Boston Red Sox, whose pitchers have thrown the last two no-hitters in Major League Baseball, have nearly found themselves the victims of one themselves. On 29 July, Los Angeles Angels pitcher John Lackey came within two outs of a no-no at Fenway Park before Dustin Pedroia ended Boston’s drought at the plate with a single to left; Lackey and the Angels eventually settled for a complete-game, 6-2 victory over the Red Sox Then, on Monday night in Chicago, White Sox pitcher John Danks retired the first 17 Red Sox batters he faced and then surrendered his first hit with one out in the seventh to Kevin Youkilis, as Boston eventually won 5-1 to earn a split of the four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field. In club history, Boston pitchers have combined to throw 18 no-hitters, including a perfect game by the legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young; that is the most thrown by a single franchise. On the flip side, the team has also suffered at the hands of 11 opposing pitchers who managed to keep Red Sox batters from recording a hit over the course of a game.
The first pitcher to throw a no-hitter against Boston was Bob Rhoads of the Cleveland Naps on 18 September 1908. Cleveland actually trailed Boston at one point 1-0 thanks to a walk, a sacrifice, an error, and a wild pitch, but the Naps managed to score single runs in the fourth and eighth to give Rhoads a 2-1 win. The most recent no-hitter against the Red Sox was thrown by Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Bosio on 22 April 1993. Bosio walked the first two batters of the game, then retired the next 27 Boston batters as Seattle won 2-0 behind his no-no. New York Yankees pitchers hold the mark for the most no-hitters thrown against the Red Sox by a single club; the most recent came in 1983, when Dave Righetti yielded just four walks to Boston batters in a 4-0 for the Bombers at Yankee Stadium on 4 July. The White Sox and the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) have each managed the feat twice against Boston; one was thrown by Hall of Fame pitcher Walter “Big Train” Johnson on 1 July 1920, the only instance in which the Red Sox lost a no-hitter by a 1-0 score. Also of interest: the last opposing pitcher to manage the feat at Fenway Park was another Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Bunning, who no-hit Boston 3-0 at Fenway Park in the first game of a doubleheader on 20 July 1958.
With a no-hitter thrown in May and last Thursday night’s win over New York at Yankee Stadium, starting Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester has pitched two shutouts in 2008, the first Boston pitcher to toss more than one in a season since Hideo Nomo threw two in 2001. He is also the first Red Sox southpaw to toss multiple shutouts in one season since Bruce Hurst threw three in 1987. As pitch counts have limited the opportunities for starting pitchers to throw a complete game, let alone toss a shutout, these feats have become more and more the rarity in today’s ball game. Over the past 25 seasons going back to 1984, only 12 pitchers have multiple shutouts to their credit as a Boston starter; of those pitchers, only seven have at least three and only two, Roger Clemens (38) and Hurst (11), have a double-digit total. Former ace Pedro Martinez is third in that span with eight, throwing four in 2000; fourth is Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, who tossed six over the 1984 and 1985 seasons and fifth is another former Red Sox lefty, Bob Ojeda, who recorded his five career shutouts with Boston in 1984.
In team history, Clemens is tied with another former Boston great, Cy Young, for the most shutouts in team history, although Young did that over eight seasons while Clemens accomplished his total over 13 seasons with the club. Standing alone in third place in Smoky Joe Wood with 28 over eight years with the club, while Luis Tiant is fourth with 26 over eight seasons and Dutch Leonard is fifth with 25 over six seasons. The single season record for the franchise is 10, accomplish by Young in 1904 and Wood in 1912; Babe Ruth is third with nine in 1916, and Clemens (1988) and Carl Mays (1918) are tied for fourth with eight.
30 June 1908 – On this day one hundred years ago, Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young, at the age of 41, throws his third career no-hitter against the Highlanders in New York as the visitors win 8-0. Four years earlier, the veteran pitcher and future Hall of Famer had thrown the team’s only perfect game to date against the Philadelphia Athletics; he had also pitched a no-hitter in 1897 with the Cleveland Spiders. Young started his afternoon on the mound by issuing a walk to Harry Niles on a 3-2 pitch, who was later thrown out on an attempted steal; no other batter reached first and, as a result, he faced the minimum number of batters possible in a game (27). By official definition, for a pitcher to be credited with a perfect game, no batter can reach base safely for any reason, so Young’s win was credited only as a no-hitter. In baseball history, only he and John Montgomery Ward have retired 27 consecutive batters in a game on two separate occasions; Ward’s feat was accomplished after he allowed a lead-off single to Blondie Purcell.
Today, Young stands as the second-oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in a game; Nolan Ryan threw one at the age of 43 and then another one at age 44. He also stands as the second-old pitcher to throw a perfect game after throwing his at age 37; that record was only recently broken by Randy Johnson, who pitched one at age 40 in 2004. 1908 was his eighth and final season with the Red Sox; he would finish the season at 21-11 with a 1.26 ERA and 30 complete games to his credit. In total, Young won 192 games in a Boston uniform, which ties him with Roger Clemens for a club record, and finished his career with 511 victories, the most by any player in baseball history.
01 April 1998 – On this day ten years ago, Pedro Martinez makes his debut with the Boston Red Sox, strikes out 11 batters, and allows only three hits in a 2-0 win over the Athletics in Oakland. Martinez, who had pitched the previous four seasons in Montreal, had signed as a free agent with Boston over the off-season in a deal that guaranteed six years and $72.7 million, with a club option for a seventh season at $17.5 million. The previous season, he had posted 17 wins in 31 starts with a 1.90 ERA and 305 strikeouts, easily winning the National League Cy Young award. With the game starting late on the West Coast at 10:40 PM ET, Martinez set down the first eleven batters he faced before giving up a line-drive single to left field to Ben Grieve. The only real threat came in the seventh when back-to-back singles followed by a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out; however, facing his last two batters of the night, Martinez struck out catcher A.J. Hinch and center fielder Jason McDonald to keep Oakland off the board. Darren Bragg provided the only run the Red Sox would need in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Darren Lewis, and John Valentin added an insurance run in the seventh with a sac fly that plated Bragg.
Martinez would go on to finish second in the American League Cy Young vote that season behind former Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens, posting a 19-7 record with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 33 starts. The following year, he joined Randy Johnson as the first pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both leagues, the first of two consecutive awards for the ace. In seven seasons with Boston, Martinez would win 117 games against 37 losses, post a 2.52 ERA, and strike out 1683 batters in nearly 1400 innings of work. He would also be part of the club in 2004 that won Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years, winning Game Three of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals with seven scoreless innings of work. Through 2007, his won-loss percentage of .760 puts him first in franchise history, his win total puts him tied for sixth, and his strikeout total puts him second behind Clemens, though just three ahead of current Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.
As Red Sox players gather in Fort Myers to begin spring training and prepare to defend the team’s 2007 World Series championship, it is a far cry from the very first Boston team pre-season. American League president Ban Johnson had only awarded a franchise in his upstart league to Boston in early January 1901 to Charles Somers and the season was slated to start just over three months later in Baltimore. Looking to directly compete against the well-established National League in Boston, franchise Somers and Johnson spent the first two months of the club’s existence putting together a team and signed Jimmy Collins, who had played for the Boston NL franchise only last season, to manage the club and play third base. Johnson also managed to lure Collins’ teammate, outfielder Chick Stahl, and another big-name National League star, Cy Young, into the fold.
With a roster in place, the team left South Station in Boston on 28 March and headed south to begin practice at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; by coincidence, the “Americans” were on the same train carrying the “Nationals” from Boston, who continued on to their training facility in Norfolk. Unlike major league players today that spend a good percentage of the off-season working out in order to enter camp in near-peak physical form, the stars of yesteryear needed every moment of spring training to prepare for the long season and this remained true for many decades. For Boston’s first training camp, the standards of the day were followed; mornings were spent by the players taking practice at the plate and in the field, while the afternoons were devoted to long hikes in full uniform to build endurance. After less than a week of conditioning, the new club squared off in an exhibition against the squad from the local university on 05 April and soundly defeated the collegians by a score of 13-0. Unfortunately, the game was followed by a week of rain that made practice near impossible, as there were no field houses or indoor batting cages at the team’s convenience. The team managed only a few more practices before finally breaking camp and heading back north to Baltimore, where they would play the first game in franchise history on 26 April 1901 and lose, 10-6.
On Saturday night, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, making just his second career major league start, became the 17th player and first rookie in franchise history to toss a no-hitter as he held the Baltimore Orioles to just three walks while striking out nine on 115 pitches in a 10-0 Boston win. It was the first no-hitter thrown by a Boston pitcher since Derek Lowe no-hit Tampa Bay at Fenway Park back in April 2002, one year after Hideo Nomo threw his second career no-hitter against the Orioles at Camden Yard in April 2001.
The 23-year-old rookie, drafted by the Red Sox in 2005 as compensation for the loss of Pedro Martinez to free agency, also became the third pitcher to throw a no-hitter in either his first or second major league start; his only other start came two weeks ago against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway. Buchholz also became the 17th rookie in major league history to throw a no-hitter and the third pitcher to throw a no-hitter this season. It was also the first time that he had thrown more than seven innings in a start for the Boston organization this season; he had thrown seven complete twice with Double-A Portland and once with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Ironically, Boston actually had the opportunity on the last day of the 2006 season to witness a rookie throw a no-hitter in just his second start. Devern Hansack, making his Fenway debut one week after his major league debut in Toronto, went five innings against Baltimore and, despite one walk, had faced the minimum 15 batters while striking out six. Unfortunately, the game was called on account of severe weather after five complete with the Red Sox leading 9-0; due to rule changes made in 1991 by Major League Baseball’s Committee for Statistical Accuracy, Hansack’s effort was not recognized as an official “no-hitter” in the record books since he had thrown fewer than nine no-hit innings.
In team history, only Cy Young and Dutch Leonard have thrown more than one no-hitter for the Red Sox and Young is the only Boston pitcher to throw a perfect game, the first in American League history. Oddly enough, no-hitters have come in bunches for Boston; nine were tossed between Young’s perfect gem in 1904 and Leonard’s second no-no in 1918. After Howard Ehmke no-hit the Athletics in Philadelphia in 1923, no Red Sox pitcher managed another one until 1956 when Mel Parnell threw one at Fenway Park against Chicago. Six years later, Earl Wilson and Bill Monbouquette threw no-hitters within five weeks of each other in 1962 and Dave Morehead threw a no-no against the Indians at home in 1965; it would then be another 36 years before the next Red Sox no-hitter and 37 years before a Red Sox pitcher would toss one in front of the home crowd at Fenway.
In team history, the Red Sox have seen 26 different pitchers win at least 20 games in a season at least once in a Boston uniform. The pitcher who holds the franchise record for the most victories in one season is Smoky Joe Wood, who won 34 games in 1912 for the eventual World Series champions; he was one of three pitchers on the 1912 staff, along with Buck O’Brien and Hugh Bedient, to reach the 20-win threshold, as the latter two each won exactly 20 games on a team that set the franchise record for wins in a season (105). Only one other pitcher in team history, Cy Young, won better than 30 games in a season; he accomplished this feat twice, once in Boston’s inagural season of 1901 (33) and then again in 1902 (32). Young also holds the record for the most seasons of 20 or more wins with the Red Sox, having accomplished the feat six times in the eight years that he was part of the starting rotation. After him, there are three pitchers with three seasons of 20 or more wins: Bill Dinneen (1902-1904), Luis Tiant (1973, 1974, 1976), and Roger Clemens (1986, 1987, 1990). Other multiple winners include Babe Ruth, Carl Mays, Boo Ferriss, Jesse Tannehill, Mel Parnell, Wood, Tex Hughson, and Wes Ferrell.
In total, there have been 46 instances where a pitcher won 20 games or more in a season for the Red Sox. Nine times, the starting rotation for Boston has had multiple 20-game winners. Between 1902 and 1904, Dinneen and Young won at least 20 games in each season for the Red Sox and, with Boston pitchers Tom Hughes (20 wins in 1903) and Tannehill (21 wins in 1904) also reaching that plateau, fans were witness to eight instances in three straight seasons that a Sox pitcher accomplished this feat. The most recent instance in which two players on the Red Sox pitching staff won at least 20 games in a single season happened just five years ago in 2002, when Derek Lowe (21) and Pedro Martinez (20) both managed the feat; before that, you have to go back to 1949 to find multiple 20-game winners on the Red Sox pitching staff for one season: Parnell (25) and Ellis Kinder (23). Curiously, there have been ten Boston pitchers in franchise history to fall just one win short of the mark for a single season; of those ten, both Martinez and Howard Ehmke did reach the mark in another season for the Sox. Martinez fell one win shy his first season with the club in 1998 but won 23 the next year, while Ehmke won 19 in 1924, one year after winning 20.
19 April 1902 – One hundred five years ago today, the Boston American League franchise took the field at Huntington Avenue Grounds against the Baltimore Orioles (who would later become the New York Yankees) and rallied from three runs down in the ninth to win 7-6 in the first-ever Patriots’ Day home game in team history. The holiday in itself is observed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in honor of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, fought on that date in 1775; since 1969, Patriots’ Day has been observed on the third Monday in April. The Red Sox have made it a tradition to play a game at Fenway Park on that date every year since 1960, not including scheduled off-days in 1965 and 1967 and games missed due to the players’ strike in 1995, with the start time usually scheduled to coincide with that of the Boston Marathon, giving ticket holders a chance to watch the race at Kenmore Square following the game.
In 1902, however, the holiday was observed as it was every year until 1969 on 19 April; as it fell on a Saturday, Boston decided to take advantage of this opportunity and received permission from the league to open its season four days ahead of every other club in the American League. Records at Retrosheet show that Cy Young, who led the league in wins (33), ERA (1.62), and strikeouts (158) in 1901, was given the ball by manager Jimmy Collins to start the game for Boston, opposed by Tom Hughes, though it does not show who eventually won the game for the home team nor who scored the game-winning run. The following year, the team began the tradition of making the contest a morning baseball game; with a 10:00 AM start time, Boston defeated the Philadelphia Athletics, 9-4.
, Patriots’ Day and the Red Sox. Boston’s Pastime, retrieved on 18 April 2007.
Since 1901, there have been 201 instances where a pitcher has lost 20 games or more in a single season. The most recent pitcher to suffer this dubious “honor” was Mike Maroth in 2003, who went 9-21 for the Detroit Tigers ballclub that lost 119 games, one loss shy of the modern record for most losses in a season by one club. Before that, you have to go back to Brian Kingman, who lost 20 games with the Oakland Athletics in 1980.
In the team’s 106-year history, the Boston Red Sox have had exactly ten 20-game losers. The last time it happened, in 1930, the team actually had two 20-game losers in the rotation: Milt Gaston, who led the team with 13 wins against 20 losses, and Jack Russell, who posted a record of 9-20. That club also lost 102 games, the fourth time in six seasons that the club had lost 100 games or more. Gaston and Russell were also two of five pitchers that had lost 20 games or more over the previous six seasons; Red Ruffing, a future Hall of Fame pitcher whose career would blossom after being traded to New York in 1930, lost 25 and 22 games in 1928 and 1929, respectively; Slim Harriss lost 21 games againt 14 wins in 1927; and Howard Ehmke went 9-20 in 1925.
The four other pitchers in Red Sox history to lose 20 games in a season were: “Sad Sam” Jones, in 1919, two years before he would win a career-high 23 games while still with Boston; Joe Harris, who won just two games while collecting 21 losses in 1906; the legendary Cy Young, who lost 21 games in 1906, the third time in his career that he had lost 20 games or more in a season; and Bill Dinneen, who matched his 21 losses with 21 wins in 1902. Dinnenn was also the only pitcher to lose 20 games for a Boston club that had a winning record.
Being the designated hitter does not make David Ortiz any less valuable to his team or unworthy of the American League MVP Award.
Six years ago in 1999, former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez pitched the first of two great seasons, perhaps one of the most dominant seasons ever in the history of baseball. On the way to his second Cy Young award, his first with Boston, he won 23 games in 29 starts, threw five complete, struck out a franchise record 313 batters, and led the staff as well as the American League with a 2.07 ERA. After the departure of slugger Mo Vaughn following the 1998 season, the sole reason that the Boston managed, against all odds, to return to the playoffs for the second year in a row was because of the 27-year-old Dominican native who made the opposition look foolish in almost every start.
However, when it came time to award the Most Valuable Player honor, Ivan Rodriguez, then of the Texas Rangers, won it with his .335 average, 35 home runs, and 113 RBI, arguably the best season of his career as his team won the AL West Division. Martinez, who earned one more first-place vote than “Pudge,” finished second by a margin of just 13 points.
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