Like a Farmer John hot dog and Nancy Bea Hefley at the organ, trying to win a game without a hit is a time-honored Dodger tradition.
But tonight in Seattle, the Dodgers got boiled, rocked and rolled. There would be no repeat of the Dodgers’ June 29, 2008 hitless victory over the Angels. A record-tying six Mariners combined to no-hit Los Angeles in a 1-0 victory.
It was the first no-hitter the Dodgers lost since Kent Mercker threw one at Dodger Stadium in 1994. The only twist was how Mercker’s successor in Atlanta, Kevin Milwood, was deprived of the victory.
Milwood pitched the first six innings in 68 pitches without giving up a hit or anything really close to one (save perhaps for a fourth-inning bunt by Dee Gordon that needed a bare-handed play by Kyle Seager for the out), allowing just a fifth-inning walk to Juan Rivera. But after throwing one warmup pitch before the seventh inning, Milwood didn’t throw another. He left the game with what was said to be a mild groin injury.
Lefty reliever Charlie Furbush got the next batter, then threw a ball hit by Elian Herrera away for a two-base error. But Furbush manhandled Andre Ethier with a third strike, and then newly called up Stephen Pryor struck out Rivera.
Nathan Eovaldi, who matched Milwood at least in innings and runs allowed, left the game after 103 pitches, allowing seven baserunners and striking out six while lowering his 2012 ERA to 1.93. Facing five lefty batters in a row, Scott Elbert looked great in striking out the first two and allowing a scratch infield single by Ichriro Suzuki. However, Elbert walked Dustin Ackley, then surrendered a 1-2 single to Seager (older brother of the Dodgers’ top draft choice this week, Corey), to dive in the game’s big-deal run.
The drama increased in the eighth when Prior walked Bobby Abreu and Jerry Hairston Jr. on nine pitches. The Mariners’ fourth pitcher, lefty Lucas Luetge, came in to face James Loney, who looked uncomfortable squaring to bunt but sacrificed one of the Dodgers’ remaining six outs to move the runners to second and third. That brief appearance was it for Luetge, who gave way to Seattle pitcher No. 5, Brandon League.
A.J. Ellis came up with an opportunity to tie the game even without a hit. He sent a sinking fly to left that Chone Figgins caught in shallow enough territory that pinch-runner Alex Castellanos held at third. League then struck out Tony Gwynn Jr., and the Mariners were one inning away.
After Josh Lindblom pitched a shutout eighth to keep Los Angeles witn a run, Tom Wilhelmsen came in to pitch the ninth inning as the Mariners aimed to match the Houston Astros (June 11, 2003) by using six pitchers for a no-no.
Dee Gordon led off the ninth with a slow grounder to shortstop Brendan Ryan, but unlike Ichiro, he was called out by half a step. Herrera, the hero of Philadelphia, followed by hitting a liner, but right at Ryan for the Dodgers’ 26th out.
Up came Ethier. He fouled off the first pitch, then hit a grounder to second baseman Ackley — and it was celebration time in Seattle. It was something to see. Close, and yes, cigar.