Wang’s no-hit bid
After a couple of shaky starts that both resulted in losses, Chien-Ming Wang looked like the pitcher he was with the Yankees last night. After throwing just 81 pitches, he was done for the night in the seventh inning. The bullpen took over and locked it down in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Wang’s outing was highlighted by the fact that he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, where pinch hitter Tony Campana led off with an infield single. But the fact that the righty got that far into a game without allowing a hit was certainly thrilling for Nationals fans, who have yet to see a no-hitter since the Montreal Expos moved to DC.
The franchise had four no-no’s during its time in Canada, the most recent being a perfect game by Dennis Martinez on July 28, 1991. Worth noting about that game is that the catcher that day, Ron Hassey, had previously caught a perfect game for Len Barker of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981. Hassey is the only catcher in MLB history to have caught two perfect games.
But the city of Washington hasn’t seen a no-hitter in a lifetime. The last person to throw one for a Washington Ballclub was Bobby Burke, who threw his on August 8, 1931. Burke, a lefty, spent most of his career with the original Senators before going to play for the Phillies. He was with the Senators for their 1933 pennant victory.
Prior to that, you had the great Walter Johnson. His no-hitter on July 1, 1920 was the first in the history of that franchise and came on a narrow victory—1-0 over the Boston Red Sox. Johnson’s only base runner came on an error by Hall-of-Fame second baseman Bucky Harris in the seventh inning; Johnson did not allow any walks during that game.
After Johnson and Burke, there have not been any no-no’s in the Capital, as the expansion Senators did not throw one until they moved to Texas. However, within recent years, you’ve had a few pitchers flirt with making history.
In April of this year, Jordan Zimmermann took a perfect game into the sixth inning before Carlos Ruiz spoiled his chances with a home run. In 2010, Nats fans got the closest they’ve come to a no-hit victory when Scott Olsen took one into the eighth inning in a game against the Braves. Atlanta catcher David Ross hit a single past Ian Desmond to put the first hit on the board for the Braves. The only base runner prior to that was a walk to Melky Cabrera in the third.
Jason Bergmann got the closest to a no-hitter back when the Nationals were still playing at RFK Stadium. In 2007 he, like Olsen, took his bid against the Braves into the eighth inning before allowing a hit. He struck out 10 batters and allowed just one walk and two hits in his eight-plus innings pitched. The Nats won that game 2-1.
With Wang shaking the rust off of his pitching arm, as well as the much-anticipated return of Stephen Strasburg looming on the horizon, it’s quite possible that Nationals fans could see their squad get off the no-hitter schneid.