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First impression

Nomo begins Red Sox career by no-hitting O's

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Posted: Wednesday April 04, 2001 10:26 PM
Updated: Friday April 06, 2001 2:05 AM

  Hideo Nomo Hideo Nomo kept the O's hitless for his second career no-no. AP

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Another no-no for Hideo Nomo.

Nomo became the fourth pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in both leagues, using his unique hesitation windup and a brilliant mix of offspeed pitches and high heat in Boston's 3-0 victory over Baltimore on Wednesday night.

"I felt pretty good throughout the game," Nomo said through an interpreter after his spectacular debut for the Red Sox. "As I was going into the ninth inning, I was not nervous."

Second baseman Mike Lansing saved the no-hitter when he made a back-handed, tumbling catch of Mike Bordick's soft looper to center field for the second out of the ninth inning.

"I looked at the location of the ball, looked at Lansing, and I thought he'd catch the ball," said Nomo, who was remarkably calm for a pitcher who had just put his name in the record book.

Two pitches later, Delino DeShields lofted a routine fly to left field that Troy O'Leary caught for the final out. Nomo was lifted up by catcher Jason Varitek and mobbed by his new teammates as O'Leary ran in to give the right-hander the ball.

Early Birds
Baseball's earliest no-hitters, by date:
Date  Pitcher  Year 
April 4  Hideo Nomo, BOS  2001 
April 7  Ken Forsch, HOU  1979 
Jack Morris, DET  1984 
April 8  Kent Mercker, ATL  1994 
April 11  Langston/Witt, CAL  1990 

"I've always heard what a horse Nomo is and he really proved that tonight," Varitek said. "He got stronger and his fastball got better as the game went on. His fastball is what made it tonight. He was phenomenal tonight."

The 32-year-old Japanese pitcher, who threw the first no-hitter in Colorado's Coors Field on Sept. 17, 1996, for Los Angeles, walked three and struck out 11 in a 110-pitch outing for the first no-hitter in the 10-year history of Camden Yards.

Cal Ripken also reached on an error in the second inning when his grounder went through third baseman Shea Hillenbrand.

Nomo also pitched the earliest no-hitter in baseball history, doing it three days earlier than Houston's Ken Forsch in 1979 and Detroit's Jack Morris in 1984.

The Orioles didn't get anything close to a hit until Lansing's catch in the ninth. Lansing, who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth, ended it as a star.

"You know what's going on. As soon as I saw it, I put my head down," Lansing said. "I knew I had to go all out and get there. ... He had worked so hard to get that far. I didn't want him to lose it at that point."

Long Time Coming
A Boston pitcher had not thrown a no-hitter since Dave Morehead in 1965. Here are the teams with the longest no-hitter droughts:
Team  Last No-Hitter  Years 
Detroit  Jack Morris, '84  17 
Cleveland  Len Barker, '81*  20 
San Fran.  John Montefusco, '76  25 
Chicago-NL  Milt Pappas, '72  29 
San Diego  None  32 
Milwaukee  None  32 
New York-NL  None  39 
* Indicates perfect game

The hardest-hit ball was a drive to the warning track in center by Melvin Mora in the second inning, but Carl Everett had more than enough time and room to make the play.

As the game wore on, many in the crowd of 35,602 abandoned the home team and cheered each out.

"People in the U.S. like good baseball, whether you're on the home team or not," Nomo said.

Nomo joined Cy Young, Jim Bunning and Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers with no-hitters in both leagues.

Signed as a free agent during the offseason, Nomo delivered the first no-hitter by a Boston player since Dave Morehead in 1965. His performance this spring offered no clue of what was to come -- in four starts Nomo was 0-3 with an 11.37 ERA.

"Today was my first time throwing for the Boston Red Sox, and I am obviously very happy with my performance," he said.

Nomo won the 1995 NL Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers, exciting all of baseball with Nomo-mania. In 1997, Nomo became the fastest pitcher in major league history to reach 500 career strikeouts, doing it in 444 2/3 innings.
Rare Duos
Days in major league history when both a pitcher threw a no-hitter and a batter hit three home runs in a game:
Date  Pitcher  Hitter 
4/4/01  H. Nomo, BOS  C. Delgado, TOR 
7/3/70  C. Wright, CAL  M. Lum, ATL 
8/13/69  J. Palmer, BAL  R. Clemente, PIT 
5/17/63  D. Nottebart, HOU  B. Allison, MIN 
Source: Elias Sports Bureau

But he struggled the past three seasons, going 26-32 for the Dodgers, Mets, Milwaukee and Detroit. He entered the season 69-61 with a 3.97 ERA.

Brian Daubach took care of the offense for Nomo, hitting two home runs off loser Sidney Ponson. The first homer, in the third inning, followed an error by Ripken. He added a solo shot in the eighth.

Ponson pitched well enough to win -- on most nights. He allowed three runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out 10.

Notes: The start of the game was delayed 43 minutes by a power outage. ... Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his second game with Boston. ... Ripken is 0-for-7 this season. ... The last no-hitter against the Orioles was by Wilson Alvarez of the White Sox on Aug. 11, 1991.

Related information
Al Beat: Nothing going right for Red Sox
Pitchers with Multiple Career No-Hitters
Red Sox-Orioles Box Score
Hideo Nomo, through his interpreter Chang Lee, says that he has learned a lot from Pedro Martinez already. (82 K)
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was impressed by Nomo's performance. (182 K)
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