At the age of 34, with his once-roaring fastball diminished by time,
In the 321st start of a distinguished 14-year career, Beckett threw his first no-hitter Sunday in a 6-0 victory over the
Instead of the overpowering fastball of his past, Beckett depended on an unpredictable assortment of breaking pitches to confound the Phillies, who drew three walks and nothing more. But with two outs in the ninth inning and the count full against
"I don't think he's looking for a fastball down the middle there, especially when a guy's throwing a no-hitter," Beckett said. "He's probably thinking I'm going to flip him another curveball."
The no-hitter was the 24th in
Beckett's was the first regular-season no-hitter at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
"It's special," Beckett said. "It's something you certainly think about during your career but very few people have been able to do it."
He did it not only after becoming a thinking man's pitcher, but also after returning from a career-threatening operation. To remedy a nerve-related problem, Beckett underwent a procedure last season to remove a rib.
"Just everything he's been through with us . . . it was nice," Manager
Fun, but also anxiety-ridden.
In the late innings, catcher
But Beckett was relaxed.
Asked when he'd been first aware that he hadn't allowed a hit, he joked, "I knew when I went out there to warm up I hadn't given up a hit yet."
He broke baseball's taboo on talking about no-hitters in progress when, in the fourth inning, he told Mattingly, "That's three innings further than I've taken one before."
That was actually untrue. Pitching for the
He talked about the no-hitter with a police officer who was seated near him. The officer wanted Beckett's jersey if he pitched a no-hitter; Beckett later gave him a bat instead.
Beckett cruised. He walked Utley in the first inning and
If there was a concern, it was about Beckett's pitch count. Through seven innings, he was at 100 pitches.
"I wasn't coming out of the game if I had to throw 200 pitches," Beckett said.
Mattingly was mindful of the situation.
"I can't let a guy get hurt," he said. "Luckily, I didn't have to deal with that."
Beckett threw only 10 pitches in the eighth inning.
As calm as he said he was, Beckett took a moment to collect himself before pitching the ninth.
"If I threw one, great, if not I've got healthy kids and a healthy wife," Beckett said. "That's the main goal."
Revere to hit a ground ball to Gonzalez, who flipped the ball to Beckett at first base.
Jimmy Rollins walked.
Utley took a borderline 3-1 curveball that was called for a strike. The crowd moaned. The next pitch was the fastball.
"I was just, 'Oh my God, I just threw a no-hitter,'" Beckett said. "I don't know what else to say. I mean, I was excited. I was glad it was over. It was fun."
Beckett pumped his fist and was picked up by Butera. Gonzalez leaped on Beckett's back.
Beckett's final line: No hits, three walks, six strikeouts. He threw 128 pitches.
"That was a veteran guy out there," Sandberg said. "We couldn't get anything going. Beckett mixed all his pitches well. He had an excellent curveball. He threw changeups in fastball counts. He threw fastballs. And there were a couple of balls hit hard. Three walks. But he had his stuff."
For Butera, it was the second no-hitter he's caught. When he was with the
Beckett's next start is scheduled Friday at