There was a new twist to the fourth near-no-hitter in the American League in the last 17 days--the pitcher throwing it lost.
What was not new was the team that broke it up--the Toronto Blue Jays.
Mark Langston, the star left-hander of the Seattle Mariners, carried a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning of a near-perfect game Wednesday at Toronto.
Light-hitting Tom Lawless, with three hits in 20 at-bats, came up as a pinch-hitter and lined a single to center field to ignite a three-run rally as the Blue Jays not only broke up a no-hitter in the last inning for the third time in less than three weeks, but also won, 3-2.
Nelson Liriano, who broke up ninth-inning bids by Nolan Ryan (April 23) and Kirk McCaskill (April 28), tried to bunt safely to get the tying run on base, but was the only out of the inning. A double by Bob Brenly and single by Junior Felix tied the score, and Langston (4-4) was gone. Eventually, George Bell’s bloop single, the fourth hit of the inning, drove in the Blue Jays’ winning run.
Langston, struck out six and did not walk a batter. Only an error by shortstop Omar Vizquel on Felix’s grounder to open the seventh marred his performance through eight innings.
Lawless, who has a .207 career batting average, worked the count to 2 and 1 before ending the no-hit bid.
“I was sure he would try to throw a fastball past me,” Lawless said. “I was trying to hit it for a base hit. I figured if I didn’t, Nelson, right behind me, would break it up.”
Langston said that starting the ninth with a no-hitter was a new experience.
“I was in a daze but not upset,” Langston said of the hit. “I was just thinking it was a 2-0 game and I had to try and get out of the inning. I couldn’t even do that.”
The surprise winner was Jimmy Key (3-2). The left-hander gave up nine hits, including David Valle’s fourth home run, but was still pitching in the ninth.
“That was a strange game,” Key said. “I’ve seen some odd ones here over the years, but that has to rank up there. I was just watching like any other fan to see if Langston was going to get the no-hitter. But I’m not sorry for him. We need the victory.”
The Blue Jays lost the other no-hitters they broke up. Liriano tripled off Ryan and scored to ruin his shutout at Toronto. Five days later at Anaheim Stadium, Liriano’s single came with the Angels leading, 9-0, and did no damage.
In the game not involving Toronto, John Farrell of the Cleveland Indians had his bid against Kansas City ended by Kevin Seitzer’s single to open the ninth May 4 at Cleveland.
Until his moment of glory Wednesday, Lawless’ previous claim to fame was a home run with the St. Louis Cardinals to win a World Series game in 1987. In 470 at-bats in the regular season, he has hit two home runs.
Chicago 12, Milwaukee 2--Until they get a chance to face the Brewers, the White Sox are a mediocre hitting team.
The Brewers bring out the sock in the Sox. For the second consecutive game at Milwaukee, the White Sox set a season high with 16 hits. Tuesday, they had 15 hits in a 10-1 romp.
In winning four in a row against the Brewers, the White Sox have outscored Milwaukee, 34-4, and outhit the Brewers, 53-20.
Harold Baines had four of the hits as the White Sox spoiled Ted Higuera’s second start since coming off the disabled list. Ron Karkovice hit a three-run home run.
Chicago hammered Higuera in both starts.
Kansas City 3, Cleveland 2--Willie Wilson came out of a three-for-31 slump with a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning at Kansas City.
Bob Boone opened the seventh with a walk, and Kurt Stillwell singled off pitcher John Farrell’s leg. Then Wilson, batting only .176, also banged a hit off Farrell’s leg.
Kevin Seitzer, who broke up Farrell’s no-hit bid in the ninth inning May 4, had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
Jeff Montgomery (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
Brook Jacoby hit a two-run homer in the fourth for the Indians. It was his eighth hit in his last 17 at-bats.