The Dodgers made unwanted history Friday night. With a payroll of more than $300 million, they became the most expensive team to ever be no-hit.
Striking out to record the final out of a 3-0 defeat, Justin Turner retreated to the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park with his head bowed as Mike Fiers celebrated throwing the Houston Astros’ first no-hitter in more than a dozen years.
Adrian Gonzalez watched from the railing of the Dodgers dugout as Fiers was engulfed by his teammates against the backdrop of fireworks exploding outside of the retractable-roof stadium.
“He stayed a step ahead of us, it seemed like,” Carl Crawford said. “He kept making adjustments before we did and he hit all the spots. He didn’t leave anything over the plate for us to hit. You have to tip your hat to him.”
With the second-place San Francisco Giants picking up a victory earlier in the day, the Dodgers’ lead in the National League West was down to 11/2 games.
This almost certainly wasn’t the homecoming envisioned by the architect of these Dodgers, Andrew Friedman. Born and raised in Houston, the first-year president of baseball operations accompanied the team for the second leg of its three-city trip that will conclude next week in Cincinnati.
The no-hitter was the 17th pitched against the Dodgers. Fiers’ was the first since six Seattle Mariners’ pitchers combined to no-hit the Dodgers on June 8, 2012.
Fiers (6-9), a 30-year-old right-hander, had never previously pitched into the ninth inning. His no-hitter was the 11th in Astros history, and Nolan Ryan, who threw one against the Dodgers in 1981, greeted Fiers after the game.
“You don’t want to be on the other side of history, but that’s the way baseball happens sometimes,” Dodgers starting pitcher Brett Anderson said. “Coming into today, you wouldn’t think that was going to happen, but that’s why baseball’s a weird game. It’s the best game because something crazy and historic can happen on any given day, any given game.”
In the hitters’ meeting leading up to the game, the Dodgers were instructed by their coaches to not chase Fiers’ high fastball.
However, Crawford said, “It was hard to do today.”
Part of that was because of Fiers’ unusual motion.
“He’s got a little unorthodox delivery with throwing that glove up,” second baseman Enrique Hernandez said. “His fastball kind of rises a little bit. The scoreboard says 88, 89 [mph], but it seems like a little harder than that. It looks pretty hittable out of his hand and it just disappears because it’s at your face and you’re swinging at it.”
With Fiers walking a batter in each of the first three innings — including Andre Ethier on 10 pitches to start the second — his pitch count was already at 86 though five innings.
“You have to give him credit for hanging in there,” Mattingly said.
Fiers settled down after that.
He threw only eight pitches in the sixth inning. He struck out the side in the eighth.
Jimmy Rollins led off the ninth inning with a drive to the warning track in right-center field that was run down by Jake Marisnick. Chase Utley flied out to right for the second out. With the crowd on its feet, Justin Turner struck out to end the game.
Fiers threw 134 pitches. He struck out 10.
All three of the Astros’ runs were scored on home runs off Anderson — a two-run shot by Marisnick in the second inning and a solo blast by Evan Gattis in the sixth.
Aside from Rollins, Turner probably came closest to breaking up Fiers’ no-hitter when he hooked a ball wide of the left field foul pole on the first pitch of his sixth-inning at-bat.
“It started out fair,” Turner said. “It just kept hooking, hooking.”
The Dodgers were limited to only two hits in their previous game, a 5-2 defeat to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday. They had only two hits in the first seven innings of the game before that, another loss to the Athletics.
“A no-hitter is kind of hitting rock-bottom,” catcher Yasmani Grandal said. “You can only go up from there.”
Right-hander Zack Greinke (13-2, 1.58 ERA) will face left-hander Scott Kazmir (6-8, 2.43) and the Astros on Saturday at 4 p.m. PDT at Minute Maid Park. TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.