09/02/07 12:15 AM ET
Orioles go down hitless against Sox
Buchholz tosses year's third no-no in second big league start
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The rookie struck out Nick Markakis for the final out before getting mobbed by his teammates near the pitcher's mound. Moments later, he addressed a media corps that was more than ready to hang on his every word.
"I don't even have a word for it," Buchholz said about his emotions following the final out. "I was so excited and ecstatic about everything and the way everything boiled down to that moment and being out there. ... You'd think we won the World Series or something, but it was an incredible moment in my life and one that I will never forget."
The no-hitter was the third of the season -- joining gems by Chicago's Mark Buehrle and Detroit's Justin Verlander -- and the first against Baltimore in more than five years. Hideo Nomo no-hit the Orioles in April 2001.
Buchholz was also the third pitcher all-time to throw a no-hitter in his first or second start. Bobo Hollomon did it in his first start on May 6, 1953, for the St. Louis Browns at home against the Philadelphia Athletics, and Wilson Alvarez did it in his second start on Aug. 11, 1991, for the Chicago White Sox at Baltimore.
Prior to Saturday night, the Orioles were the only team in the Major Leagues that hadn't been shut out.
"We were thinking the whole way that someone was going to get a hit," said Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada. "We have so many good hitters on this team. But if something is going to happen, it's going to happen. It happened today."
The Orioles (58-75) never really came close to touching Buchholz, and only two plays appeared to have a chance at breaking up his no-hit bid. Center fielder Coco Crisp made a long run to catch a ball in the sixth inning, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia robbed Tejada by making a highlight-reel diving stop and throw to first in the seventh.
"I thought that was going to get past him. He just made a great play," said Tejada. "That's the key to throwing a no-hitter. To me, that was the best play they made the whole night. It's hard, you know."
"Miguel sometimes hits the ball in the 3-4 hole so I was kind of playing him straight up," added Pedroia. "But I got a good jump on the ball, and I was able to get it. I popped up as fast as I could and threw it as hard as I could."
Buchholz walked three batters and hit one other, and Baltimore had more than one baserunner in just one inning. Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff drew back-to-back walks in the fifth, but Buchholz escaped on a strikeout, a fielder's choice and a flyout. Only one Orioles hitter reached base the rest of the way, and the Red Sox (81-55) picked him off first base.
"He really didn't get into a pattern," said center fielder Corey Patterson. "It seemed like some innings he would start throwing his fastball -- speed you up, slow you down. Then he'd switch around the next inning. He'd start you out slow, then speed you up. From what I saw, he had a good changeup working and he mixed his patterns up pretty good."
Buchholz had to face the top of Baltimore's batting order in the ninth inning, but he never let his nerves get the best of him. The right-hander struck out Brian Roberts and coaxed a fly ball from Patterson to bring Markakis to the plate. Buchholz fell behind, but he came after Markakis and struck the outfielder out looking at a backdoor curveball.
"He made a lot of good pitches," Markakis said. "From the first inning on, he was making good pitches, mixing his pitches. He just never threw anything right over the plate. He was hitting his spots, changing his speeds."
Buchholz faced 30 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of them. He retired Tejada on a hard line drive to second base in the first inning and caught a laser beam back through the box against Jay Payton in the eighth. Boston built up an eight-run lead by the end of the sixth inning, which forced Baltimore into instant scramble mode.
"Early in the game, we just tried to win the game. But after that, we just tried to break the no-hitter," Tejada said. "We don't want to see the pitcher throw a no-hitter. It was a normal feeling. Everybody was excited. Everybody was just trying to have a good inning. After they got a big lead, I think everybody just tried to get a good at-bat, get a good pitch and get a hit."
Baltimore starter Garrett Olson pitched into the sixth inning but left with a four-run deficit. The southpaw allowed seven hits and walked five batters, and most of Boston's early offense came on a three-run double by David Ortiz. Olson (1-3) handed the ball to reliever Rocky Cherry in the sixth, and Cherry allowed three hits and four runs to tilt the game further away.
Buchholz was nearing his pitch limit toward the end, and Boston manager Terry Francona said that the pickoff and Payton's first-pitch line drive were key outs. The final pitch was No. 115 for Buchholz, and Francona said he would've pulled him after 120. That was no consolation for the Orioles, who not only got no-hit but lost the 10th game in their last 11.
"You want to get a hit," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, underlining the obvious. "You want to get on the board. You're not going to give it to him. You want to make him earn it."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.