September 17, 1996: Nomo’s no-way no-no
By Mark Langill
Hideo Nomo pitched two career no-hitters, but 20 years later, it’s still hard to fathom his first milestone as a member of the Dodgers on September 17, 1996 in Colorado.
Nomo’s no-no during a 9-0 victory at Coors Field is still portrayed as a “man vs. the elements” challenge like a National Geographic documentary. In addition to the high altitude that often facilitates high-scoring affairs, a rainstorm delayed the game for 64 minutes and prompted Nomo to ditch his windup and pitch from the stretch position.
Nomo made 110 pitches (66 strikes, 44 balls). He retired the side in order in the ninth inning: Eric Young and Quinton McCracken grounded out to second baseman Delino DeShields. Ellis Burks, batting .348 at the time, struck out on a 2-2 pitch. It remains the only no-hitter in the history of Coors Field. Two other pitchers have thrown a complete-game one-hitter: Florida’s Pat Rapp (1995) and Houston’s Roy Oswalt (2008).
The lineup Nomo faced was a mixture of Colorado’s “Blake Street Bombers” – Ellis Burks, Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga and Vinny Castilla – along with a pair of rookies called up in September. Shortstop Neffi Perez made his fourth Major League start because veteran Walt Weiss had strained a calf muscle the previous night. Another rookie, Terry Jones, was sent to the plate as a pinch-hitter to lead off the eighth inning. In his first big league at-bat, Jones struck out on three pitches.
In Nomo’s two previous starts in Denver in 1995 and 1996, he received no-decisions, and the scores of the game were 12-10 and 16-15. During his 12-year MLB career, Nomo made 10 starts at Colorado and went 3-1 with an 8.05 ERA in 52 2/3 innings. His other no-hitter was as a member of the Boston Red Sox at Baltimore in 2001.