Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
SEATTLE – Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan popped his head into the clubhouse interview room and insisted his normally stoic manager enjoyed the history that just took place.
“It’s OK to smile, skip, we just got a no-no,” Ryan shouted to Seattle manager Eric Wedge, bringing a smile and chuckle to Wedge’s face.
There were plenty of smiles to go around the Seattle clubhouse late Friday night, mostly because so many had a hand in the third no-hitter in Seattle’s history.
Kevin Millwood pitched six no-hit innings before leaving with a groin injury, and a handful of Seattle relievers continued to hold the Dodgers in check until Tom Wilhelmsen closed out a 1-0 win over Los Angeles for his third save.
Seattle’s six-pack of arms joined the Mets’ Johan Santana, the Angels’ Jered Weaver and White Sox right-hander Philip Humber on the no-hit list of 2012. It was the second no-hitter at Safeco Field this season after Humber’s perfect game against the Mariners in April – the first two in the park’s 13-year history.
The 10th combined no-hitter in major league history tied the record with six pitchers used and was the first since a six-pack of Astros no-hit the New York Yankees in June 2003. Three combined no-hitters happened in a two-year span of 1990 and 1991, including then California Angels’ Mark Langston and Mike Witt combining to no-hit the Mariners 1-0 on April 11, 1990.
This time it was Seattle’s turn to add another bit of baseball lore to its history. Seattle had not thrown a no-hitter since Chris Bosio did it against the Boston Red Sox on April 22, 1993. Since that day, the Mariners had been no-hit twice, including earlier this season when Humber tossed the 21st perfect game in major league history, and the Mariners were left to watch the White Sox celebrate on the Safeco Field mound.
On Friday night, after Wilhelmsen got Andre Ethier to ground out to second for the final out, it was rookie catcher Jesus Montero running around with his arms in the air looking for someone to celebrate with.
“It was really fun. I was praying at the last inning,” Montero said. “It was one of my dreams. It was amazing, an amazing feeling.”
The six pitchers each played an important role, from Charlie Furbush quickly entering the game after Millwood left in the seventh to Brandon League finding the nasty splitter that had eluded him in recent weeks to Wilhelmsen being so oblivious that teammates had to tell him he just completed a no-hitter.
Exactly a week after Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets’ history, Millwood cruised through six innings, giving up only a walk. But after throwing his first warmup pitch for the seventh he felt a twinge in his groin and was pulled.
The Dodgers nearly got a hit when speedy Dee Gordon led off the ninth with a slow roller to shortstop. Ryan, who had just entered as a defensive replacement, charged in and fired to first, where umpire Ted Barrett called Gordon out on a bang-bang play.
Gordon and manager Don Mattingly argued the play. Replays were inconclusive.
Elian Herrera then lined out to Ryan before Ethier’s grounder ended the first no-hitter for the Mariners since Bosio.
It was the 10th combined no-hitter in big league history and the first since six Astros accomplished the feat at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003.
“I’m excited for all these guys that came in the game out of the bullpen and kept it going. It’s a little bit more exciting for those guys when they can be a part of it,” Millwood said.
The 37-year-old Millwood, who spent much of last season in the minors, threw a no-hitter all his own for the Philadelphia Phillies against San Francisco on April 27, 2003. And this combined no-hitter was no ordinary feat: The Dodgers entered with the best record in the majors and the second-highest NL batting average.
“This was a lot better than having it against you, that’s for sure,” said Kyle Seager, whose RBI single in the seventh accounted for the only run.
The oddity to this no-hitter was the amount of changes Wedge made. Furbush was a spot decision after Millwood pulled himself out with what was later announced as a mild right-groin strain. Wedge then went to Pryor (1-0), who impressively got the final out of the seventh before walking a pair to open the eighth.
Pryor was followed by Lucas Luetge, and then it was League, who temporarily has lost his closer role but rediscovered his biting slider to get out of a major jam with runners on second and third and just one out in the eighth.
Finally, it was Wilhelmsen, picking up his third save of the season and easily his most memorable of the campaign.
“When you win a one-nothing ballgame in that fashion, so many different people have to step up, defensively and on the mound,” Wedge said. “And that’s what you saw (Friday night).”