An unlikely group of grizzled vets, beleaguered closers, and fresh-faced young hurlers put the Mariners on the right side of history Friday night, in Seattle’s 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Safeco Field.
Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, and Tom Wilhemsen combined to hold the Dodgers hitless, completing just the 10th combined no-hitter in baseball history.
Millwood, who just a month ago looked like dead weight on the sinking U.S.S. Mariner, cruised through six innings, striking out six and issuing just one walk. The 37-year-old right-hander came out to the mound to start the seventh, threw one warm-up pitch, and promptly left the game, felled by a balky groin and perhaps father time.
In stepped Charlie Furbush, a patchwork beard doing little to hide his inexperience and relative youth. The southpaw collected two outs in between a throwing error, and was spared the ignominy of allowing a run in the Mariners pursuit of perfection when rookie Stephen Pryor blew a fastball by Juan Rivera to end the top of the 7th.
Seattle’s offense finally broke through in the bottom of the inning, scoring on yet another clutch hit from Kyle Seager to take a 1-0 lead.
Six outs to go.
Pryor returned for the top of the 8th and promptly forgot the goal of pitching, walking two consecutive Dodgers to start the inning. Nursing a one-run lead, the Mariners appeared in danger of losing a game in which they did not allow a hit. Eric Wedge apparently realized this fact, and went back to the bullpen again, this time for Lucas Luetge, a pitcher who had never played above Double-A before this season. As it turned out, it didn’t matter if Luetge had never pitched above middle school, because Dodger James Loney laid down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners but moving Seattle one step closer to history. What a schmuck.
With the game and the no-hitter on the line, Wedge called once more behind the left field wall, summoning a man the fans call BLT when they aren’t busy cursing his name to the sky. Yes, Brandon League was going to play a critical role in preserving a no-hitter. It was like something out a Disney movie, expect instead of a misfit made good playing the hero, it was a greasy, mohawked, and tattoo covered reminder that Brandon Morrow no longer pitches for the Mariners.
The much maligned League did his job though, inducing a fly out to shallow left field (which was caught by a player that fans forget even existed—for good reason) before striking out Tony Gywnn Jr. to end the frame.
Three outs to go.
“Bartender, I’ll have the drink that’s the equivalent of a hitless ninth inning.” That’s what Eric Wedge told Tom Wilhemsen when we summoned out the Mariners newly christened closer for a pressure packed final inning. Thankfully, Tom’s never poured a drink Seattle fans didn’t like.
The first out of the inning was close (so close it probably wasn’t an out) but the slick fielding of shortstop Brendan Ryan was just enough to cut down the fleet footed Dee Gordon. Elian Herrera and Andre Ethier, realizing how rude it would be to ruin the Mariners special evening, meekly went down to end the game.
No outs to go.
Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, and Tom Wilhelmsen just combined for a no-hitter.
You’d have to see it, to believe it…