How often is a no-hitter thrown in major league baseball? Well, it is rarer than a cycle occurring. There has only been 295 no-hitters recorded in baseball since 1876. That is on average of around two every season.
On Saturday, Marlins righty Edinson Volquez joined the no-hit club after going the distance on 98 pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Volquez threw the sixth no-hitter for the Marlins' franchise. The first for the team, since Henderson Alvarez did it in 2013, which many may recall as the "walk off no-hitter." Volquez's no-hitter was the first since April of 2016, when Cubs' righty Jake Arrieta did it.
I was one of the 21,548 people in attendance for Saturday's gem. The Marlins, which do not have a large fanbase like the Cubs and the Yankees do, had an electric crowd for the game. Even though the ballpark was filled to nearly two-thirds of it's capacity, it felt like it was game seven of the world series.
In the fourth inning, Rey Fuentes of the Diamondbacks hit a hard grounder to the hole between first and second base. With the no-hitter looming, second baseman Dee Gordon dove with all his might, and gloved the ball before it ended up in the property of right fielder, Giancarlo Stanton. Gordon then threw the ball to first baseman, Justin Bour, to record the first out of the fourth. As a fan of the sport, I knew something was going to happen in this game. I was well alert that Volquez had something special going on...... a potential no-hitter.
I knew this feeling. I have attended a no-hitter in my past. I was at Marlins Park on the memorable day of September 29, 2013, when Henderson Alvarez no-hit the Detroit Tigers. I also attended Rich Hill's near perfect game against the Marlins, last season, which was blown when the Dodgers chose to go to the bullpen in the eighth inning.
In the seventh inning, the chemistry of the crowd seemed to change. People who do not care about baseball, begun to care. Teenagers, who are addicted to social media, put their devices away. Nobody went to the restroom or grabbed a snack when Volquez pitched. I was glad to see that people knew what was going on.
Every diehard fan has their own superstition for when an event like this is happening right in front of their eyes. Mine personally is that I can not peep the term, "no-hitter" or even if it is happening, "perfect game."
In the eighth inning, I was on the edge of my seat. I was super nervous about this potential no-hitter. The score at the time was 1-0. After one out in the inning, Volquez walked a batter, which was his second batter of the game, he walked. Now, I was even more nervous. I was really nervous because up to the plate now, was infielder Brandon Drury, who is having a nice season. One bad pitch to Drury could end up in the seats, and the score can be 2-1, just like that. Then, Volquez would have failed to pitch a no-hitter and potentially get his eighth loss of the season.
I was praying that Volquez would throw one specific pitch...... a changeup. My prayer was received and just like that, Drury hit a grounder to third, and a 5-4-3 double play happened. The crowd went nuts!
In the bottom of the eighth, the Marlins had a big inning, extending the lead to 3-0. Volquez came to the plate for his fourth at bat of the game, with the bases loaded. The crowd came to their feet. Even though Volquez struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning, every was still amped for what was to come.
Here we go - the top of the ninth. All Volquez needed was a good morning, a good afternoon, and a goodnight (3 outs). He struck Nick Ahmed on a nasty breaking ball, Two outs to go! As a fan, I was hoping to see every one on their feet. Nobody was standing except, a man wearing a Yasiel Puig jersey, and the couple sitting behind me all decked out in Marlins gear. I thought to myself, "Does anyone care about this looming no-hitter except me?"
Next up was Daniel Descalso, who was pinch hitting for Jeff Mathis. Volquez struck him out also on a breaking curve. Finally, everybody came to their feet!
Chris Owings, the 27th batter of the game for Arizona came to the plate. Volquez faced the minimum. The first pitch - STRIKE 1. The electric crowd was ready for what was to come. Next pitch - STRIKE 2! Just one more pitch and I would have seen baseball history. Volquez did his traditional-unique windup, and threw the pitch. Swing and a miss! Volquez had done it. He had thrown a no-hitter. The players ran to the mound. The fans hugged each other. The media excitingly tweeted.
The Miami Marlins were the center of the universe.