Indians, Blue Jays Share Strange No-Hit History

Last week, Trevor Bauer scuffled his way through seven no-hit innings for the Indians. The bullpen held on until the ninth inning, when Brad Hand lost the no-hitter and the shutout, although the Tribe still won.

Of course, it was against the Blue Jays – and not just because they’ve been one of the few teams this year with an offense even more anemic than the Tribe’s. Toronto has had a strange relationship with the Indians when it comes to no-hit games.

The Blue Jays – along with the Mariners – joined the American League as expansion teams in 1977. Four years later, the Jays were the victims of Len Barker’s perfect game, in weather not unlike what we saw last Thursday, a cold day early in the season in front of a small crowd. Barker’s perfect game remains the last no-hitter to date by an Indians pitcher. (There’s only been one other no-hitter by the Indians since the Jays started play: Dennis Eckersley’s Memorial Day no-no against the Angels in 1977.)

Since Barker’s perfect game, 28 other teams have had a no-hitter – every team except the San Diego Padres, which has never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter in their 50-year history. The only Blue Jays pitcher to throw a no-hitter to date is Dave Stieb, and his came on Sept. 2, 1990, against the Indians at Cleveland Stadium. It was the day before Labor Day, and planes buzzed overhead from the air show at nearby Burke Lakefront Airport.

On four separate occasions, Stieb had taken a no-hitter (one of them a perfect game) into the ninth inning. And each time, he’d given up a hit. One of those came against the Indians, in 1988 at Cleveland Stadium. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Julio Franco slapped what should have been the final out of the game toward second baseman Manuel Lee. But the field at Cleveland Stadium being what it is, the ball took a surprise hop, eluded Lee’s grasp, and went into right field for a single.

In 1990, pinch-hitter Chris James flied out to left. Candy Maldonado struck out. Stieb nipped around the edges to Alex Cole, walking him on four straight pitches. Cole took second on defensive indifference. Stieb focused on the batter, Jerry Browne, who flied out to right fielder Junior Felix, clinching the first no-hitter for Stieb and the Blue Jays – in five tries.

It turned out to be the last no-hitter at Cleveland Stadium. There’s only been one no-hitter in Cleveland since, when the Angels’ Ervin Santana blanked the Tribe in a getaway day game at Progressive Field in 2011.

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