In a story becoming relatively familiar, the Houston Astros took a no-hitter into the late innings. Friday night in Detroit against the Tigers, while also clinging to a 1-0 lead, Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez went seven innings without having allowed a hit. He was pulled from the potential no-hitter after the seventh in favor of reliever Bryan Abreu by Astros manager Dusty Baker. Abreu then allowed a single with one out in the eighth.
The 1-0 lead remained intact going to the ninth and Astros closer Ryan Pressly struck out the first two hitters he faced. Then an already weird game -- the Tigers committed four errors -- got weirder.
Miguel Cabrera started the rally with a single. Zach McKinstry followed with a single and then Javier Báez hit a game-tying RBI single. Then came rookie Parker Meadows in his fourth career game. He had three hits, but hadn't yet driven home a run. He'd drive home three:
How about that one, huh? The kid comes through with his first career home run and it's a three-run, walk-off shot against the defending champs in a game where his team didn't even have a hit going to the eighth inning.
In the case of the Valdez no-hitter, it's a big story. Whenever a pitcher is pulled without having allowed a hit, there'll be some blowback. Valdez wasn't very efficient at all, though, and had gotten really wild. He walked five hitters and was sitting at 114 pitches through seven innings. Not only was this his season high pitch count, but it tied his career high. He also threw 114 pitches on May 30, 2022. Needing two more innings, especially given the one-run lead and how wild Valdez had been, Baker made the call to remove Valdez. He put team over individual. Remember, they entered Friday night tied with the Mariners and one game back of the first-place Rangers in the AL West.
And then the bullpen blew the game.
Valdez previously threw a no-hitter on Aug. 1 of this season and only needed 93 pitches in that one. The Astros also had a combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the 2022 World Series and on June 25, 2022. Had the relievers been able to complete this one, the Astros would've had four of the last seven no-hitters in Major League Baseball.
The Houston southpaw was looking to join Max Scherzer (2015), Roy Halladay (2010, including the playoffs), Nolan Ryan (1973), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds (1951) and Johnny Vander Meer (1938; he was the only pitcher to ever throw consecutive no-hitters) as pitchers with two no-hitters in the same season.
Thanks to his former team collecting a hit, Michael Lorenzen still has the most recent no-hitter. He threw it on Aug. 9, in just his second start with the Phillies after being acquired from the Tigers in a trade.
In the end here, the lasting memory of this game should be Parker Meadows. He became the eighth hitter in Tigers history to have his first career home run be a walk-off bomb.