Greene,in just 15th start,fills in with 2-0 no-hitter Late replacement shuts down Expos

May 24, 1991|By Sam Carchidi | Sam Carchidi,Knight-Ridder News Service

MONTREAL -- Tommy Greene, a 24-year-old Philadelphi Phillies right-hander, had only six career victories before yesterday.

He had not yet spent a full season in the major leagues. He was making his second start of the season, only the 15th of his career. And his club described his start an "emergency" because the scheduled starting pitcher, Danny Cox, was injured recently.

Yet Greene made yesterday's game against the Montreal Expos breeze along like a Nolan Ryan matinee. Throwing 92 mph fastballs, he struck out 10 batters and walked seven en route to a 2-0, no-hit victory.

It was the eighth no-hitter in Phillies history, their first road no-hitter since 1971 and the 225th since the major leagues began recording such efforts.

Greene's most serious close call may have come on the last pitch.

Tim Wallach smashed a one-hopper back to the mound. Greene -- a 6-foot-5, 225-pound athlete nicknamed "Jethro" because "I'm a big country guy from North Carolina" -- reached up and stabbed the ball near his eyes. Then, he cast both arms toward the roof of Olympic Stadium, Rocky-like, in a moment of triumph.

But he still had not thrown Wallach out.

"I was going to run to first myself, but then I thought better of it," said Greene, his eyes red from the beer celebration in the clubhouse, his hair dripping, his maroon jacket soaked.

"I thought it [Wallach's smash] was up the middle," said first baseman Ricky Jordan, who knocked in the game's first run with a first-inning triple. "I said, 'Grab it. Grab it.' "

For a split-second, Jordan worried that Greene had forgotten that he had to do something with the ball before it could be sent to Cooperstown, home of baseball's Hall of Fame.

Jordan yelled at Greene: "Give me the ball! Give me the ball!'"

And Greene did.

In the clubhouse, Phillies players chanted, "Green-ie, Green-ie, Green-ie."

"You got one, Bubba!" reliever Mitch Williams yelled, as he

hugged Greene.

With just 8,833 watching, the hard-throwing Greene threw 130 pitches -- 76 strikes and 54 balls.

"This, is just the best feeling -- the best," Phillies catcher Darrin Fletcher said after catching a no-hitter in only the 27th game of his major-league career. "I was just hoping and praying out there."

Added Fletcher: "I really didn't start thinking of it that much until the ninth, when I asked who was up."

The answer: Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker and Wallach, the fourth, fifth and sixth batters in the Montreal lineup.

"It was like, 'Oh, great. The meat of their order,'" Fletcher said.

Greene struck out the right-handed-hitting Galarraga by getting him to chase a high fastball on a 1-2 pitch. Galarraga lost control of his bat on the swing, and it went sailing against the wall to the right of the Phillies dugout.

Two outs to go.

In the dugout, Phillies coach John Vukovich motioned toward the fielders.

In left field, John Kruk said he was having problems picking up fly balls and was praying the ball wouldn't be hit to him.

It wasn't. Walker, on a 2-2 pitch, slapped a one-hopper to third baseman Rod Booker -- who said afterward that he did not realize a no-hitter was taking place.

Booker, who made a slick pickup of Delino DeShields' third-inning grounder, made the routine play.

One out to go.

Until now, the fans hadn't gotten involved in the no-hit atmosphere. In the top of the ninth, they gave Greene a polite ovation as he batted. Kruk elbowed manager Jim Fregosi in the dugout and asked him to send up a pinch hitter "because we need some more runs."

But as Wallach stepped to the plate with two outs in the ninth, the fans stood, applauding wildly.

They were rooting for Wallach, the Expos captain, to make an LTC out.

At 4:03 p.m.,Wallach obliged.

Phillies no-hitters

Year... Pitcher. . .. . . . . .. . Opponent

1895.. Charles Ferguson. . ..... . Providence

1898.. Red Donahue. . . . ... .....Boston

.Charles Fraser.. . . . . . Chicago

1906. .John Lush. . . .. . . ... . Brooklyn

1964 . *Jim Bunning. . . . .. .. . New York

1971. . Rick Wise. . . . . . . . ..Cincinnati

1990. . Terry Mulholland. . . . . .SF

1991. . Tommy Greene. . . . . . . .Montreal

* perfect game

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