Abbott no-hits Indians

September 05, 1993|By Jennifer Frey | Jennifer Frey,New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Jim Abbott just wanted to stay ahead of the

batters. That was his goal heading into yesterday's game at Yankee Stadium. To be competitive, not to self-destruct.

He did much better than that. Abbott, 25, became the eighth pitcher in the 90-year history of the Yankees to throw a no-hitter when he defeated the Cleveland Indians, 4-0.

The last Yankee to throw a no-hitter was Dave Righetti, who no-hit the Boston Red Sox in a 4-0 victory on July 4, 1983, at Yankee Stadium.

The no-hitter was the first for Abbott, who was born with one hand but who went on to be a star pitcher at the University of Michigan and in the Olympics before embarking on an outstanding professional career.

"I think no-hitters take a little bit of luck," said Abbott, who walked five batters but never allowed a runner beyond first. "To be honest, I can hardly tell you the difference, other than a little bit more command on my breaking ball, between this start and the last one."

With the crowd of 27,225 on its feet and screaming, Abbott was in supreme control in the ninth inning, ignoring Kenny Lofton's attempt to bunt -- a decision that enraged the Yankee Stadium crowd -- and facing down Carlos Baerga, the Indians' best hitter, for his final out.

After Lofton grounded to second and Bernie Williams chased down Felix Fermin's deep fly to center, Baerga grounded softly to short and Randy Velarde cleanly fielded the ball and threw to Don Mattingly to end the game.

"I'm thrilled to come out of that last start and pitch a game like this," said Abbott, who had struggled to a 9-11 record before yesterday. "It makes it doubly nice being in September and being in a pennant race."

Going into the ninth inning, the only truly close fielding play came with one out in the seventh, when Wade Boggs dived to his left to stab an Albert Belle grounder and beat Belle with the throw. Abbott turned and waved his glove in Boggs' direction afterward.

Righetti's no-hitter was the last official one by a Yankee before Abbott's. Andy Hawkins allowed no hits against the White Sox in Chicago on July 1, 1990, losing by 4-0 when the Yanks committed three errors in the eighth inning. Because Hawkins did not pitch nine innings, it is not considered a no-hit game under current baseball scoring rules.

The last time Abbott pitched, in Cleveland six days ago, he gave up 10 hits and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, then left the field, the clubhouse and the stadium, his uniform exchanged for a pair of shorts and some running shoes. The outing sent his ERA up to 4.31 and his frustration level right off the chart.

Before yesterday, Abbott had lost three of his last six starts -- and that's not counting the outing against Cleveland, which miraculously turned into a no-decision after a Yankee offensive outburst.

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