O's fail to solve Nomo's riddle

Team baffled all night by Red Sox pitcher

April 05, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Up until the final out was made last night, when Delino DeShields' fly ball failed to touch the Camden Yards grass in left field, catcher Brook Fordyce was certain the Orioles would get a hit. Even as the strikeouts mounted and a succession of batters returned to the dugout, he believed they somehow would get to Hideo Nomo.

He wasn't alone in this thinking, but they never did, in large part because Mike Lansing laid a glove on them.

A defensive replacement, Lansing made a lunging catch of a pop-up by Mike Bordick in shallow center field with one out in the ninth. If there had been any doubt about where the Orioles were headed in their second game of the season, it disappeared on that play.

"I thought it was in, but Lansing made a great play," said manager Mike Hargrove after Nomo's second career no-hitter had completed Boston's 3-0 victory.

Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston said he knew Lansing would make the catch, even if an entire ballpark gasped in anticipation of a bloop single.

"I didn't think it was going to drop," he said. "If you're a middle infielder, you're going to make that play, especially when a no-hitter's on the line. I saw Lansing break on the ball like his life depended on it."

Thoughts of a no-hitter crept into Hargrove's mind after five innings, and that was before Nomo struck out the side in the sixth and seventh.

"It starts to enter your mind a little bit," Hargrove said, "but I really felt like throughout the game we were going to get back in it. We were only two or three runs down and I thought we had a chance, if we got some runners on and got a break, we had a chance to score some runs. It didn't happen."

"Obviously to throw a no-hitter you have to be very good," Hargrove added. "Nomo didn't miss with any of his pitches. He would lose it about once every seven hitters and walk somebody, but other than that he was absolutely golden."

Orioles starter Sidney Ponson had to settle for the silver. He allowed two earned runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10 against one walk. On any other night, it probably would have been good enough to give the Orioles a 2-0 start in 2001.

"You have to tip your hat to [Nomo]," Ponson said. "He threw a great game. You can't do anything about those days. You don't expect it, but it happens.

"I felt good about my start. I gave our team a good chance to win, but when a guys throws a no-hitter, there's nothing you can do about that."

Said Hargrove: "We battled all night. It was a good ballgame. The score kind of got lost in the excitement of the no-hitter, but it was a good ballgame. Sidney threw the ball well. When you can't get any hits and don't get any runs, it's tough to win."

Hargrove hadn't seen Nomo get ahead of hitters this consistently before tonight. He has been preaching patience from his hitters this season, but it seemed that each pitch taken put them in a hole.

"He maintained his velocity, too, throwing his fastball 88 to 90 [mph] all night long. And he got some calls with his splitter. When you have a guy who has a pitch like a split and stays ahead of the hitters and hits his spots with his fastball, the split is a devastating pitch," Hargrove said.

Said Fordyce: "He made the pitches he had to make all night."

Added Hairston: "He was spotting his fastball well and had good movement. It's very deceiving. He was throwing 88, 89, but with his splitter it seemed like 95 with movement. He mixed his pitches very well. He was tough the whole game. I don't know if he smelled a no-hitter, but he had his pitches working."

Having spent his entire career in the National League until signing with the Orioles in December 1998, DeShields had seen Nomo's act many times while the right-hander was emerging as an upper-tier pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last night provided a repeat that DeShields wished to avoid.

"That was the way I remember Nomo when he first came up with the Dodgers," DeShields said. "He had that kind of stuff tonight. Our guy was throwing well. We just couldn't get to Nomo."

Hargrove has been on this side of a no-hitter in the past. "It's no fun when you're a player, it's no fun when you're a coach," he said.

O's take fifth

Hideo Nomo's no-hitter last night with the fifth all-time against the Orioles:

Date Pitcher, Opp. Score

5/5/62 B. Belinsky, L.A. 2-0

6/1/75 N. Ryan, Cal. 1-0

4/15/87 J. Nieves, Mil. 7-0

8/11/91 W. Alvarez, Chi. 7-0

4/4/01 H. Nomo, Bos. 3-0

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