Astros deep-six Yankees for no-no
by Ray Kerby and Darrell Pittman

Unhittable bullpen poses after the game
Pictured (from left): Brad Lidge, Kirk Saarloos, Billy Wagner, Octavio Dotel, Pete Munro. These five combined with injured starter Roy Oswalt (not pictured) to no-hit baseball's most storied franchise for the first time in 45 years, and set a Major League record along the way.
(c) Houston Astros

June 11, 2003 - It was the second game of the Astros' first-ever regular-season series against the vaunted New York Yankees. Recently returned from a stint on the 15-day DL due to a groin strain, Houston starter Roy Oswalt retired the first three Yankees he faced.

Two pitches into the second inning, he aggravated that same groin injury and exited the game. Manager Jimy Williams brought in Pete Munro in an emergency relief appearance. Little did anyone know that it would begin a hitless drought for New York batters that would last the remaining eight innings.

Even though Munro loaded the bases on a throwing error from third, a walk, and a hit batsman, he induced Jorge Posada to ground out weakly to first to escape the inning.

Kirk Saarloos took the mound in the fourth, Brad Lidge in the sixth, Octavio Dotel in the eighth and Billy Wagner in the ninth. All held the Yankees hitless despite an occasional scare from an odd New York baserunner.

Dotel entered the record books in his own right, becoming the 44th pitcher in major league history to strike out four batters in a single inning, and the first to do it in a no-hitter. The Astros set a major league record for the number of pitchers who combined for a no-hitter at six, surpassing the previous record of four.

It was the first time the Yankees had been no-hit since 1958, and the first time they had been no-hit at Yankee Stadium since 1952. Houston's pitchers, as with most all no-hit efforts, were aided by stellar defense like Lance Berkman's sliding catch in left field in the fifth to rob Alfonso Soriano of a potential bloop single. Houston pitching got thirteen strikeouts, all swinging, a further testament to Houston's pitching prowess.

Houston's offense generated 14 hits and eight runs, and combined to hit for the cycle, including Lance Berkman's upper deck homer in the third. Orlando Merced tripled and four Astros doubled. Though the Astros were in awe of Yankee Stadium and the so-called "Yankee mystique", they demonstrated that they were not intimidated and acquitted themselves well in baseball's most storied venue.

Roy Oswalt Pete Munro Kirk Saarloos Brad Lidge Octavio Dotel Billy Wagner

6 Astros pitchers combine to handcuff Yankees
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

NEW YORK -- Watching Octavio Dotel put the Astros an inning closer to history, Billy Wagner could only think about the legend of the place teammate Brad Ausmus proudly calls a national monument.

Wagner and the rest of the Astros arrived at Yankee Stadium for the first time in franchise history this week eager to explore the myth of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig. By the ninth inning Wednesday night, Wagner nervously headed to the mound to finish writing a new chapter in the lore that is New York Yankees baseball.

"I'm sitting out there going, `Oh, my goodness,' " Wagner said. "I have a shot to finish the no-hitter -- at Yankee Stadium. Really, it was just amazing. There's no greater place to be part of history. This is a great book."

The book on the Astros' 8-0 victory Wednesday night had six chapters: Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Dotel and Wagner as six men combined to throw a no-hitter for the first time in Major League Baseball history.

"You can't expect to no-hit any major-league team," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "But sometimes it happens. But usually with one (pitcher), maybe two. But not six. It just happened."

The Astros have now thrown 10 no-hitters in franchise history, the last being Darryl Kile's 7-1 victory on Sept. 8, 1993. The Yankees have been no-hit only seven times in their rich history, and they had gone exactly 6,890 games since being no-hit on Sept. 20, 1958, by Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm of the Baltimore Orioles.

The last time New York was held hitless at Yankee Stadium was on Aug. 25, 1952, by Detroit's Virgil Trucks.

The Astros' no-hitter came on the 65th anniversary of Johnny Vander Meer's first no-hitter. The only pitcher to throw consecutive no-hitters, he started that streak on June 11, 1938, for Cincinnati against the Boston Braves.

"It's embarrassing," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "We should be embarrassed. If you're not embarrassed something's wrong with you."

"This is one of the worst games I've ever been involved in," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

"I can't find a reason for what happened today," he said. "The whole game stunk."

"It's certainly an unusual game," Williams said after the Astros evened their first interleague series against the Yankees at one game apiece before a crowd of 29,905.

By the second inning, however, Williams was merely trying to figure out a way to get through the night with his bullpen after Oswalt exited with a groin strain.

With so many Astros pitchers strolling to and from the Yankee Stadium mound, Brad Ausmus didn't even realize the history in the making until about the sixth inning.

Oswalt retired the side in order in the first, but he left with a right groin strain in the second. With a 1-1 count on leadoff hitter Jorge Posada, Munro took over and came through with 2 2/3 innings.

Munro grew up in Flushing, N.Y., near Shea Stadium. He was a fan of the Mets and rooted against the Yankees.

"This is a get-you-back game," he said.

Righthander Saarloos relieved Munro with two outs and a man on in the fourth, throwing 1 1/3 innings. Lidge followed with two scoreless innings, striking out two while retiring the six Yankees he faced in order.

Dotel handled the eighth, striking out four to tie a major-league record and becoming the second pitcher in Astros history to strike out four batters in one inning. Mike Scott was the first on Sept. 3, 1986, at Chicago.

Dotel had to strike out four because Alfonso Soriano reached on a strikeout-wild pitch after swinging through a slider that broke away from Ausmus. Dotel responded by striking out Jeter and Jason Giambi to end the inning.

"If they get a hit, who cares?" Dotel said. "I just wanted to do my thing."

By the time Wagner took over, Oswalt, Munro, Saarloos, Lidge and Dotel nervously watched from the couches in the visitors' dugout.

After the game, all six pitchers, some in shorts and T-shirts, posed for a picture by the third-base dugout.

The closest the Yankees came to getting a hit was when Soriano blooped a flyball to left field off Saarloos with two outs in the fifth, but Lance Berkman dived forward like a wide receiver and made a nifty catch.

Third baseman Geoff Blum made a barehanded pickup on Juan Rivera in the third inning and threw him out at first.

Equally important, the Astros were well in command. They got all the offense they needed in the first when Craig Biggio scored on Jeff Weaver's high 1-2 wild pitch to Lance Berkman. Jose Vizcaino's sacrifice fly in the second made the score 2-0. Berkman put the Astros ahead 4-0 with a two-run home run into the third deck behind the right field wall in the third inning.

Ausmus scored on an error in the seventh inning to put the Astros up 5-0, and his RBI single made it 6-0 in the eighth. The Astros capped the scoring on Richard Hidalgo's two-run double to center field in the ninth inning. Then Wagner struck out Posada to lead off the bottom of the ninth.

"I can't explain it," Posada said. "It was awful."

Bubba Trammell, hitting for Robin Ventura, also struck out. Hideki Matsui, the Yankees' Japanese outfielder, grounded out to first to seal the no-hitter. Wagner covered first, took Jeff Bagwell's toss and pumped his left hand in joy.

Second baseman Jeff Kent, not realizing what had transpired, looked at Wagner as though he were silly.

"What's amazing," Wagner said, "is that most of our team didn't know about it."

The crowd at Yankee Stadium was well aware, however, and the Astros appreciated the standing ovation they received. For one night, at least, the place and the history belonged to them.

By the time the Astros returned to their clubhouse, the Yankees had left a bottle of champagne in front of the locker of all six pitchers.

"That's how the Yankees are, they're pretty classy," Wagner said.

This story contains material from The Associated Press and New York Times.

[The next day it came out that it was the Astros' clubhouse manager who ordered the champagne, not the Yankees. -- D. Pittman]

Box score

Game of 6/11/2003 -- Houston at New York (N)

  Houston            AB  R  H RBI    New York           AB  R  H RBI
Biggio C, cf          5  1  2  0   Soriano A, 2b         4  0  0  0
Blum G, 3b            5  1  1  0   Jeter D, ss           3  0  0  0
Bagwell J, 1b         5  1  2  0   Giambi J, dh          3  0  0  0
Kent J, 2b            4  0  1  0   Posada J, c           3  0  0  0
Berkman L, lf         4  2  1  2   Ventura R, 3b         3  0  0  0
Hidalgo R, rf         5  1  2  2   Trammell B, ph        1  0  0  0
Merced O, dh          5  1  1  0   Matsui H, cf          4  0  0  0
Vizcaino J, ss        2  0  1  1   Zeile T, 1b           2  0  0  0
Everett A, ss         1  0  0  0   Mondesi R, rf         3  0  0  0
Ausmus B, c           4  1  3  1   Rivera J, lf          3  0  0  0
                     -- -- -- --                        -- -- -- --
                     40  8 14  6                        29  0  0  0

Houston          112 000 112 --  8
New York         000 000 000 --  0

  Houston              IP  H  R ER BB SO
Oswalt R              1.0  0  0  0  0  2
Munro P               2.2  0  0  0  3  2
Saarloos K            1.1  0  0  0  0  1
Lidge B (W)           2.0  0  0  0  0  2
Dotel O               1.0  0  0  0  0  4
Wagner B              1.0  0  0  0  0  2

  New York             IP  H  R ER BB SO
Weaver J (L)          6.1 10  5  5  1  2
Hammond C             0.2  0  0  0  0  1
Anderson J            1.0  2  1  1  0  1
Reyes A               1.0  2  2  2  1  0

E -- Blum G, Jeter D
LOB -- Houston 8, New York 6
2B -- Biggio C, Vizcaino J, Hidalgo R 2, Bagwell J
3B -- Merced O
HR -- Berkman L
SB -- Soriano A
SF -- Vizcaino J
HBP -- by Munro P (Giambi J)
WP -- Weaver J, Anderson J, Dotel O
T -- 2:52
A -- 29905

Play by Play

Game of Wednesday, 6/11/2003 -- Houston Astros at New York Yankees

Starting Lineups:

   Houston                       New York
1. C.Biggio            cf        A.Soriano           2b
2. G.Blum              3b        D.Jeter             ss
3. J.Bagwell           1b        J.Giambi            dh
4. J.Kent              2b        J.Posada            c
5. L.Berkman           lf        R.Ventura           3b
6. R.Hidalgo           rf        H.Matsui            cf
7. O.Merced            dh        T.Zeile             1b
8. J.Vizcaino          ss        R.Mondesi           rf
9. B.Ausmus            c         J.Rivera            lf
   R.Oswalt            p         J.Weaver            p

ASTROS 1ST: C.Biggio doubled to left field; G.Blum flied to
H.Matsui [C.Biggio to third]; J.Bagwell grounded out (J.Weaver
to T.Zeile); J.Kent walked; J.Weaver threw a wild pitch
[C.Biggio scored, J.Kent to second]; L.Berkman grounded out
(T.Zeile to J.Weaver); 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 1, Yankees

YANKEES 1ST: A.Soriano flied to C.Biggio; D.Jeter struck out;
J.Giambi struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 1, Yankees 0.

ASTROS 2ND: R.Hidalgo grounded out (R.Ventura to T.Zeile);
O.Merced tripled to center field; J.Vizcaino out on a sacrifice
fly to H.Matsui [O.Merced scored]; B.Ausmus singled to center
field; C.Biggio struck out; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 2,
Yankees 0.

Oswalt left the game due to an injured groin"; J.Posada walked;
R.Ventura flied to R.Hidalgo; H.Matsui flied to C.Biggio;
T.Zeile struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 2, Yankees 0.

ASTROS 3RD: G.Blum singled to center field; J.Bagwell flied to
R.Mondesi; J.Kent flied to J.Rivera; L.Berkman homered to
rightfield [G.Blum scored]; R.Hidalgo grounded out (R.Ventura to
T.Zeile); 2 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees 0.

YANKEES 3RD: R.Mondesi struck out; J.Rivera grounded out
(G.Blum to J.Bagwell); A.Soriano reached on an error by G.Blum
[A.Soriano to first]; A.Soriano stole second; D.Jeter walked;
J.Giambi was hit by a pitch [A.Soriano to third, D.Jeter to
second]; J.Posada grounded out (J.Bagwell unassisted); 0 R, 0 H,
1 E, 3 LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees 0.

ASTROS 4TH: O.Merced flied to J.Rivera; J.Vizcaino doubled to
center field; B.Ausmus struck out; C.Biggio grounded out
(A.Soriano to T.Zeile); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees

YANKEES 4TH: R.Ventura grounded out (J.Kent to J.Bagwell);
H.Matsui grounded out (J.Vizcaino to J.Bagwell); T.Zeile walked;
L.Berkman; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees 0.

ASTROS 5TH: G.Blum flied to H.Matsui; J.Bagwell grounded out
(R.Ventura to T.Zeile); J.Kent singled to right field; L.Berkman
grounded out (J.Weaver to D.Jeter to T.Zeile); 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1
LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees 0.

YANKEES 5TH: J.Rivera grounded out (J.Kent to J.Bagwell);
A.Soriano lined to L.Berkman; D.Jeter struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E,
0 LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees 0.

ASTROS 6TH: R.Hidalgo grounded out (D.Jeter to T.Zeile);
O.Merced grounded out (T.Zeile to J.Weaver); J.Vizcaino grounded
out (T.Zeile unassisted); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 4,
Yankees 0.

flied to R.Hidalgo; J.Posada flied to C.Biggio; R.Ventura lined
to L.Berkman; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 4, Yankees 0.

ASTROS 7TH: B.Ausmus singled to center field; On a bunt
C.Biggio singled to pitcher [B.Ausmus to second]; G.Blum forced
C.Biggio (T.Zeile to D.Jeter) [B.Ausmus scored (no RBI) (error
by D.Jeter), G.Blum to first]; J.Bagwell singled to right field
J.Kent flied to R.Mondesi; L.Berkman struck out; 1 R, 3 H, 1 E,
2 LOB.  Astros 5, Yankees 0.

H.Matsui grounded out (A.Everett to J.Bagwell); T.Zeile struck
out; R.Mondesi struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Astros 5,
Yankees 0.

doubled to right field; O.Merced struck out; J.Anderson threw a
wild pitch [R.Hidalgo to third]; A.Everett popped to A.Soriano;
B.Ausmus singled to left field [R.Hidalgo scored]; C.Biggio
flied to R.Mondesi; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 6, Yankees 0.

struck out; A.Soriano struck out while [A.Soriano to first];
D.Jeter struck out; A.Soriano advanced to second because of
defensive indifference [A.Soriano to second]; J.Giambi struck
out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 6, Yankees 0.

grounded out (A.Soriano to T.Zeile); J.Bagwell doubled to right
field; J.Kent flied to H.Matsui [J.Bagwell to third]; L.Berkman
was walked intentionally; R.Hidalgo doubled to center field
[J.Bagwell scored, L.Berkman scored]; O.Merced grounded out
(A.Soriano to T.Zeile); 2 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Astros 8, Yankees

struck out; B.TRAMMELL BATTED FOR R.VENTURA; B.Trammell struck
out; H.Matsui grounded out (J.Bagwell to B.Wagner); 0 R, 0 H, 0
E, 0 LOB.  Astros 8, Yankees 0.

Final Totals      R   H   E  LOB
 Astros           8  14   1   8
 Yankees          0   0   1   6