Marlins pitcher vital in his side’s narrow win over Tigers.
Miami’s Henderson Alvarez threw a no-hitter on the final day of the Major League Baseball season as the Marlins scored a run in the last inning to edge Detroit 1-0.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan right-hander hurled 66 strikes in 99 pitches over nine innings, striking out four Tigers batters while walking one, hitting another and allowing a third base runner on a fielding error.
But the Marlins batters could not produce a run in the first eight innings, leaving the game a scoreless deadlock entering the bottom of the ninth to bring about a bizarre and dramatic finish to Alvarez’s no-hit effort.
“I was so excited,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I thought by the ninth inning that I just needed three outs for the no-hitter. With my emotions and nerves, I kind of lost track that we hadn’t scored a run yet.”
Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-out single to centerfield off Tigers relief pitcher Luke Putkonen, took second base on a Logan Morrison single and both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Putkonen.
Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out and Chris Coughlan walked to load the bases with two outs, bringing pinch hitter Greg Dobbs to the plate.
But Putkonen threw another wild pitch, the ball rolling to the backstop as Stanton raced home from third base for the game’s only run to touch off a bench-clearing celebration as Miami players mobbed Alvarez.
“I was hoping for a wild pitch,” Alvarez said. “When I saw the wild pitch I got really excited.”
It was the first walk-off no-hitter in the major leagues since 1997.
“The no-hitter just makes me go into the off-season wanting to work even harder,” Alvarez said. “It’s a way to motivate me and prepare me for next season.”
Rookie teammate Jose Fernandez pulled off Alvarez’s jersey and showed it to the spectators as the crowd roared.
“They were pulling on my jersey and kind of choking me, so I took it off,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez had been in the on-deck circle waiting for a time at bat that could not have come in that inning and jumped for joy when the victory was complete and he became the fifth pitcher in Marlins’ history to toss a no-hitter.
“He had great fastball location,” said Marlins catcher Koyie Hill. “He was getting ahead in the count and when he gets ahead, he’s dangerous.”
Alvarez missed the first three months of the season with right shoulder inflammation. His first start was on July 4.
It was the first no-hit win for the Marlins since Anibal Sanchez achieved the feat against Arizona in 2006.
The Marlins have endured a miserable 100-loss season and owners spent the final weekend of the campaign firing top front office personnel and promoting two other front office employees into the top jobs.
“It’s definitely a good one to end on,” Hill said. “For having the kind of season that has been going on, it’s not a beat-up team. The mindset and determination of this team is looking up.”
The Tigers, however, have more games to look forward to this year despite being swept in Miami. They next face Oakland in the American League playoffs.
Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander struck out 10 batters over six innings to help keep Miami batters frustrated until the final moment of the game.
Verlander, 0-for-24 as a batter in his career, came the closest to getting a hit off Alvarez. He smacked a long fly ball down the right-field line in the sixth inning, but the ball landed just out of Stanton’s reach in foul territory. Verlander eventually struck out.
“Verlander’s ball, I thought was fair,” Alvarez said. “Then when he ran by me, he kind of gave a smile like he was saying, ‘Be ready.’ That’s when I realized I should start to mix a slider in there. That was too close.”