Saturday, September 25, 2010

September 25, 1986: Great Scott

HOUSTON - The Astros were facing the good kind of pressure before their game on September 25, 1986. Holding a 9.5-game lead in the division, the second playoff appearance in franchise history was virtually assurred. The only question was when they would clinch. Needing only one win, and playing their last home game for a week before heading off on a six-game road trip, the Astros were under a bit of pressure to win the clinching game at home in front of their fans.

Houston sent its ace, Mike Scott, to the mound to try to clinch the division that day against San Francisco. Entering the game with a 17-10 record and a league-best 2.25 ERA, Scott was the best pitcher in the National League that year. It was fitting that he'd get the chance to win the clinching game for the Astros.

Things didn't start out so well, though, as Scott hit leadoff hitter Dan Gladden in the back to start the game. Gladden stole second and moved to third later in the inning, but was left stranded as the Giants went hitless. The second inning started in a similar manner, with Scott walking Chili Davis, watched Davis steal second, then shut down the Giants in order.

That's when Scott went into cruise control. The next five innings were perfect. Counting the last three batters of the second inning, he had retired 18 consecutive batters. After seven innings, he had not given up a hit. With the Astros up 2-0, the division title seemed locked up. Everybody was now focused on whether Scott could finish the job.

With one out in the eighth, Scott finally blinked, walking Phil Ouellette. That turned out to be a fortuitous walk, as the next batter, Harry Spillman, grounded a ball up the middle that second baseman Bill Doran had to dive to stop. Had the play been to first, it's unlikely the Astros would have been able to get the out, but Doran only had to throw to second, getting the force and keeping the no-hitter alive. A fly ball to center ended that threat.

The ninth inning came, and Astros fans were delirious. They were three outs from both the division title and a no-hitter. Scott made it easy by striking out the first two batters, giving him 13 for the game. With two outs in the ninth, Scott got Will Clark to ground to first. Afraid he'd bobble the throw, Scott had first baseman Glenn Davis make the play himself. The Astros had their division crown, and Scott had his no-hitter.

And there was much rejoicing.

There have been 268 no-hitters in Major League history, but Scott's remains the only one that also clinched a championship.

No comments:

Post a Comment