If there were any storybook ending to cap off 20 straight years of non-winning baseball, this would be it. Homer Bailey threw the seventh no-hit game in the majors this year, blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 Friday night at PNC Park. For the last 20 seasons, the Pirates have not posted a record with over 81 victories.
Despite the loss, A.J. Burnett turned in an absolutely magnificent start for the Pirates. Burnett tossed eight innings of one-run baseball, but the Bucs offense couldn’t touch Bailey. Bailey just had ‘it’ on Friday night.
“I’ve thrown a bunch of no-hitters in my bullpens,” said Bailey, with a laugh. “What is no-hit stuff, really? There’s a lot of things that go into it.”
“Any perfect game or no-hitter you watch, so many things have to go in your favor,” he added. “One little bloop, one little miscue, wrong positioning by an infielder and there’s your hit. A lot of it goes down to luck.”
Acting-manager Chris Speier had nothing but praise for his young right-hander.
“This is, again, one of those real, real special moments to experience,” said Speier. “It was really nerve racking, but the maturation of a pitcher and you know, the culmination to do what he did tonight was phenomenal.”
“I’m just really, really proud of him,” added Speier.
Bailey’s no-hitter against the Pirates was the first time Pittsburgh has been no-hit since Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals blanked the Bucs in August of 1971 at Three Rivers Stadium.
The lone run for the Reds came in the first inning off Burnett. Burnett loaded the bases with no outs, and Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Brandon Phillips from third base.
“The guys were joking that I do better when I load the bases with no outs,” said Burnett. “I was able to find some pitches and got my curveball where it needed to be.”
Burnett had perfect control over his pitches after the run, and settled down throughout the rest of the game. But Bailey outmatched an excellent performance to throw the first perfect game of his young career.
“We were very fortunate tonight,” said Bailey. “There were a couple of balls that were struck pretty well and we just so happened to have a guy standing there.”
The Pirates look to bounce back from the loss tomorrow night in the second game of a three-game series against the Reds. Kyle McPherson (0-2, 3.54 ERA) gets the start against Mike Leake (8-9, 4.73 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.