MIAMI — Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter with a most bizarre ending, celebrating in the on-deck circle when the Miami Marlins scored on a two-out wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers 1-0 on Sunday.
After Alvarez finished off the ninth with the game scoreless, he had to wait to see if it would become an official no-hitter. A Major League Baseball ruling in 1991 said only complete games of nine or more innings with no hits would count.
The Marlins loaded the bases, and with pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs at bat, Luke Putkonen threw a wild pitch that let Giancarlo Stanton score. Alvarez was on deck, and he took off his batting helmet and started to celebrate with teammates while still wearing his batting gloves.
When the Marlins’ happy scrum finally broke, pitcher Jose Fernandez was holding Alvarez’s uniform top.
“They were pulling on my jersey and choking me, so I took it off,” Alvarez explained through a translator.
Later, Alvarez went into the stands to hug his pregnant wife and kiss her belly.
It was the first no-hitter to end on a wild pitch, STATS said. And it was the first walk-off complete-game no-hitter since Virgil Trucks of the Tigers threw one on May 15, 1952, against Washington, the Marlins said.
“That’s the beauty of baseball,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “You never know what you’re going to see. On the last day of the season, what a treat.”
Alvarez (5-6) struck out four, walked one and hit a batter against a patchwork Tigers lineup on the last day of the regular season. When he closed out the top of the ninth, he pumped one fist and then both, thinking the game was over.
He remained confused until he got to the dugout and teammates explained the situation to him.
“With the emotion and nerves, I didn’t realize we hadn’t scored a run yet,” a sheepish Alvarez said. “At the time I thought the game 1-0. I threw my hands up and thought the game was over.”
That changed with the dramatic bottom of the ninth, giving Alvarez the third no-hitter of the year. He joined Homer Bailey of Cincinnati and Tim Lincecum of San Francisco.
A 23-year-old righty from Venezuela, Alvarez capped a dismal season for the Marlins in which they finished at 62-100.
Alvarez pitched the fourth season-ending no-hitter ever, and first since Mike Witt of the Angels threw a perfect game at Texas in 1984. In 1975, Vida Blue and three Oakland relievers combined to no-hit the Angels and in 1892, Bumpus Jones of Cincinnati did it against Pittsburgh, STATS said.