Cristian Javier, Houston Astros bullpen combine for no-hitter vs. New York Yankees

ByColey Harvey via ESPN logo
Sunday, June 26, 2022
ESPN

NEW YORK -- Like most pitchers,Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javiergrew up dreaming of one day throwing a no-hitter.

While he still has yet to toss a complete game in 84 professional starts, the 25-year-old was part of one for the first time as a big leaguer Saturday afternoon in the Bronx.

Javier,Hector Neris and Ryan Presslycombined for the first no-hitter against the New York Yankeesin 19 years, shutting down the best team in baseball for a 3-0 victoryat Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

"I feel really happy, really proud right now for this moment that God has given me," Javier said on the field just after the game, via an interpreter.

Moments later, in Houston's clubhouse, he was handed the game ball by teammateJustin Verlander, who threw the Astros' last no-hitter in 2019,to raucous applause that could be heard in the hallway outside.

Javier (5-3), who set career highs with 13 strikeouts on 115 pitches over seven innings before he was pulled by manager Dusty Baker, vowed always to keep and cherish the ball.

"The whole thing about pitching is control, control, control," said Baker, who added that he was most encouraged by the way Javier regularly spotted the four-seamer in the strike zone throughout the outing. "Everybody talks about velocity all the time, but the velocity without command and control is no good.

"That was the key, getting ahead of the hitters. And he was getting ahead of some pretty good hitters, real good hitters over there. So, boy, that's a day that he'll never forget. Nor us, either."

In a matchup of the teams with the top two records in the American League, New York didn't come close to a hit before a silenced crowd of 45,076.

Said Pressly, who finished off the gem with a 1-2-3 ninth: "To do it in New York, it's the best feeling in the world."

Nerisrelieved Javier in the eighth inning, but not without some drama. Neris allowed two walks before getting out of the inning on a fly ball to the warning track byJoey Gallo and a hard grounder by Aaron Judgefor a fielder's choice.

"I said, 'I have to get it for my team, I have to get it for Javy,'" said Neris, who had never pitched in a no-hitter before.

Only two no-hitters have been thrown against the Yankees since Baltimore's Hoyt Wilhelm did it in 1958. Both have come at the hands of the Astros, who had six pitchers combine for a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003.

In that game, across the street at the old Yankee Stadium, Roy Oswalt strained his right groin after his second pitch of the second inning, and Pete Munro (2 innings), Kirk Saarloos (1), Brad Lidge (2), Octavio Dotel (1) and Billy Wagner (1) followed in an 8-0 win.

The Astros now have 14 no-hitters in their history, the most in the majors since Houston began play in 1962. Three have been combined efforts, also a record.

New York was no-hit for just the eighth time ever and just the sixth time at home.

Javier credited his pregame work for his success Saturday, but it was his fastball -- which topped out at 96.3 mph -- that was working the best as he threw the most strikeouts for an Astros starter in a game this season.

Among the Yankees hitters that Javier struck out multiple times were Judge,Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks.

"Since he came out here in 2020, he's been one of the most exciting pitchers to catch," said Houston catcher Martin Maldonado, who also caught two immaculate innings earlier this season. "We call him 'The Reptile,' because he doesn't show any emotion, no matter how big the stage -- playoffs, World Series. He walks in the same. Like, you ever get scared? It really doesn't matter. He can give up five or he can throw a no-hitter, and he's still the same guy."

Javier threw 71 of 115 pitches for strikes. His previous high was 107 pitches against the Seattle Mariners on April 27, 2021.

Baker said he let him go "a little longer" Saturday because he will have extra days of rest before his next start.

In addition to wanting to close out the no-hitter in the ninth, Pressly had some personal business to take care of after giving up a game-tying three-run homer to Hicks in the ninth inning of Thursday's 7-6 loss before a boisterous Bronx crowd.

"I lost a lot of sleep [Thursday] night," said Pressly, who entered Saturday's game having allowed a .368 opponents' batting average in 15 career appearances against the Yankees. "I was pretty upset with myself and felt like I let the team down. I wanted to come out here and show my teammates that they can trust me and go out there and take care of business."

Pressly got Stanton to hit into a game-ending groundout as the MLB-best Yankees lost consecutive games for the first time since May 28-29 (vs. Tampa Bay), getting their only runners on three walks and an error.

Houston scored its runs on solo home runs by rookieJ.J. Matijevic in the seventh and Jose Altuve in the eighth.Yuli Gurriel added a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth.

Javier, who lowered his ERA to 2.73, was starting because Jake Odorizzi is hurt. He began 12 of his first 18 batters with a strike but started his last five with a ball. His 50.9% first-strike percentage entering was 155th among 157 pitchers who faced 150 or more plate appearances this season.

It marked the third time in MLB history that a pitcher had 13 strikeouts without allowing a hit while not pitching nine innings.Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw had the same line in April, when he was pulled from a perfect game attempt at Minnesota, and Milwaukee Brewers starter Corbin Burnes had a 14-strikeout, eight-inning outing in a no-hit bid last year.

Javier walked Donaldsonon a full-count fastball with two outs in the first then retired 17 in a row until Donaldson reached when third baseman Alex Bregman threw past first for an error on a one-out grounder in the seventh. Stanton took a called third strike, and Gleyber Torres struck out swinging.

Matijevic, a 26-year-old taken by Houston in the second round of the 2017 amateur draft, debuted April 22. He is 2-for-14, and both hits are solo home runs; he went deep against Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox on June 19.

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole didn't allow a hit until Jake Meyers grounded a slider into right field with two outs in the fifth. In his previous start June 20, Cole held Tampa Bay hitless until Isaac Paredessingled leading off the eighth. The 31-year-old right-hander took a perfect game into the seventh against the Detroit Tigers on June 3 before Jonathan Schoop's two-out single.

There have been three no-hitters this season, with five New York Mets pitchers combining against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 29 and Reid Detmers of the Los Angeles Angels accomplishing the feat against the Rays on May 10.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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