MIAMI – With the bases loaded, two outs and the score 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Henderson Alvarez stood in the Miami Marlins’ on-deck circle, bat in hand, hoping to complete his no-hitter.
Alvarez had blanked the Detroit Tigers for nine innings – and briefly, mistakenly thought he had pitched a no-hitter. But the Marlins needed a run for him to achieve the feat.
“I was nervous and anxious,” he said through an interpreter. “I started praying, ‘Please give us a run.’ I was hoping for a wild pitch.”
That’s exactly how Miami scored. Giancarlo Stanton crossed the plate standing up when a breaking ball skipped to the backstop, and Alvarez had his no-hitter, beating the Tigers on the final day of the regular season Sunday, 1-0.
Alvarez – who had been due to hit next – took off his batting helmet and began to celebrate with teammates in the on-deck circle while still wearing his batting gloves. When the happy hopping scrum finally broke up, pitcher Jose Fernandez came away holding Alvarez’s uniform top.
“They were pulling on my jersey and choking me, so I took it off,” Alvarez explained.
Later, the 23-year-old Venezuelan went into the stands to hug his pregnant wife and kiss her belly.
Of the 282 no-hitters in history, it was the only one 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.
“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 needed the run for his no-hitter to be official, because a Major League Baseball ruling in 1991 said only complete games of nine or more innings with no hits count as no-hitters.
Alvarez got it when Luke Putkonen’s first pitch to Greg Dobbs was low and inside, eluding catcher Brayan Pena.
Alvarez (5-6) struck out four, walked one and hit a batter against a patchwork Tigers lineup on the last day of the 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 a teammate 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 was 1-0. I threw my hands up and thought the game was over.”