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Yankee Offense Is Six-Feet Under

New York is no-hit for the first time since 1958 as Houston uses a record half-dozen pitchers in an 8-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.

June 12, 2003|Ken Davidoff | Newsday

NEW YORK — On a most unlikely night, the New York Yankees crossed a very dangerous line. Their incompetence went from forgettable to unforgettable.

For the first time in 45 years, the Yankees were no-hit Wednesday night. Six Houston Astro pitchers combined for the historic 8-0 embarrassment in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 29,905.

After the game, a furious Joe Torre addressed his players in a closed-door meeting.

"It was terrible," said Torre, who called this the low point of his eight-year term as Yankee manager. "That was one of the worst games I've ever been involved in. I have no explanation. I can't find a reason for what happened tonight."

A strained right groin caused Astro starter Roy Oswalt to leave with none out in the second inning. So Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner finished out the final eight innings.

The Yankees had gone 6,980 games -- the longest streak in big league history -- without being no-hit, since Hoyt Wilhelm's 1-0 victory for Baltimore on Sept. 20, 1958.

It was the most pitchers ever to combine on a no-hitter in the majors and it was the third no-hitter in an interleague game, and all of them have been at Yankee Stadium.

The other two were perfect games -- Don Larsen did it against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and David Cone did it against Montreal on July 18, 1999.

The closest New York came to a hit was in the fifth inning against Saarloos, when Alfonso Soriano sent a fly ball into short left field. Lance Berkman, who hit a two-run run homer in the third inning, ran in, stuck out his glove and made a tumbling catch.

"It wasn't that close," Berkman said. "It probably looked more spectacular than it really was."

By the time the Astros returned to their clubhouse, the Yankees had left bottles of champagne in front of the lockers of all six pitchers.

"That's how the Yankees are, they're pretty classy," Wagner said.

Many of the Astros hadn't even realized a no-hitter was in progress until the late innings -- Wagner said Jeff Kent didn't even know it at the end of the game.

Astro pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts, including four by Dotel in the eighth, which tied the major league record for an inning. Soriano reached when he struck out on a wild pitch.

For the Yankees, it was the kind of loss that causes jobs to be lost.

Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was in town, but he didn't attend the game, instead choosing to see the New Jersey Nets take on the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Surely, however, Steinbrenner's location won't prevent him from making changes, not with the Yankees having lost 22 of their last 35 games.

The Boss has been unhappy with the performance of hitting coach Rick Down, and a no-hitter could be the spark Steinbrenner needs to fire Down.

"This isn't just a playing issue. This is an everyone issue," General Manager Brian Cashman said. "We're all in this together."

Said Torre: "We're all responsible, from me all the way down."

Wagner, the Astros' closer, struck out Jorge Posada to start the ninth. Then he struck out Bubba Trammell, who was pinch-hitting for Robin Ventura. Hideki Matsui grounded Wagner's first pitch to first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who flipped it to Wagner for the final out.

As the Astros stormed the field, the remaining fans broke into an odd mix of cheers and boos.

Then the players entered the clubhouse and received a tongue-lashing from Torre.

"He's been upset before. I don't think he's been more upset than this at any other point," shortstop Derek Jeter said.

"Maybe this is rock bottom," Cashman said.

Maybe some more people spent their last night under The Boss' employ.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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No-Hitters

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