The young MLB season has already seen two no-hitters, and it just saw its third this past Sunday.
Or did it?
Arizona Diamondbacks ace Madison Bumgarner threw a complete game shutout when the team traveled to Atlanta to face the Braves on April 25.
The stellar outing concluded in a 7-0 win for the Diamondbacks, with Bumgarner not allowing a single hit.
But apparently sometimes throwing a no-hitter isn’t good enough to go in the books as a no-hitter.
The game came as the second part of a doubleheader, and with the new rule, each game of a double header is only seven innings long instead of nine. In 1991, the rule was made declaring that a no-hitter is a game in which a pitcher gives up no hits while pitching at least nine innings.
Should the no-hitter count? It’s tough to say. There’s logic and ethics that support either side.
“I mean, I don’t know, I didn’t give up any hits today,” Bumgarner said after the game. “I’m not in control of how many innings we’re playing.”
The team is obviously pushing to have the no-hitter go in the books.
“It’s a no-hitter to me and it will be forever,” said D-backs manager Torey Lovullo.
“It’s still a no-hitter. We came in knowing it was a seven-inning game. That’s what we were told, and we gave up no hits in seven innings,” said Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly.
Kelly has also started a petition to make Bumgarner’s no-hitter count as an official no-hitter.
When asked if he could’ve kept up the no-hitter for the whole nine innings Bumgarner felt pretty confident.
“If it worked for seven, it’s hard to imagine it not working for two more,” he said.
With all of this considered, should this no-hitter count? Well, it’s not really a simple yes or no answer. There’s a good argument that can be made for each side. Like Kelly and Bumgarner said, they knew it was only a seven-inning game, and they couldn’t control that. With this new double header format, the thought of a no-hitter or perfect game is completely erased because they can’t make those into nine-inning games, so from that perspective it should count.
On the other hand, you have to think of all the pitchers who lost a no-hitter in the eighth or ninth inning. I would probably be pretty angry to see a seven-inning no hitter count if I lost one in the ninth inning.
Even if I did throw a no-hitter, I would probably look down on the idea of a seven-inning no hitter. Part of what makes a no-hitter as special as it is, is the number of pitches the pitcher has to throw. Most games won’t see the starting pitcher last past the sixth inning, so going the whole nine innings is part of what makes it incredible.
The best answer to the question is to simply put it in the books with an asterisk next to it. After a season where every stat, every award, and even the championship should have an asterisk next to it, what’s one more asterisk going to do?
One thing is for sure, if MLB decides to keep these seven-inning games, they’re going to have to make separate categories for stats. Only giving someone the credit for a complete game shutout when they didn’t allow a single hit is really discrediting their accomplishment, but a seven-inning no-hitter without a doubt shouldn’t be regarded as highly as a full nine-inning no-hitter.