The Houston Astros have made World Series history with the first combined no-hitter in the Fall Classic, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 in Game 4 of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park.
Cristian Javier pitched the first six innings, throwing 97 pitches with Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly each tossing an inning as Houston evened the series at two games apiece.
Javier recalled a talk he had with his parents, who flew in from the Dominican Republic, the night before, his mother telling him "Let's try to stay positive. God willing, you'll throw a no-hitter."
How prophetic her words were.
"This is the best gift I could have ever given my parents, my family", Javier said through a translator. "To me, it's even more special knowing that they were able to see that in person."
The no-hitter was the third in postseason history, following Don Larsen in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series and Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, which also took place at Citizens Bank Park.
In that 2010 game, the opposition was the Cincinnati Reds, managed by current Astros skipper Dusty Baker, with the irony of the moment not lost on him.
"That's what's strange about life", Baker said. "I remember being on the other end of that. It was the seventh inning and it seemed like it was the second inning, and I looked up on the board and it's the seventh inning already. Then you're trying not to be no-hit and then you're trying to win the ballgame and -- yeah, that's pretty remarkable."
How the Astros made history in Game 4
Javier has been pitching in this fashion for a while as going back to September 14, he has thrown at least five innings and allowed no more than two hits in six consecutive starts.
With his five innings of one-hit ball in Game 4 of the ALCS, he's now the first starting pitcher in postseason history to with at least five innings and no more than one hit allowed in back-to-back starts.
"Just going into today's game, we had so much confidence in him", Houston center fielder Chas McCormack said. "Even coaches, I had a feeling -- Javier's going to shove. And he shoved today."
The righty struck out nine and walked just two through six innings. Starting in the fourth, he struck out five consecutive hitters and in the sixth, he got three groundouts.
Javier became the first pitcher since Jerry Koosman in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series to toss six no-hit innings.
The four-seam fastball was his go-to pitch, throwing it 72% of the time, the highest rate of his career and he got 14 of his 18 outs -- including two-thirds of his strikeouts -- with that pitch.
He also got 27 foul balls off it, the most of any pitcher on a singular pitch in a game this season.
"It's a good fastball", Philadelphia left fielder Kyle Schwarber said. "He's got good extension, good ride, things like that. When it says '92' on the board, it's playing a little bit harder than that."
Javier threw 115 pitches while recording the first 21 outs of the combined no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in late June. A little more than four months later, he was pulled after throwing 97 pitches through 18 outs, in part co-pitching coach Joshua Miller said, so they could potentially use him out of the bullpen later in this series.
The Houston offense scored all the runs they would need in the top of the fifth when Aaron Nola was pulled after loading the bases. Jose Alvarado hit Yordan Alvarez to force in a run, Alex Bregman doubled home two, Kyle Tucker hit a sacrifice fly and Yuli Gurriel capped the scoring with a single that made it 5-0.
Nola was also on the mound April 29 when the Phillies were no-hit by the Mets, making Philadelphia the first team to be no-hit in the regular season and playoffs.
Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen and proceeded to strike out the side. He said he had no idea that he had inherited a no-hitter in progress and only found out an inning later, when he was in the clubhouse and heard his teammates get really animated as Montero took the ball for the eighth inning.
"I was shocked", Abreu said.
Montero entered in the bottom of the eighth and retired all three hitters he faced, the last on a 99 mph fastball that Jean Segura lined to right fielder Kyle Tucker.
Pressly came in for the ninth, struck out Brandon Marsh, walked Schwarber, got Rhys Hoskins to fly out and J.T. Realmuto to ground out to third to complete the no-hitter.
"You get slapped in the face yesterday and go back today and make a statement", said Pressly. "You try to have the mind of the goldfish in this game. You try not to think about anything. You just want to go out there and try to produce and put a 'W' in the column."
Javier, Abreu, Montero, Pressly and Astros catcher Cristian Vazquez, who filled in for Martin Maldonado largely because of how well he works with Javier, all posed with the baseball on the field postgame.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame preserved one of the baseballs Javier pitched with and got it signed by all five players, also keeping a rosin bag and John Smoltz's scoresheet.
"It's a very special day for us", Vazquez said.