Is there such a thing as a bad no hitter? I say there are. Francisco Liriano walked six batters last night, potentially putting the tying run on base six times and bringing the winning run to the plate six times. That’s not the best control, nor is it what I would consider a great no-hitter or a historic no-hitter as its currently being described. He only struck out two, while Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitters were brilliant as they each walked only one, and of-course the Buehrle perfect game was just that, perfect.
There have been 109 no hitters in baseball history excluding perfect games. Of the 109 no hitters there’s only been 15 with six walks or more, making last nights feat a little less spectacular then writers are making it out to be.
Jim Maloney set the record with 10 walks in 1965 with the Cincinnati Reds during a no-no. Two players have come close in the last decade; AJ Burnett had nine walks in 2001 while pitching a no-no for Florida, and Edwin Jackson walked nine last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks during his no-no.
You might weakly argue that Jackson pitched better than Liriano, you’d probably lose that argument like Jackson lost the game one nothing last night. He did have better control then Liriano only walking one, but gave up a solo homer to Jason Kubel that sank the Sox.
Nolan Ryan had a no-hitter while walking eight, but struck out 15, so I would consider that a pretty good no-hitter. Ryan leads the league for no-hitters with seven where he had 11 or more strikeouts in six of them. Those are pretty impressive numbers that will probably never be touched again.
Sometimes no hitters happen by running into a team at the right time, kind of like Liriano last night. The Sox have several key members of their hitting core struggling to make contact right now with Adam Dunn and Alex Rios leading the pack for biggest early season busts at the moment. To call Liriano’s no-hitter historic seems a bit of a stretch other then in the sense it’s only happened 109 times or the fact that so many walks have been given up so few times in a no-no. I think that might be considered historically mediocre.