When it comes to controversial moments in baseball, Madison Bumgarner’s seven-inning no-hitter Sunday can’t compete with the designated hitter, Kevin Cash’s decision to retire Blake Snell or whether Jackie Robinson was safe when he stole home in the 1955 World Series.

Or maybe I will. Actually, I was wrong. Bumgarner’s game is not officially a no-hitter, as it was not a nine inning game:

1. Bumgarner received official credit for the complete game and walk-off.

2. Because it was the second game of a doubleheader between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves, it was a seven-inning game, not a nine-inning game.

2 Connected

This confusion arose after the Major League Baseball Statistical Accuracy Committee decided in 1991 that a no-hitter is a game in which the pitcher(s) allow no hits while pitching at least nine innings. A pitcher may allow one or more runs if he throws nine or more innings and allows no hits.

Before that, switch-hitters in official no-hit records that lasted less than nine innings were considered no-hitters. (I can’t say for sure, but this decision by the records committee may have been a reaction to Andy Hawkins’ game for the Yankees in 1990, when he allowed no hits in eight innings but lost 4-0 due to four unearned runs. The record books would have considered it an insult to history that Hawkins got credit for a no-hitter in a game in which he threw eight innings and allowed four runs).

As our old friend Jason Stark noted:

Such is the absurdity of this no-no hitter. Zach Gallen had a hit in game one, and that counts as a hit. But a no-hitter doesn’t count as a no-hitter because of baseball!

– Jason Stark (@jaysonst) April 25, 2021

The Diamondbacks made their own decision:


MADISON BOOMGARNER missed the game without a beat! pic.twitter.com/nRHNWX0DVV

– Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 25, 2021

Others liked it:

Because this is an unofficial no-hitter, we made this for Madison Bumgarner to celebrate this momentous occasion pic.twitter.com/xofIw0ZoBm

– Cut4 (@Cut4) 25. April 2021

The Diamondbacks celebrated when Bumgarner had Marcell Ozuna fly out to right field for the final out in a 7-0 victory, but the celebration didn’t meet the usual standards of a no-hitter. In his post-game television interview, Bumgarner dryly joked: I want to thank the shadows of Atlanta. They helped me a lot. It was incredible. And I want to thank Rob Manfred for making these seven inning games possible.

The Red Sox’s wonderful name, Devern Hansack, threw his last abbreviated no-hitter in 2006, a five inning game on the last day of the season (in his second start in his career). The last pitcher not to allow a hit in a complete seven inning game was Sam Jones of the Giants in 1959. The difference, of course, is that these were nine-inning games. At least in his career, Jones led off an official no-hitter for a Cubs team in 1955 (becoming the first black pitcher to accomplish this feat).

What’s your opinion? ESPN colleague Jeff Passan expressed his opinion on Twitter:

The league and the union have agreed on official seven-inning games.

One team did not score a single goal in this official match.

The league and union may also make arrangements for official seven-inning no-hitters. Do it. https://t.co/xHukpTdXsz

– Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 25, 2021

Okay, but it’s also understandable: Sept manches ne sont pas la même chose que neuf manches.

Je ne suis rentré que quelques heures avant que Bumgarner ne donne le bijou. Dans le premier match duel, le coéquipier de Bumgarner, Zach Gallen, a mené la partie sans coup férir jusqu’à la sixième manche et s’est finalement contenté d’un match complet avec un seul coup sûr. There was no time for this heated debate.

It hadn’t mattered, so I was relieved that it wasn’t really a no-hitter, he said. I think stopping the game completely works. It’s all right, it’s all right. We won. It really doesn’t matter. This is the most important part.

Baseball’s coming back! Follow the 2021 MLB season on ESPN and the ESPN app.

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Mets – Phillies, 7 ET on ESPN

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So Gallen is looking to win his no-hitter. That makes sense. Since 2016 – in less than five full seasons – 51 pitchers, not counting Bumgarner Sunday, have gone seven innings without a strikeout. Only 10 of them were able to achieve a no-no. Bumgarner himself was one of those 51 people. In 2016, he allowed just one out in the eighth inning against Arizona’s Jake Lamb and pitched a shutout with 14 strikeouts (the best regular season game of his career).

These last six outings are the hardest.

As for the duels between Gallen and Bumgarner, there are a few fun facts to take away:

– The last team to record two complete game shutouts in a two-game series was the Red Sox in 1977, when the famed duo of Don Ace and Reggie Cleveland did so against an advancing Blue Jays team in September. Aase had three batters and Cleveland had five batters. Both races were completed in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes.

– A hit by the Braves in a doubleheader set the record for infertility. The 1992 Indians recorded two hits in a doubleheader with the Red Sox in the 12th. April. Here’s a really fun fact: Cleveland won the first game 2-1 without a hit. Boston’s Matt Young threw eight scoreless innings (no official no-hitter!), but allowed a run in the first inning when Kenny Lofton walked, stole second and third base and scored on a ground ball error, and another run in the third inning on two walks and two ground balls.

– The last team to have one or fewer hits in back-to-back games was Cleveland in June 2014, when the Mariners combined Felix Hernandez and Fernando Rodney for 29. June had one at bat and Dan Haren and two Dodgers players met the next day for one at bat.

Anyway, we often think of baseball records as sacred numbers forever etched on stone tablets. Of course, it’s possible that the MLB will change its stance on these seven-inning games. But think of the consequences: If you change the decision on Bumgarner because it was a scheduled seven inning game, then you should also count all eight inning games without a loss, right? Andy Hawkins and Matt Young pitched complete games and did not allow a hit in a nine-inning game that went to zero. While Madison Bumgarner should be commended for her no-hitter, Hawkins and Young (and Don Wilson and Clay Kirby) are also commendable.

So if you want to say Bumgarner threw a no-hitter on Sunday, so did Andy Hawkins.

Perhaps this is the ultimate lesson to be learned: no more semi-final matches.

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