It was the 23rd no-hitter in Dodgers history, and the 13th since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. They also had three no-hitters when they were in the American Association (1884-1889) but for what it’s worth the team doesn’t recognize those in its official history.
But back to Friday, this was chock full of great stories. First, the game was played in Mexico, making it the first major league no-hitter pitched outside of the United States or Canada. Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela, who pitched a no-hitter himself on June 29, 1990, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
At the end of Valenzuela’s no-no in 1990, Vin Scully finished his call of the final out with, “If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky.”
Dodgers play-by-play broadcaster shoehorned that into his call on Friday night: “On a night where Fernando Valenzuela throws out the ceremonial first pitch, Monterrey, Mexico can throw its sombrero to the sky.”
After needing 46 and 51 pitches to get through the first two innings of his first two starts, Buehler was more efficient on Friday with 36 pitches through those first two, which allowed him to last six innings for the first time in the majors. His eight strikeouts were a career high.
At 93 pitches through six innings there was no way Buehler was going to complete this game, so there was no real tension in the decision to remove him from the game like there was for Dave Roberts with Ross Stripling or Rich Hill in 2016.
“This one was probably the easiest. It was the easiest,” Roberts said after the game, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “With where he was in his pitch count, essentially the highest point he’s ever been up to, with three innings still to go – it was pretty much a no-brainer for me.”
During the SportsNet LA postgame, among the clubhouse interviews shown were of Garcia and Liberatore, who pitched the final two innings to finish the job. There were big smiles on both faces, and for good reason.
This was just Garcia’s second major league game since April 2016 after missing all of last season with Tommy John surgery. He pitched a scoreless eighth.
Liberatore struck out Eric Hosmer to start the ninth inning and struck out Franchy Cordero to end it. It was Liberatore’s eighth game this season, after missing the final four months of 2017 with an elbow injury.
“I didn’t want to be the guy that blew it,” Liberatore said
Then there was the postgame hug between Buehler and Liberatore after the final out.
To top things off, the Los Angeles Times had a clever layout of their Saturday sports section, which also included Angels first baseman Albert Pujols getting his 3,000th hit on Friday.