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Mets, Padres would have no-hitter if not for the other
It was a rather unexciting rain soaked shellacking for the Mets on Thursday night at the hands of the San Diego Padres. But drama aside, the simple act of bringing the two clubs together is a reminder of the similar misfortunes each team has shared. They've each had World Series hopes derailed by the Yankees (the Padres in 1998, the Mets in 2000). Neither franchise has thrown a no-hitter.
But the latter infamous piece of information may have been washed away for the Mets if not for the Padres; and for the Padres if not for the Mets. Both teams have broken up the other's attempt at a no-hitter.
The Mets have had to experience the heartbreaking sight of a lone San Diego hit twice.
The first came during Tom Seaver's fourth attempt at throwing a no-no for the club. Seaver's most famous attempt came on July 9, 1969 when the Cubs' Jimmy Qualls singled with one out in the ninth. Seaver then hurled two more one-hitters during 1970, both getting broken up in the seventh inning or earlier.
But it seemed like fate when Seaver entered the ninth inning on Independence Day 1972 without having allowed a hit to San Diego. He had walked four and struck out 11 over the first eight innings before coming out to face the 2-3-4 hitters in the Padres' order for the final frame. Seaver got Dave Roberts to ground out to start the inning, but history was derailed when Leron Lee singled to center. The next batter, Nate Colbert, grounded into a double play.
Fast forward to June 10, 2010 and it was Jon Niese's turn to be denied. But whereas Seaver's heartache came late, Niese had nearly the entire game to regret what happened in the second inning. That's when Chris Denorfia doubled for the only hit of the game.
But the Mets weren't always on the receiving side of the baseball gods' slap in the face.
On July 21, 1970 Padres starter Clay Kirby had a no-hitter through eight innings when the San Diego manager broke one of the ultimate unwritten rules: He took Kirby out of the game. In defense of the move, the Padres were down 1-0. The Mets scored in the first inning when Tommie Agee walked, stole second, stole third and came home on a ground out.
But still. The guy had a no-hitter.
Kirby was removed for pinch-hitter Cito Gaston (you might remember him from such managerial stints as the Toronto Blue Jays). Gaston struck out. It was a portent of things to come.
Jack Baldschun entered the game to pitch the ninth, trying to complete what was now a combined no-hitter attempt. 1970 would be the final year of Baldschun's nine MLB seasons. He appeared in just 12 games, posting a 10.12 ERA that season and was out of baseball exactly one month after he pitched in this game. In other words: Definitely the guy you want to finish your no-hitter...
Tragedy wasted no time. Buddy Harrelson singled to lead off the inning.
By the time Baldschun retired Jerry Grote to end the frame, the Mets had scored two more runs. They ended the game with three hits, the same amount they allowed to the Padres.
Forty-two years later, neither franchise's luck has changed.
Maybe misery really does love company.