ARLINGTON, Texas – Corey Kluber had been denied before.
Twice in 2015, when he was at the peak of his considerable powers while with Cleveland, the righthander had no-hit bids broken up with two outs in the seventh inning.
Kluber, a two-time CY Young Award winner, was not denied Wednesday night.
The 35-year-old, allowing exactly two hard-hit ball the entire night, pitched the 11th regular-season no-hitter in franchise history in a 2-0 victory over the Rangers in front of 31,689 at Globe Life Field.
It was the same building in which Kluber pitched exactly one inning for the Rangers last season before leaving with a season-ending shoulder injury.
"If we’re going to get sentimental, I think it was probably cool for me personally that it happened here," said Kluber, limited to just seven games in 2019 with Cleveland because of injury. "Robby Chirinos (a Ranger last year now on the Yankees taxi squad) came up to me (and said), ‘this was a lot better than the last time you were on the mound here."
Only a walk to Charlie Culberson with one out in the third inning kept Kluber from pitching a perfect game.
It marked the first no-hitter for the Yankees since David Cone’s perfect game July 18, 1999 against Montreal at the Stadium. It was the first on the road since Allie Reynolds did it in Cleveland July 12, 1951 (Reynolds also pitched one at the Stadium against Boston Sept. 28 the same year).
"That was so much fun to be a small part of, it truly was a privilege," Aaron Boone said, still emotional afterward. "Getting to witness that was really, really special. A masterful performance."
Kluber, whose curveball was as good as it’s ever been but who had pinpoint command of all four of his pitches, struck out nine. He retired the final 20 he faced. The no-hitter, the sixth in the major this season, was secured when Willie Calhoun, who opened the previous two games with doubles – off Gerrit Cole Monday and Jameson Taillon Tuesday – grounded to Gleyber Torres on the first base side of second on the shift.
"I definitely had to take a breath after the warmups (before the ninth) and calm myself down a little bit," said Kluber, part of a clubhouse beer-shower celebration afterward. "I probably would compare to before maybe a first playoff start."
The Yankees poured out of the dugout after the 2-hour, 24-minute game, surrounding Kluber, typically unemotional but not on this night as catcher Kyle Higashioka rushed to the mound to bear-hug his pitcher.
"I feel like, it was almost like what you would imagine the feeling (would be) after winning the World Series," Higashioka said. "It was a crazy, euphoric feeling. Lifted me off the ground pretty hard, so I could tell he was pumped."
The two hardest hit balls of the night by the Rangers came off the bat of Adolis Garcia, a liner to center to end the fourth, and a liner by Isiah Kiner-Falefa to end the eighth.
Kluber, coming off an eighth inning in which he threw just eight pitches, leaving him at 93 for the game, came out for the ninth to a rousing ovation from much of the crowd.
He induced a grounder to second from Culberson to open the inning and got pinch hitter David Dahl to fly to right where Tyler Wade made a running catch toward the foul line. The ball wasn’t hit especially hard but, with Wade, a natural infielder who replaced the injured Ryan LaMarre (hamstring) in right in the third, and the ball tailing toward the line, an out wasn’t a sure-thing off the bat, either.
"Catch the baseball," Wade said of his thoughts. "That was about it. It’s funny, right before that pitch, it might have been the pitch before, I was like, ‘I’m literally going to run through wall if anything’s near me. That was amazing. That was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of in my life."
Kluber said he didn’t think Dahl hit it all that hard but, with Wade not a natural outfielder, wasn’t positive how it would turn out.
"I kind of had a good view of it, to see his closing speed, which was pretty impressive," Kluber said.
Wade disclosed veteran centerfielder Brett Gardner, on their way out to the field for the bottom of the seventh, jokingly commented on the situation, often looked as a cardinal sin in the sport.
"I might get in a little trouble saying this, but Gardy in the seventh inning, he came up to me and said, ‘you know we’ve got a no-hitter going, right?’" Wade said with a smile. "I was like, ‘yeah, man, just keep it down, keep it down. But when we got to the seventh, eighth inning, I was like, ‘he’s going to finish this thing.’"
The night was an odd one for the Yankees (24-19), who hardly were an offensive juggernaut, managing four hits. They didn’t score until the sixth when Wade tripled home Higashioka. DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. The Yankees hit into five double plays, raising their MLB-leading total to 47.
On this historic night, however, none of that mattered.
"It’s not all that often you get to be a part of something like that," Kluber said. "For the other guys to say how much it meant to them to be a part of it, was definitely something that was special to me. It’ll go down as a no-hitter in my name, but it takes the entire team to accomplish something like that."