Pitcher throws 11th no-hitter in franchise history, joins legendary list
By Chris Abshire and Chandler Rome
HOUSTON -- Mike Fiers' no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night was the Astros' first no-hitter since 2003 and the club's first complete-game no-hitter since Darryl Kile's in 1993. It was the 11th no-hitter in franchise history and the first at Minute Maid Park.
Of the previous 10 Houston no-hitters, the quirkiest was the most recent one when, on June 11, 2003, a record six Astros combined to no-hit the Yankees in New York in an 8-0 win.
Though the Yankees had six baserunners and Houston starter Roy Oswalt exited in the second inning with an injury, relievers Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner danced around trouble and made history -- setting the Major League record for the most pitchers to throw a combined no-hitter.
The unconventional no-no came 40 years and one month after the franchise's first no-hitter, back when the Astros were still called the Colt .45s and played outdoors in Colt Stadium.
Don Nottebart led the Colt. 45s to a 4-1 victory over the Phillies on May 17, 1963, while allowing four base runners in the process. Philadelphia earned the run through a throwing error, a sacrifice bunt and then a sacrifice fly.
Nottebart's no-no was the first ever pitched by an expansion team.
Houston didn't have to wait long for another no-no, as Ken Johnson kept the Reds out of the hit column on April 23, 1964, even though he took a loss. Cincinnati plated a run on two ninth-inning errors -- including one by Johnson -- to take the game 1-0.
Still, it was the first no-hitter under the Astros name.
Don Wilson was next up on June 18, 1967, with the first of his two career no-hitters in a 2-0 win over Atlanta in the Astrodome. It was the first ever no-hitter in a domed stadium or on artificial turf.
Wilson struck out 15 Braves and walked three during the two-run win, which is tied for the smallest margin of victory in the franchise's many no-hitters.
Wilson struck again two years later under even more unusual circumstances, no-hitting the Reds in a 4-0 win on May 1, 1969. Wilson struck out 13, but walked six, hit another batter and put an eighth base runner on via an Astros error.
Former Astros manager Larry Dierker was once a Houston pitcher -- and a good one at that. He tossed the fifth no-hitter in franchise history on July 9, 1976, beating the Expos, 6-0.
Dierker allowed four base runners on walks, but struck out eight to hold Montreal hitless.
Though Nolan Ryan and no-hitters are synonymous, Houstonians can better equate former catcher Alan Ashby to the feat. Ashby, who is now a broadcaster for the team, caught the sixth, seventh and eighth no-hitters in franchise history. He shared the record for the Major League lead in no-hitters caught with three until Carlos Ruiz caught his fourth in July 2015.
Ashby caught Ken Forsch's brush with perfection on April 7, 1979, when the pitcher downed the Braves, 6-0, allowing only two walks in the second game of the season.
Forsch and his brother Bob are the only set of brothers to throw no-hitters at the Major League level. Bob did it twice with the Cardinals, once in 1978 and again in 1983.
Ryan tossed the fifth of his seven career no-hitters with Ashby behind the dish, striking out 11 and walking three against the Dodgers on Sept. 26, 1981.
The performance fittingly broke Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax's previous record of four no-hitters. Los Angeles went on to win the World Series the next month.
Perhaps no no-hitter meant more to the Astros franchise than the eighth, when Mike Scott locked up a National League West title for Houston when he no-hit the Giants on Sept. 25, 1986. Scott struck out 13 and walked two, recovering from a hit-by-pitch against the game's first batter.
The late Darryl Kile, whose initials adorn the left-field wall at Minute Maid Park, dominated the Mets during a 7-1 win in on Sept. 8, 1993, for the club's ninth no-no. The Mets' only run came via a walk, wild pitch and throwing error.
Kile, who tragically died of a coronary disease while still playing in the Majors nearly a decade later, walked just that one batter and struck out nine.