If all of the candidates for the time-machine game (if you had a time machine and could go watch any contest in baseball history) were considered for their relative merits -- for their significance in baseball history, their you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it factor -- the first of two games hosted by the Polo Grounds on July 4, 1908, could make a strong case for inclusion.
In the first game of a doubleheader, Giants southpaw Hooks Wiltse emerged as the central figure in two scenarios of extraordinary rarity. For one, Wiltse lost his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the top of the ninth, when after seemingly striking out pitcher George McQuillan, he hit McQuillan with the next pitch. The no-hitter would stay intact, but when the Giants failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, Wiltse took his no-hit bid and his shutout into the 10th. And after he set the Phillies down in order in the top half of the first extra frame, Wiltse's club finally plated a run, giving the 28-year-old his place in the record books, courtesy of an extremely rare event for the team on the good side of a no-hitter -- a walk-off win.
Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez threw a no-hitter against the Tigers on Sunday, with Miami scoring the game's only run in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch.
Since 1901, Alvarez's no-hitter is the sixth to conclude with a walkoff win. The full list:
• Wiltse, July 4, 1908: Giants score run in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Phillies, 1-0.
• Frank Smith, Sept. 20, 1908: White Sox score a run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Athletics, 1-0.
• Dick Fowler, Sept. 9, 1945: Athletics score a run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Browns, 1-0.
• Virgil Trucks, May 15, 1952: Tigers score a run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Senators, 1-0.
• Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon, July 12, 1997: Pirates score in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Astros, 3-0.
• Alvarez, Sept. 29, 2013: Marlins score a run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Tigers, 1-0.
Alvarez's no-hitter is the latest in the regular season since Mike Witt threw his perfect game on the final day of the 1984 campaign, on Sept. 30.
Alvarez's no-hitter is the 46th to end in a 1-0 score (this includes Ken Johnson's 1-0 loss in 1964).
This was the third no-hitter to come on Sept. 29, following John Montefusco's gem for the Giants in 1976 and Mike Warren's effort for the A's in 1983.
The list of Miami's no-nos since the 1993 season.
May 11, 1996
June 10, 1997
May 12, 2001
Sept. 6, 2006
Sept. 29, 2013
Alvarez threw the 138th no-hitter in National League history, and the fifth for the Marlins. Those five are tied with the Red Sox for the most for any franchise since 1993, the Marlins' debut season.
Justin Verlander fanned 10 in six innings and the Tigers' staff finished the day with 13 strikeouts as they lost in the no-hitter.
Detroit finished the season with a Major League-record 1,428 strikeouts, 24 more than the previous record held by the 2003 Cubs.
With his 10 K's in six innings, Verlander finished 2013 with a rate of 8.95 strikeouts per nine innings, the third-highest mark among the qualifiers on the Tigers' staff. Max Scherzer finished his year with a 10.08 K's/9 and Anibal Sanchez completed the season with a 9.99 mark (Scherzer and Sanchez finished second and third in the American League). The Tigers are the first team in baseball history to have three qualifying starters with K's/9 of at least 8.95.
Outstanding relief work by Braves, Royals
In the Braves' final win of the season, Atlanta's relief corps contributed four innings of four-hit, one-run ball. Here's how Atlanta's bullpen ranks among bullpens with at least 400 innings, since 1969:
• 2.46 ERA: tied for third lowest
• 1.142 WHIP: 12th lowest
• .607 OPS against: eighth lowest
In the Royals' 4-1 win against the White Sox, Kansas City's bullpen contributed 2 1/3 innings of two-hit, scoreless ball. Here's how the Royals' bullpen ranks among AL bullpens with at least 400 innings, since 1973 (start of the DH-era):
• 2.55 ERA: second lowest
• 1.133 WHIP: sixth lowest
• . 217 batting average against: sixth lowest
In the Indians' win against the Twins, Ubaldo Jimenez fanned 13 in 6 2/3 innings, allowed one run and improved to 13-9.
Jimenez finished September with 51 strikeouts, the 11th most for any Indians pitcher in a September-October since 1916. The 51 are the most for the team in September-October since Dennis Eckersley had 60 in 1976.
Jimenez posted a 1.82 ERA over 13 starts in the second half of the season. Since 1933, among Indians pitchers with at least 10 starts after the All-Star break, that mark is the second lowest, behind Early Wynn's 1.79 in 1954.
Rays, Rangers set for tiebreaker game
The Rays defeated the Blue Jays, 7-6, while the Rangers topped the Angels by a score of 6-2, and thus with identical 91-71 records, set up the American League's sixth-ever one-game playoff for a postseason spot: this one for a Wild Card berth (watch the game at 8 p.m. ET on TBS).
The details of the previous five:
• 1948: The Indians defeat the Red Sox, 8-3, to capture the AL pennant.
• 1978: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 5-4, for the AL East title.
• 1995: The Mariners defeat the Angels, 9-1, to capture the AL West crown.
• 2008: The White Sox defeat the Twins, 1-0, to clinch the AL Central crown.
• 2009: The Twins defeat the Tigers, 6-5, for the AL Central title.
Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish fanned eight batters to finish the season with 277 strikeouts -- the highest total for an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez struck out 284 in 2000. Darvish's 11.89 K's/9 is the third-highest rate ever for a qualifying right-handed pitcher, behind the 13.20 from Martinez in 1999 and the 12.58 by Kerry Wood in 1998.
Mike Trout hit his 27th home run and drew his 110th walk of the season, finishing the year with a .323/.432/.557 slash line, and completing his age-21 season with 33 steals.
Trout's .988 OPS is the sixth highest since 1893 for a player in his age-21 season, behind marks from Jimmie Foxx in 1929 (1.088), Ted Williams in 1940 (1.036), Mel Ott in 1930 (1.036), Eddie Mathews in 1953 (1.033) and Albert Pujols in 2001 (1.013). Trout's 33 steals are more than the combined total from the five players ahead of him.
Trout's 179 OPS+ is the highest since 1893 for a player in his age-21 season, ahead of Foxx's 173 in 1929. Trout now owns a career OPS+ of 166 -- the highest since 1893 for any player through his age-21 season, with a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances. Williams is second, at 161.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.