No-hitter for 2nd straight day: Corey Kluber pitches Yankees’ gem

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Corey Kluber stopped for a moment before his first pitch of the ninth inning.

“I had to take a breath after the warmups and calm myself down a little bit,” said the pitcher nicknamed Klubot for his robot-like demeanor.

Kluber then finished the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season and second in two nights, leading the New York Yankees over the Texas Rangers 2-0.

“It was a lot of fun, I think it was a special night,” Kluber said. “I’ve never been part of one, witnessed one, let alone thrown one.”

There have been four no-hitters in a 15-day span. The six total are the most this early in a season.

Kluber came within a four-pitch walk to Charlie Culberson in the third inning of throwing a perfect game.

“I don’t really do too much with what-ifs. Obviously I would’ve like to not walk a guy on four straight pitches,” Kluber said. “That being said, at that point in the game, it’s still 0-0, so my thoughts after that walk were try to get out of the inning without allowing a run.”

The 35-year-old right-hander pitched his gem a night after Detroit Tright-hander Spencer Turnbull threw one against Seattle, marking the first no-hitters on consecutive days since 1969, when Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney threw one on April 30 and Houston’s Don Wilson on May 1. There were two no-hitters on June 29, 1990, by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela and Oakland’s Dave Stewart.

Kluber (4-2) struck out nine. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner threw 71 of 101 pitches for strikes in his ninth start for the Yankees, lowering his ERA to 2.86 and winning his fourth straight decision.

With his fastest pitch at 92.5 mph, he mixed 31 curveballs, 27 cutters, 23 sinkers, 18 changeups and two four-seam fastballs.

“I had butterflies in that ninth inning, I’m getting a little emotional now, even just getting to witness that was was really, really special,” manager Aaron Boone said. “And to see his teammates and the excitement of everyone for Corey and just the excitement for themselves being a part of such a thing. What a performance.”

Kluber was pitching on that same mound when he was hurt after one inning last season, tearing a muscle in his right shoulder on July 26 in his Texas debut. He insisted that he didn’t even think about that until after that game when Robinson Chirinos, the former Rangers catcher now on the Yankees taxi squad, mentioned that it was better than his previous start in the $1.2 billion stadium.

That was the second straight shortened season for Kluber, whose 2019 season ended May 1 when he was hit on the forearm by a comebacker. He left the Rangers as a free agent to sign an $11 million, one-year deal with the Yankees.

“We expected some outings like that in our ballpark, unfortunately not against us,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. I’m not surprised by this guy’s success. I’ve watched this guy go through his routine and the work he puts in.”

Right fielder Tyler Wade made a running catch of pinch-hitter David Dahl‘s flyball for the second out in the ninth inning before Willie Calhoun‘s game-ending groundout to Gleyber Torres in the shortstop’s first game back after being on the COVID-19 injured list. Wade entered in the third inning after Ryan LaMarre injured a hamstring.

Boone, whose dad Bob caught Angels pitcher Mike Witt’s no-hitter at Texas in 1984, said he got nervous on the ball Dahl hit, thinking it was going to get down the line. Then he noticed what a good jump Wade had gotten on the ball.

“I knew I was going to catch it,” Wade said. “I didn’t know if I was going to have to dive, or catch it like I did. But I knew I was going to catch it.”

Wade said he wasn’t sure because he was unable to hear the bat off the ball with a screaming crowd of 31,689 – many of them Yankees fans.

Kluber said that was one of the few balls hit during the game that he thought might fall for a hit.

“His closing speed was pretty impressive,” Kluber said.

It was the 12th no-hitter in Yankees history, the 11th in the regular season and the first since David Cone’s perfect game against Montreal on July 18, 1999. It was New York’s first on the road since Allie Reynolds at Cleveland on July 12, 1951.

This was the fifth no-hitter against the Rangers, who also were at home April 9 when San Diego native Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in Padres history.

“It stinks. It’s baseball. No-hitters happen. There’s been a lot so far this year. Unfortunate for us that we’ve been a part of two of them,” Culberson said. “It just shows you how good these pitchers are, these teams are and what they’re doing.”

New York got its only runs in the sixth inning when Kyle Higashioka had a leadoff walk and scored on a triple by Wade. DJ LeMahieu followed with a sacrifice fly against Hyeon-jong Yang (0-1).

That is about the time Kluber really starting thinking about a no-hitter.

“After that point, we had gotten a couple of runs … makes it a little easier to kind of pound the strike zone and know you have that run support in your back pocket,” he said.

Before getting hurt in 2019, Kluber was a 20-game winner in 2018, and had thrown at least 203 innings with 222 strikeouts each season from 2014-18. He was the Cy Young winner in 2014 and 2017.

“Obviously wish this guy well,” Woodward said, “but I didn’t wish him that well.”

The four no-hitters in May are the most in a month since June 1990. It is also the first time three three teams have been no-hit twice in one season, with the Rangers joining Cleveland and Seattle.

Given the drama, even Amanda Kluber took a look.

“She doesn’t like to watch too much,” the pitcher said of his wife, “but she turned it on in the last inning to watch the end of it.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: LaMarre grabbed at his right hamstring just before getting to first base when running out a groundball. … OF Clint Frazier (neck issues) was out of the lineup for the second game in a row. “I don’t know if it’s stiffness or what, but we’re looking into all that and what it could mean,” Boone said. … C Gary Sanchez, who left Tuesday night’s game with cramping in his left hamstring, was available to play. Boone said he had always anticipated Sanchez not playing Wednesday night before the day game for the series finale.

Rangers: 3B Brock Holt (right hamstring strain) played his second rehab game with Double-A Frisco. He has been out since May 3.

UP NEXT

The Yankees are 6-3 going into the finale of their trip. Domingo German (3-2, 3.62 ERA) pitches for New York against Rangers right-hander Dane Dunning (2-3, 4.34) whose ninth start will be the most among AL rookies.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.