"I felt pretty good throughout the game, as I was going into the ninth inning," Nomo said through interpreter Chang Lee. "I wasn't really nervous but I had the same thought throughout the game. I wasn't thinking too much. I trusted the catcher to follow his lead."
The fourth pitcher to throw no-hitters in both leagues, Nomo had no-hit the Colorado Rockies while with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 17, 1996, after a two-hour delay because of cold. Last night's game was delayed 43 minutes by a power outage that darkened the ballpark and the B&O warehouse. Unlike his previous delayed masterpiece Nomo worked last night from the windup as well as the stretch. After his previous no-hitter, Nomo bounced to the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers and was briefly mentioned as a trade possibility for the Orioles in between.
Last night, Nomo's career came full circle at the expense of Ponson, whose early dominance overshadowed Nomo for four innings.
Red Sox first baseman Brian Daubach beat Ponson with a pair of home runs, an opposite-field, two-run shot in the third and a bases-empty homer wrapped around the right-field foul pole in the eighth inning.
The Orioles had no answer. The players who had kept Nomo winless against them in four previous starts are gone. Last night's starting lineup entered a collective 8-for-51 (.157) against Nomo and exited 8-for-78 (.103).
Minus Segui, who had reached Nomo for two home runs in 13 previous at-bats, the rest of the lineup began 3-for-38 (.079).
Nomo showed Segui no favoritism this time. He forced him into groundouts his first two at-bats and turned his bat into kindling to end the fourth inning. The play actually represented the only early challenge to Nomo's no-hitter as it forced Stynes to range behind the second-base bag and flip to second for a force of DeShields. Segui struck out to end the seventh.
Ponson arrived in overpowering form. He struck out two in the first inning, including Red Sox center fielder Carl Everett on the front end of an inning-ending double play. On his way to 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings, Ponson struck out the side in the second, including a devastating 3-2 curveball that chased designated hitter Manny Ramirez for the first out.
After blowing away five of his first six hitters faced, Ponson was reached for a scorching grounder by Sean Hillenbrand that went through third baseman Cal Ripken's legs. Ripken absorbed the error when the grounder failed to come up. Daubach then jumped Ponson's first pitch -- a thigh-high fastball that tailed toward the outside corner -- and drove it the opposite way two rows deep into the left-field seats.
One mistake shouldn't doom a pitcher to a loss, especially when he's as dominant as Ponson appeared in last night's early innings. But Nomo offered the Orioles no room to exploit him.
The Orioles continued to press the game on the bases with mixed results. Ripken would be the only runner through six innings to take second base when he advanced on a second-inning wild pitch. Segui was less successful, getting thrown out when trying to duplicate Ripken's feat in the fourth.
The chilled Camden Yards crowd didn't take much longer to catch on to what was happening. By the sixth inning, they were cheering Nomo as he plowed through the most dangerous part of the Orioles' lineup. Even as several protested called strikes while others rewound a video of his mastery, a run at history proved more compelling.