CLEVELAND — Ace Corbin Burnes combined with reliever Josh Hader to pitch baseball’s record ninth no-hitter this season, breaking a mark set when pitchers began throwing overhand in 1884, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 on Saturday night.
Burnes (10-4) struck out 14 on 115 pitches over eight innings, taking a perfect game into the seventh while overpowering the Indians, who were no-hit for a record third time in 2021. All of those came with starter Zach Plesac on the mound.
This time, the Indians were stymied by Burnes — who has become a Cy Young contender as the Brewers run away with the NL Central — and Hader, one of the game’s top closers.
“Anyone would want to keep pitching in that situation, but if there was anyone I would want out there for the ninth, it would be Josh Hader,” Burnes said. “There were no nerves with him. It was more like a done deal when he came in.”
The right-handed Burnes was in control from the start, striking out 11 of the first 14 hitters and retiring the first 18 in order. After walking Myles Straw to start the seventh, the 26-year-old got through the eighth thanks to a diving catch by center fielder Lorenzo Cain on Owen Miller’s liner.
“I was definitely on my horse, ready to go get that one,” Cain said. “You need a little bit of everything to go right in a no-hitter.”
The Progressive Field crowd booed as Hader came on in the ninth. He overpowered Oscar Mercado, striking him out to start the inning. Then first baseman Jace Peterson went into foul territory to making a lunging catch for the second out.
Hader completed the no-hitter by getting Straw to flail at a pitch in the dirt for his 31st save. The Brewers stormed the field to share hugs and high-fives with a signature victory.
“To share that with Josh was obviously awesome,” Burnes said. “He was the first guy I congratulated.”
Juan Nieves pitched the Brewers’ previous no-hitter on April 15, 1987, against the Orioles in Baltimore.
Burnes dropped his ERA to 2.25 and has more than doubled his career high for strikeouts with 210 in 152 innings. He has been vying with the Philadelphia’s Phillies Zack Wheeler and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Scherzer for the NL Cy Young Award. This gem, no doubt, will have some sway with voters.
“It was a masterpiece,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Corbin felt good after the eighth, but knowing you’re putting in Josh Hader to finish it played a part in the decision.”
The Brewers improved to a franchise-record 33 games over .500 while trimming their magic number to clinch the division to eight.
Diamondbacks rookie Tyler Gilbert had thrown the majors’ most recent no-hitter on Aug. 14, and the Chicago Cubs threw the only previous combined effort June 24. The other no-hitters this season were thrown by the San Diego Padres Joe Musgrove (April 9), Chicago White Sox’s Carlos Rodón (April 14), Cincinnati Reds Wade Miley (May 7), Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull (May 18) and the New York Yankees’ Corey Kluber (May 19).
Most of those gems were thrown before MLB cracked down on the use of sticky foreign substances by pitchers in late June.
The Miley and Rodón no-hitters came against the Indians, as did a seven-inning no-no by the Rays on July 7 that didn’t officially count in the Major League Baseball record book. The Diamondbacks’ Madison Bumgarner also had a seven-inning no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves in Atlanta on April 25.
The Brewers completed this bit of history three days after Minnesota Twins rookie Joe Ryan retired the first 19 Indians batters in a 3-0 win at Progressive Field.
Plesac couldn’t get his head around being on the wrong side of three no-hitters. Before Saturday, Jim Perry was the only starter in history to have his opponent throw a no-hitter three times in a career, per Elias.
“I don’t even know if that makes sense to me,” Plesac said. “That’s insane. I don’t know if it’s me or what.”
Indians acting manager DeMarlo Hale didn’t offer any excuses.
“You deal with it, you get up and play tomorrow,” he said. “The good thing about no-hitters, it’s only one loss. I know it’s been three times, but you deal with it ... you understand the level of competition you’re playing against and you move on. I don’t have an answer for that.”
Plesac allowed three runs, two earned, over six innings.
The Brewers scored twice in the first inning on an RBI double from Christian Yelich and a sacrifice fly from Omar Narváez. They made it 3-0 in the second when Rowdy Tellez doubled home Daniel Vogelbach.
Tellez experienced right knee pain while running the bases and left the game.