The Astros made history 15 years ago today at Yankee Stadium. It remains one of the more memorable games in franchise history.
How the time flies.
The hitters were not the story despite scoring eight runs to bump the Astros’ record to 37-28 at the time. No, it was the obviously the pitching staff and the no-hitter that took place in “The House That Ruth Built.”
At the start, it appeared that the game was to be a showcase for Roy Oswalt, who was one of the game’s best young pitchers at the time. But a persistent groin injury resurfaced in the first inning. This groin injury did prevent Oswalt’s 2003 season from truly taking off. The “Wizard of O’s” only lasted one inning after facing three batters on 21 pitches. In that one inning, Oswalt had two strikeouts with 15 strikes. Makes you wonder what could’ve been if not for that pesky injury.
NOW, THAT WAS A BULLPEN!
Munro allowed three walks during his 2.2 innings, so that ended any potential perfect game. But a no-hitter was still intact as Saarloos relieved Munro in the fourth inning. From Saarloos to Wagner in the ninth inning, the Astros did not allow a hit or walk to a Yankees’ hitter. Lidge, for example, pitched two scoreless innings before relenting to Dotel.
When Dotel was on the mound for the eighth inning, he struck out four batters, who also became the 44th pitcher to accomplish this feat in Major League history. A dropped third strike, the Astros’ lone error that day, to Alfonso Soriano allowed him to reach first base. This set of events allowed Dotel to pick up the historic fourth strikeout two batters later. Wagner, the gold standard of Astros’ closers, ended the game with a hitless ninth inning on two strikeouts.
Here was the final pitching line for the Astros that day.
9 IP, 0 H, 0 R/0 ER, 3 BB, 13 SO
A GAME FOR THE AGES!
Thanks to the Astros’ efforts that day, the Yankees were no-hit at the original Yankee Stadium for the first time since August 25, 1952 against the Tigers. To no surprise, the Yankees were not pleased with their performance.
Here are a few quotes following the game courtesy of ESPN.
"“This is one of the worst games I’ve ever been involved in,”Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “It was a total, inexcusableperformance.”"
Understandably, then-Yankees manager Joe Torre was not pleased.
"“Tonight was an ugly, ugly performance,” he said. “Oncethings started snowballing, I think we lost our composure.”"
From the Astros’ viewpoint, it was understandably a riveting affair.
"Wagner, who kept the final ball, couldn’t even hear the crowd ashe wrapped up Houston’s eighth win in nine games.“My heart was about to pound out of my chest,” he said."
Saarloos’ quote sums the experience up nicely.
"“The first time to step on the Yankee Stadium mound and be partof a no-hitter is something special, something I’ll never forget,”Saarloos said."
The Yankees even understood the significance of the moment.
"By the time the Astros returned to their clubhouse, the Yankeeshad left a bottle of champagne in front of the locker of all sixpitchers.“That’s how the Yankees are, they’re pretty classy,” Wagnersaid."
The 2003 Astros’ season was a largely forgettable one as the team missed the postseason. But the six pitcher no-hitter at Yankee Stadium lives on as one of the defining moments in franchise history. As a young kid at the time, this game left a lasting impression on my mind that still exists to this day.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference and ESPN**