Dusty Baker has been around baseball a long time. He debuted as an MLB player in 1968. Being around a sport for more than five decades, you’re going to see a little bit of everything.
One thing Baker probably didn’t expect to see, however, was two postseason no-hitters in his lifetime — one coming when he was the manager of the team being no-hit, and the other coming when he was the manager of the team throwing the no-hitter. Even weirder, both games were against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It’s the kind of serendipity that baseball tends to create.
There have been three no-hitters in MLB postseason history. The first was Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. That was obviously before the 73-year-old Baker’s time. The next was in the 2010 NLDS, when Roy Halladay threw a complete-game no-hitter in Game 1 against for the Phillies against Baker’s Reds. The only Cincinnati baserunner in that game was Jay Bruce, who reached via walk in the fifth inning.
The third one was Wednesday night in Game 4 of the World Series. Four Astros pitchers — Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly — combined to no-hit the Phillies. The quartet combined for 14 strikeouts (nine by Javier) and three walks. They didn’t allow baserunners in the fourth through eighth innings.
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Baker told reporters after the game about his place in those last two moments of postseason history.
“I was on the other end, in this ballpark,” Baker said. “I mean, that’s what’s strange about life. And I remember being on the other end of that, it was the seventh inning and seemed like it was the second inning . . . then you try not to be no-hit and then you’re trying to win the ballgame. And it’s, yeah, that’s pretty remarkable. I’ve been on on both ends and here for two out of three.”
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It’s not the first strange parallel of this World Series for Baker, although the other line drawn is one he’d probably like to forget.
When the Astros lost Game 1 this year after leading 5-0, they became the first team since the 2002 Giants to blow a five-run lead in the World Series. The manager of that team? Baker. San Francisco led that series three games, only to collapse in Game 6. The Giants went on to lose the series in seven games.
For Baker and the Astros, the job is far from finished. Baker has been to the playoffs 12 times in his career, but he’s still seeking his first World Series win as a manager. The no-hitter just drew the series even at 2-2. Next comes Game 5, an all-important swing game. We’ll see what part of history Baker becomes a part of then.