The Cincinnati Reds completed a baseball rarity Sunday by losing without conceding no hits.
The rookie right-hander Hunter Greene had struck out nine batters through seven innings without allowing a hit. His counterpart, however, the Pirates’ veteran left-hander Jose Quintana, matched him enough, allowed only three hits and one walk in seven innings before turning the game over to the Pittsburgh Bullpen.
Although Greene’s pitch count had already surpassed 100, Reds manager David Bell allowed him to start in the bottom of the eighth in pursuit of a no-hitter. Greene inspired a groundout but then released walks to Rodolfo Castro and Michael Perez. After seven and one-third innings, five walks and 118 pitches, Greene was finally pulled.
The right-hander Art Warren walked another batter to load the bases, and Ke’Bryan Hayes grounded in a fielders’ choice to drive in the game’s only run and hand Greene a hard-luck loss. It was only the sixth time in baseball’s modern era a team lost without producing a hit, and the first time it had been since 2008.
Unfortunately for the Greene and the Reds, Sunday’s feat will not be recorded as a no-hitter. In 1991, Major League Baseball changed the definition of a no-hitter, requiring that a team finish at least nine innings in a complete game, thus wiping out each of the no-hit losses, as well as several that were shortened by rain. By the same rule, a Madison Bumgarner start in 2021 which allowed him to hit no complete game wins was not recorded as a no-hitter as it came into being a seven-inning game as part of MLB’s doubleheader rules that season.
Sunday’s defeat was the latest for Cincinnati (9-26), which is already more than 10 games out of first place in the National League Central. The Reds’ 3-19 start with a minus-65 run difference Was worse than both of the 2003 Tigers, who finished with 119 losses, and the 1962 Mets, who lost 120, games, though they have been more competitive of the last six wins in their past 10 games.
Still, the outing had to be encouraging for the Reds and Greene, who had a 7.62 ERA and allowed 11 home runs in 26 innings entering Sunday’s game. But it will surely come with some criticism as the 118 pitches are the most a pitcher has been allowed to throw this season, which stands in sharp contrast to how other teams have handled pitchers. The Dodgers, notably, pulled Clayton Kershaw seven perfect innings after the veteran left-hander had thrown 80 pitches on a cold afternoon in Minnesota and they have designs on a deep postseason run.
The Reds selected Greene with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, one spot behind Royce Lewis, the shortstop who made his debut for the Twins this month. With a fastball that can touch triple digits and strong hitting skills at Notre Dame High School (Calif.), Greene graced the cover of an issue of Sports Illustrated, billed as “the star baseball needs.” He had some evaluators thinking he could be a two-way player as a professional.
Greene hit some of the low levels of the minors but eventually gave it up, eschewing the paths taken by Shohei Ohtani or Michael Lorenzen. After having Tommy John surgery in 2019 and the cancellation of the minor league season in 2020 because of the pandemic, Greene had a 3.30 ERA across Class AA and AAA last year. And he ranks as one of the top 25 prospects, according to MLB.com.
After a record-setting year of no-hitters in 2021, there have been two official ones this season, a combined effort by the Mets’ staff and a two-strikeout outing by the Angels rookie left-hander Reid Detmers in a blowout. Tampa Bay Rays.