Now comes the real challenge for those four Phillies pitchers who combined on a no-hitter against the Braves on Monday.
Who gets the game ball?
It was dedicated to club president David Montgomery, who is on leave in his battle against cancer. He does oversee the team.
|9/1/2014||PHI vs. ATL||4|
|6/8/2012||SEA vs. LAD||6|
|7/12/1997||PIT vs. HOU||2|
|9/11/1991||ATL vs. SD||3|
|7/13/1991||BAL @ OAK||4|
|4/11/1990||CAL vs. SEA||2|
|7/28/1976||CWS @ OAK||2|
|9/28/1975||OAK vs. CAL||4|
|4/30/1967||BAL vs. DET GM 1*||2|
|6/23/1917||BOS vs. WAS GM 1||2|
It is, after all, a team game and the 7-0 victory in Atlanta was a team effort, the 11th time in history that multiple pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.
And it was a moment to remember in a season that has been forgettable for a Phils team that came into the season with contending ambitions but headed to Atlanta on Labor Day in last place in the National League East, and is on pace for a third consecutive non-winning season for the first time since 1998-2000.
There was no real oddity to the effort of starting pitcher Cole Hamels and relievers Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon, at least not compared to many of the previous 10 combined efforts.
It was a case of a laborious six innings by Hamels. While not allowing a hit, he did strike out seven and walked five, which meant 108 pitches. Manager Ryne Sandberg wasn't going to risk the ace of the rotation's long-term health by pushing him. No argument from Hamels. He was gassed.
Sandberg has to appreciate that he didn't face the anger that the late Preston Gomez endured back in the second year of the Padres' existence when in the bottom of the eighth on July 21, 1970, he pinch-hit for Clay Kirby, who had not allowed a hit, with two out and nobody on in a game the Mets led, 1-0.
"You have to play to win the game," Gomez explained.
The fact Cito Gaston, the pinch-hitter, struck out, and reliever Jack Baldschun gave up a single to Bud Harrelson to lead off the ninth didn't help soothe the anguish or Kirby, his teammates and even some members of the Padres' staff.
Maybe the baseball gods didn't, either. The Padres, after all, are the only franchise in the big leagues to have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter.
Hamels reached the back side of 30 on Dec. 27 last year, but there is every reason to feel he has prime years remaining in his career. He has time for that complete-game no-hitter, if an individual effort is that important. Hamels has already accomplished what really matters.
Hamels wears a World Series ring from 2008, his third season in the big leagues.
It is a ring Hamels was a vital part of the Phillies winning. In the second of the five postseason appearances, he has made in his nine-year big league career, Hamels won four of his five starts, compiled a 1.80 ERA and earned MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series.
So now, to that testimony of his greatness, Hamels adds the piece of baseball trivia that he was a part of a combined no-hitter, even if it won't carry the historical impact of that original combined effort back on June 23, 1917. Red Sox left-hander Babe Ruth walked the first batter of the game, Ray Morgan, and was promptly ejected for arguing balls and strikes. On came Ernie Shore, who got a quick out when Morgan was caught stealing and then retired 26 in a row.
There was not another combined no-hitter until April 30, 1967, when Steve Barber worked the first 8 2/3 innings and Stu Miller got the final out in the Orioles' 2-1 loss to the Tigers.
It only took four Phils pitchers to get the job done, two shy of the record for a no-hitter that was set by the Astros on June 11, 2003, and matched by Seattle on June 8, 2012, the last combined no-hitter before Monday.
Roy Oswalt started that game for the Astros, but he left with an injury after one inning in that 2003 game against the Yankees, turning the game over to the quintet of Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner. Lidge, a teammate of Hamels in Philadelphia, was credited with the victory, retiring all six batters he faced.
Kevin Millwood suffered a pulled groin in that June 2, 2012, start for the Mariners against the Dodgers, coming out after six innings and watching the relief tag team of Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen combine for the final three no-hit innings.
Francisco Cordova worked the regulation nine no-hit innings for the Pirates on July 12, 1997, but neither team had scored, so it was Ricardo Rincon, who worked the 10th, picking up the victory when Mark Smith hit a walk-off three-run home run.
Hamels will get plenty of opportunities again to finish off the no-hit effort. He has four years and $90 million remaining on a contract that includes a vesting option for 2019.
There have been four others already who have a resume that includes both a solo no-hitter and a multi-pitcher no-hitter.
Millwood, in addition to his effort in Seattle, went nine no-hit innings with the Phillies against the Giants on April 27, 2003.
A's left-hander Vida Blue no-hit the Twins on Sept. 21, 1970. Five years later, with the A's fine-tuning their pitching staff for the postseason, he worked the first five innings of a Sept. 28, 1975, no-hitter of the Angels, teaming with Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers.
And the Braves' Kent Mercker pitched the first six innings in combining with Mark Wohlers and Alejandro Pena in a 1-0 no-hitter of the Padres on Sept. 11, 1991. Then, on April 8, 1994, Mercker went the distance in no-hitting the Dodgers.
Mike Witt took a different route. He had the complete game -- a perfect game in fact -- at Texas on Sept. 30, 1984, the last day of that season. Then Witt worked the last two innings in relief of Mark Langston in the Angels' April 11, 1990 no-hitter against the Mariners.
Who is to say Hamels can add that complete-game effort to his resume eventually? He has shown glimpses of no-hit stuff during his career, including those first six innings against the Braves on Monday.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.