HOUSTON -- When your team history includes such names as Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, Larry Dierker, Mike Scott, Randy Johnson, Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, there figures to be a few legendary pitching performances throughout the years.
The Astros’ rich pitching history includes 11 individual no-hitters, four Cy Young Award winners -- Scott (1986) and Clemens (2004) in the National League and Dallas Keuchel (’15) and Verlander (’19) in the American League -- and some of the game’s most feared strikeout artists.
Here are the top five single-game pitching performances in Astros history:
1. Mike Scott
Sept. 25, 1986, vs. Giants
Still the only no-hitter thrown in baseball history in a clinching situation, Mike Scott’s gem in the Astrodome secured the NL West title for the Astros. The right-hander walked two batters and struck out 13. The Game Score of 98 is the fourth best in franchise history for a nine-inning game, but the magnitude of the moment set Scott’s gem apart.
“We knew [clinching] was going to happen, but it’s more fun if you win and everybody can run on the field,” Scott said.
Scott, who plunked Dan Gladden with the first pitch, beat the Giants, 2-0, to set off a massive celebration. In 1986, Scott went 18-10 and led the league in ERA (2.22), shutouts (five), innings pitched (275 1/3) and strikeouts (306).
The no-hitter pretty much sewed up the NL Cy Young Award for Scott, who leaped into the air when he got rookie Will Clark to ground out to first baseman Glenn Davis to end the game.
“The pitch wasn’t that good,” Scott said. “He happened to ground it out, and when I look back, I still kind of hold my breath, hoping he doesn’t get a base hit because it wasn’t a very good pitch. He happened to ground out to first, and that was it.”
2. Justin Verlander
Sept. 1, 2019, at Blue Jays
Like Scott’s gem, right-hander Justin Verlander’s no-hitter at the Rogers Centre may have secured his case for the AL Cy Young Award, which he won in a close vote over teammate Cole. Verlander allowed one walk and struck out 14 batters for a Game Score of 100, which is tied with Cole for the best in team history for a nine-inning game.
With his third no-hitter, Verlander became the sixth pitcher to throw three or more in a career, joining Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Larry Corcoran and Cy Young. It’s a feat that was not lost on the 36-year-old ace.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know that,” said Verlander, who has twice lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning. “Definitely a big hurdle to get over and a special moment for me.”
Verlander issued a first-inning walk to Cavan Biggio on five pitches and then sent down the next 26 batters. Still, the game was tied heading to the ninth inning before Abraham Toro hit a two-run homer that allowed Verlander to finish off the no-hitter in the ninth.
3. Gerrit Cole
May 4, 2018, at D-backs
With the most dominant Astros performance that wasn’t a no-hitter, right-hander Gerrit Cole overpowered the D-backs at Chase Field by striking out 16 batters with one walk in a one-hit shutout. The outing was good for a Game Score of 100, which is tied with Verlander’s 2019 no-no for the highest in a nine-inning game in Astros history.
Cole commanded all four of his pitches and finished with a flourish, throwing a 99 mph fastball on his 114th pitch to get Jarrod Dyson to foul out to third base on an 0-2 pitch for the last out. The previous two pitches to Dyson were at 98 and 99 mph. Cole threw 39 fastballs at 95 mph or above, and he also had four strikeouts with his breaking stuff.
4. Don Wilson
June 18, 1967, vs. Braves
The first no-hitter in a domed stadium was thrown by right-hander Don Wilson, who struck out 15 batters and walked three in a 2-0 win in the Astrodome. He whiffed Hank Aaron for the final out. The Game Score of 99 is the third-highest in franchise history for a nine-inning game.
Wilson made history on May 1, 1969, when he followed up a no-hitter thrown by Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney against the Astros at Crosley Field by no-hitting the Reds the next day, winning 4-0. He remains the only pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters for the Astros.
5. Mike Scott
Oct. 8, 1986, vs. Mets
Scott, who threw a no-hitter to clinch the division only weeks earlier, opened the NL Championship Series by dominating the 108-win Mets, who went on to win the World Series.
Scott threw a five-hit shutout -- five singles -- with one walk and 14 strikeouts in the Astros’ 1-0 win in the Astrodome. The only other game the Astros won in the NLCS came on another Scott gem -- a complete-game victory at New York in Game 4. Scott was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player despite Houston losing the series in six games. Scott was lined up to pitch Game 7 in Houston, but the Astros lost a thrilling Game 6, 7-6, in 16 innings.