MIAMI -- No-hitters are among the most celebrated moments in baseball. Their rarity attracts widespread interest and captures the attention of avid and casual fans alike as soon as the “no-hit” alerts start spreading.
When a pitcher is pursuing a no-hitter, his teammates tend to avoid him, while broadcasters go to great lengths to not “jinx” anything. They come up with clever ways to say a no-hitter is in process without actually using those words.
No-hitters occur at a rate of about three per MLB season. Since 1993, 64 starting pitchers have thrown a no-hitter, and there have been seven more combined efforts.
Remarkably, since the Marlins’ inaugural season that same year, six pitchers have tossed a no-hitter for the club. That’s more than any other franchise in that span, though both the Giants and Mariners are right behind with five no-hitters apiece.
Miami’s no-hit fraternity includes Al Leiter (1996), Kevin Brown ('97), A.J. Burnett (2001), Anibal Sánchez ('06), Henderson Álvarez ('13) and Edinson Vólquez ('17).
MLB.com revisits these six important days in Marlins history:
1. Al Leiter, May 11, 1996, 11-0 vs. Rockies
The Marlins signed Leiter as a free agent after the 1995 season, and the left-hander was an All-Star in ’96. That season, he also threw the first no-hitter in franchise history. Miami broke the game open early with six runs in the first inning and two more in the second. Leiter did the rest, striking out six with two walks and a hit-by-pitch.
“Up 11-0, it was a matter of whether I’d get a no-hitter,” Leiter said in a 2011 interview during a Marlins telecast. “What do I do? Does [catcher Charles Johnson] jump on me or me on him?” Leiter quipped.
2. Kevin Brown, June 10, 1997, 9-0 at Giants
Not only did Brown have “no-hit stuff” on this day at Candlestick Park, the 32-year-old right-hander was nearly perfect. If a 1-2 offering to Marvin Benard didn’t get away from him, who knows how history would have remembered this classic? With two outs in the eighth inning, Brown clipped Benard’s right leg with a pitch, allowing his one and only baserunner. Brown, an All-Star and ace of the 1997 World Series staff, was in complete control, striking out seven and inducing 17 ground-ball outs.
“It would have been great [to pitch a perfect game], but what if?” Brown said after the game. “I have to be thankful the way things turned out.”
3. A.J. Burnett, May 12, 2001, 3-0 at Padres
As close as Brown came to perfection in 1997, Burnett turned in one of the most “imperfect” no-hitters in MLB history. Making his second start of 2001, Burnett was all over the place. The hard-throwing right-hander walked nine batters, hit another and threw a wild pitch.
“I threw maybe 10 curveballs all game,” Burnett said after the game. “We were just working in and out all night. This is a great feeling. I never thought the second start back I'd throw a no-hitter.”
Burnett’s no-hitter brought back memories of Jim Maloney’s from 1965, when the Reds pitcher walked 10 batters in a 10-inning 1-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
4. Aníbal Sánchez, Sept. 6, 2006, 2-0 vs. D-backs
Called up from Double-A Carolina on June 25 of that year, Sánchez made his 13th big league start on Sept. 6. The 22-year-old right-hander no-hit the D-backs on 103 pitches, striking out six and walking four.
The last out was mildly disputed when Eric Byrnes sprinted to first on a ground ball to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who paused momentarily before completing the throw to first. On a bang-bang play, Byrnes was called out. MLB didn’t have replay at the time to challenge.
Sánchez’s no-hitter was the first in the Majors since Randy Johnson’s perfect game against the Braves on May 18, 2004. That was the longest gap between no-hitters in MLB history.
“This is the best moment of my life,” Sánchez said postgame.
5. Henderson Alvarez, Sept. 29, 2013, 1-0 vs. Tigers
No-hitters are usually celebrated around the pitcher’s mound, not home plate. But Alvarez’s no-no was hardly typical. That’s because his came in walk-off fashion. Giancarlo Stanton scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, racing home from third on Luke Putkonen’s wild pitch.
The unconventional no-hitter came on the final game of a 100-loss season. Alvarez was highly efficient, needing just 99 pitches to get through nine innings. After logging the final out of the top of the ninth, Alvarez was caught in an awkward moment, preparing to rejoice on the field though the game wasn’t yet over.
“I was so excited,” he said. “I thought by the ninth inning that I just needed three outs for the no-hitter.”
6. Edinson Vólquez, June 3, 2017, 3-0 vs. D-backs
It appeared Vólquez was headed for an early exit after he collided at first base with D-backs leadoff hitter Rey Fuentes in the first inning. Volquez rolled his right ankle and his hamstring began tightening on him.
But Vólquez was able to collect himself and turn in a dominating performance, striking out 10 in a 98-pitch outing.
“It's crazy,” he said after the game. “In the fourth, I didn't know if I was going to keep pitching. When I got to the seventh, I was like, ‘You've got to go for it.’"
Vólquez was pitching with a purpose that day, on what would have been Yordano Ventura’s 26th birthday. Ventura, who was killed in an automobile accident that January, and Vólquez were previously teammates in Kansas City. Vólquez also dedicated the game to José Fernández, the Marlins’ two-time All-Star who died in a boating accident in 2016.
"This was for Ventura and José," Vólquez said.