MONTERREY, Mexico -- Dodgers fans came out to Estadio Monterrey in full force and left with a story to share with generations of baseball fans on both sides of the border, thanks in part to a decisive move by manager Dave Roberts.
Remember the time three Dodgers relievers pitched the final three innings of a gem started by Walker Buehler to complete a combined no-hitter in a 4-0 win over the Padres in the first game of the Mexico Series? It was the one where Fernando Valenzuela threw out the ceremonial first pitch and the game where the only second-guessing involved turning left or right on to Avenida Manuel L. Barragan, the busy street outside of the stadium, because of all of the traffic.
Claro que sí.
:: Dodgers no-hit Padres in Monterrey ::
Buehler, 23, was removed after six hitless innings. He struck out eight on 93 pitches and walked three batters, but that was only part of the story. Back in 2016, Roberts removed Thomas Stripling with a no-hitter intact and one out in the eighth inning, and he took out Rich Hill with a perfect game after seven innings five months later. A year later, he stuck with Hill into the 10th inning of a no-hit bid, but the southpaw allowed a walk-off homer to Josh Harrison.
Roberts was criticized. He was second-guessed. That was not the case Friday. Dodgers fans drove away from the stadium happy, even as they waited in their cars for the traffic to calm down.
"Of the ones, from Stripling to Rich Hill, this was the easiest," Roberts said. "Where he was at in his pitch count, essentially at the highest point he has ever been and with three innings left to go, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me."
Tony Cingrani replaced Buehler in the seventh and walked two batters, but he kept the no-hitter intact. Yimi Garcia followed in the eighth and struck out two of three Padres he faced to set the stage for Adam Liberatore in the ninth. (Closer Kenley Jansen had pitched three straight days and so was unavailable.) The left-hander struck out Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer to start the inning and the next batter, Christian Villanueva, flied out to left field for the second out.
With the crowd on its feet, Liberatore struck out Franchy Cordero to complete the no-hitter, the first combined no-no since four Phillies pitchers combined for a no-hitter Sept. 1, 2014, against the Braves. The feat was also the 12th combined no-hitter in Major League history and the first ever for the Dodgers. Overall, it was the 23rd no-hitter in club history and the first since Clayton Kershaw's on June 18, 2014, against the Rockies.
It was a night nobody in the stadium will ever forget.
"It was amazing," Liberatore said. "It was fun to watch. I knew the position I was in going in to that last inning and I just wanted to give it my best effort. I threw every pitch as hard as I could and tried to execute."