Roommates make history with Class A no-hitter
Starter Hader and relievers Osborne, Minor live in Lancaster with two other JetHawks
On a patch of the Mojave Desert in the city of Lancaster, Calif., five Minor League baseball players share a big yellow house surrounded by dry brush and tumbleweeds. It has two stories, six bedrooms and a modest patio.
And now, it comes with a no-hitter.
On Tuesday, three of those roommates -- Josh Hader, J.D. Osborne and Daniel Minor -- combined to throw a no-no for the Lancaster JetHawks, the Astros' Class A Advanced club in the California League. And a day later, the trio was still smiling.
"I'm still not over it," Osborne said, sitting in front of his clubhouse locker. "It was just an awesome feeling. Especially with us being really close and being roommates. I mean, how often does that happen -- three roommates all pitch on the same night, let alone throw a no-hitter? It was pretty cool."
"We eat together, go shopping together, go golfing together, do everything," said Minor. "I'm sure not many roommates have done this together. I don't know if you can find another [instance]."
The day began like any other, with the three pitchers -- along with their two other JetHawks roommates, reliever Mitch Lambson and outfielder Marc Wik -- locking up the house and piling into the truck they all share. When they left their gravel driveway for their second home, the JetHawks' modest ballpark that's five minutes and three freeway exits away, they were on the road to history.
The JetHawks were opening a three-game series that night with the Bakersfield Blaze, the team with the best record in the California League. Bakersfield's starting pitcher was Ben Lively, entering with a 6-0 record and a 0.63 ERA.
Opposing him for Lancaster was Hader, a baby-faced 20-year-old who's having probably the best season of any JetHawks pitcher -- and certainly of his current household -- though he remains the butt of most of the jokes back home.
"He didn't go to college," Minor explained with a grin. "We're trying to keep him tidy and make him clean and stuff. We have to stay on him a bit."
Except for a night like Tuesday, when the innings moved along and the Bakersfield hit column remained at zero. That's when the guys began to leave Hader alone, and the dugout fell into silence and superstition.
Hader, acquired by the Astros last year from Baltimore in the Bud Norris trade, walked off the mound after the sixth, certainly aware of what he had going. But he also knew that he had reached his predetermined pitch count, and so he shook his head as he headed for the dugout, knowing he wouldn't be able to continue the no-hitter.
In came Osborne, inheriting a paper-thin 1-0 lead in the seventh.
"I thought about not blowing the no-hitter for [Hader], but as soon as I got on the mound, I just focused," Osborne said. "In between innings was the worst. That's when you think about it."
Osborne walked a batter in the seventh but got out of the inning by inducing a double play. In the eighth, he retired the side in order.
And then in the ninth, in jogged Minor.
"Yeah, [my heart] was pounding pretty fast," Minor said.
Hader and Osborne watched from the dugout. Nobody said anything or moved, until a few minutes later, when they exploded, rushing from the dugout as Minor completed the no-no with a strikeout.
On Wednesday, Hader found himself back in that dugout, his eyes on the next game, but his mind drifting back.
"Yeah, I was still thinking about it," Hader said. "Throwing a no-hitter is pretty wild. I still can't believe it happened. It's kind of a special thing, especially having those two joining me and making history. Pretty cool."
And what of a postgame celebration?
"We went to In-N-Out," Osborne said.
And after the burger joint, it was back to the truck and back to that big yellow house.
"It was the first one we looked at," Osborne said of the home, "and it was cheap."
"It's straight out of 'Breaking Bad,'" Minor added, showing a picture of it on his cell phone.
Outside of the house sits an RV that doesn't work, a tree and little else.
"But it's really nice on the inside," Osborne promised, "and we all get along."
On some nights especially.