How do you say "no-hitter" in Spanish?
The correct way is "un juego sin hits," which roughly translates to "a game without hits," apropos for the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers franchise history, and just the 12th combined no-hitter in Major League history.
The last time Walker Buehler pitched in a game without hits, was at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky. However, the astute former student who ranks second in innings pitched, second in strikeouts and third in wins all-time in school history doesn't think that game should count.
"I threw one in high school," Buehler said at the postgame press conference in Monterrey, Mexico on Friday night. "But I gave up two runs in the first inning so I don't think that really counts."
Fortunately for Buehler, Friday's no-hitter seen by a sellout crowd of 21,536 did count, albeit not as an individual accomplishment, but as a collective team effort. One that the 23-year-old Kentucky kid paved the way for.
In just his third career start and first ever against the Padres, Buehler did the lion's share of the work, throwing six hitless innings on the mound before passing the baton to Tony Cingrani.
Cingrani made things interesting as he walked two of the first three batters he faced, but eventually got out of the inning unscathed, keeping the no-hitter intact for Yimi Garcia.
"I didn't even know there weren't any hits," admitted Cingrani after the game. "We have a good bullpen down there and we took care of business."
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Of all the relief pitchers in the Dodgers vaunted bullpen, Garcia perhaps was the most surprising to continue on the no-no.
The 27-year-old Dominican right-hander with a 3.07 career ERA was appearing in just his second game of the season after not pitching in the big leagues in over two years.
In his first appearance just 24 hours earlier, Garcia allowed two hits and an unearned run recording just one out before getting pulled from the game.
So it was only fitting that Garcia stunned members of his own team and coaching staff when he breezed through the eighth inning on just 14 pitches with two strikeouts. The no-hitter was just three outs away from fruition and now was in the hands of left-hander Adam Liberatore.
Ordinarily, the final three outs of a Dodgers win with a margin of four runs or less would go to All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, but after pitching in three consecutive games in Arizona, Jansen was down for the opener in Mexico.
So history fell into the hands of a 30-year-old Italian left-hander who never received a scholarship to a D-1 college out of high school. In fact, in his first full season as a collegiate freshman at Tennessee Technological University, Liberatore, allowed 12 runs in 10 innings for a 10.80 ERA.
"I knew what was going on," admitted Liberatore at the postgame press conference. "I didn't want to be the guy that blew it. Tony got through it, Yimi got through it. I just wanted to go out there and give it my all every pitch. I was just trying to give it my best"
Turns out his best was enough as Liberatore struck out 2016 All-Star Game MVP Eric Hosmer before getting Mexico native and the hottest rookie in baseball Christian Villanueva to fly out for the first two outs of the inning.
As the stress and pressure mounted, all that stood in the way from the Dodgers and history was Frenchy Cordero. After balling behind in the count 2-0, Liberatore struck him out swinging to secure his place in history.
"It's a special night for all of us," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Roberts was tasked with the most difficult decision of the night earlier in the game when he pulled Buehler from his no-hitter after six innings.
No stranger to these stressful choices, Roberts had famously taken the baseball from rookie Ross Stripling in his debut start in San Francisco after 7 and 1/3 no-hit innings and then again later that year when he yanked Rich Hill from a perfect game in Miami.
"I think of the ones between Stripling and Rich Hill, this was the easiest," said Roberts of his decision. "Where he was at with his pitch count, with three innings left, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me."
Buehler is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2015, and is on a front office imposed innings restriction this season. As the Dodgers number one prospect in the farm system, his future is much more important than any other pitcher in the rotation and at 93 pitches, one shy of his career-high, Buehler new the importance of the situation.
"He told me I was out of pitches and I was out of the game," Buehler said of the discussion after the sixth inning. "That's probably one of the toughest conversations I've ever had. I obviously wanted to keep going, but that's above my pay grade. They made the choice and these guys finished it off. It was pretty cool."
The Dodgers did finish it off and with their 23rd no-hitter in franchise history came their third consecutive win and an opportunity to get back to .500 before returning to Los Angeles after a nightmare road trip that saw the team lose Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager and Hyun-Jin Ryu to significant injuries.
"This is a momentum builder," said Roberts.
Here's hoping so.