Framber Valdez tossed his first career no-hitter and faced the minimum 27 batters as the Houston Astros made a pair of third-inning runs stand in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday
Valdez (9-7) was masterful from the onset in his 93-pitch gem. The 29-year-old lefty retired the first 12 batters he faced, six via the strikeout, before surrendering a leadoff walk to Guardians designated hitter Oscar Gonzalez in the top of the fifth inning
After inducing a flyout from David Fry, Valdez erased Gonzalez by getting Will Brennan to ground into an inning-ending double play. That got Valdez back on track as he recorded a pair of groundball outs in the sixth before retiring the top of the Cleveland order on groundballs in the seventh. Valdez struck out Gonzalez to open the eighth before inducing two more groundouts from Fry and Brennan to cap that inning
Valdez threw five pitches in the seventh inning and 10 in the eighth, allowing him to enter the ninth with 81 on his ledger. He retired Gabriel Arias with a grounder to second and Myles Straw with a fly ball to center field before capping his no-hitter by getting a soft pop fly from catcher Cam Gallagher to shortstop Jeremy Pena
"I just went out there and tried to do the best that I could," Valdez said through an interpreter. "Just tried to go out there being very positive. When I got to the seventh inning, I thought to myself, 'OK, I think I can finish this game without any hits.' Got to the eighth inning, I still felt good, I felt like it was still the first inning. So I kept attacking the hitters, trying to do my best out there.
The no-hitter was the third in the majors this year, after a perfect game by the New York Yankees' Domingo German against the Oakland A's on June 28 and a combined no-no by three Detroit Tigers pitchers against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 8
The Astros threw a combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies last fall, and Houston also got a combined gem against the New York Yankees on June 25, 2022. The last Astros pitcher to throw a solo no-hitter before Tuesday was Justin Verlander on Sept. 1, 2019, vs. the Blue Jays
On Tuesday, Valdez recorded seven strikeouts against his one walk. He had allowed 15 runs over his previous three starts but reversed course in historic fashion with a brilliant four-pitch mix of 41 curveballs, 34 sinkers, 11 changeups and seven cutters
"Obviously, I had a couple rough starts before this one," Valdez said. "For me the biggest thing was just to continue working hard, continuing my focus, and knowing that I was going to be able to get back to where I was before. ..
"All my pitches felt that they were working today. I was able to throw strikes and I threw strikes without any fear tonight.
Houston manager Dusty Baker added, "A lot of times Framber will start off on and great and then will have a rough inning somewhere in between there lately but today his concentration was at a superior level and him and Maldy (catcher Martin Maldonado) worked great together.
Williams appeared poised to escape the inning unscathed when he recorded a double play consisting of a strikeout of Maldonado paired with Gallagher erasing Jake Meyers, who opened the frame with a single, as the runner attempted to swipe second base
But Jose Altuve and Pena reached in succession via a single and a base on balls, respectively. They advanced when Williams uncorked a wild pitch to Kyle Tucker, who subsequently delivered a single to center field that scored both runners
Williams (1-3) rallied with a strikeout of Alex Bregman to strand Tucker and worked around a pair of walks to Jose Abreu and Chas McCormick beginning the fourth. Williams completed five innings and allowed two runs on four hits and four walks while recording six strikeouts
Cleveland was last no-hit by the Milwaukee Brewers' Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader on Sept. 11, 2021
--Field Level Medi