Three Houston Astros pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Starting pitcher Cristian Javier went seven hit-less innings before turning things over to the bullpen in a 3-0 win. It's the 14th no-no in franchise history.
Javier was tasked Saturday with his first career start in Yankee Stadium -- and in doing so, he'd be facing the team with the best record in baseball and his counterpart was highly-compensated Yankees ace -- and former Astro -- Gerrit Cole. Javier stepped up with a major way with the best start of his career.
The Astros needed every bit of Javier's work, too, as they held a 2-0 lead. They got a solo home run from J.J. Matijevic in the top of the seventh inning and Jose Altuve provided insurance with a solo blast in the eighth.
Reliever Hector Neris took over for Javier in the eighth inning, looking to help complete a combined no-hitter. Though he walked two, got Joey Gallo on a warning-track fly and Aaron Judge on a very hard hit liner, initially dropped by the shortstop who recovered in time to get the out at second, the no-hitter remained intact.
Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton were due up for the Yankees in the ninth and closer Ryan Pressly took care of business.
The Astros' most recent no-hitter before Saturday came on Sept. 1, 2019 when Justin Verlander pulled it off. Their last combined no-hitter came on Aug. 3, 2019 from Aaron Sanchez, Will Harris, Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski.
Coincidentally, the last time the Yankees were no-hit was also by the Astros and it was also a combined no-no. It was June 11, 2003 when Roy Oswalt left with an injury in the second and Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner brought it home.
Javier wasn't perfect, as he allowed a first-inning walk and then Donaldson reached via error in the seventh. He had 13 strikeouts, which is a career high. He threw 115 pitches. His previous high in pitches was 93 and that was his last outing. He was probably OK to extend himself a bit past that mark, but once it gets 15-20 pitches higher, he'd be facing arm fatigue and it looked like he started to lose some command late in the seventh.
"I was looking up there and was like 'oh man, his pitch count is gonna get too high," Astros manager Dusty Baker said after the game of his decision to pull Javier (via MLB.com). "I gotta make a decision pretty soon between the personal and maybe him suffering for it.
"I'm just glad the rest of our guys closed it out."
This outing matches his career high in innings for Javier. He previously went seven innings twice (most recently May 13 of last season). His career high in pitches in one game was 107, which happened April 27 of last season.
Javier seemed to be deceiving the Yankees hitters somehow, whether it was his release point or better disguising his pitches than usual. He was getting them to swing and miss on pitches they have been hitting most of the season. It was impressive work to watch him slice them up with four-seamers right in the zone while also working the corners with such precision.
"He had his fastball working, locating it well, in-out-up-down, threw some outstanding off-speed pitches," Baker said. "Boy, he was matching Gerrit Cole inning for inning."
Javier is now 5-3 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP on the season.
The Yankees stormed back on Thursday with a four-run ninth to win in walk-off fashion, but otherwise the Astros have pretty well controlled the entire series. They've won two of three so far with the finale coming Sunday.