There have been over 200 no-hitters since the beginning of baseball. Most have been shutouts, but occasionally the opposing team will score a run or two on some combination of walks, errors, wild pitches, etc. But on only four occasions has a team scored so few runs that their unhittable pitcher ended up on the losing end of the decision. The first was on April 24, 1964, when Astros’ righty Ken Johnson allowed no hits to Cincinnati but lost 1-0 on two walks and two errors.
While Johnson was a hard-luck loser, perhaps Steve Barber deserved to lose his game. Though he tossed 8 2/3 no-hit innings on April 30, 1967, he also walked 10 and hit two. Barber explained it best: “They probably didn’t get a hit because I didn’t throw anything close to the plate.” Considering that the Tigers had a man on in every inning but the fifth, it’s almost surprising that they didn’t score until the ninth. With his team leading 1-0 and men on second and third, Barber bounced a changeup that backup catcher Larry Haney could not come up with, and Ray Oyler scored the tying run. After Barber walked the batter, Orioles manager Hank Bauer replaced him with reliever Stu Miller. Batter Don Wert smacked a sharp grounder up the middle, but shortstop Luis Aparicio got to it and flipped to second for the force. Second baseman Mark Belanger dropped the ball, allowing the winning run to score. Al Kaline grounded out to end the game, leaving the Tigers with a win but no hits.
The Yankees’ Andy Hawkins came into his July 1, 1990 start with a 1-4 record, a 6.90 ERA, and the potential to be released any day. Though he finished that start with a complete-game no-hitter, he could not even enjoy that. In surrendering four runs, Hawkins set the record for the most lopsided no-hit defeat in history. The Comiskey Park scoreboard read all goose eggs going into the bottom of the eighth, and it appeared to be another 1-2-3 inning for Hawkins when Ron Karkovice and Scott Fletcher popped out to start the frame. However, Sammy Sosa reached on a Mike Blowers error, and Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson walked. With the bases loaded, Robin Ventura lofted a fly ball to left. Rookie Jim Leyritz, normally a catcher, could not navigate the swirling winds, and the ball dropped in for a 3-run error. Ivan Calderon also hit a high fly, but this time right-fielder Jesse Barfield lost the ball in the sun, allowing Ventura to score. And so, in the shining moment of his career, Andy Hawkins still lost the game 4-0. Lady Luck continued to frown on him, as he threw 11 shutout innings in his subsequent start, but wound up losing that game too.
Red Sox pitcher Matt Young was the last to lose a no-no. On April 12, 1992, he no-hit Cleveland but was denied the chance to celebrate when Wade Boggs and company couldn’t score enough runs for him. The final score was 2-1 Indians. Interestingly enough, Roger Clemens hurled a two-hit shutout in the second game of the day’s doubleheader. Cleveland’s two total hits on the day set a record for doubleheaders.