San Diego starter James Shields yielded a leadoff single to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Jimmy Rollins Monday as the Padres no no-hitter count climbed for the first time in about six months, reaching 7,329 regular season games.
The Padres, home since 1969 to such great pitchers like Randy Jones, Jake Peavy and Clay Kirby, are the only major league team without a no-hitter.
Kirby came close, several times, and perhaps Kirby’s start on July 21, 1970 reveals the origin of The Curse.
In that game, the New York Mets were beating the Padres 1-0 but Kirby still had a no-hitter going through eight innings. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, San Diego skipper Preston Gomez decided to pull Kirby for a pinch hitter, Cito Gaston. Gaston struck out, reliever Jack Baldschun gave up a ninth-inning lead-off single to Bud Harrelson and the Mets rallied to pad their lead to 3-0, which would be the final score.
Would Kirby have reached base and started a rally that would have given them a 2-1 lead and an eventual no-no win?
Would Kirby have struck out, yet kept the no-hitter alive through the top of the ninth to set up a ninth-inning Padres walk-off victory? We’ll never know, and the club still has no no-no.