Hansack pitched no-hit ball for five innings before Sunday’s game was called because of rain, giving Boston a 9-0 win over Baltimore—but not giving the rookie official credit for a no-hitter.
“I wasn’t disappointed because nobody can stop the rain,” he said.
Hansack, who worked as a lobsterman and pitched in his native Nicaragua the past two years, earned his first major league win. The 28-year-old righty would like it to lead to an invitation to spring training next season.
After the game, Hansack shook Theo Epstein’s hand and heard Boston’s general manager say, “Congrats, man. I’m proud of you.”
In only his second major league outing, Hansack became the ninth AL pitcher to allow no hits in a complete game of fewer than nine innings.
In September 1991, a committee chaired by then-commissioner Fay Vincent changed rules that eliminated games of fewer than nine innings from counting as no-hitters, wiping nearly 50 of them off the books. To stand, pitchers must allow no hits in a complete game that goes at least nine innings.
Hansack, who has a temporary locker in the middle of the crowded clubhouse, didn’t care. Until he was spotted at a tournament in Holland by Craig Shipley, Boston’s vice president for professional and international scouting, he figured he’d keep catching lobsters.
“I was very excited, surprised, because I was out of baseball so long,” said Hansack, who pitched in Houston’s system in 2002 and 2003. “This is my opportunity. I can’t mess it up.”
Hansack (1-1) put quite an ending on the 2006 regular season. All other games Sunday had ended by the time this one was called.
Hansack faced the minimum of 15 batters, allowing only Fernando Tatis to reach on a walk with one out in the second. Hansack struck out six, including Miguel Tejada and Corey Patterson twice each. None of the other nine outs was close to a hit.
“That was fun, wasn’t it, seeing him change speeds with the rain dripping off his cap,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “The way he was able to throw strikes, he was really something special.”
Hansack didn’t have to worry about support in the game delayed at the start for three hours, 23 minutes by rain. Mike Lowell hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Hayden Penn (0-4) and Mark Loretta and Eric Hinske added solo shots.
Hansack began warming up to start the top of the sixth before the game was held up by rain. It was called 41 minutes later.
“His delivery is kind of funky,” Baltimore’s Melvin Mora said. “But when you have a guy like (Jason) Varitek behind the plate, everything on the mound looks easy because he knows every single hitter.”
Hansack had spent this season helping Double-A Portland to the Eastern League championship then made his first appearance in the majors for Boston on Sept. 23. He pitched five innings and took the loss against Toronto.
The Red Sox did not finish in second place for the first time in nine years as they wound up one game behind Toronto and 11 behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. The Blue Jays locked up second place with a 7-5 win over the Yankees that ended before the Red Sox began their game.
“We were second in the league after the first half of the season,” Epstein said, but “the team had weaknesses and they were exposed” in the second half.
The Orioles ended their ninth straight losing season, a team record.
“I think it’s obvious we need some more pitching” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. “We can harp on that, but there’s a lot of good things that happened.”
David Ortiz did not hit a homer, ending his season with an AL-high 54 when he was removed for pinch-runner Doug Mirabelli in the fourth. Ortiz walked twice after fouling out to catcher Raul Chavez in the first inning.
The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first on Lowell’s 20th homer of the year after Trot Nixon singled and Mark Loretta was hit by a pitch.
They added four runs in the third off Penn, who was replaced with two outs in the inning by Julio Manon. With one out, Ortiz walked, Lowell singled and Varitek struck out. Consecutive walks to Eric Hinske and Carlos Pena scored one run and Gabe Kapler doubled home three more for a 7-0 lead.
Loretta hit his fifth homer in the fourth and Hinske connected in the fifth for his first homer since joining Boston on Aug. 17 in a deal with Toronto.
The Orioles finished the season with 50 losses in their last 76 road games and a 4-14 record against the Red Sox. … ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Curt Schilling. Gammons made his first TV appearance Sept. 20 since having a brain aneurysm on June 27. … Manny Ramirez didn’t play after homering Saturday in his first start in 18 games since being sidelined by a sore right knee.