Rays exchange combined no-hit bid for walk-off HR in wild extra-inning game

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 23: Jeffrey Springs #59 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning in a baseball game at Tropicana Field on April 23, 2022 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
The Rays almost bullpenned their way to a no-hitter. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays completed nine no-hit innings on Saturday, but they unfortunately fell short on the other requirement to complete a no-hitter: scoring a run.

The no-hitter did not survive extras, but Kevin Kiermaier ensured the day wouldn't be a total loss.

Facing the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field, six Rays pitchers combined to take a no-hitter into extra innings, but lost it when the seventh pitcher, Matt Wisler, opened the tenth inning by yielding an RBI triple to Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec.

Thanks to the extra-inning ghost runner, back for one more year, the hit broke a scoreless tie.

Dalbec immediately scored on a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 2-0. The Rays finally got their first run in the bottom of the inning when a throwing error by Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story allowed their ghost runner to score.

One plate appearance later, Kiermaier ended the chaotic game with a no-doubt homer to right field for a 3-2 win.

The six pitchers who would have combined for the no-hitter had Tampa Bay avoided extras: J.P. Feyereisen, Javy Guerra, Jeffrey Springs, Jason Adam, Ryan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge.

This would have been a very odd no-hitter

The no-hitter would have been the second in Rays history, the 17th combined no-hitter in MLB history and the first of the 2022 season, one year after the league set a record with nine no-hitters (not counting a pair of seven-inning no-hit efforts in doubleheaders).

The Rays would have also tied the record for the most pitchers used in a no-hitter with six, joining the Houston Astros in 2003 and Seattle Mariners in 2012. No Rays pitcher threw more than two innings, which would have been a record for fewest innings thrown by any pitcher as well.

On the peripheral level, it wasn't a dominant performance. The Rays' pitchers combined for only six strikeouts in 10 innings while walking five. Before their extra-inning rally, the Red Sox put three balls in play with an xBA (basically the odds of a hit based on a ball's exit velocity and launch angle), but the Rays' usually strong defense took care of them.

The Rays were nearly as hapless on offense as the Red Sox in the first nine innings before Kiermaier's walk-off. The team managed only two hits and two walks, so it actually had fewer baserunners than the team being no-hit even before it lost in extras.