SEATTLE — Brandon Morrow’s bid to become only the second pitcher in modern history to throw a no-hitter in his first major league start ended when pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit doubled with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the New York Yankees 3-1 Friday night.
The 24-year-old righty, whose 100 previous big league outings were all in relief, blanked the Yankees until Betemit, batting for Jose Molina, lined a clean drive far over right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. The hit scored Hideki Matsui, who had walked with one out on a close 3-2 pitch.
Bobo Holloman of the St. Louis Browns is the lone pitcher since 1900 to throw a no-hitter in his first big league start, doing it against the Philadelphia Athletics on May 6, 1953.
Cincinnati’s Bumpus Jones pitched one against Pittsburgh on Oct. 15, 1892, and Ted Breitenstein did it for St. Louis of the American Association against Louisville on Oct. 4, 1891, according the Elias Sports Bureau.
It’s been nearly 50 years since the last complete-game no-hitter against the Yankees — Hoyt Wilhelm did it for Baltimore on Sept. 20, 1958. Six Houston Astros pitchers combined to no-hit New York at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2003, a game in which starter Roy Oswalt left with a strained groin in the second inning.
Morrow (2-2) left after Betemit’s hit on his 106th pitch, and Justin Thomas retired Johnny Damon on a lineout to end the inning. J.J. Putz completed the two-hitter for his 11th save in 19 chances.
“It was exciting,” Morrow said. “I think the short innings helped. When you have short innings, you don’t have to labor through things.”
Betemit said he got a pitch that stayed in the middle of the plate.
“He threw me a changeup, a fastball and then a curveball right down the middle. It stayed right in the middle and I swung the bat good,” he said.
Seattle, with the worst record in the AL, had lost its previous eight games against the Yankees, who dropped 8½ games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race with just 21 games remaining. With just over three weeks left in the regular season, it appears the Yankees will miss the playoffs for the first 1993.
Morrow, the fifth overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, struck out eight and walked three. He stomped back to the mound after backing up the plate on Betemit’s hit and yelled at himself as catcher Kenji Johjima tapped him on the backside with his mitt. Then manager Jim Riggleman came out to get Morrow, who had passed his pregame pitch limit of 95.
Morrow exited to one of the loudest, most prolonged roars of this long lost Mariners season. He then smiled almost sheepishly while receiving slaps on the back and handshakes from just about every one in Seattle’s dugout.
“When you have stuff like that and you can locate with that stuff, you’re going to shut down a lot of lineups,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
He has been the Mariners’ most effective pitcher this year, with a 1.47 ERA in 40 games. He allowed just 18 hits in 36 2-3 innings as a reliever while striking out 47.
Morrow made five starts this year at Triple-A and was hit hard. He got this start in place of injured Jarrod Washburn.
Andy Pettitte (13-12), fading along with the Yankees, lost for the seventh time in eight starts since July 26. He allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, while striking out nine and walking one.
“We need wins. Losses aren’t helping right now,” Pettitte said. “:We’re running out of options here.”
Seattle went ahead when former-Yankee Miguel Cairo doubled leading off the third, took third on a single by Suzuki and scored on Yuniesky Betancourt’s sacrifice fly. The Mariners added two runs in the third on a double by rookie Matt Tuiasosopo, who was making his first major league start, Johjima’s RBI single and Cairo’s run-scoring grounder.
Notes: RHP Alfredo Aceves will make his first major league start on Tuesday when the Yankees are at the Los Angeles Angels, instead of Darrell Rasner. Rasner allowed five runs in 1 1-3 innings of Thursday’s loss at Tampa Bay and is winless in nine starts since July 12. Aceves allowed one run in five innings relieving Rasner Thursday. … As expected, New York recalled former starting OF Melky Cabrera from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Girardi said the Yankees are expecting the 24-year-old who entered Friday batting .242 in 117 games and last played for New York on Aug. 13 to swing at better pitches and become a better baserunner. “He’s better than a .240 hitter,” Girardi said, adding the Yankees will stay with Damon, Xavier Nady and Bobby Abreu starting in the outfield.