04/27/2003 4:49 PM ET
Millwood throws no-no
Phillies ace three walks away from perfection
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Millwood didn't see the ball leave Marquis Grissom's
bat. Then he looked up and saw center fielder Ricky Ledee squeeze his mitt and
complete his first career no-hitter.
Then he got scared.
"I saw Jim Thome running toward me and that made me nervous,"
Millwood said after his 1-0 masterpiece against the National League's best team.
"Today was my day and I got lucky."
Lucky? In his sixth start for the Phillies, the right-handed ace came up huge, unfurling only the second no-hitter in the history of Veterans Stadium, observing its swan season.
So this is why the Phillies traded for him.
It was clear early on that Kevin Millwood was on top of his game. The right-hander struck out 10 and had a blistering tailing fastball working for him. (AP)
"It was one of those special days, and I don't plan on doing it every time
out, but it was a lot of fun," Millwood said. "I've had a couple of other shots
that I've lost in the seventh inning and today I got through that and made it."
Ledee provided the game's only run with a first-inning homer to right-center field
off Jesse Foppert (0-2). Ledee also preserved the no-no with a spectacular running
grab in the seventh inning and caught the final out on a much easier play.
It was almost like de ja vu for Ledee, who homered and made a tough catch
in David Cone's perfect game on July 18, 1999.
"I didn't think I was going to get to it, but when I started running, I got
a pretty good angle," Ledee said of Grissom's drive over his head. "I was thinking a fly ball straight at me was
going to be a little more difficult."
On the home run, Ledee said it was a "2-0 count. I was trying to be
aggressive. I didn't think I hit it out. The ball hit the good part of the bat. It
went too high so I didn't think it was going to go out."
The rest of the afternoon belonged to Millwood, who came within three walks of a perfect game. While with Atlanta, he tossed a one-hit shutout against the
Pirates on April 14, 1998. It was the ninth no-hitter in Phillies history and the
second at the Vet. Terry Mulholland has the other Vet no-hitter on Aug. 15, 1990. Tommy Greene, who called to congratulate Millwood, threw the last Phillies no-hitter on May 23, 1991 at Montreal.
"That was unbelievable," said manager Larry Bowa. "He just no-hit the best team in the
National League right now and it was a 1-0 game. I'm very superstitious. I started
thinking about it in the seventh. Too many things can happen, bloop hits,
With the crowd of 40,016 still roaring in the ninth, Millwood got pinch-hitter Neifi Perez to ground to second with one pitch. Marvin Benard then pinch-hit
and grounded weakly to Thome.
Staying with the high fastball that had brought him this far, Millwood kept
pumping fastballs to Ray Durham, who fell behind 0-1, then 1-2. Millwood then threw three straight balls to walk Ray Durham.
"That was probably about as nervous as I've ever been," said Millwood. "The
fans were great. They were loud and they were standing on their feet. Once I got
two strikes on him, I couldn't hear myself think and that made me nervous."
Not as nervous, apparently as Mike Lieberthal.
"I was thinking about it, of course. I was hoping to God. 'Please God, one
time, one time,' " he said. "I was really quiet and not saying anything to anybody.
The last inning, I was nervous. I was trying to catch with two hands. This is the
most excited I've ever been back there."
Nervous or not, the battery had one more out to go in Grissom, the same
Grissom mind you who nearly ended Millwood's bid in the seventh. And someone who
now represented the go-ahead run.
No problem. Millwood got him to loft a fly to Ledee, who said he pictured
himself making the final out. Teammates swarmed Millwood on the mound. Thome got there first, hence the nervous Millwood.
"I wanted to jump on him, but had to wait until the ball was caught," said
Thome. "For everybody involved, it's a day you'll never forget. As a kid being a
pitcher, you always dream of throwing a no-hitter at the big-league level, and he
did. He should be very proud."
As the afternoon played out, naturally no one wanted to get near the
right-hander, who was acquired in a December deal for Johnny Estrada. One by one,
Millwood found himself miles from the nearest teammate.
"About the fifth, you start to see more and more guys not want to come
close to you." said Millwood. "So I sat next to [hitting coach Greg] Gross and kept
trying to talk with him. I said stuff to him just so he'd talk to me."
Gross said the two discussed hitting -- what else? Millwood also said
backup catcher Todd Pratt came over and kept it loose for him.
"The guy needed someone to talk to," said Pratt. "I was just trying to make
the same conversation as if he had given up 10 hits."
Millwood's no-hitter also came exactly one year after Derek Lowe no-hit the
Devil Rays, in a 10-0 Boston win. Seven of Millwood's 10 strikeouts were looking.
He got four ground-ball outs, 11 fly outs, one pop out and a caught stealing.
The major difference between Lowe and Millwood is that Millwood had nine fewer runs to work with.
"It keeps you more focused," Millwood said. "I didn't have any room to relax. Everybody in that lineup can hit the ball out of the park. I had to stay focused on every hitter and couldn't let up. It probably helped.
"This was like the playoffs or World Series. I feel like (the crowd) got a little louder every inning."
August 29, 1885
Charles Ferguson vs. Prov., 1-0
July 8, 1898
Red Donahue vs. Boston, 5-0
September 18, 1903
Charles Fraser at Chicago, 10-0
May 1, 1906
Johnny Lush at Brooklyn, 6-0
June 21, 1964
Jim Bunning at New York, 6-0
June 23, 1971
Rick Wise at Cincinnati, 4-0
August 15, 1990
Terry Mulholland vs. San Fran., 6-0
May 23, 1991
Tommy Greene at Montreal, 2-0
April 27, 2003
Kevin Millwood vs. San Fran., 1-0
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.