Throwing a no-hitter, you can say, is like lassoing the moon. You can see the distant glow, beckoning and teasing all of sudden. Can you actually get there? Probably not. But you possibly can dream.

On Aug. 13, 1969, in Oakland, Jim Palmer made the enormous leap for the Baltimore Orioles with nine no-hit innings against the Athletics. It was the identical day that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins glided up Broadway and down Michigan Avenue for ticker-tape parades in New York and Chicago, adopted by a state dinner with President Richard M. Nixon in Los Angeles.

Palmer, now 75, has by no means been to the moon, of course. But the no-hitter broadened his universe in a means no different Oriole had skilled till Wednesday, when John Means grew to become the primary Baltimore pitcher since Palmer to toss a complete-game no-hitter. Means subdued the Mariners, 6-0, with 12 strikeouts and no walks in Seattle.

Four Orioles mixed for a no-hitter in 1991, however going the gap set Means’s feat aside. It was his 44th profession begin and the primary to stretch previous the seventh inning. His work days won’t ever be the identical.

“Pitching a no-hitter — and pitching a no-hitter with a complete game now, because they’re so rare — is kind of like a hole in one,” Palmer stated by cellphone on Wednesday evening. “It’s funny, when you’re a good golfer, you look at a par-3, you want to get on the green, you want to make a birdie. And then you make a hole in one, and for the rest of your life, every time you tee a ball up on a par-3, you don’t think about birdies — you think about the possibility of ‘You know what? I could have a hole in one.’

“So for the modern-day pitcher, if you’re John Means, you’ve never pitched a complete game. You’ve never pitched a no-hitter or a one-hitter or a two-hitter or a three-hitter, because you’ve never pitched nine innings. So now, every time he takes the ball, he is well aware — because he’s done it — that he could pitch a no-hitter, he could pitch a complete game. There’s a litany of things now, all of a sudden, that come into play.”

Palmer’s path led to a few Cy Young Awards, a spot within the Hall of Fame and a lengthy profession as an Orioles broadcaster. He was not working Wednesday’s recreation, however he has intently adopted Means’s rise from an 11th-round draft selection in 2014 to an unlikely spot on the opening day roster 5 years later.

“I sat with him at his locker in 2019 and he said, ‘You know, I wasn’t one of the real highly touted prospects, so I could kind of always fly under the radar,’” Palmer stated. “Until he made the club — and it all started that first weekend. He pitched three or four innings in relief up in Yankee Stadium, against their A lineup, and they didn’t have a chance. I think he threw a hanging changeup and Gary Sanchez hit a solo home run. That was it.”

Means, 28, has not hung many changeups since. He made the All-Star Game that summer season and was the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, going 12-11 with a 3.60 earned run common. This season he’s 4-Zero with a 1.37 E.R.A.

Last season, although, was wrenching: Means misplaced his father, Alan, to pancreatic most cancers in August. On Wednesday, as he ready to safe the no-hitter, Means thought of his dad.

“I looked in my glove right before I went out there for the ninth, it had his initials on it, and I said to myself, ‘He wouldn’t care, he’s just glad that I’m having a good time,’” Means stated. “The accolades and everything like that never mattered to him.”

Even so, Means stated, it took him a second to compose himself towards Dylan Moore, the leadoff hitter within the ninth.

“I got a little bit of the Jell-O legs, started to feel a little wobbly,” he stated. “But once I threw that first pitch, I was able to lock in again.”

Moore popped out to the third baseman in foul territory. Then Sam Haggerty struck out on a changeup, the weapon Means discovered from the pitching coach Chris Holt at spring coaching in 2019, the separator that vaulted him to the majors for good.

Means threw yet one more pitch, his 113th, and J.P. Crawford punched it softly on a line to shortstop Ramon Urias, ending the sport. Means had confronted the minimal 27 hitters and thrown 26 first-pitch strikes. The solely batter who reached base was Haggerty within the third inning, on a third-strike breaking ball that skipped previous catcher Pedro Severino. Haggerty made it to first with out a throw, however was then caught stealing.

It was the third nine-inning no-hitter of the 2021 season — after ones by the San Diego Padres’ Joe Musgrove and the Chicago White Sox’ Carlos Rodon in April — however Means’s efficiency was distinctive in fashionable baseball historical past: Never earlier than had a pitcher confronted solely 27 batters in a nine-inning no-hitter, with the one runner reaching base on a strikeout/wild pitch.

Only twice earlier than had a pitcher did not throw a excellent recreation regardless of dealing with the minimal 27 batters, whereas permitting no hits or walks. It occurred in 1960 to the Milwaukee Braves’ Lew Burdette, who hit a batter, and in 1990 to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Terry Mulholland, who allowed a batter to succeed in base on an error. Both runners have been erased on double performs.

Severino stated he felt “very bad” about letting the ball get by him, although he recovered by pegging Haggerty at second, very similar to the Phillies’ third baseman in 1990, Charlie Hayes, who made up for his error by lunging to spear a liner and seal Mulholland’s no-hitter.

In any case, Means was hardly upset to overlook a excellent recreation, which no pitcher has achieved since Felix Hernandez of the Mariners in August 2012. Means stated he had at all times needed to throw a no-hitter however by no means thought he may even attain the majors. As a boy, he stated, he would write “M.L.B. player” when requested at school for his life objectives, however he thought it sounded unrealistic.

“I was never that kid who had a ton of confidence in myself,” Means stated.

Then he discovered the changeup and started to determine himself. On Wednesday he explored the outer limits of his expertise, launching himself to a land no Orioles pitcher had visited for the reason that best of all of them, greater than half a century in the past.

“It’s been such a whirlwind of an experience, and I don’t think I’ve been able to process it yet,” Means stated. “But to be in the same breath as Palmer, I don’t think it gets much better than that.”

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