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The no-hitter that never was: Rays pitchers unofficially no-hit Indians in shortened doubleheader game

Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined for seven hitless innings to blank the Cleveland Indians.
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays starter Collin McHugh ptiches against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning in the second baseball game of a doubleheader Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.(AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rays fell short of making team history Wednesday. The only things that stood in their way were a tropical storm and a brand new rule introduced this season.

Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined for seven hitless innings to blank the Cleveland Indians. It was the second of two games that were played that afternoon, meaning those final two precious innings needed to make the no-hitter official were not coming. 

In 2021, doubleheaders are no longer 9 innings. Instead, each game is only 7 innings. It was a rule Major League Baseball carried over from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. 

Tough luck, but what makes Wednesday's win even more bitter than sweet is that the doubleheader wasn't even scheduled to happen. Tampa Bay had Elsa to thank for that. 

The Rays and Indians were supposed to play one 9-inning game on Tuesday and another on Wednesday. However, the potential impacts of Elsa forced the league to cram both into one day. 

Collin McHugh, Josh Fleming, Diego Castillo, Matt Wisler and Pete Fairbanks combined for the hitless performance. They now join Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner as the only two unofficial no-hitters of 2021.

Why is it unofficial? Well, MLB’s eight-man committee on statistical accuracy decided in 1991 that a no-hitter was a game of nine or more innings that ended with no hits.

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