The good news is history won’t remember this as a no-hitter.
When Oscar Mercado successfully reached first base to lead off the third inning, it was initially ruled a hit as Wander Franco and Taylor Walls collided on a ball hit to short. But it was later changed to an error, negating Cleveland’s only hit of the day. If it weren’t for the seven-inning rule — in which no-hitters do not technically count — this would have been Cleveland’s third time being no-hit this season.
Instead, thanks to the wonderful world of technicalities, this will go down as just another miserable loss in a nine-game stretch of them.
Sam Hentges almost had something resembling a good start from the mound. He pitched a stable 4.1 innings of baseball until someone hit the cartoonishly large “EJECT” button and the wheels were blown off in a fiery display. He walked Randy Arozarena, allowed a Wander Franco hit, and the Rays were off the races.
Hentges worked in his two-seamer much more than usual, especially early on. He had some good movement on it, but eventually, Rays hitters noticed that he couldn’t locate any breaking pitches to save his life and they were just waiting for anything fast that they could hit. The final result for big Samuel was three walks, three strikeouts, and four earned runs over his four-plus innings of work. His ERA on the season now sits at 8.23, and he’s arguably not Cleveland’s worst pitcher right now.
Cleveland’s offense was utterly lifeless throughout the whole game, as one may expect in a game in which there are no base hits. The six hardest-hit balls of the game came off Rays bats; the hardest hit by a Cleveland batter was Harold Ramirez’s 96.3 mph flyout to end the game.
With the trade deadline less than a month away, they are now left to do some soul-searching as they continue to fall down the well of mediocrity. They sit 42-42, eight games back of the White Sox in the division.