Umpire Brian Runge with 2 no-hitters called in '12
Amid the chaos of the starter leaving with an injury, a two-base throwing error, three walks and five pitching changes, Brian Runge wasn't paying attention to the history the Seattle Mariners were making.
When six Mariners pitchers tossed the 10th combined no-hitter in major league history Friday night, Runge found his own chapter in the annals of baseball umpires.
Runge was the home plate umpire for Friday's no-hitter in the Mariners' 1-0 win over the Dodgers. And he was behind the plate April 21 in Seattle when the White Sox's Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in baseball history.
Runge is the first umpire since Drew Coble in 1990 to be behind the plate for two no-hitters in one season.
''It's an amazing story, just to be a part of it and be on the field, but then to be behind the plate both games,'' Runge said Sunday before the finale of the Mariners' series against the Dodgers. ''You can't really write that stuff. It was storybook.''
Runge has now been behind the plate for three no-hitters, the first Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter for San Francisco on July 10, 2009. Runge is in his 14th major league season and is part of the only three-generation umpiring family in baseball history. His grandfather Ed and his father Paul were both major league umps.
And all three have been behind the plate for a no-hitter.
During Humber's perfect game and during Sanchez's no-hitter, Runge said he didn't start grasping what was happening until about the eighth inning. It was the bottom of the eighth, to be exact, when Humber's perfect game starting sinking in, leading to the ''longest nine outs there was for me.''
''I had to tell myself every pitch, call the pitch, watch the pitch, almost like umpire school type thing, and I've been here 14 years now,'' Runge said.
But Friday was different. Seattle starter Kevin Millwood was perfect into the fifth when he walked Juan Rivera to open the inning. At that point, Runge said he was fully aware of what was happening. Out of character, he was keeping an eye on the scoreboard. He felt Rivera's walk was the best thing for him because it took away a little of the perfect game pressure.
Two innings later, with Millwood still having not given up a hit, the game took a decidedly unconventional turn. Millwood threw one warmup pitch to start the seventh and realized he had strained a groin muscle. Seattle then cycled through five relievers to close it out, but they didn't make it easy, twice giving the Dodgers scoring chances on a two-base throwing error by Charlie Furbush in the seventh and two walks by Stephen Pryor to start the eighth.
Each time Seattle's staff worked through the jam. They finished off the no-hitter with Tom Wilhemlsen working a 1-2-3 ninth.
The closest thing to a debatable call was when Ted Barrett called Dee Gordon out at first in the ninth on a bang-bang play where even slow motion television replays had a hard time deciding if Gordon was safe or out.
''It was just a great experience, the whole thing,'' Runge said.