On September 19, Industriales pitcher David Mena walked three of the first four batters in the game against Villa Clara. However, such is the inexact nature of baseball that the right-hander from Havana ended up being the protagonist of the 54th no-hit game in Cuba’s national series.
Mena prevented Villa Clara from making runs and base hits in the Sandino stadium. His work however, was limited to five innings, after play was suspended due to rain; which has led many to question the validity of this game as a no-hitter.
According to Carlos del Pino, National Baseball Directorate statistician, the Mena game is considered a no-hitter despite being suspended prematurely because, firstly: the host team had played at least five innings making the game official, while the game could also be called off if one of the two teams has an insurmountable lead by the end of the fifth inning.
Del Pino explained that there are other regulations which can see games suspended before the ninth inning in Cuba, such as the mercy rule – which ends a game earlier than the scheduled endpoint if one competitor has a very large and presumably insurmountable lead over the other. Although not used in the U.S. or Japanese major leagues, the rule is recognized by the World Baseball and Softball Confederation.
Speaking to Granma International via telephone, Mena said that he was happy to have entered the history books, but wasn’t paying much attention to his no-hitter against Villa Clara. “I started the game a little erratic because I hadn’t thrown for 17 days due to obligatory rest and suspended games following the hurricane, but I sorted myself out and began to dominate.
“I knew that I hadn’t given up any base hits, but I’m not sure if the game would have ended the same way (had it not been suspended), as Villa Clara is a strong rival and any of its players could have shattered the illusion,” stated the right-hander.
It’s logical that some might doubt the validity ofDavid Mena’s no-hit game, after all in MBL rules, since 1991 this description is only applicable if the pitcher (or pitchers) has played at least nine innings. After the rule was implemented 25 years ago, 36 “no-hit” games which were suspended before the ninth inning due to rain, failing light, or any other reason, were struck from the record books.
The list, which features 13 games from the 19th century and 17 from the first half of the 20th, also includes 15 which were called off in the fifth inning, just like Mena’s.
MLB was categorical in removing these cases, also stripping records from other players such as Charlie Geggus (1884- Washington Nationals), Hank Gastright (1890-Columbus Solons), Fred Frankhouse (1937-Brooklyn Dodgers), who kept the scoreboard blank through the eighth inning before rain, failing light, or mutual agreement, saw their games suspended.
Meanwhile, Mena’s isn’t the only no-hitter in the history of Cuba’s National Series, to end before the ninth inning.
In 1987 Rogelio García from Pinar del Río made the first of his two no-hit games, knocking out Camagüey in seven innings (10-0) in the Selective Series.
This feat was then repeated by Orlando “The Duke” Hernández (1990-Ciudad Habana 11-0 vs. Matanzas), Osvaldo Fernández (1992-Holguín 10-0 vs. Metropolitanos), and José Antonio Barroso (2005-Ciego de Ávila 10-0 vs. Cienfuegos), leading the pitching.
The same has also been seen in important international competitions such as the World Series, where Dutch pitcher Shairon Martis was responsible for a seven inning no-hitter, during the first edition of the event against Panama, which lost 10-0.
Although it might be difficult for some to accept Mena’s game as a no-hitter due simply to the length of the encounter, we can neither deny nor erase it from the record books.
On the contrary it’s important to note that Mena’s achievement marks the end of almost four years without any no-hit games in domestic competitions, after Freddy Asiel Álvarez’s, on November 9, 2013.
It also broke the 35 year curse on Industriales pitchers, who last secured a no-hitter on January 16, 1982, when Ángel Leocadio Díaz prevented Holguín from scoring, to win 2-0.