A little-known right-hander from Brooklyn retired the first 14 Milwaukee Brewers batters Friday night, reaching the halfway point of what no New York Met has done before him – pitch a no hitter.
Nelson Figueroa lost the perfect game with two outs in the fifth, walking Corey Hart on four pitches.
Mets announcer Ron Darling nearly committed the unthinkable at this point, but he stopped himself short. Referring to Nelson’s large family contingent on hand at Shea, Darling said: “Well, I wonder if the Figueroas were dreaming a little bit of something crazy there, but of course the walk … back to get Hardy.”
Careful there Ron. If we’re going to break this streak, we can’t go talking about it on air!
The next batter J.J. Hardy stepped in the box, and Figueroa gave up a line-drive double down the third-base line.
If Figueroa could have completed the feat, it would have came on the 46th anniversary of the Mets’ first game, when Roger Craig gave up a first-inning single to left to the St. Louis Cardinals’ Julian Javier starting a no no hitters streak that would last 7,329 games and counting.
Friday night’s game (Mets win 4-2) was Figueora’s first start for the Mets, and he was brilliant. In six innings of work, Figueroa gave up two runs and two hits, while walking two and striking out six. The bullpen held the Brewers hitless, with Joe Smith, Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner all getting it done.
Figueroa, 33, was originally drafted by the Mets (1995, third round) but broke into the Majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching his first game in 2000.
The Brandeis University graduate bounced around with several organizations – the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals. After suffering a rotator cuff injury, Figueroa played in Mexico and Taiwan. Figueroa was the MVP of the 2007 Taiwan Series CPBL championship series, winning three games for the Uni-President Lions.
His father, Nelson Figueroa Sr., spoke to SNY sideline reporter Kevin Burkhardt during the bottom of the fourth inning after watching his son retire the first 12 batters. The lifelong Met fan said, “This is a dream come true. I died and went to heaven.”