The time of the game was 2:11, But it really took Darryl Kile two years and live months to finish what he started.
Kile, a Houston Astro righthander, no-hit the New York Mets 7-1 on Sept. 8, striking out nine and walking only one. It was the ninth no-hitter by the Astros since their inaugural season of 1962, the most by any team in that period of time. The Astros might have had another, but on April 24, 1991, manager Art Howe lifted a rookie pitcher who, in his first major league start, had a no-hitter going after six innings against the Cincinnati Reds. The rookie was Darryl Kile.
In the locker room after Kile's no-hit gem, Howe harkened back to his earlier decision and said, "No regrets. Absolutely not. If I hadn't pulled him that time, he might have blown out his arm, and he never would have done what he did tonight. We knew Darryl had a great career ahead of him, and it was my obligation not to put him at risk. He'd already thrown 90 pitches."
Kile needed only 85 pitches to hang yet another indignity on the hapless Mets. He also needed two wonderful fielding plays in the seventh inning by the left side of his infield. With one out, third baseman Ken Caminiti made a diving grab of an Eddie Murray rope down the line. Shortstop Andujar Cedeno then went deep into the hole to snatch a ground ball and quickly threw to first to nab Joe Orsulak. "Those were two of the best plays you'll see all year," said Kile. "You can't say enough about those two guys."
Nor could Met manager Dallas Green say enough about the 24-year-old Kile. "You won't see a better breaking ball than that," said Green, "or a better-pitched game than that. He doesn't have a cheap fastball, either."
Kile, 15-6 on the year through Sunday, has made a remarkable turnaround from last season, when he went 5-10. He suffered a more personal setback in late February when his 44-year-old father, David, died of a stroke. Darryl wasn't even sure he would make the team until the final days of spring training. But working as the Astros' fifth starter, Kile pitched so well in the first half of the season that he was Houston's only representative at the All-Star Game. Then last week he threw the first no-hitter of his life and the first by a pitcher whose last name begins with K since Sandy Koufax in 1965.
Asked to put the game in perspective, Kile's catcher, Scott Servais, said, "When we're both 55 years old, hanging out on the golf course, he'll tell me he went against a call of mine to get a key out. And I'll tell him it was all my calls that did it for him." In all seriousness, Servais said Kile had his best stuff "locationwise," and Kile said Servais called an excellent game. Servais's last call was a 1-2 curveball to pinch hitter Chico Walker, who swung and missed. As Green, in the Met dugout, pointed to Kile in tribute, Servais rushed to embrace his teammate.
"Seeing Scotty run out to the mound was when it really hit home," said Kile. "I thought about my dad at that point. I was a little sad because I wish he could have seen it. But then again, I'm sure he was watching."
AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER
After the no-hit performance, the Astros embraced their Special K.