Upon throwing his perfect game, Philip Humber also threw the 18th no-hitter in White Sox history. The 2 previous were thrown by Mark Buehrle, of course, and many fans will remember that things didn’t go too well for the team as far as the standings go after that. There’s nothing to that, really, just something of note. Another thing that a superstitious fan base can point to when a season goes awry. I was curious, though. Does this sort of thing happen a lot? Does a stellar no-hit performance create an instant peak for the season that the team can only tumble down from? I decided to have a look at White Sox performances following the no-hitters in the last 30 years to see how often the team really declined in performance “as a result”.
Joe Cowley (no, no, not that Joe Cowley) – September 19, 1986
This is a bad one to start off with, as the season is clearly in hand by the time Joe’s no-no occurred. For a team that started off the season losing 10 of their first 12 and never got to .500 at any point, it would be tough to be any worse following the no-hitter. BUT! The Sox did manage to lose the next 5 games and finished the season 6-9(.400) post no-no against a 66-81 up to and including the no-hitter (.449). Technically, they did get worse but in reality I think we have to call this a wash. *Interesting note: Joe Cowley never won another major league game after his no-hitter.
Wilson Alvarez – August 11, 1991
Alvarez was just a kid when he threw a no-hitter in 1991 at 21 years old. The Sox were on their way to a 2nd place finish behind the eventual world champion Minnesota Twins. Up to and including the Alvarez gem the White Sox went 65-45 (.591). After, just 22-30 (.423) which includes the dropping of 15 out of their next 17 in the games immediately following. Yikes. They were 1 game back at the time but that’s as close as they’d get. That no-no was the turning point in the season that knocked the Sox off the pace of a divisional championship. *Interesting note: of the 14 White Sox pitchers that threw no-hitters to that point, none of them were left handed. Alvarez was the first.
Mark Buehrle – April 18, 2007
Very nearly a perfect game, Buehrle only walked one batter, former White Sox Sammy Sosa who he would then pick off of first to end up facing the minimum 27 batters for the game. Up to and including that game, the Sox went 6-7 (.462) and after it was 66-83 (.443). Technically it’s worse but not by much. 2007 was such a train wreck of a season for the Sox and with the no-hitter coming so early that people tend to give his feat of excellence credit for the season crumbling. The only reason it didn’t crumble sooner was lack of games played. For the record the Sox also won the next 3 games.
Mark Buehrle – July 23, 2009
Buehrle’s second no-no but my first caught in person. Not like, Ramon Castro caught, but I was there. This is the game that gets pointed to as a curse on the season. Buehrle’s perfecto put the Sox into a tie for first place. The next day they dropped both ends of a doubleheader in Detroit sliding 2 games behind the pace. They hung around for another couple weeks before just melting into non-threats. The record before of 50-45 (.526) and the after of 29-38 (.433) is clearly a cliff dive.
It’s worth noting that in July of 1990, Melido Perez threw an unofficial no-hitter in a rain shortened game against the Yankees. The Sox were 49-31 (.613) at the time and finished the season 45-37 (.549), still good but not quite as good as before. Incidentally that Jeff Torborg lead Sox team’s record of 94-68 outperformed their Pythagorean record by quite a bit (87-75).
So what have we learned? No hitter’s are relatively rare but for non-playoff teams, declines in the latter stages of the season aren’t. At the time of this writing the White Sox have managed 2 straight victories following Philip’s perfect performance and hope to build upon that. No-hitter curses? I don’t think they exist. **writer is tackled by R.O.U.S.**