1964: Arrigo’s Near No-Hitter

This was originally posted at Tony, the Killer, and Carew a couple of years ago as part of a series on great Twins pitching performances.

Friday June 26, 1964
Metropolitan Stadium
Bloomington, MN

On June 26, in the midst of a stretch where they played 19 games in 16 days, the Twins looked to rookie Gerry Arrigo to make just his fifth start of the season. Arrigo did not have quite the credentials that Pascual brought into his game a few years earlier. He came into the game with a 4-1 record with a 4.33 ERA so far in 1964, though most of his appearances came in relief. His best start to that point had been a complete game victory over the New York Yankees on June 2, a game in which he walked six Yankees but struck out nine.

The Sporting News described Arrigo as a pitcher who “had to learn to control himself before he had enough control of his pitches to reach the majors”. Arrigo had developed a reputation as somewhat of a hot head in the minor leagues, particularly getting fired up when an umpire wasn’t calling a game the way he liked. That all seemed to be behind him, however, as he entered his first full season in the majors.

The first game of a double-header against the White Sox was also the first of a relatively important late June four-game series against Chicago. The two teams were separated by four games in the American League standings, with the White Sox sitting just 3.5 games behind first place Baltimore with a 36-26 record. The Twins had a 35-33 record and were 7.5 games out. A poor showing in the home series against the White Sox could mean that Minnesota’s pennant hopes would fade before July began.

The White Sox starter for game one of the series was Joe Horlen. He had faced the Twins twice in early May, earning both a win and a loss out of the bullpen. Since then Horlen had become a regular starter, and his 1964 numbers through June 26 were 4-4 with a 2.90 ERA.

Arrigo, a Chicago native, had a quick start against the Sox, retiring the first six batters he faced, three by strikeout. He ran into some trouble in the third inning, however, when he hit to batters with pitched balls. Both men were stranded, however, when he got Don Buford to ground out to end the inning.

Though Horlen had allowed two singles to the Twins, he matched Arrigo scoreless inning for scoreless inning in the early going. The Twins didn’t really threaten anything until the fifth inning, when both Bob Allison and Earl Battey singled with nobody out. A failed sacrifice attempt by Jerry Kindall with the pitcher on deck effectively ended the Twins’ inning.

Meanwhile, Arrigo continued to cruise along through the White Sox lineup. A two-out throwing error by Zoilo Versalles in the fourth inning was quickly erased when first baseman Bob Allison recovered in time to throw the runner out at second. Arrigo faced the minimum from the time he got the last out in the third inning until he had one out in the eighth, when he walked Tommy McGraw.

The Twins finally got to Horlen when Harmon Killebrew hit his 24th home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth inning. Oliva, who had doubled earlier in the inning, also scored on Killebrew’s drive to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

All that was left was for Arrigo to complete the no-hitter. Through eight, he allowed just three base runners, two of which he hit with pitches. He also had one walk and eight strikeouts. Arrigo faced Mike Hershberger, one of the two men that Arrigo had hit earlier in the game, to open the ninth inning. Hershberger and Arrigo had been teammates in the Florida Instructional League a few years earlier, so each was familiar with the opponent.

“I had been getting Hershberger out all night with sliders” said Arrigo, “So I threw him a high outside fastball. He punched it into right-center. I knew it was a hit. The only thing I could think of was that I had to win the game.” – The Sporting News 7/11/1964

Hershberger never got farther than first as Arrigo retired the final three batters he faced to complete the one-hitter.

Minnesota Twins    IP   H  R ER   BB  SO  HR    ERA
G Arrigo, W (5-1)   9   1  0  0    1   8   0   3.71
                   BF  Pit-Str   GB-FB  GmSc  IR-IS
                   31     -       8-10    92    -

Full box score and play-by-play

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