SN investigates: If a no-hitter is thrown in spring training, does it even matter?

Three Yankees allowed no hits on Friday's matchup with the Tigers. But if it's spring training, does it even matter?

LAKELAND, Fla. — Three Yankees pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter Friday in a spring training game against the Tigers, which is pretty cool.

I mean, I think it’s cool. Right?

It’s hard to know, because it’s spring training. Few results really matter in spring training. Down here, it’s more about the process — getting ready for the start of the year for the veterans and just getting better for the prospects. Actual numbers and results are red herrings.

For the record, Masahiro Tanaka started for the Yankees and went 4 1/3 innings — extending his spring brilliance (he still has an 0.00 ERA) — and Chasen Shreve finished that fifth inning. Jordan Montgomery, wearing No. 90 because it’s spring and of course he was wearing No. 90, pitched the final four innings of the game. The Yankees won, 3-0.

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“I’m happy for our guys,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They pitched well, we played really good defense behind them, and it was fun.”

Back to the “Does it matter?” question. On one hand, spring training no-hitters are pretty darn rare. According to this website, Friday’s outing was only the 25th spring no-no, dating back to 1939, when the Reds and Pirates tossed the the first two no-hitters.

That’s 25, in 78 years. Rare. Personally, I know I was pretty excited. I covered four first-round games of the NCAA Tournament in Orlando on Thursday and didn’t see a buzzer-beater.

The no-hitter was a very nice surprise, an unexpected substitute for the lack of thrill on the college basketball court. I’ll remember it for a long time. Those involved in the actual game will, too.

Well, maybe. I asked Girardi after the game if he’d ever been involved with anything like this.

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“In spring? I don’t know. I don’t think so,” he said.

Then, a thought occurred to him. “How many hits did we give up the other night, one?” he asked as he looked at the gathered media members for help.

“The night Michael started? We didn’t give up many that night, either.”

Quick background: Michael Pineda threw five hitless innings against the Phillies on Wednesday, then Aroldis Chapman followed with another hitless frame. Freddy Galvis led off the seventh with a single against Yankees reliever Chad Green, but that was Philadelphia’s only hit of the game.

Memory in hand, Girardi turned back to me with a grin and said, “So, yeah, I guess so.”

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Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was asked the same thing a few minutes later.

“I have no idea. I may have been,” he said. “It’s not the type of thing you really worry about. It’s not the type of thing you really remember.”

He stopped, and another writer asked a question, but Ausmus went back to the no-hit thing.

“When I was playing, to be honest with you, a lot of times I left after five innings, and I don’t know if we were no-hit,” he said with a laugh. “The guys who left today might not even know.”

Only in spring training could players play in a no-hitter — one of the most celebrated events in baseball — and not even know it until well after the final out.

For what it’s worth, Ausmus said the players still in the stadium were very aware what was happening as the game evolved. “It’s on the radar. There’s pride involved,” Ausmus said. “You don’t want to get no-hit, whether it’s spring training or regular season, Wiffle Ball in the back yard.”

Two thoughts on that: I know I’ve never been no-hit in Wiffle Ball, and I know I’ll have a definitive answer should anyone ever ask me if I’ve seen a no-hitter in spring training.

Now, fingers crossed for a buzzer-beater or two on Saturday.

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