Buehrle, Sanchez achieve rare feat

Buehrle, Sanchez achieve rare feat

We all know it takes a remarkable combination of skill, luck and a few breaks going your way to achieve that rare no-hitter -- or that even rarer perfect game. Yet every so often it seems as if the stars align to allow fans to enjoy the thrill more than once in a fortnight.

Looking back over the 263 no-hitters, including the 18 perfect games, dating back to the very first one, thrown on July 15, 1876, by George Bradley in a 2-0 St. Louis victory over Hartford, there have been fewer than 40 instances of more than one no-hitter being thrown within a two-week span.

And even more remarkably, perhaps, this month's double-dip of Buehrle's gem on July 23 and San Francisco Giants hurler Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter against San Diego on July 10 marks the first time two have been thrown within two weeks since 1996, the longest such drought since Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters in June 1938 snapped a streak dating back to 1923.

In fact, there have been two full seasons in which baseball did not see a no-hitter thrown -- 2000 and 2005 -- since fans enjoyed the thrilled of Florida Marlins ace Al Leiter no-hitting Colorado, 11-0, on May 11, 1996, only to watch Dwight Gooden achieve the same feat on the mound for the Yankees against Seattle three nights later in a 2-0 victory.

If you want to talk about the "stars aligning" for such an event, there are two dates in baseball history which really stand out: June 29, 1990, and April 22, 1898. Those mark the only two days on which a pair of no-hitters was thrown.

Many fans remember the June event, though there are probably few around who have first-hand recollection of the second.

Dave Stewart, pitching for the Oakland Athletics on the road in Toronto, no-hit the Blue Jays, 5-0. A few hours later, on the West Coast, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Fernando Valenzuela duplicated that feat in a 6-0 win against St. Louis.

Those two no-hitters also set a record for the most no-hitters pitched in one calendar month in baseball history, a mark that has not yet been broken. Earlier in June, Randy Johnson had thrown a no-hitter on June 2 for Seattle, while Nolan Ryan had fired his sixth career no-hitter for Texas on June 11.

Stewart and Valenzuela's heroics put them in the history books with a lesser-known pair of pitchers, Jim Hughes of the Baltimore Orioles and Ted Breitenstein of the Cincinnati Reds, who also threw no-hitters on the same day.

Here are a few other interesting instances of no-hitter lore:

In the "turnabout is fair play" department, there have been two instances where a team has been no-hit by an opponent, only to return the favor the very next day. On April 20, 1969, Jim Maloney took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds and tossed a no-hitter to beat Houston, 10-0. The next day, Houston's Don Wilson no-hit the Reds, 4-0. Just one year earlier, that feat had been accomplished for the first time when Gaylord Perry no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-0, for San Francisco on Sept. 17, only to see Cards pitcher Ray Washburn do the same to his Giants, 2-0, on Sept. 18.

If you go back to early May of 1917, you'll see some nifty pitching by the St. Louis Browns as they posted no-hitters on consecutive days against the Chicago White Sox on May 5-6, with Ernie Koob getting the 1-0 win in the first game (though a hit was changed to an error by the official scorer after the fact), and Bob Groom following it up the next day, 3-0.

But no one in Major League history has yet to equal Vander Meer's feat of back-to-back no-hitters, as he blanked Boston 3-0 in June 11, 1938, and came back four days later to shut down the Brooklyn Dodgers, 6-0, on June 15.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.