CHICAGO - By the time Cole Hamels warmed up to throw the final 17 pitches of his first career no-hitter late Saturday afternoon, the Wrigley Field shadows had made it difficult for Carlos Ruiz to identify the pitches.
To avoid jinxing a part of history, the Phillies' veteran catcher had tried not to deviate from his routine each inning. But before the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth, he ultimately decided to ditch his sunglasses.
Luckily for Hamels' longtime battery mate, it didn't backfire.
"If they got a hit, I was going to feel bad," the soft-spoken Ruiz said Sunday morning.
Ruiz's was not the only sunglasses-related drama of the first no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs in nearly 50 years. The same shadows led Odubel Herrera to toss his eyewear during his eighth-inning at-bat. After lining out to end the frame, the 23-year-old centerfielder removed his batting helmet and headed for his position.
But Herrera was missing his sunglasses, which had been placed in a different-than-usual spot in the dugout. Infielder Andres Blanco noticed and called out to Herrera. The batboy made a special delivery, causing a brief delay before Hamels began his penultimate inning.
Eleven pitches later, Herrera made the most difficult catch of the game, running down David Ross' one-out fly ball to the left-center-field gap.
"Unbelievable," Blanco said.
The following inning, before he caught the game's dramatic final out, Herrera made sure to not cause any delays. He was sporting his sunglasses when he fell down on the warning track after overrunning Kris Bryant's deep fly ball before recovering to end the 13th no-hitter in team history.
"I died for two seconds," said Ben Revere, who had replaced Cody Asche in left field for the bottom of the ninth. "When I saw him slip, my heart just stopped for a second."
"It's Odubel. That's just Odubel," Asche said. "There's no other way [to describe it]. It's like a verb."
Before Saturday, the last no-hitter at Wrigley Field was by the Cubs' Milt Pappas in 1972 against the San Diego Padres. It was the team's second of that season. Then-rookie Burt Hooton no-hit the Phillies in Chicago that April 16, the second game of the year.
"[Greg] Luzinski hit two balls to the ivy. I mean, crushed them," recalled Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa, then in his third season as the team's shortstop. "It was April, and the wind was blowing in. On even [Saturday] those balls would have been way out and they caught them right against the wall, both of them."
Bowa later played for the Cubs, from 1982 to 1985.
"It's hard to throw [a no-hitter] here because of the wind," he said. "Guys hit balls and they get knocked down, they get in the jet stream and then they take off. So when you throw one here, you're not only dealing with your good stuff, you're dealing with a lot of elements. The sun. The wind. The ivy. The brick. A lot of things are involved here."
The wind was why Bowa insisted he knew Bryant's fly ball wouldn't leave the park. He thought it was going to hit the ivy-covered wall.
"And then I saw [Herrera] stop and I went, 'Oh, [expletive],' " Bowa said. "It was almost like everything stopped in slow motion."
A few hours before Sunday's series finale, Hamels took a break from his breakfast and entered the manager's office in the visitors' clubhouse. Pete Mackanin then presented the 31-year-old lefthander with the lineup card from his finest regular-season performance.
Three copies exist of each lineup card. In this case, the Hall of Fame might request one, but Mackanin, the Phillies' interim manager, is keeping the other. Unlike other mementos hanging in his Scottsdale, Ariz., home, this one features his name where the manager signs.
Mackanin also owns authenticated and autographed copies of the lineup card from Roy Halladay's perfect game and postseason no-hitter in 2010. Each has "PM," his initials, scribbled into the lower right-hand corner, a tip from former Phillies first-base coach Sam Perlozzo.
Just in case something special happens and the card finds its way to Cooperstown.
"I snuck into the Hall of Fame," Mackanin, 63, joked Sunday of the two Halladay mementos.
The Hall has already requested one of the baseballs Hamels threw Saturday as well as the pitcher's red Phillies cap.
"That's cool," the former World Series MVP said on Sunday morning, "but unfortunately it probably smells pretty bad."
Cole Hamels' 13 strikeouts are the most by a Phillies pitcher in a no-hitter, dating to 1906.
The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter for baseball's worst team this late in the season was Joe Bush for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916.
Hamels is the fifth pitcher in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, to be involved in a combined no-hitter (last season) and throw one of his own. Vida Blue, Kent Mercker, Mike Witt, and Kevin Millwood are the others.
Hamels is the first pitcher with an extra-base hit in a no-hitter since A.J. Burnett on May 12, 2001.
Of Hamels' 17 fastballs this season to register 95 m.p.h. or faster, 14 came Saturday, according to PITCHf/x. That included the fastest pitch he has thrown this season, a 95.9 m.p.h. first-pitch ball to David Ross in the second inning. - Jake Kaplan