NEW YORK — The Astros pitchers were dealing on Saturday afternoon as they pitched a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 win against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. No surprise that Astros catcher Martín Maldonado was behind the plate when history was made. He showed once again why he is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball.
Maldonado was the one guiding right-hander Cristian Javier, who pitched seven innings and struck out a career-high 13 batters. Relievers Héctor Neris and Ryan Pressly pitched the final two innings. It marked the 18th time in MLB history that a team tossed a combined no-hitter.
Javier’s four-seam fastball and slider were unhittable. He said that he and Maldonado were on the same page throughout the game.
“All the pitches he was calling, I was already thinking in my head. I wanted to throw those pitches,” Javier said through interpreter Jenloy Herrera. “Thanks to God, everything worked well. Having Maldonado at the plate is important to us.”
Maldonado was aware that Javier was talented enough to be part of a combined no-hitter. Maldonado first saw the skills when Javier made his Major League debut in 2020.
“He is one of the most exciting pitchers to catch. He always keeps improving,” Maldonado said. “We call him the ‘El Reptile,’ because he doesn’t show any emotions. It doesn’t matter how big the stage — playoffs, World Series. I asked him, ‘Do you ever get scared?’ It doesn’t matter if he gives up five [runs] or throw a no-hitter. He is still the same guy.”
Maldonado seems to be in the middle of special events. On June 14, he was behind the plate when Luis Garcia and Phil Maton each threw an immaculate inning against the Rangers.
“I take a lot of pride behind the plate,” Maldonado said. “Every time you make history is amazing. … Those are memories that are going to last [a] long [time].”
Maldonado is so important behind the plate to Houston, it doesn’t matter what he is doing in the batter’s box….