ARLINGTON, Texas — Corey Kluber stopped for a moment before his first pitch of the ninth inning.
"I had to take a breath after the warmups and calm myself down a little bit," said the pitcher nicknamed Klubot for his robot-like demeanor.
Kluber then finished Major League Baseball's sixth no-hitter this season and second in two nights, leading the New York Yankees over the Texas Rangers 2-0 on Wednesday.
"It was a lot of fun; I think it was a special night," Kluber said. "I've never been part of one, witnessed one, let alone thrown one."
There have been four no-hitters in a 15-day span. The six total are the most this early in an MLB season.
The 35-year-old right-hander pitched his gem a night after Detroit Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull threw one against the Seattle Mariners, marking the first no-hitters on consecutive days since 1969, when the Cincinnati Reds' Jim Maloney threw one on April 30 and the Houston Astros' Don Wilson followed on May 1. There were two no-hitters on June 29, 1990, by the Los Angeles Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela and the Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart.
Kluber came within a four-pitch walk to former Calhoun (Georgia) High School standout Charlie Culberson in the third inning of throwing a perfect game.
"I don't really do too much with what-ifs. Obviously I would've like to not walk a guy on four straight pitches," Kluber said. "That being said, at that point in the game, it's still 0-0, so my thoughts after that walk were try to get out of the inning without allowing a run."ROA
Kluber (4-2) struck out nine batters. The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner threw 71 of 101 pitches for strikes in his ninth start for the Yankees, lowering his ERA to 2.86 and winning his fourth straight decision.
With his fastest pitch at 92.5 mph, he mixed 31 curveballs, 27 cutters, 23 sinkers, 18 changeups and two four-seam fastballs.
"I had butterflies in that ninth inning, I'm getting a little emotional now — even just getting to witness that was was really, really special," manager Aaron Boone said. "And to see his teammates and the excitement of everyone for Corey and just the excitement for themselves being a part of such a thing. What a performance."
Kluber was pitching on that same mound when he was hurt after one inning last season, when he tore a muscle in his right shoulder on July 26 in his Rangers debut. He said he didn't even think about that until after the game when Robinson Chirinos, the former Rangers catcher now on the Yankees' taxi squad, mentioned that it was better than his previous start in the $1.2 billion stadium.
That was the second straight shortened season for Kluber, whose 2019 season with the Cleveland Indians ended May 1 when he was hit on the forearm by a comebacker. He left the Rangers as a free agent to sign an $11 million, one-year deal with the Yankees.
Right fielder Tyler Wade made a running catch of pinch-hitter David Dahl's fly ball for the second out in the ninth inning before Willie Calhoun's game-ending groundout to shortstop Gleyber Torres in his first game back after being on the COVID-19 injured list. Wade entered in the third inning after Ryan LaMarre injured a hamstring.
Boone, whose dad Bob caught Los Angeles Angels pitcher Mike Witt's no-hitter at Texas in 1984, said he got nervous on the ball Dahl hit, thinking it was going to get down the line. Then he noticed what a good jump Wade had gotten.
"I knew I was going to catch it," Wade said. "I didn't know if I was going to have to dive, or catch it like I did. But I knew I was going to catch it."
Wade said he wasn't sure because he was unable to hear the bat off the ball with a screaming crowd of 31,689 — many of them Yankees fans.
Kluber said that was one of the few balls hit during the game that he thought might fall for a hit.
"His closing speed was pretty impressive," Kluber said.
The first no-hitter of the season was also at Texas. On April 9, Joe Musgrove held the Rangers in check for the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history.
"It stinks," Culberson said. "It's baseball. No-hitters happen. There's been a lot so far this year. Unfortunate for us that we've been a part of two of them. It just shows you how good these pitchers are, these teams are and what they're doing."
This was the fifth no-hitter against the Rangers.
It was the 12th no-hitter in Yankees history, the 11th in the regular season and the first since David Cone's perfect game against the Montreal Expos on July 18, 1999. It was New York's first on the road since Allie Reynolds at Cleveland on July 12, 1951.
"We expected some outings like that in our ballpark, unfortunately not against us," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "I can't say enough good things about him. I'm not surprised by this guy's success. I've watched this guy go through his routine and the work he puts in."
New York got its runs in the sixth inning when Kyle Higashioka had a leadoff walk and scored on a triple by Wade. DJ LeMahieu followed with a sacrifice fly against Hyeon-Jong Yang (0-1).
That was about the time Kluber really started thinking about a no-hitter.
"After that point, we had gotten a couple of runs ... makes it a little easier to kind of pound the strike zone and know you have that run support in your back pocket," he said.
Before getting hurt in 2019, Kluber was a 20-game winner in 2018, and he had thrown at least 203 innings with 222 strikeouts each season from 2014 to 2018. He was the Cy Young winner in 2014 and 2017.
"Obviously wish this guy well," Woodward said, "but I didn't wish him that well."
The four no-hitters in May are the most in a month since June 1990. It is also the first time three three teams have been no-hit twice in one season, with the Rangers joining the Indians and the Mariners.
Given the drama, even Amanda Kluber took a look.
"She doesn't like to watch too much," the pitcher said of his wife, "but she turned it on in the last inning to watch the end of it."