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On This Date in Sports September 25, 1986: Great Scott

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Houston Astros clinch the National League Western Division with a 2-0 win over the San Francisco Giants at the Astrodome. Mike Scott, who emerged obscurity to win the Cy Young in 1986, tosses a No-Hitter in the clincher. It is the first time a division or pennant was clinched with a No-Hitter. Scott would win two games in the NLCS, winning MVP honors despite the Astros falling to the New York Mets in six games. 

Mike Scott was on April 26, 1955, in Santa Monica, California. Scott was drafted in the second round of the 1976 MLB Draft by the Mets. He made his debut in 1979 for a Mets team that was the worst in the National League. Mike Scott split his first two seasons between New York and AAA Tidewater. He was promoted to stay in 1981 but continued to struggle, compiling a 14-27 record over his first four seasons with the Mets. After four underwhelming seasons, Mike Scott was traded to the Houston Astros for Danny Heap on December 10, 1982. 

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In Houston, Mike Scott had a solid first season posting a record of 10-6. However, after going 5-11 in 1984, Scott's career was at a crossroads. He sought the advice of Roger Craig, who had retired as pitching coach with the Detroit Tigers after the World Series, citing disagreement over his salary demands. Mike Scott won 18 games in 1985, after learning the split-finger fastball from Craig. 

In 1986, Roger Craig had become manager of the San Francisco Giants, who, after losing 100 games in 1985, battled the Astros for first place in the first half of the 1986 season. As Mike Scott and the Astros led by manager Hal Lanier began to pull away, Craig accused his student of scuffing the baseball. An accusation that Mike Scott scoffed at.

The Astros were concluding a two-game series at the Astrodome on Thursday afternoon, with Mike Scott, who led the National League in ERA and strikeouts on the mound. The fading Giants had Juan Berenguer on the mound. The game did not start well for Mike Scott as he hit Dan Gladden to lead off the game. Gladden stole second but did not score as Candy Maldanado popped up to first to end the inning. While Scott dealt with his control, the Astros missed an opportunity to take an early lead as they stranded two runners in each of the first three innings. 

As Mike Scott began to find his groove, the Astros took the lead with a home run by Denny Walling in the fifth inning. The Astros extended the lead to 2-0 as Walling scored on an RBI single by Jose Cruz in the seventh inning. Scott did not allow a base runner since the second inning, issued his second walk of the game in the eighth but had history in his hand as he took the mound in the ninth inning. Mike Scott began the final inning with two strikeouts, bringing his total to 13 on the game. Will Clark was the last hope for San Francisco and grounded out to Glenn Davis unassisted at first base as the Astros won the second division title with a No-Hitter. 

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