ARLINGTON, Texas — Victor Caratini is a no-no catcher.
When hometown pitcher Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter for the San Diego Padres in franchise history, Caratini became the first MLB catcher to be behind the plate for consecutive no-hitters in the league for different teams.
“He was the first one to embrace me,” Musgrove said of Caratini. “And it just felt good. I know he wanted that as bad as I did.”
While Musgrove had never thrown a no-hitter at any level, Caratini was on the receiving end last Sept. 13 when Alec Mills threw one for the Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee. The offseason acquisitions by the Padres got one together Friday night in a 3-0 win against the Rangers in Texas.
“Just super happy. I think it’s pretty rare to find yourself in those situations,” Caratini said Saturday through a translator. “Joe had everything working, had all of his pitches working. It’s really awesome. Really happy to be a part of it, really happy for him, and really happy for the team to have been able to experience that with him.”
It was only the second start with the Padres for the 28-year-old Musgrove, the only player they got back as part of a three-team, seven-player trade in January after he pitched for Pittsburgh the past three seasons.
Caratini, 27, also got to San Diego as part of a seven-player deal. The catcher came with right-hander Yu Darvish from the Cubs last December for right-hander Zach Davies and four minor leaguers.
Musgrove described Caratini as “a scientist” who was calculating between innings what they were about to face in the Rangers’ lineup, and figuring out when to be aggressive and when to try to save a few pitches. Padres manager Jayce Tingler gave Caratini credit for coaxing the big right-hander through a historic performance while certainly benefiting from the recent experience of catching another no-hitter.
“When you start to connect the dots a little bit, to have two of them now, and as quickly as he’s had them,” Tingler said Saturday. “He obviously receives well, calls a great game. … Just being able to be on the same page, and you can’t really do that without getting in a flow. And so there’s got to be a ton of trust with both sides there. And I think Victor has won over the trust of a lot of those pitchers.”
There have been 10 other times when a starting catcher caught consecutive MLB no-hitters, but all of those were for the same team, according to Elias Sports. The last was Cincinnati’s Ryan Hanigan when Homer Bailey held the San Francisco Giants without a hit July 2, 2013, after doing the same to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 28, 2012.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the last MLB team responsible for consecutive no-hitters. That was in 2014, but A.J. Ellis was behind the plate for Clayton Kershaw‘s against Colorado less than a month after Drew Butera caught Josh Beckett’s no-no against Philadelphia.
Caratini was already one of eight catchers from Puerto Rico to be part of a no-hitter, but now has joined Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez as the only ones to catch two of them.
“Super proud to be on that same list, to be in that company as Ivan. He is one of my idols,” Caratini said.
Rodriguez caught the perfect game thrown by Texas Rangers lefty Kenny Rogers in July 28, 1994, which had been the last no-hitter pitched in Arlington. That came in the inaugural season of the Rangers’ old ballpark that is just across the street from Globe Life Field, the stadium they are now in for a second season. Pudge also was on the receiving end of a Justin Verlander no-hitter in 2007 when with Detroit at Toronto.
Caratini was a second-round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2013, and went to the Cubs as part of a deadline trade the next summer. He made his big-league debut with Chicago in 2017, where he played in 246 games while catching in 130 in the past four seasons. He started five of the first eight games behind the plate for the Padres this season but wasn’t in the lineup for Saturday night’s game at Texas.
“Just hope I can keep doing a good job,” Caratini said, “and go out there and giving good performances with the team to help us win.”