MIAMI — It was baseball déjà vu for Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado on Monday night.
The Astros star was behind the plate for eight innings as he held multiple pitchers through a combined no-hitter as Puerto Rico defeated Israel, 10-0, in a mercy rule-shortened game during the World Baseball Classic.
Machete was clutch in a must-win game for Puerto Rico, as they fought to stay alive in group play after losing to Venezuela Sunday night.
Not only did he catch the combined no-hitter, but Maldonado would go on to score the final run which put the game in mercy rule territory, ending the contest in the eighth inning.
“My first perfect game. That’s the best thing for Puerto Rico, right?” said Maldonado, the Astros veteran catcher. “This is what we can do. We know about the importance of these games. I have one World Series, and to me this is one of the best tournaments that I have played in my career.”
Maldonado is the first backstop to catch multiple combined no-hitters after the Astros no-hit the New York Yankees back in June 2022. He also caught Houston's combined no-hitter in 2019.
Yacksel Ríos, Edwin Díaz and Duane Underwood Jr. closed out the win for Puerto Rico, which did not permit a baserunner. But it will not count as a perfect game in official WBC records because the game didn't go a full nine innings.
That's the standard established by the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician for Major League Baseball.