Francisco Cordova is a 5'10" right handed pitcher from Cerro Azul, Veracruz, Mexico. Born April 26th, 1972, he played four seasons in the Mexican Leagues before heading north of the border. He was initially signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1996.
Cordova joined the Pirates in April 1996 for a full season out of the bullpen. He also made six spot starts for the Pirates during that time. On June 8th, he entered an 8-8 tie with the San Diego Padres in the 12th inning, pitching three innings to earn the victory. He allowed two hits and one earned run, striking out three. He went 4-7 on the campaign with a 4.09 ERA, leading the team with 12 saves in 59 appearances. He struck out 95 batters and gave up only 20 walks in 99 innings pitched. Pittsburgh went 73-89, finishing last in the NL Central 15 games behind division winner St. Louis Cardinals.
1997 would see Cordova complete two of his 29 starts with shutouts. He went 11-8 with a 3.63 ERA, striking out 121 and walking 49 in 178.2 innings pitched. On June 23rd, he pitched a complete game two hitter, allowing two walks and striking out five as the Pirates defeated the Astros 6-0. On July 12th, he held the Astros scoreless through nine innings, allowing only two walks and striking out 10. The game was still tied at zero, and he was lifted in favor of teammate Ricardo Rincon, who walked a batter and struck out one as the Pirates took a 3-0 decision. It was the only extra inning combined no-hitter in modern-era baseball history. He faced the Astros one more time that season, allowing two hits in six innings. Houston hit .053 against him that year. The Pirates finished second in the NL Central with a 79-83 record five games behind the Astros.
Despite a losing 13-14 record, Cordova led Pirates pitchers and ranked sixth in the NL with a 5.2 wins above replacement rating in 1998. He posted a career best 3.31 ERA, also earning career highs with 220.1 innings pitched, 33 starts, three complete games, 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings, an ERA+ of 132, and 157 strikeouts. On April 23rd, he pitched a complete game five hitter, striking out eight and walking one as the Bucs took down the San Francisco Giants, 7-0. July 15th would see him allow four hits and again strike out eight over eight innings in a 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. On September 3rd, he participated in a modern day rarity, a complete game loss, striking out 10 and allowing four hits and three walks as the Arizona Diamondbacks set the Pirates back, 1-0. Pittsburgh finished in last, 33 games out of first with a 69-93 record.
In 1999, Cordova remained in the Pirates rotation for 27 starts, completing two of them. He went 8-10 with a 4.43 ERA, striking out 98 in 160.2 innings pitched. On July 7th, he pitched a complete game victory over the Cubs, striking out seven and allowing just one earned run on five hits, 4-1. August 1st would see him strike out 10 and allow a walk and five hits in a 2-1 complete game win over the Florida Marlins. Pittsburgh finished in third place, at 78-83, 18.5 games behind the Astros.
2000 would mark Cordova's last season in the Major Leagues. He went 6-8 with a 5.21 ERA, allowing a career high 10.1 hits per nine innings. In Pittsburgh's third game of the season, he struck out seven and allowed two hits and three walks over eight innings in a 10-1 win over the Astros. Cordova was sidelined by arm troubles in August, and would not again appear for the Pirates.
Cordova appeared for a game each with the "AA" Altoona Curve (six hits in 4.1 innings) and the "AAA" Nashville Sounds (two hits and two runs in one inning) in 2001. Since then, he has played with the Mexico City Tigers, the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, and the Petroleros de Minatitlan, most recently in 2011.
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 42-47, 3.96 ERA, 166 games, 112 starts, seven CG, four shutouts, 753.2 innings pitched, 755 hits allowed, walked 235, struck out 537, 1.314 WHIP, 12.6 wins above replacement.