History isn’t always pretty. Not every no-hitter is a 15-strikeout display of unparalleled dominance. But sometimes that makes it even more special.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 2, Pawtucket Red Sox 1
Who could possibly care about the no-hitter? Kirby Yates was in serious trouble, holding a 2-0 lead with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out after a pair of walks and a sacrifice bunt. The game was in serious jeopardy and what had been a magical night through and through was about to come crashing down. Then Brandon Snyder hit a flyball to deep left-center.
Rich Thompson went back to the track and made an over-the-shoulder catch for the out, allowing a run to score but putting the Bulls just 1 out away from victory. Lefty Beliveau came into the game to face Jeremy Hazelbaker, and Beliveau struck him out to end it, and the Bulls had done it, no-hitting the Red Sox in a 2-1 victory.
Jake Odorizzi started for the Bulls and quickly set the tone for his outing in the frist two inning, retiring all six batters in order but five of the six on balls in the air. Meanwhile, the Bulls took advantage of defensive miscues against knuckleballer Stephen Wright and Pawtucket, scoring on a two walks, a wild pitch, and a Brandon Snyder error all with two outs in the first inning before two singles, a swinging bunt, and a passed ball netted them a second run in the second inning. Odorizzi’s perfect game bid ended in the 3rd on a walk to Jeremy Hazelbaker, but he was caught stealing and Odorizzi retired the next two batters in order. Odorizzi retired 7 in a row from the 3rd to the 5th before Snyder drew a 2-out walk in the 5th, but Odorizzi got Hazelbaker to line out to end that frame. Then after a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, Odorizzi allowed two 1-out walks in the 7th, but got a strikeout of Ryan Dent and a Snyder flyout to escape the jam with the no-hitter intact. Odorizzi went 7 innings allowing no runs on, of course, no hits, striking out just 3 while walking 4. Odorizzi’s groundout to flyout ratio was just 3-8 and his groundout to airout ratio was only 3-14, but Odorizzi had his fastball and all of his other pitches moving superbly and hitters couldn’t hit anything with authority. Odorizzi talked to MiLB.com about his outing after the game.
“The approach was the same as every game,” Odorizzi said. “I was just throwing the fastball and mixing in my other stuff, trying to keep guys off-balanced.
“That’s basically what we did today. I left some stuff up today, and the one or two times they hit balls decent, they were right at guys. It was one of those days when everything was going right.”
Odorizzi is certainly a pitcher capable of striking batters out–he entered the game with a 36-9 strikeout to walk ratio in 27 innings and his 39 strikeouts lead the International League–but it took an outing where his stuff was moving so well that not even he knew where it was going for him to no-hit the opposition. Just 55 of his 95 pitches were strikes, but he was certainly effectively wild on his way to a fabulous outing.
Frank De Los Santos replaced Odorizzi in the 8th but got into trouble, walking a couple batters to set up a 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs jam, but Yates came in to strike out Jonathan Diaz to end the frame. Then in the 9th, Yates walked a pair of hitters and let up Snyder’s sac fly with 2 outs, but Jeff Beliveau struck out Hazelbaker to end it as the Bulls won 2-1, no-hitting Pawtucket. Bulls pitching struck out just 6 while walking 8, but they overcame their wildness to deliver a marvelous game. The no-hitter was the first for Durham since Jason Hammel and Juan Salas combined on one on 7/16/06, the first time Pawtucket had been no-hit since all the way back in 1994 at the hands of Jose Lima, and the second that Odorizzi had been a part of, with the first being a dominant 10-strikeout, 8 inning effort at Low-A Wisconsin in the Brewers organization. The Bulls did also have somewhat offense in this one, with Wil Myers going 1 for 3 with a double and a walk and Mike Fontenot going 1 for 3 with 2 walks. It got scary at the end and the Bulls were lucky to score even a single run at the beginning before Pawtucket pitching shut them out the rest of the game–reliever Graham Godfrey has to get credit for tossing 5 shutout innings in relief of the starter Wright–but it somehow all came together. It was far from a perfect performance for the Bulls at McCoy Stadium on Sunday afternoon, but the Bulls were able to make it a special one nonetheless.
Sorry, but it’s all downhill from here. Rays minor league affiliates didn’t even win another game.
Double-A Southern League: Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 8, Montgomery Biscuits 2
Victor Mateo, who had tossed the last complete-game no-hitter in the Rays organization has seen on 7/16/11, got shelled in this one as the Biscuits lost 8-2. Mateo lasted just 3 innings allowing 7 runs on 8 hits, and the Biscuits bullpen’s effort of five 1-run innings went completely for nought as the Biscuits offense got next to nothing. Shawn O’Malley did have a great game, going 2 for 2 with a solo home run, a walk, a stolen base, and both runs scored. Mikie Mahtook drove him for the first time in the game with a single as part of a 1 for 3 day. C.J. Riefenhauser lowered his ERA on the season to just 0.46 as he worked around a hit and a walk to toss a scoreless 7th. He has struck out 17 while walking just 4 in 19.2 innings as he has been utterly unhittable, and if he pitches remotely as well as this for much longer, you have to think a promotion to Triple-A will be oncoming.
High-A Florida State League: Brevard County Manatees (MIL) 10, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
What, does the no-hitter have to be canceled out by horrific pitching elsewhere in the organization? Roberto Gomez allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings before Eliazer Suero allowed 5 more runs on 7 hits in 2 innings as this game got out-of-hand in a hurry. Alejandro Segovia did get Charlotte on the board with a 2-run homer in the 7th, and there were a few other highlights for the Stone Crabs. Jeff Malm followed up a 2-homer day on Saturday with 2 hits and a stolen base on Sunday and Willie Argo played very well in his season debut, going 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. Argo stole 17 bases to go along with a .289/.390/.396 line in 69 games between Rookie Princeton and Low-A Bowling Green last season. Some injury must have sidelined Argo up until now, but hopefully he can begin making up for lost time. The fact that the Rays are assigning him to Charlotte right off the bat has to be a good sign.
Low-A Bowling Green: Clinton LumberKings (SEA) 5, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
Not even Taylor Guerrieri could save the Hot Rods in this one as the Hot Rods blew an early 1-0 lead allowing 2 runs in the 5th and 3 more in the 6th. Guerrieri started for Bowling Green and got hit around a little bit, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings, striking out 4 while walking none and managing a 7-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Jabari Henry homered off Guerrieri in the 5th, a 2-run shot, to end his outing on a downer. Then Jose Molina came in for the Hot Rods and allowed three two-out hits in the 6th to place three runs and puts the Hot Rods down 5-2. Molina allowed only an error in the last two innings, but by then it was too late. A major issue in the low minors is infield defense, and Hot Rods pitching actually forced 19 groundballs in this game, but only 13 were converted into outs, giving Clinton additional opportunities that they were able to take advantage of. Pretty amazing that the Hot Rods forced a 13-1 groundout to flyout ratio with 3 double plays and still got hit around as much as they did, but that can certainly happen at Low-A. Luke Maile went 2 for 4 with a run scored in the loss for Bowling Green while Marty Gantt went 1 for 4 with a stolen base and an RBI. Maile is 12 for 25 (.480) with 2 homers, a double, and 5 RBI in his last six games. Further bad news in this one, though, for Bowling Green was that Andrew Toles left this game after 8 innings. Hopefully he’s not injured.