Tonight I had the chance to not only cover my first no hitter, but watch my first no hitter. It was easily one of the most memorable games I’ve been to.
Prior to the game I noticed that the Durham lineup was almost entirely left-handed. That’s actually something I noticed Saturday, as Durham only has one healthy right hander. That already made it a favorable matchup for Wilson.
Around the fourth inning, after one time through the lineup, I started thinking about the no hitter. Wilson was dealing. He didn’t have his control issues that can often plague his starts. He was dominating the left handed heavy lineup, blowing them away with his fastball, and fooling them with his curve.
Around the sixth inning it became apparent that Wilson wouldn’t go all the way. That’s what happens when you end up with nine strikeouts. You rack up a big pitch count.
Minor league ball is kind of interesting. I have no interest in the individual teams or their records. My focus on this site has always been on the individual prospects, focusing on their overall development and how they project as major league players. Sometimes that development comes at the expense of minor league wins. Sometimes that comes at the expense of individual records.
It’s totally understandable to me that any team would pull a prospect who is over 100 pitches in the 8th inning, regardless of whether there’s a no hitter involved. But the people who only focus on the minor league team don’t focus on the big picture. They’re focused on that one team, which makes it absurd that a player would be pulled during a no hitter. The reaction tonight was expected, with the fans booing, and the majority of the press box in shock that Wilson was lifted.
But it made sense. At his pace, Wilson would have probably ended up with 135-140 pitches if he would have gone all the way. As good as the no hitter was, it’s not as great as eventually pitching in the majors, and that’s what is at risk if Wilson does stay in the game.
The real test was when Jose Diaz came in the game. That’s not anything about Diaz. It’s just that this was the first right-hander to pitch on the day. He faced two batters, with two fly outs. One of them might have landed for a hit had it not been for the range from Starling Marte. After that it looked easy, with Doug Slaten, another left hander, coming on to close it out against three left handers. But even then it took a great effort by Anderson Hernandez on a slow roller to second to get the final out.
The end result was an amazing performance. It’s a performance that’s bigger than team affiliations. Yesterday Rudy Owens pitched a gem, but I was the only person talking to him, with the Durham writers in the Durham locker room. Today, everyone’s number one priority was Wilson, Durham writer or not.
Overall tonight showed why no hitters are special. I can’t think of any other time where you get the opposing crowd cheering for you, to the point where they boo the decision to lift a pitcher — and boo for several minutes. Not many events will get opposing writers and opposing team employees pulling for the pitcher that is dominating their team. And not many events will lead to the home media making the visiting pitcher their number one post game priority. It’s a rare event, but after covering a no hitter, and seeing how everyone reacted, especially in an opposing ball park, I have a much greater appreciation for that rare event.
New Coupon Codes
As announced last week, there will be discount codes on the Pirates Prospects books, based on the performance of players in the minor league system.
The minor league system hit 13 homers this week. The code “HOME RUN” gives you $0.50 off per home run, which is a savings of $6.50. Use the code on the products page of the site to get your discount. Expires Sunday 5/6 at 11:59:59 PM EST.
There’s also a code for $4 off because Jameson Taillon struck out four batters. But you can only use one code, so I’m guessing this one will be ignored.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost 4-3. Game story here.
**Prospect Watch: Not only did Indy have a no hitter, but Jameson Taillon pitched six shutout innings.
**Prospect Notebook: Stetson Allie was demoted this week, and Tony Sanchez is working on his throws.