July 15, 2012

The last time I wrote this column, I covered a no-hitter that wasn’t a shutout. Well, here’s another one. This one was decidedly less crazy, however (no doubleheader, no colossal innings without an extra-base hit, no combined no-hitter).

Eight years ago today, Aeros starter Giovanni Soto got back to individual .500 (6-6) on the season with a nine-inning no-hitter in which he allowed an unearned run and needed only 104 pitches (64 of them strikes) to face one batter above the minimum (walks in the second and seventh frames were neutralized by double plays in the ensuing plate appearance) while striking out six. The lone run he allowed came in the sixth, when Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates) 2B Jarek Cunningham to lead off the inning. C Ramon Cabrera followed with a flyout to center that advanced Cunningham to second and then to third on a throwing error by Akron CF Tyler Holt. 3B Kelson Brown grounded out 4-3 in the next at-bat for the second out, but also the RBI to bring the Curve within one of the Mallards of Main Street.

A rarity that is easy to overlook in the shadow of something as momentous as a no-hitter is that this was a double complete game in a nine-inning affiliate minor league contest. Curve starter Phil Irwin pitched eight innings (no bottom of the ninth was necessary as the baseball was being played on the Corner of State and Main this Sunday afternoon), allowing only two runs (one earned) on five hits and a hit batter while recording six strikeouts of his own. His strike percentage was even higher than Soto’s at 71 strikes in 100 pitches. As you might have guessed from the pitching lines, this was a speedy game. In fact, it didn’t even take two hours (1:57) to play. The 3:04 PM finish meant even those fans who drove down from Cleveland could get home in time for dinner.and a SS who was only months

The Aeros struck early for their first run when Holt, who was hitting leadoff, stole third and then scored when Brown botched the throw on what should’ve been an inning-ending groundout. The earned run came three innings later, when C Michael Hernandez grounded to third, this time for a single, to score RF Thomas Neal (the man who reached on the first-inning run-scoring error).

The Altoona lineup Gio no-hit included some notable names, including an outfield full of future Tribe farmhands – CF Robbie Grossman, LF Drew Maggi, and RF Quincy Latimore (who would be in the home dugout at Canal Park the next summer) – and a shortstop who was only months from being traded to the Boston Red Sox named Brock Holt (who was one of the two other men to reach base (besides Cunningham).


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.