Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum each throw a no-hitter in the past 10 days is pretty special. However, it's not nearly as special as what the Lynchburg Hillcats (Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) have been able to accomplish over the past two days. In consecutive games on Thursday and Friday, Hillcat pitchers have combined to throw no-hitters against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals affiliate).The fact that we've witnessed
On Thursday, starter Lucas Sims delivered seven no-hit innings in their 5-1 victory. He did allow an unearned run to go along with six strikeouts and four walks. Reliever Alex Wilson struck out three and walked two over the final two frames to finish off part one of the double no-nos.
On Friday, Cody Scarpetta was simply dominant for seven innings, allowing only a walk while striking out seven in a 5-0 win. Benino Pruneda would follow with two hitless innings to finish part two. But it almost wasn't to be. With two outs and two strikes, Jared Schlehber hit a ball that was described to have home run distance, but hooked foul by mere feet. Pruenda struck him out one pitch later to complete part two.
The moment that out was recorded and catcher Tyler Tewell — who was behind the plate for the entirety of both games — charged the mound to celebrate, the focus of many went directly to what this means historically.
It's believed to be the first time in Carolina League history in which a team has thrown no-hitters on consecutive days against the same opponent, although consecutive no-nos on the same day has happened before, oddly enough. On May 15, 1966, Rocky Mount pitched no-hitters in both games of a doubleheader against Greensboro, with Dick Drago working the opener and Darrell Clark the nightcap. Both of those contests were seven innings, though.
Fascinating and impressive, but we'll give the nod to Lynchburg for going the distance in both games. Even if both were combined efforts, it doesn't take away from their rare accomplishment. Besides, combined no-hitters are fairly common in the minors anyway, mostly because teams have strict pitch counts on their younger pitchers. That would definitely apply to Scarpetta in this case, as he's currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery.
Another interesting note on Scarpetta. He admitted following the game that the no-hit streak was on his mind pretty much from the beginning of the game.
"Honestly, every inning I went out there, I was thinking, 'Well that's 11 consecutive innings of no hits ... that's 12 ... '" he said. "Every pitch, it's kind of in your head. But once I got out there, I was locked in and trying to make my pitches."
Not many pitchers would admit that, but Scarpetta's focus was obviously razor sharp.
On the other side of the ledger, Wilimington has to deal with being no-hit on consecutive days. In fact, their hitless streak is now at 20 2/3 innings dating back to Wednesday. Despite the presence of two top Royals prospects — Bubba Starling and Raul Mondesi Jr. — they're hitting a league worst .222 as a team this season, so this isn't a sudden issue for them.
They'll look to get off the schneid, or at least gain some confidence, against the Salem Red Sox on Saturday. Meanwhile, Lynchburg will go for the most improbable third straight no-hitter at home against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
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