Generally one bad pitch is all that seperates a pitcher from a chance at history. On Thursday night, it was one shake of Eddie Butler's head.
The Rockies' No. 10 prospect took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, finishing with eight one-hit innings as Class A Asheville defeated Lexington, 3-0.
Butler kept the Legends lineup out of the hit column for the first six innings, then took Michael Antonio to a 1-2 count. After Antonio fouled off three straight pitchers, he singled on the seventh pitch to end Butler's no-hit bid.
"I mixed up the call," the Virginia native said. "We got ahead of him real quick and I shook the catcher [Tom Murphy] off to put doubt in [Antonio's] mind. Me and the catcher mixed up the signals and that was my fault. I threw the sinker right down the middle of the plate. It was a bad pitch from the start, he got enough of it to get it out of the infield."
The 22-year-old right-hander, who was selected as a supplemental first-round pick in the first round of last year's Draft, struck out four and walked two in the longest outing of his career. In this day and age of pitch limits, innings limits and piggyback systems, it's not often a prized pitching prospect works as deep into the game as Butler did Thursday.
"It's a good feeling to be able to go out there and throw eight innings and get a lot of groundballs and save innings for the bullpen," he said.
The Radford University product recorded 14 ground-ball outs, including two double plays. A sinkerball pitcher by nature, Butler is a perfect fit for an organization which often finds baseballs flying out of its Major League park.
"The big league club being in Denver, keeping the ball down, that's one of their biggest concerns," he said. "I think it was a perfect match for what they were looking for. Hopefully it works for me and gets me up quicker because I already have a good sinker."
Overall this season, Butler is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in five starts for Tourists. South Atlantic League hitters are batting .122 against him and have yet to take him deep this season.
Raul Fernandez allowed a hit in a scoreless ninth to record his seventh save for Asheville.
Matt Argyropoulos was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the Tourists.
Christian Binford allowed two runs on six hits and struck out eight over seven innings to fall to 1-2 for the Legends.