There are many unwritten rules in baseball. Don't talk to a pitcher during a perfect game, be sure to step over the foul line rather than on it and never bunt in an attempt to break up a no-hitter.
Rancho Cucamonga's James Baldwin apparently wasn't aware of that last rule Friday night or he chose to ignore it, ending Kendry Flores' no-hit bid with a bunt single in the sixth inning. The Giants' No. 20 prospect was unfazed as he pitched Class A Advanced San Jose to a 3-2 win over the Quakes.
"He was outstanding. He was in complete control from start to finish, very composed in his first night in the California League," Giants pitching coach Mike Couchee said of Flores. "He was able to locate all his pitches for strikes, kept them off-balance, he had everything working and it really showed."
The 22-year-old right-hander cruised through the first five innings, issuing just one walk while striking out four. Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Baldwin slid his left hand to the barrel of the bat and stopped Flores from making history. Couchee wasn't sure if Flores knew just how well his outing was going but said he appeared comfortable throughout.
"I kind of hope and expect to see [this season] what we saw out of him tonight," Couchee said. "Always a question mark to see a young kid in a new league, but he was impressive. I wasn't surprised, but very happy."
Robbie Garvey followed Baldwin and also tried to bunt, but Flores snared his popup. After Baldwin stole second, the native of the Dominican Republic ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, including Dodgers top prospect Corey Seager.
In the seventh, Flores (1-0) lost the shutout on a leadoff homer by Steven Proscia. After retiring the next three batters, he retired for the night, totaling six strikeouts over seven two-hit innings.
Last season for Class A Augusta, Flores recorded a career-high 15 strikeouts over eight innings on Aug. 21 against Lexington. He spent the whole year with the GreenJackets, going 10-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 22 starts and holding South Atlantic League foes to a .216 average.
Flores outlasted rehabbing Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett, who exited early with an injury that occurred while fielding a bunt.
"I think it's huge for not only him but for the rest of the guys to face Josh Beckett," Couchee said. "To go up against Josh Beckett in his first California League game, it's a huge confidence boost for him."
Julio Urias, a 17-year-old left-hander who's the Dodgers' third-ranked prospect, made a strong Cal League debut, allowing one hit and four walks while striking out five over four innings. He posted a 2.48 ERA in 18 Midwest League starts last season.
"For a 17-year-old kid to pitch in this league alone is unheard of, but he did really well," Couchee said. "He looked nervous when he first got out there, but when he settled in, he was impressive. And [he's] got good secondary pitches to back up his tough fastball."
Rancho Cucamonga got within 3-2 in the ninth on an RBI double by Pratt Maynard, but Tyler Mizenko struck out Chris Jacobs and Brandon Dixon and got Adam Law to pop up for his first save.
Elliott Blair and Mitch Delfino homered and Blair also legged out a triple for the Giants.