It's not every day that a pitcher takes a perfect game into the sixth inning. Victor Diaz's performance Friday night was anything but run of the mill.
In Class A Wisconsin's 7-0 win at Quad Cities, the Brewers prospect retired the first 16 batters, ultimately allowing one hit over six innings as the Timber Rattlers won their third game in a row and 10th in the last 11.
"My focus was to be aggressive in the zone, making the hitters get themselves out and getting them to swing at my pitches as early as possible," Diaz said through a translator, Wisconsin pitching coach Elvin Nina. "Not trying to get them out in one pitch. I was just trying to get them to be overaggressive."
After recording 1-2-3 innings in each of the first five frames, the Venezuela native lost the perfecto with one out in the sixth by plunking Jake Rodriguez. Then, after getting Thomas Lindauer to pop out in foul territory, he watched the no-hitter slip away on James Ramsay's line drive single to right.
The inning ended moments later as right fielder Michael Ratterree cut down Rodriguez at third base.
"It was an aggressive pitch, down in the zone, and he was able to get a good swing on it and it got through," Diaz said of the knock that ended his no-hit bid. "The hitter did a pretty good job of hitting right there."
The 20-year-old right-hander faced one batter over the minimum, inducing four groundouts and five flyouts.
Diaz's stellar effort improved his record to 2-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.69. Over 53 2/3 innings across 13 games (seven starts) this season, he has 41 strikeouts against 24 walks.
The only player to notch a hit against him Friday came away impressed.
"He was mixing his pitches well, getting everything over, and we didn't adjust," Ramsay told the Quad-City Times. "He never gave us a chance to get anything going."
It was the third time this season that Diaz did not issue a walk. In his prior start, he issued a career-high six free passes -- with just one strikeout -- en route to surrendering five runs over 3 2/3 innings at Clinton.
"I just tried to stay in the zone, stay aggressive in the zone and not work on the edges," said Diaz, who signed with Milwaukee as a non-drafted free agent on March 5, 2012.
Thanks to Diaz and left-hander Anthony Banda, who allowed two hits over the final three innings to earn his second save, the Timber Rattlers collected their third shutout of the season and first since April 16, when they blanked Lansing in the second game of a doubleheader.
"I'm very pleased with my outing," Diaz said. "I'm just going to continue working and try to build off this outing, continue to work hard and remain aggressive."
Wisconsin plated four runs in the second before adding two in the eighth and one in the ninth. Johnny Davis picked up three hits, while Ratterree, Jose Pena and Francisco Castillo had two apiece. Pena's two-run double in the second opened the scoring.