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Nationals' Rodriguez takes no-no into eighth

Top prospect Robles homers to back P-Nats' combined two-hitter
Jefry Rodriguez has allowed three earned runs over his last three starts for Class A Advanced Potomac. (Andy Grosh/MiLB.com)
May 3, 2017

Jefry Rodriguez held the Wood Ducks hitless for seven innings, and he basically used just one pitch to do it.Rodriguez, almost exclusively throwing his fastball, took a no-hitter into the eighth and top Nationals prospect Victor Robles homered to lead visiting Potomac past Down East, 1-0, on Wednesday afternoon.

Jefry Rodriguez held the Wood Ducks hitless for seven innings, and he basically used just one pitch to do it.
Rodriguez, almost exclusively throwing his fastball, took a no-hitter into the eighth and top Nationals prospect Victor Robles homered to lead visiting Potomac past Down East, 1-0, on Wednesday afternoon.

"He was very aggressive today," said Potomac pitching coach Franklin Bravo. "He threw 95 pitches and 85 of those were fastballs. He only threw 10 off-speed pitches."
Why the lack of variety?
"He didn't need it today" Bravo said. "He also had a really good sinker that was working for him today."
Rodriguez (3-1), who walked two and hit a batter, mixed up his four- and two-seam fastballs to fan eight, matching his season high. He held the Wood Ducks hitless for seven innings before Chuck Moorman smacked a double down the right-field line to lead off the eighth. Reliever Gilberto Mendez worked around another double in the ninth to pick up the save and finish off the two-hit shutout. 
"He just didn't need [off-speed pitches]," said Bravo, who played five seasons in the Minors from 1996-2000 before becoming a pitching coach. "It was one of those days where he was feeling good and getting hitters out with the fastball." 
Box score
Bravo said he didn't notice it was a no-hitter until the sixth. It also didn't change manager Tripp Keister's mind -- both Keister and Bravo planned to pull Rodriguez after eight innings regardless. 
"We just hoped and prayed that he would throw the ball over the plate and make something happen," said Bravo. "We're always going to pitch to contact. That's going to help us, so we wanted him to throw the ball over the plate. 
"Me and the skipper, we talked about it and we weren't going to let him go more than eight innings," said Bravo. "Early in the season, we talked about maybe in late May or June, we would have let him go if he had a no-hitter going, but early in the season, we weren't thinking about the no-hitter."
But Rodriguez surely was. He threw a perfect first inning and used a double play to erase a hit batter in the second. He then walked Moorman and balked him to third before retiring the next 10 batters. Arturo Lara worked another walk in the sixth before Rodriguez tossed another flawless frame in the seventh.

"When I found out he was throwing a no-hitter -- the skipper told me -- that was exciting," said Bravo. "And one of the exciting things was when they broke it up in the eighth, he made pitches to get out of the inning with no runs."
The win marked the second shutout of the season for Potomac and the team's first 1-0 victory of 2017.
Robles, MLB.com's No. 5 overall prospect, hit his second homer of the season with one out in the third off Wood Ducks starter Jeffrey Springs (0-3), who struck out a career-high 10 and allowed five hits and a walk over six frames. Robles, batting .317 this year, has 12 hits in his last 39 at-bats with five RBIs and two stolen bases in that span. 
Rodriguez lowered his ERA from 4.30 to 3.19 with the performance. He's allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last three starts and has struck out 34 batters in 32 innings this season.
"His last two outings, he gave us seven innings and before that, six innings, so he's been pitching well the last four outings, giving us a chance to win games," Bravo said. "He's been very consistent the last four outings."
Rodriguez signed with the Nationals as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 and was a South Atlantic League All-Star last summer with Class A Hagerstown. He won a New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week award in 2015 after allowing two hits over six shutout innings, a line he produced twice last season with the Suns.
"He just has to keep doing what he's been doing the last two outings" said Bravo. "Just throw the ball over the plate along with a good change and breaking ball.
"If he keeps doing that, who knows?"

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter.