Brock Burke and Roel Ramirez are roommates and close friends off the field. On Thursday, the pair came four outs away from making history together.
The Rays pitching prospects combined for 7 2/3 hitless innings before Class A Bowling Green settled for a one-hitter with a 3-0 blanking of Fort Wayne at Bowling Green Ballpark. Burke walked five and fanned five over six frames.
Burke (1-0) got off to a shaky start in his second outing of the season, issuing walks to Jack Suwinski and Reinaldo Ilarraza to open the first inning. However, he settled in to retire the next three batters to end the frame.
"The main problem was just the first two hitters," the left-hander said. "I walked the first two and probably wasn't as aggressive as I should have been. I was trying to coast through the whole game. Once I walked the first two, I kind of got mad and started pitching more aggressively and throwing strikes, throwing more fastballs."
The 2014 third-round pick walked three more hitters over the next five innings, but did not allow more than one runner to reach base in a frame. Ramirez took over at the start of the seventh, and as his friend jogged in from the bullpen in left field, Burke felt the no-hit bid was in good hands.
"He's really good," the 20-year-old said. "This is his second year here, so he's probably one of our best pitchers in the bullpen. Of all the guys to hand it over to, he's probably the best one."
Ramirez retired the side in order in the seventh.
"Lights-out," Burke said. "He walked in and I said, 'Good job,' and he said to me, 'Good job.'"
Ramirez set down Marcus Greene Jr. and Rod Boykin on flyouts to start the eighth. But he fell behind in the count, 2-1, against Suwinski, and the TinCaps leadoff man lined a single up the middle to spoil the no-hitter. The 21-year-old righty got Ilarraza to pop out to first to end the frame and retired the side in the ninth to preserve the shutout, earning his first save in the process. That didn't save him from some playful ribbing in the locker room.
"I was like, 'You couldn't just get one more guy, huh?'" Burke said with a laugh.
Burke -- who has given up a single hit in nine innings through two outings this season -- still felt good about the night.
"It was just the one hit, and [Suwinski] is probably their strongest hitter out of that lineup," the Chicago native said. "That's still very, very good. To give up just one hit through 27 outs and nine innings of baseball is very impressive."
Sixth-ranked Tampa Bay prospect Josh Lowe singled twice and plated a run to lead the Hot Rods offense. Rays No. 14 prospect Lucius Fox added a two-run single.
Padres No. 19 prospect Logan Allen (0-1) surrendered a run on three hits and a walk while fannning eight over five innings for the TinCaps.