In a season that hasn't really favored Brad Hand, the southpaw made a start Wednesday in which almost everything went his way.
Rehabbing from an ankle injury, the Marlins southpaw hurled six hitless innings without issuing a walk for Class A Advanced Jupiter before Daytona rallied to a 4-2 victory.
"Just getting ahead of the count, throwing everything for strikes," the 24-year-old said. "It feels good. Everything was comfortable when I was up there. It was nice to get six innings in and get a feel for pitches. It's all about repeating the delivery and throwing all your pitches for strikes."
Hand sat down the first 17 batters he faced, but with two outs in the sixth, his bid for a perfect game was broken up when Marco Hernandez reached on a fielding error by second baseman Anthony Gomez. The 2008 Draft pick struck out Zeke DeVoss for his final out of the evening.
"It's always fun to throw a no-hitter or those six scoreless," the 6-foot-3 hurler said. "In Spring Training, I was part of a no-hitter in Panama against the Yankees, so that was fun."
Since this is his first rehab start and he hadn't gone more than 3 1/3 frames this season, Hand was limited to a pitch count of 75. He said he reached about 73 in his outing.
"There were only a couple times that I got into a 2-0 count or behind," he said. "Lots of quick outs, early outs. Great pitching on both sides. We lost a tough one tonight."
The Minnesota native went 0-1 in 16 games with a 6.38 ERA for Miami. The Marlins tried Hand in the rotation in place of the injured Jacob Turner, but after yielding eight runs on 12 hits over 6 1/3 frames across two starts, he returned to the bullpen. On May 24, the struggling southpaw was put on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain.
"It doesn't seem to bother me anymore," Hand said of his ankle. "Probably make one more [rehab] start and then go from there."
Hand added he needs to work on command of all his pitches before he is ready to return to the Majors. A good sign for the Marlins: He said he was able do all three in his outing against Daytona.
Blake Logan pitched a perfect seventh to keep the no-hit bid alive, but Willson Contreras led off the eighth with a single. After a walk, Logan was relieved by Reid Redman (2-1). Jeimer Candelario -- the Cubs' No. 9 prospect -- successfully bunted to load the bases and Gioskar Amaya reached on a fielder's choice for Daytona's first run. Hernandez followed with a two-run double and DeVoss lofted a sacrifice fly.
Cubs starter Rob Zastryzny allowed two runs on five hits over five innings. Jose Rosario (3-4) worked around two hits while striking out five in three scoreless innings for the win. Andrew McKirahan picked up his fifth save of the year after giving up one hit and fanning two in the ninth.