When Rogelio Armenteros arrived at Triple-A, his pitching coach knew he already had the repertoire to be successful. With a plan to accompany it, the right-hander is dominating the Minor Leagues' highest level.
The Astros' No. 26 prospect took a no-hitter into the seventh and ended up striking out nine over seven one-hit innings before Fresno rallied for a 3-2 walk-off win over Las Vegas on Friday at Chukchansi Park.
Gameday box score
"The thing about Rogelio is that he's good with his off-speed stuff," Grizzlies pitching coach Dyar Miller said. "He can throw it over. In fact, he threw a 3-1 change tonight to a guy. He swung and missed, and he wound up striking him out. I saw him when he was in A-ball, and he's always had a knack for throwing his off-speed over. He fits right in at this level. You don't really have to do too much to him, just give him an idea of what pitches to throw when and let him go."
Armenteros dazzled his first two times through the Las Vegas lineup. Facing one batter over the minimum through six innings, the 23-year-old kept the 51s guessing while using his full complement of pitches.
Video: Fresno's Armenteros finishes six hitless
"Every start he has is similar [to] this," Miller said. "Some of his other ones, he's given up a few hits earlier, but he competes. Everything was working -- his changeup, his curveball, his slider was working. His fastball plays up with his good changeup. He got some early outs. His pitch count was down pretty good. We were going to let him go all the way if his pitch count would allow him, which it would've. He just had a great night."
Efficient along with his effectiveness, Armenteros retired Jeff McNeil on a fly ball to center and struck out Cody Decker to start the seventh before Travis Snider singled to center field to wreck the no-hit bid. Armenteros quickly retired Travis Taijeron on a fly to right for his final out. He would've gone deeper in the game -- having thrown 90 pitches -- if not for his workload this season.
Video: Las Vegas' Snider breaks up no-hitter
"He's getting up there in innings this year and we're trying to protect him a little bit," Miller said. "We have inning quotas on guys from year to year. He's getting up there, so we just thought it was a good time to shut him down. It was a close game, 1-0. Those kind of games can wear on you a little bit, too."
Armenteros started his season with 14 outings, including 10 starts, for Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 1.93 ERA with 74 strikeouts against 19 walks over 65 1/3 innings. Texas League opponents batted .207 against the right-hander, who made the jump to Fresno in late June.
Since joining the Grizzlies, he's been just as good. The Havana native has allowed one earned run or fewer in five of his eight starts, and Friday's was his longest at either level.
Armenteros appeared poised to pick up his seventh Triple-A win, but the Grizzlies couldn't make their razor-thin margin stand. Las Vegas took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when Jayce Boyd greeted reliever Dean Deetz with a homer to left-center. Phillip Evans lined an RBI double to left later in the inning.
After Preston Tucker singled home the tying run in the bottom of the eighth, it took only four batters for the Grizzlies to end things in the ninth. Rico Noel doubled to left with two outs and Tony Kemp followed with a bloop single to left to produce the winning run.
"It was pretty darn awesome. We had been struggling a little bit," Miller said of the Grizzlies, who had been 4-12 this month. "We were hot from the end of May to the first of August and we've had a little down time here the last seven or 10 days with scoring runs a little bit, our pitching. We needed that. We're in the race here. We're on our way to Reno. We're tied with them and we're on the bus now on the way up there for a big series. Hopefully, it'll help give us a little momentum into that series."
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The Grizzlies are one game behind first-place Reno in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division heading into a four-game series that begins Saturday. Facing a 4 1/2-hour bus ride in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Grizzlies could take comfort in one fact, Miller noted.
"It'll feel quicker after a win," he said.