Under ordinary circumstances, a 1-0 walk-off win is pretty exciting. When it preserves a no-hitter, that takes it to a whole other level.
Max Fried tossed 5 2/3 hitless innings and three relievers finished it off as Class A Fort Wayne slipped by Great Lakes, 1-0.
The Padres' No. 2 prospect struck out eight, tying a career high, and walked four for the TinCaps. Matthew Shephard followed and set down the four batters he faced before giving way to Leonel Campos, who struck out the side in the eighth inning. The ninth was where things got really interesting.
Roman Madrid entered the game and issued a leadoff walk to Jesmuel Valentin. Madrid fanned Kevin Taylor for the first out and Eric Smith grounded out, allowing Valentin to advance to second base. Madrid then uncorked a wild pitch that put the go-ahead run 90 feet away. The 22-year-old right-hander bounced back, getting Tyler Ogle to ground out to short.
"It's pretty much like any other situation going into the ninth inning of a close game. You don't want to give up any hits anyway, but going in with a team no-hitter you want to pick everyone else up," Madrid said.
"Unbelievable ... [the bullpen] came out and pounded the strike zone and our defense was pretty good tonight and they were able to make plays and things fell our way," Fried said.
The TinCaps pulled out the victory in the bottom of the ninth, when Brian Adams drew a bases-loaded walk to score catcher Dane Phillips, who had walked to open the frame.
Fried, the Padres' first-round pick in 2012, threw 86 pitches in his second-longest start of the season. Although he wasn't able to pick up his second win of the year, he was just happy to be a part of the historical achievement.
"You know it really doesn't bug me that much, we got the win in the end," Fried said. "To share the win with the whole team is really fun."
Although he didn't feel all his pitches were working for him, Fried thought his changeup came up big.
"I was really confident and able to throw my changeup in any count, I really relied on that," the California native said. "There were times that I didn't have body command with my fastball and curveball. There were times when it was on and times when it was off."
Madrid improved to 4-0 while remaining unscored upon this season in 15 2/3 innings. The 2012 Northwest League All-Star would have preferred that the win go to someone else however.
"It's bittersweet," Madrid said. "I wish someone who threw more innings than I did got the win. I came in and got a couple of big plays by my defense. We came back in, got some guys on and got a run in. We all picked each other up as a team."
On the mound, Madrid did his best not to think about what he was being asked to do.
"A lot of the times in that situation you don't really want to think that there's a no-hitter," he said. "You don't want to jinx it. I went in there like any other game."
The TinCaps have seen just one other no-hitter in their 20-year history. Simon Castro kept Dayton out of the hit column on Aug. 18, 2009.
Jharel Cotton allowed four hits over seven shutout innings, but did not figure into the decision for the Loons. Scott Griggs fell to 0-3, allowing a run on one hit and walking four over an inning-plus of work.