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Lugnuts' Romano makes unusual history

Jays righty takes loss, combines with DeGraaf on six-inning no-hitter
July 14, 2016

Even among the standards of milestones, what Jordan Romano and Class A Lansing accomplished Thursday was unique.

The right-handed Blue Jays prospect pitched the first five frames of a six-inning no-hitter, but ended up with the loss as the Lugnuts fell to the Peoria Chiefs, 1-0, in a doubleheader nightcap.

Romano cruised through the first five frames, striking out five and walking one. The 23-year-old entered the sixth having retired his last eight batters while throwing 41 of 66 pitches for strikes. He opened the frame by walking Craig Aikin on five pitches and was removed from the game as a precaution.

"They might have saw me getting a little tired out there and wanted to check that everything was OK," Romano said. "I relayed to them that I was fine, but they thought it was a good idea to let [Josh] DeGraaf take over.

"It was a bit frustrating, but I knew DeGraaf would come in and pitch well. I'm more frustrated at walking the guy than coming out. I always want to stay in there and grind it out."

DeGraaf found himself in a tough situation after committing a fielding error on Magneuris Sierra's sacrifice bunt. After a forceout moved Aikin to third, Eliezer Alfonso broke the scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly.

The right-hander recorded the final out of the inning en route to the first Midwest League no-hitter since the Chiefs combined for one on July 23, 2015. It marked the fourth time in league history that a team throwing a no-hitter has ended up on the losing side and the first time since Wade Davis lost a seven-inning no-hitter on Aug. 31, 2006 for Southwest Michigan.

"You want to win every game," Romano said of the franchise's second no-hitter -- the first was accomplished by Justin Jones, Weston O'Brien and Mark Carter on April 20, 2003. "This loss is just another loss. Losing [stinks,] you want to win. You don't lose too many times giving up no hits, but that's just baseball. It will happen."

The Canada native ended up allowing one unearned run on two walks with five strikeouts over five innings.

"It started pregame," Romano said. "I was feeling pretty good. Me and [Ryan] Hissey, the catcher, talked about a game plan before, just being aggressive pitching in. Basically, he would call the pitch and I would try to execute it and let them hit the ball. The boys played outstanding 'D' behind me. It was a team effort."

Romano (1-1) has made seven starts after missing all of 2015 following Tommy John surgery. The 2014 10th-round pick has shown little rust, posting a 1.09 ERA while limiting hitters to a .171 average and recording 36 strikeouts over 33 innings for the Lugnuts.

"I'm feeling good," he said. "It's pretty much feeling back to how it was before I got injured. That's a testament to our strength and conditioning guys, our rehab crew and our pitching coaches. It's going great.

"When I go out there, I just try to give my team a good chance to win and I feel like I've been doing that. It's always good to go out there and pitch well for your team, especially after a long layoff."

Peoria's pitching was nearly as good with St. Louis' No. 12 prospect Jake Woodford throwing four two-hit innings and Gerwuins Velazco (2-1) adding two frames of one-hit relief. Tyler Bray struck out two in a perfect seventh for his sixth save.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.