Hunter Strickland didn't just make a strong first impression on his new teammates Monday night. He helped make West Virginia Power history.
The recently acquired 20-year-old right-hander combined with Diego Moreno on the franchise's first no-hitter as a Pirates affiliate as the Power blanked the Charleston RiverDogs, 4-0, in front of 1,296 fans at Appalachian Power Park.
Strickland (6-4), who was acquired by Pittsburgh in the trade that sent first baseman Adam LaRoche to Boston on July 22, had mixed feelings upon learning of the deal after spending the previous 2 1/2 seasons in the Red Sox organization.
"After getting traded, I didn't know how it was going to be," admitted Strickland, who was taken by Boston in the 18th round of the 2007 Draft.
"I thought it would be a lot worse than it has been. I had no idea that I was going to be traded, but the guys in the clubhouse have really made me feel welcome. I guess you can make it as good as you want or as bad as you want."
Strickland didn't take long to make the best of things in his West Virginia debut.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Georgia native set down the first seven batters he faced before Mitch Abeita reached on third baseman Jeremy Farrell's fielding error with one out in the third.
Reaching back for something extra, Strickland fanned Tommy Baldridge and Raymond Kruml to escape the inning.
Strickland hit Addison Maruszak with one out in the fifth, but rebounded by getting the next five outs to cap his brilliant outing.
"I tried to set a rhythm and compete," he said. "I tried to establish my fastball from the start. The changeup worked good. I rushed my delivery a few times on my curveball, but I got the hang of it as the game went on."
The victory was Strickland's first since a 13-4 win over Charleston for Greenville on June 30. He also tossed five one-hit innings against the RiverDogs on May 28 as a member of Boston's Class A affiliate, but didn't think his familiarity with the lineup had much to do with Monday's gem.
"It helped me a little bit, but it helped them as well," Strickland said. "There's some new guys on their team too. I just went out there with the same mentality I always have."
Moreno picked up right where Strickland left off, striking out three over three perfect frames as the Power also notched the first-ever no-no in their home ballpark, which opened the same year the franchise began playing in West Virginia in 2005.
"I feel very happy and thank God that I pitched well," Moreno said through translator and teammate Danny Bomback. "I was just trying to execute pitches. I was very aggressive, kept the ball down and they didn't hit it."
After fanning Abraham Almonte for the final out, Moreno and his teammates celebrated on the field before rushing back to meet Strickland, who was following the game on the radio while icing his shoulder in the clubhouse.
"I was pretty pumped up for [Moreno]," Stickland said. "He did a really great job."
The no-hitter was the first in team history since Felix Romero and Sandy Ninn combined on one for the then-Blue Jays-affiliated Charleston AlleyCats on Aug. 24, 2003.
It was also the first time the RiverDogs were no-hit since 1998.