Eli Lingos had pitched in 35 Minor League games since being selected in the 22nd round of last year's Draft and he came out of the bullpen for every one of them. But when Class A Lake County had its game rained out on Thursday night, the Captains needed a
Eli Lingos had pitched in 35 Minor League games since being selected in the 22nd round of last year's Draft and he came out of the bullpen for every one of them. But when Class A Lake County had its game rained out on Thursday night, the Captains needed a starter for the nightcap of Friday's doubleheader.
Lingos had given them some long relief this season and had been pretty efficient, so the gig belonged to him. With it came some advice from pitching coach Owen Dew.
"It is a start, but you're doing a really good job of coming out of the 'pen and getting ahead of guys and limiting damage and pitching your game," Dew told the left-hander. "Don't treat it any differently just because you're starting."
A message to be ordinary produced the extraordinary.
Lingos combined with Luis Araujo and Kellen Rholl to throw the fifth no-hitter in team history, retiring the first 20 batters, as Lake County beat West Michigan, 4-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep at Classic Park.
It was the fourth no-hitter in the Midwest League this season and the Captains' first since Francisco Perez and James Karinchak combined on another seven-inning gem on April 25, 2018. That game also was a 4-0 win over West Michigan.
Gameday box score
Lingos struck out the side in a marathon first inning. He threw 11 pitches to Whitecaps leadoff man Andre Lipcius, who couldn't catch up with the fastball and fouled off seven in a row before whiffing at a payoff pitch.
"That helped me dial in and attack from the start," Lingos said.
He cruised through the next three frames, striking out five on a season-high 53 pitches. After exiting, he rushed through his cooldown work in the clubhouse to get back and see if the perfect game was intact. It was.
Araujo followed, needing only 18 pitches to get through the fifth and sixth. He struck out two.
As the innings sailed by -- the game lasted one hour and 49 minutes -- Dew didn't even notice a perfect game was on the line. The mood in the dugout, both the coach and starting pitcher agreed, remained calm until one out remained to seal the deal. Only then, Lingos said, did things get tense.
"I actually thought everybody did a really good job of just going out and playing every pitch, every at-bat," Dew said. "I didn't really feel there was any pressure until maybe the seventh when guys started saying, 'You know, hey, this thing might happen.'"
The crowd of 4,218 reached its loudest as the Captains came within a strike of completing the first perfect game in franchise history. Rholl, who entered with a 1.35 ERA in 19 innings, struck out the first two batters in the seventh. The second, Wenceel Perez, worked the Whitecaps' first three-ball count of the game. But Nick Quintana also worked the count full and, unlike Perez, he did not bite at the payoff pitch. It was just off the plate and Perez walked to end the perfecto.
Rholl lost a slider and hit Ulrich Bojarski to put two runners on, and Dew visited the mound to remind his pitcher of what was at stake. Sure, a no-hitter would be nice, but the potential tying run was on deck. Rholl had no room to let the emotions of the moment get in the way of getting two wins in one day. And he didn't, retiring Hector Martinez on a fly to center field to lock down the milestone.
"It was one of those things that's really cool to share with your teammates," Dew said. "To have that outcome and have everyone step up and complete the job was really nice."
The Captains got their offense from four contributors, and it all came against West Michigan starter Robbie Welhaf. Cody Farhat smacked a solo homer to right field in the third, Miguel Jerez singled in a run in the fourth and Hosea Nelson did the same in the sixth before scoring on a triple by Connor Smith.
Joe Bloss is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.