A trio of Cedar Rapids Kernels hurlers capped an historic night in the Midwest League and an exciting 24 hours in the Angels' Minor League system.
Fabio Martinez, Kyle Hurst and Mike Kenney combined on the second no-hitter of the night in the Midwest League -- and the second in the Angels organization in as many days -- as the Cedar Rapids Kernels blanked the Kane County Cougars, 2-0, on Friday.
Not long after Peoria's Nick Struck tossed a rain-shortened five-inning gem against Clinton, Kenney struck out Franklin Hernandez to complete the Kernels' first no-hitter since Aug. 7, 1997.
"Wow, I hadn't heard," Cedar Rapids pitching coach Brandon Emanuel said. "We're just kind of in awe in [our locker room]. ... The guys will remember that -- and we will, too -- for the rest of their lives."
Martinez made his fourth start for the Kernels and struck out nine over five innings. He issued four walks, including a pair with two outs in the third.
"Fabio started off real well, had a couple of walks," Emanuel said. "He kept his composure when guys got on base. Sometimes that tends to snowball on him, but he got out of those innings."
A 20-year-old right-hander out of the Dominican Republic, Martinez allowed one run over 10 innings in his first two starts. But he struggled while battling an intestinal problem that team officials thought might be appendicitis. Over his next two appearances, he surrendered eight runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"He's a power arm who had electric stuff tonight. He had a fastball around 95-96 with a plus slider," Emanuel said. "He's a high-pitch, high-strikeout guy. He's still learning command and control. He's going to go out there and go right at guys. Sometimes you'll see him throw strikes, sometimes you'll see him throw balls, sometimes both."
Hurst, the son of former Major Leaguer Bruce Hurst, issued a pair of walks but struck out two over two innings to keep the no-hitter intact.
"I [approached it] just like it's another game," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "Each batter as he comes up, you attack each one. You have your plan and you attack your plan."
Hurst had entered a scoreless tie, but the Kernels pushed across a run in the seventh. Luis Jimenez delivered a one-out double and Eric Oliver was hit by a pitch one out later before Casey Haerther came through with an RBI single to right.
Kenney, a 23-year-old right-hander, fanned Anthony Aliotti to complete a perfect eighth, then got some breathing room when former first-round pick Randal Grichuk singled home a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
Kenney made quick work of the Cougars in the ninth for his first save. He struck out Max Stassi, retired Rashun Dixon on a grounder to shortstop and got Hernandez looking at a third strike.
"He had a really good slider going tonight and his fastball down had a little jump," Emanuel said of Kenney, the Angels' 28th-round pick in the 2008 Draft. "He had a lot of 0-2, 1-2 counts, didn't make it interesting for us."
"Once you go 8 2/3 with no hits, you don't want that last guy to get a hit," Kenney said. "Fabio threw great, Hurst did his job and we had great defense."
On Thursday, former Kernels closer Ryan Brasier pitched a nine-inning no-hitter for Double-A Arkansas.
"It's been kind of crazy," Emanuel admitted.