Trevor Rogers hadn't turned in a scoreless outing all season. He took care of that and almost made history on Sunday.
Miami's 10th-ranked prospect took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts before Greensboro walked off with a 2-1 victory over Hickory at First National Bank Field. He kept the Crawdads out of the hit column until Miguel Aparicio singled with two outs in the eighth and exited after throwing 67 of 95 pitches for strikes.
"It was probably about the fifth or sixth inning when I looked up there and there was still a zero up there," Rogers said. "I'm like, 'Wow, I've made it this far. Let's see how far I can ride this out.'"
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The 13th pick in the 2017 Draft retired 20 consecutive batters before running into trouble in the eighth. Rogers struck out Pedro Gonzalez and Sam Huff to start the inning, but issued his second walk to Yohel Pozo and Aparicio followed with a single to left field. Michael Mertz (2-4) relieved the 20-year-old and got Kole Enright to fly to center.
"[It was a] good pitch, inside, jammed him, and he hits a little blooper over the shortstop's head," Rogers said. "I just couldn't help but laugh. That's baseball right there."
The southpaw began his day with a 1-2-3 first. He walked Tyreque Reed leading off the second but rebounded with a pair of strikeouts to start his streak of 20 in a row set down. The 95 pitches tied his career high, set Monday against Lakewood.
"I was going about my business, just like it was the first inning," Rogers said. "I kept doing what was working for me all those previous innings. It worked out pretty well for me. [Catcher] Will Allen called a great game back there."
The 6-foot-6, 185-pound hurler attacked hitters on the inner half with his fastball and let his secondary pitches play off that aggressiveness.
"I think it was just really good control, pounding the inside and then throwing a slider for a strike, getting them fishing 0-2," Rogers said. "Everything was just clicking on all cylinders."
The native of Carlsbad, New Mexico, entered with a 5.98 ERA through 11 starts in his first professional season, spending 2017 and the first several weeks this year in extended spring training. He wrapped up his finest month as a Minor Leaguer, compiling a 2.67 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 33 2/3 innings in six July starts.
"I think it's really come down to, like I said before, pounding that inner half," he said. "It's been a big asset for me and turning my game around. Just throwing my secondary pitches for strikes or throwing them off the plate for [swings-and-misses], it's all coming together."
Had Rogers finished off the no-hitter, it would have been the Grasshoppers' first since April 23, 2012, a game started by Jose Fernandez.
After being drafted last year, Rogers reported to Miami's facility in Jupiter. A forearm strain caused the organization to shut him down for the season. He felt strong heading into Spring Training, but the injury flared up again. Rogers built his innings back up at the Marlins' complex before debuting on May 22.
The numbers aren't overwhelming, but he's pleased with the first few months of his professional career.
"Everything's just coming together real nicely, just try to ride this until the end of the season," the cousin of former Major League outfielder Cody Ross said. "I'm just trying to finish strong. It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish."
And an outing like the one he delivered Sunday gives him plenty to look forward to for the homestretch of 2018.
"The South Atlantic League is a very hitter-friendly league," Rogers said. "If I can come up there with 7 2/3 innings of hitless ball, it's an extreme confidence-booster for me, knowing that I can go out there in my first pro season and compete with these guys."
Isael Soto doubled in Marlins No. 16 prospect Tristan Pompey in the fourth to give Greensboro a 1-0 lead, but Hickory tied it in the top of the ninth when Rangers No. 9 prospect Bubba Thompson reached on an error, stole second and third and scored on a groundout by Reed.
In the bottom half, Christopher Torres led off with a single and Soto ripped a walk-off double to right.