For two years, Jason Hirsh has been working through a myriad of injuries, looking for a return to the form that made him a promising pitcher.
The former MLB.com Starting Pitcher of the Year seemed to make progress Tuesday. He tossed 7 2/3 no-hit innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before giving up a home run to Corky Miller en route to a 2-1 win over visiting Louisville.
Hirsh (1-3) started the game with a walk to Chris Burke but retired the next seven in a row. Miller reached on a third-inning error by third baseman Kevin Russo, but Hirsh set down the next five in order.
"Tonight was just one of those nights when everything clicked," Hirsh said. "[Catcher Jesus] Montero put down the right fingers, I got some favorable calls. ... I had some great defense behind me. [Juan] Miranda made a couple of great diving stops at first base. ... It was a good building block for my next outing."
Chris Valaika walked to start the fifth, but he was erased on Wilkin Castillo's double-play groundout to first.
"I looked up at the scoreboard [in the fifth inning] and realized they hadn't gotten a hit yet," Hirsh said. "I couldn't help but think about it the rest of the game. I tried everything in my power not to think about it."
Zack Cozart stole second after walking with two outs in the seventh, but Valaika flied to right to end the frame.
"Nobody said anything to me," Hirsh said. "At the end of the seventh, they had someone warming in the bullpen. I kind of got the feeling my pitch count was probably at its max. On special occasions, you can go past that. I thought I was at a lot higher pitch count, actually. I thought I was in the 120 range."
Hirsh got the first two batters in the eighth as that pitch count reached 95. But Miller cranked his second homer to left field on a 3-2 fastball to end the no-hit bid -- and Hirsh's night.
"In hindsight, it wasn't the greatest idea," Hirsh said. "If I could have it back and throw a different pitch, I would. But you can't do it, obviously.
"If I didn't give up that hit, I would have been able to go back out."
Hirsh was named MLB.com's Triple-A Pitcher of the Year in 2006. He went 13-2 with a 2.10 ERA -- not taking a loss over a three-month span -- for Round Rock in the Pacific Coast League. He also picked up Texas League Pitcher of the Year kudos a year earlier for going 13-8 with a 2.87 ERA for Double-A Corpus Christi.
He made his big league debut with Houston in August 2006 and was dealt with Willy Taveras and Taylor Buchholz to the Colorado Rockies for pitchers Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio that December. Hirsh sports an 8-11 record and a 5.32 ERA over 29 starts in 32 games.
He was traded to the Yankees last July and went 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA in six starts for the Baby Bombers. He struggled through two of his three outings this season, the worst for five runs on six hits and two walks in an April 22 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs.
"It's a good step for me," Hirsh said. "We've been working on some things in the 'pen, straightening some things out and trying to get in the rhythm I thought I had in Spring Training."
The only nine-inning no-hitter in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre history was thrown by Jeremy Cummings on Sept. 3, 2006 in Rochester.
The series' expected big pitching matchup was to be Wednesday's meeting between heralded Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman of Louisville and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Ivan Nova.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.