Yada, yada yada: 66ers combine on no-no

Angels' Alexander goes career-best seven in historic effort

Jason Alexander had pitched more than four innings twice in his professional career before the no-hitter. (Jerry Espinoza/MiLB.com)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | May 2, 2018 12:33 AM

Jason Alexander had never made a professional start before this season, so he admittedly has taken time to get adjusted to his new role. Before taking the mound Wednesday, he had hadn't pitched past the fourth inning in any start, but the Angels prospect with the same name as a Seinfeld main character keyed an effort filled with nothing.

Alexander combined with Zac Ryan and Sean Isaac on the third no-hitter in team history as Class A Advanced Inland Empire blanked Lake Elsinore, 4-0, at San Manuel Stadium.

Video: Isaac, 66ers complete no-hitter

Alexander said his warmup tosses before the game provided no indication he'd be the catalyst on a memorable day.

"My pregame bullpen was pretty bad," he said. "And I went into the game and the ball wasn't going anywhere I wanted it to. After the first inning, I spoke to my pitching coach, Chris [Seddon], and he gave me a couple of tweaks, a couple of things to think about when I was going out there just to get back into the zone."

The first combined no-no in 66ers history was the team's first of any kind since May 9, 2007 when Marlon Arias went all nine frames against Bakersfield. The gem was the second of its kind in as many nights in the Minor Leagues -- Edwar Colina and Jovani Moran made history for Class A Cedar Rapids on Tuesday.

"It was just pure relief," Ryan said. "It was amazing, it was a really cool thing to be part of. Our whole team played really well today. They made some defensive plays to help get things along. It was really a whole team thing -- it was great."


Gameday box score


Alexander (1-2), who worked exclusively out of the bullpen last season, struck out eight and walked three in his longest outing since signing with the Angels as a non-drafted free agent last June. He threw 53 of 93 pitches for strikes en route to his first win since Aug. 30 for Rookie-level Orem.

The Windsor, California native said he's added a new wrinkle to his repertoire, and it played a vital role in keeping the Storm out of the hit column. 

Video: Alexander's seventh no-hit frame for Inland Empire

"My changeup always used to be my go-to pitch," Alexander said. "And I've given up five home runs -- all on changeups. So every start has kind of been, 'What am I doing wrong with the changeup? Am I throwing it at the wrong time or leaving it up?' My goal last start was to stick with the fastball if I got into trouble because it's been my best pitch. And I didn't give up any home runs, but I walked five and my release point was all weird.

"I think going into the first two innings, I was still at the bad release point. But I put that one fix in that [Seddon] gave me to click it. I had all the knowledge of my prior failures and I had other things clicking for me. And the slider I was using today was a brand new pitch."

No. 19 Padres prospect Edward Olivares walked to lead off the game and 17th-ranked Jorge Ona took a free pass three batters later, but Alexander got out of trouble by retiring Eguy Rosario on a fly ball to right field. 

Brad Zunica drew a one-out walk in the second, but Alexander retired the next 16 batters before handing the ball to Ryan. 

It was about halfway through the game that the 25-year-old peered up at the scoreboard and realized that Lake Elsinore still didn't have a hit. Even with that in mind, Alexander made sure to chat with his teammates between innings.

"It was probably tougher for those guys," he said of the defense behind him. "If I make a mistake, I ruined it for myself. But those guys out there, they're working hard and wanted it just as badly. So it was really cool, both playing in it and watching it."

2018 Minor League milestones

Taking over in the eighth, Ryan walked Zunica and Marcus Greene Jr. with one out, but the righty struck out Taylor Kohlwey and got Olivares on a sharp liner to left.

"I kind of went through my mechanical queues that I think about and the stuff that I work on in the bullpen to get locked back in," Ryan said. "I went through that in my mind and just went back to attacking hitters instead of trying to pick around the corners."

Isaac walked Buddy Reed to start the ninth, but the righty fanned Padres No. 16 prospect Hudson Potts and Ona. The 25-year-old got Rosario to pop up to second baseman and fourth-ranked Angels prospect  Jahmai Jones to finish off the historic effort and his fourth consecutive scoreless outing. When Jones squeezed his glove, the sense of anxiety felt in the 66ers dugout quickly transitioned to a feeling of jubilation. 

"Back in the offseason, I coach little guys and I actually coached a no-hitter before," Isaac said. "But it's cool to be on the playing side and to be a part of it. ... It was definitely a relief and it was great to be part of history."

In terms of his development, Alexander said he hopes he can parlay the stuff he had on Wednesday into future success. 

"I think a lot of what I'd like to keep doing is building off of how this game ended up with being able to flip the slider over when I needed it, get ahead of batters with it so they couldn't ambush a fastball. And just kind of keep hitters guessing," he said. "That's really my goal right now."

Even with a little more fame and recognition after the no-hitter, Alexander admitted it still might be difficult to carve his own niche with the name he shares. 

MiLB include

"I do get that a lot, I get a lot of George Costanza stuff," he said with a laugh. "And growing up, I can't even Google my name because he pops up. ... But I can't thank my team enough. They played so well for me and I really appreciate it."

Angels No. 30 prospect Luis Rengifo and Jordan Zimmerman backed the trio's historic feat with two-run homers.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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