Nashville Sounds right-hander Jharel Cotton just missed a perfect game and settled for a one-hit shutout in the Sounds' 3-0 win over the Round Rock Express at Dell Diamond Tuesday night.
Cotton, recently acquired in a trade by the Athletics, retired the first 26 batters he faced on the night. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Round Rock second baseman Doug Bernier lined a 2-1 pitch to the right field wall for a triple to break up the bid at perfection.
The Virgin Islands native struck out a career-high 12 in the dominating effort. With Bernier at third, he punched out Drew Robinson for the final out of the game.
Cotton started the night with a flurry of strikeouts as he struck out the side in the first and recorded another two in the second. He recorded another strikeout in each of the next three innings and was up to eight through five frames.
Express (56-62) left-hander Yohander Mendez was also impressive as he tossed five shutout innings.
Nashville (68-50) finally broke through and got runs for Cotton in the sixth. Chad Pinder drew a one-out walk and was able to jog home when Renato Nunez belted a two-run homer to left field - his 20th of the season to give the Sounds a 2-0 lead.
The Sounds pushed across another run in the seventh with the help of additional free passes. Josh Rodriguez walked and swiped second, and Colin Walsh drew a two-out walk to put a pair of runners on.
Chad Pinder came through with a clutch base hit through the left side to score Rodriguez and give the Sounds a 3-0 cushion.
Cotton returned for the bottom of the seventh and retired the first two batters quickly. Catcher Brett Nicholas sent a soft fly ball to center field that was caught with a diving effort by center fielder Jaycob Brugman to preserve the perfect game.
He struck out Joey Gallo to start the eighth and retired Jared Hoying and Matt Duffy on back-to-back pops up to second.
Armed with a 3-0 lead, Cotton got Ronald Guzman to pop out to first to start the bottom of the ninth. He then struck out Kyle Kubitza who was ejected by home plate umpire Junior Valentine for arguing the called third strike.
After a lengthy delay due to the ejection, Doug Bernier lined the 2-1 pitch from Cotton just over the stretched arm of Walsh in right field to break up the perfect game.
There has been two perfect games in Nashville Sounds history. Josh Wasdin threw the first on April 7, 2003 against Albuquerque, and Manny Parra tossed the most recent on June 25, 2007 in Round Rock.
The complete-game shutout for Cotton is the first of the nine-inning variety for the Sounds since Mike Fiers accomplished the feat with a three-hitter on August 31, 2011 in a 1-0 win over Iowa.
The series finale between the two teams is scheduled for Wednesday night in Round Rock. Left-hander Dillon Overton (10-4, 3.21) starts for the Sounds against left-hander Derek Holland (0-0, 0.00) for the Express. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
The 2016 season is the Sounds' 19th year in the Pacific Coast League and their second as the Oakland Athletics' top affiliate. Tickets are available now by calling (615) 690-4487 or by visiting www.nashvillesounds.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.