Brian Keller missed the first two-and-a-half months of the season with an arm injury. But he's made up for lost time.The Yankees right-hander threw a seven-inning no-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk as Double-A Trenton blanked Altoona, 2-0, in Thursday's doubleheader opener at ARM & HAMMER Park.
Brian Keller missed the first two-and-a-half months of the season with an arm injury. But he's made up for lost time.
The Yankees right-hander threw a seven-inning no-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk as Double-A Trenton blanked Altoona, 2-0, in Thursday's doubleheader opener at ARM & HAMMER Park.
Keller (3-1) was aware of the situation just about the entire time.
"I noticed it about the second inning," he told reporters after the game, before adding with a laugh. "I'm not used to seeing that many zeros up."
The 25-year-old worked efficiently, with eight at-bats lasting fewer than three pitches. Keller was perfect every inning except the second, when Logan Hill worked a walk and Bligh Madris reached on a fielder's choice. He threw 53 of his 70 pitches for strikes.
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"Just about everything [was working]," the 2016 39th-round pick said. "But my cutter and my change up especially. They were separators today. But fastball command was pretty good. And then Navie (Brian Navarreto) behind the plate. He was calling the right things and he was doing everything the right way. ... The defense behind me was incredible."
But Keller didn't feel like something special would happen early on. The Wisconsin-Milwaukee product thought his stuff wasn't sharp and he was "doing just enough to get them to get out" as the Curve barreled up a few balls and hit them right at defenders in the early innings. But as the outs continued to pile up and Keller settled into a rhythm, a defensive play by Max Burt that ended the fifth made him think a milestone was within reach.
Jerrick Suiter sent a laser just inside the left-field line and the third baseman made a diving snag to his right, got to his feet and fired to first in time to record the out.
"That's the point where I knew it was going to happen," Keller said. "I've always said that. There's always that one play in a perfect game or no-hitter that keeps it alive and kind of fires everyone up, and that was the one."
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound hurler cruised from that point, needing just seven pitches -- with a pair of punchouts -- to navigate through the sixth before retiring the side in order in the seventh on nine pitches. He capped the milestone by fanning Logan Hill on three pitches.
"I knew it was the last inning, so I let it all go," Keller said.
The milestone marked the sixth no-hitter in franchise history and the second of the season for Trenton. On June 24 Deivi Garcia, Domingo Acevedo and Daniel Alvarezshut Reading down for nine innings.
Keller sports a 2.32 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 10 walks in 42 2/3 innings over seven starts with the Thunder.
The righty suffered an elbow strain just before the start of Spring Training and was shut down. After about two weeks without throwing, he began a rehab process that lasted about six weeks before returning to game action in a rehab start for Class A Short Season Staten Island on June 17.
Navarreto drove in Trenton's first run on a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the second that plated Brandon Wagner. And after Rashad Crawford swiped his 18th bag of the season, Ben Ruta laced an RBI double to right in the third.
Kelsie Heneghan is a writer for MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24.