Power outage: No-no loses luster in loss
Call it a tale of two zeros.
On the one hand, Jake Burnette, Jose Regalado and Eric Dorsch combined to throw a seven-inning no-hitter for Class A West Virginia Power against the Hagerstown Suns on Wednesday afternoon. The Appalachian Power Park crowd and the West Virginia dugout should have been going crazy after the first game of a doubleheader. Instead, things were mostly silent -- and for good reason.
Because on the other hand, the Power had just been defeated by the Suns, 1-0. That's right, the Power lost their own no-hitter.
"I've been around professional baseball close to 17 years now," said West Virginia pitching coach Mark DiFelice, "and I've never seen a no-hit loss."
It should come as no surprise that few have seen such an occurrence. Since 2005, there have been only 10 Minor League no-hitters resulting in defeats for the should-have-been-victorious squads. Of those 10, only four have come in full-season circuits -- the last being April 29, 2008, when Class A Advanced Winston-Salem blanked Potomac in the hit column in the second game of a doubleheader but fell in the runs column, 3-2. (In a funny twist, those same teams were involved in the Minors' other no-no on Wednesday, with Winston-Salem winning, 1-0.
In the history of the South Atlantic League, there have been five no-hit losses and one tie since 1960. Rome's Mike Mueller took the league's last hitless "L" on June 27, 2004, against Capital City.
In other words, as wacky as the Minors can get, especially at the lower levels -- where pitching control and defense are shakier -- Wednesday's event is nowhere near an annual occurrence. So how does someone react to what is essentially the Minor Leagues' version of a blue moon? About how you'd expect, actually.
"We lost the game, so we obviously couldn't get excited or anything," DiFelice said. "The win would've meant a whole lot more. Actually, I'm pretty sure I would've rather traded a hit for the win, if I'm being honest. But the pitchers took some pride in it and just acknowledged what happened. ... Just some handshakes and pats on the back, that kind of stuff. Just to note how special this was."
The lone "1" in the Hagerstown section of the box score went on the board early Wednesday.
Burnette, a 22-year-old right-hander, battled control issues early, walking leadoff man Narciso Mesa and plunking Austin Davidson before a double-steal put runners at second and third. He fanned D.K. Carey, walked Jose Marmolejos-Diaz to load the bases and struck out Raudy Read before hitting the Pirates' pitch limit for a single inning. The Bucs don't like Minor Leaguers going above 30 per inning, and Burnette -- limited to 24 innings in 2014 after undergoing shoulder surgery the year before -- already had thrown 31. On came Regalado, a 23-year-old right-hander who walked Jeff Gardner to plate the game's only run in his full-season debut.
The 1-0 lead began to look more and more intimidating as the native of the Dominican Republic followed with five perfect innings.
The longest outing of Regalado's five-year pro career had the Power three outs away from their first no-hitter since July 27, 2009, when Hunter Strickland and Diego Moreno combined on one.
"Jose's not the type of pitcher that's going to throw the ball by you, but he can really spot the ball well," DiFelice said. "As an organization, we tell these guys to throw lots of fastballs in to try to get weak contact, and he pitched to that perfectly. He had a very good curveball, too, that got guys to chase because they were an aggressive team. He mixed in a change, too, and all in all, he just had all his stuff."
The problem, of course, was the club was still losing. Hagerstown starter Austin Williams kept the Power off the board for 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out seven.
West Virginia turned to Eric Dorsch in the seventh. The zeros didn't seem to weigh on the mind of the 23-year-old right-hander, according to his pitching coach. Dorsch was coming off a rough inning on Saturday, when he surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on four hits, two walks and a hit batter against Savannah. Wednesday's frame wasn't so much about preservation, it was about redemption.
"He had something to prove, you could tell," DiFelice said. "I didn't talk to him beforehand, but to me, it looked like he just wanted to accomplish something for himself. He was more locked in and did a better job of taking advantage of their aggressive approach. I think his one inning took on more of a personal level."
Dorsch punctuated the seven-inning no-no by striking out Grant DeBruin.
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Unfortunately for West Virginia, Suns reliever Robert Orlan shut down the Power in order to close out the no-hits-provided, no-runs-allowed victory.
While being on the wrong end of the right kind of history was a little mystifying, DiFelice said the Power took the loss in stride. That is to say, no comments of "Come on, man," from the pitching staff to the position players. They know a day will come when the shoe is on the other foot.
"The thing is, we were 4-1 coming into that game, so we were happy with the way things were going," the pitching coachv said. "And in those wins, there were a few times when the hitters picked up the pitchers. We're trying to make this one cohesive unit and you can see it coming together. Our motto as pitchers has always been to just keep us in the game, give us a chance to win. We did that today."
The second game of the doubleheader was postponed due to rain and will be made up at a later date in Hagerstown, with West Virginia remaining the home team.
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.