Dash's Maxwell pitches no-hitter
Maxwell threw the Carolina League's first complete-game no-hitter in three years on Friday afternoon, striking out three as the Winston-Salem Dash blanked Wilmington, 4-0, in the first game of a doubleheader.
"That's the kind of thing you always dream about doing when you're playing," said Maxwell. "That was one of those things you can check off the list."
The 24-year-old right-hander allowed only three baserunners -- all on walks -- and picked off two of them en route to his second straight win after losing his first eight decisions.
"[My teammates] pretty much came and jumped all over me, it was pretty good," Maxwell said. "I got some nice little fist pumps, I was pretty happy. It doesn't happen too often and it's something we needed."
It's the first no-hitter for Winston-Salem since Delvin Lantigua combined with three relievers to beat Myrtle Beach on April 15, 2001.
"It feels great, all I can say is everyone played well behind me," said Maxwell. "I didn't notice until the sixth inning. I went out, looked up and was like, 'Wow, I haven't given up a hit.'"
The feat came less than 24 hours after another White Sox prospect, Charlotte's Carlos Torres, threw a rain-shortened five-inning perfect game against Triple-A Pawtucket.
Maxwell (2-8), an 18th-round pick by the White Sox in 2007, had a breakout season for Class A Kannapolis last year when he went 15-5 with a 3.47 ERA. He shared the South Atlantic League lead in wins and complete games (2) but entered Friday's start with a 5.51 ERA.
What was the difference on Friday? Maxwell said he found a new pitch before the game.
"I started throwing a new pitch, a cutter," he explained. "The last game, I was coming off my fastball and cutting it a little, and I started working on it in my last bullpen. It started to become a really good pitch for me."
Maxwell, throwing the cut fastball in the mid-80s, also featured his usual off-speed pitches.
"I was getting guys to swing early in the count," said Maxwell, who induced eight fly balls and eight grounders. "But that cutter was how I got all my ground balls."
Chances are the cutter will be sticking around for the rest of the season.
"Everybody was asking about it and I said, 'Hey, I just learned that the other day."
Wilmington's Clint Robinson worked a leadoff walk in the second, but Maxwell picked him off before retiring David Lough and Anthony Seratelli to end the inning.
"I've picked off a few people this year, but I saw that one guy, he went back into the base and he kinda trotted back in, but he was completely out. He was obviously out, which was nice," said Maxwell.
The West Virginia University product did it again an inning later, picking off Jamar Walton after he drew a leadoff walk.
"I got him leaning," Maxwell said. Walton walked again to start the sixth but was thrown out trying to steal by catcher Logan Johnson.
Maxwell faced one final challenge in the seventh, retiring former first-round pick Mike Moustakas on a grounder to second base to seal the no-hitter.
Winston-Salem pitching coach and former Major Leaguer Bobby Thigpen encouraged Maxwell, who spent time in the bullpen this season, to challenge hitters before the game.
"He told me, 'Just do the same thing you did last time, go hard, go after them,'" Maxwell said. "I've got that [reliever] mentality, so I was coming as hard as I could."
The Dash took the nightcap, 4-2, and Maxwell had plenty of time to reflect.
"It was nice to sit there to know you threw a no-hitter," he said. "It sunk in. But I think it also fired up the guys and it carried over into the second game."
Maxwell's no-hitter was the third by a White Sox prospect this season -- Torres did it on Thursday and Aaron Poreda, promoted to the Majors this week, pitched the other against West Tenn on May 4.
The last no-hitter in the Carolina League was thrown by Frederick's Brandon Erbe and two relievers, who combined to blank Salem, 5-0, on Aug. 5, 2008. The league's last seven-inning no-hitter was pitched by Winston-Salem's Matt Zaleski, Matthew Long and Kanekoa Texeira, who combined in a loss to Potomac on April 29, 2008.
"I've never thrown a no-hitter before, so I said, 'If it happens, it happens," said Maxwell. "And everyone played well today, everyone was behind me."
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com.