A shaky first inning wasn't too much for Jimmy Lambert to overcome on Saturday night.The 28th-ranked White Sox prospect worked past a pair of walks in the opening frame and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Double-A Birmingham blanked Tennessee, 3-0, at Smokies Stadium. He retired 17 consecutive
A shaky first inning wasn't too much for Jimmy Lambert to overcome on Saturday night.
The 28th-ranked White Sox prospect worked past a pair of walks in the opening frame and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Double-A Birmingham blanked Tennessee, 3-0, at Smokies Stadium. He retired 17 consecutive batters before Zack Short led off the seveventh with a single.
"It's definitely a lot of fun when you can get rolling like that," Lambert said. "I kind of looked around in the sixth inning and said, 'Man, I haven't pitched out of the stretch in a while.'"
Lambert (3-1) recorded 10 punchouts -- his highest total in four Southern League appearances -- over seven scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 3.13. The 23-year-old opened the season with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem and went 5-7 with a 3.95 ERA in 13 starts before earning a promotion on June 27.
With the exception of one difficult outing on July 4 against Chattanooga, Lambert has handled this next level well. Saturday night's effort was the third in which he's allowed one run or fewer while finishing at least six innings.
"There's a reason why everyone gets promoted here and you just have to come here and just keep doing what you're doing," Lambert said. "You can't make drastic changes. ... Once you handle the nerves and realize that you're just as good as any of these other guys out here, it's just baseball."
The 10 strikeouts eclipsed the Double-A best he set in his previous start against Mississippi, a game in which he allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings. The right-hander recorded a career-high 11 punchouts in his final Carolina League outing on June 23 against Down East.
Gameday box score
Staked to a 1-0 lead in the first inning Saturday, Lambert walked leadoff man Charcer Burks on four pitches before getting Vimael Machin to line to center for the first out. Burks stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch during Lambert's seven-pitch walk to Short, putting runners at the corners with one out. The Fresno State product got Yasiel Balaguert and Ian Rice to go down swinging to quell the threat.
"The more you get into the game, you start to feel your pitches better," Lamert said. "I kind of was able to lock it in."
The Arcadia, California, native punched out six more and was perfect over the next five innings, setting the side down on strikes in the sixth.
"Once I was able to settle down, we got ahead of guys and got consistent strikeouts," Lambert said. "Obviously, just like any game, you want to pound the fastball and get ahead with the fastball. And then we were able to go to some sliders and some changeups when we needed the outs."
After Short's spoiler to start the seventh, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder went back to the strikeout, again fanning Balaguert and Rice before Eddy Martinez bounced into an inning-ending forceout.
Lambert said he was cognizant of the potential milestone -- and that he had a hard time believing that pitchers who are rolling toward a no-hitter do so with blissful ignorance -- but he admitted that the consecutive outs streak did caught him a bit off-guard.
The 2016 fifth-round pick exited after throwing 58 of 95 pitches for strikes. Brian Clark and 29th-ranked José Ruiz each fanned one in a perfect frame to complete the club's first one-hitter since Scott Snodgress and J.R. Ballinger stymied Chattanooga on July 22, 2013.
Birmingham shortstop Danny Mendick went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, an RBI and a run scored. Trey Michalczewski also collected three singles and scored a run.
Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4.