Missaki goes seven in L-Kings' no-hitter
Even for Daniel Missaki, who issued three walks in the entire month of April, Friday night's performance was an impressive display of command.
"He's a strike machine, but today his command worked so well and everything was down," Class A Clinton pitching coach Cibney Bello said. "He was down in the zone, mixing his sequences and pitching inside well."
Missaki said, "I just tried to throw strikes."
The 19-year-old Mariners prospect joined with fellow right-handers Kody Kerski and Troy Scott to throw a no-hitter in the LumberKings' 2-0 win at Cedar Rapids, with Missaki striking out seven over seven nearly perfect innings.
"This is going to be very, very emotional and I feel a little a bit emotional, too, because this is the first time I've been involved in a no-no situation [as a pitching coach]," Bello said. "It's going to be a great inspiration for the guys because they'll know what happens when you're consistent and stay down in the zone."
The no-hitter was Clinton's first since the late Victor Sanchez threw one on July 17, 2013, and the franchise's first combined effort since Aug. 4, 1996.
"I was really excited about the game today," Missaki said, but the Brazilian veteran of the 2013 World Baseball Classic held steady during his time on the mound. Even during the middle and late innings, he had no nerves about the bid for perfection. "No, because I wasn't thinking about that. I was just thinking about helping the team to win."
Missaki (1-1) didn't even go to a 3-1 count until the last batter of the sixth inning, then retired Jonatan Hinojosa on a groundout.
"Everything was very consistent," Bello said. "He was even more consistent than usual with his release point, his rhythm, his tempo and commanding his fastball on both sides of the plate. He was throwing his slider and changeup for strikes whenever he fell behind."
With two outs in the seventh, Missaki walked Trey Vavra.
"At the end of the seventh, it wasn't that he was fatigued," Bello said, "he just threw a couple of close pitches that didn't get the calls he wanted, and I could tell that bothered him and he lost his focus a little bit. I went to the mound and I was talking to him and he was breathing normally, he was fine, just a little emotional."
The non-drafted free agent struck out Max Murphy to cap his evening, lowering his ERA to 3.68 in five Midwest League starts.
Kody Kerski got the ball in the eighth, making his first appearance since April 17, and bookended a 1-2-3 inning with strikeouts.
"For Kerski, he's coming out of an injury," Bello said. "He's fine, that's the most important thing. He's a gamer. He had great stuff and showed he was able to handle the situation."
Troy Scott worked an uneventful ninth, shrugging off a two-out walk to Tanner English and striking out fifth-ranked Twins prospect Nick Gordon to record his first save.
"They were both under control," Bello said of the LumberKings' relievers. "They didn't show any emotion or [that they felt] any pressure. They just went after guys."
On the bench, Missaki admitted he was thinking about the no-hitter as he watched his teammates pitch.
"That was awesome," he said. "I was little bit nervous after I finished."
Cedar Rapids starter Stephen Gonslaves (2-1), the Twins No. 11 prospect, allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out eight over seven innings. He still boasts a 1.33 ERA in four starts.
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.