Rehabbing Garcia leads Chiefs in no-hitter
Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia hadn't pitched in the Midwest League since 2006. He -- with a pair of Class A Peoria relievers -- made a good bid to avoid throwing there much more on Thursday.
Making his first Minor League rehab start following a groin injury, Garcia tossed five hitless innings, and then relievers Steven Sabatino and Cody Schumacher followed with four perfect frames as Peoria completed a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Clinton.
Garcia struck out six over his five frames, but hit James Alfonso with a pitch in the third inning. The Chiefs didn't issue any walks and Sabatino and Schumacher combined for three strikeouts.
"It was a cool experience," Peoria pitching coach Dernier Orozco said. "I was excited to see that. It's amazing."
Garcia was making his first rehab appearance since landing on the disabled list with a groin injury in June. The 29-year-old had been on the DL earlier in the season with a shoulder injury, but in his seven Major League starts this year, he is 3-3 with a 1.69 ERA.
The southpaw cruised through the first two innings, picking up a pair of strikeouts. After he plunked Alfonso. Martin Peguero reached on a fielder's choice groundout to short. Peguero stole second during the next at-bat, but was left on base after Austin Cousino's groundout.
Orozco said Garcia's fastball sat at 90-91 mph and he used both his slider and changeup, with the latter rounding into form by the end of the outing. He threw 41 of his 58 pitches for strikes.
"In the first inning, he looked a little tentatitve," Orozco said. "It was his first time on the mound. After that first inning, he started to get more comfortable and confident."
Garcia also had no trouble covering first on a ground ball in the third. Orozco said he returned to the clubhouse for post-start workouts and treatment and wasn't in the dugout for the outcome of the no-hitter.
Peoria's pitchers were perfect the rest of the way. Garcia struck out two in each of his final two innings before giving way to Sabatino, who fanned two over 2 1/3 innings. Sabatino was making his 2015 Chiefs' debut after being sent down from Class A Advanced Palm Beach, where he amassed a 4.13 ERA in 22 relief appearances.
Sabatino got a hand in the sixth from center fielder Jhohan Acevedo, who made a diving grab to rob Alfonso of a hit.
Schumacher struck out one over the final 1 2/3 frames. The right-hander slimmed his ERA to 2.45 in eight appearances with Peoria.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the eighth, when Andrew Sohn belted a one-out double to center. Sohn advanced to third on a single by Acevedo, then scored the game's first run on a wild pitch.
Acevedo advanced to third on the play, then scored on a single to center by Cardinals' No. 25 prospect Oscar Mercado.
The no-hitter was the first for the Chiefs since left-hander Austin Kirk spun one on July 4, 2011, also in a 2-0 win over the LumberKings. Peoria also blanked Clinton, 2-0, on Wednesday.
Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.