Wacha, 'pen combine on Worcester's first no-no
Michael Wacha has come close to experiencing a no-hitter several times in the Majors, but had never seen one come to fruition until Thursday night at Triple-A Worcester. What began as a rehab start for the Red Sox righty ended in historic fashion for the WooSox, who achieved their first
Michael Wacha has come close to experiencing a no-hitter several times in the Majors, but had never seen one come to fruition until Thursday night at Triple-A Worcester.
What began as a rehab start for the Red Sox righty ended in historic fashion for the WooSox, who achieved their first no-hitter in club history en route to a 12-0 win over Durham at Polar Park. Wacha and right-handers Andrew Politi and Chase Shugart combined on the historic feat behind a bevy of run support in a rout of the first-place Bulls.
“You don’t get those opportunities very often, and to be a part of them is exciting,” Worcester pitching coach Paul Abbott said. “It’s an exciting moment to be watching baseball, to watch it happen."
Appearing in what could be a one-start rehab assignment, Wacha struck out eight over the first 4 2/3 innings. Politi hurled the next 2 1/3 hitless frames, and Shugart went the final two innings to close out the no-no. Shugart received a huge defensive assist from left fielder Devlin Granberg, who dove to his right to reel in Josh Lowe’s sinking liner for the final out.
“When it's not an individual throwing a no-hitter, the no-hitter can kind of get lost until that actual moment,” Abbott said. “That last inning was when it really got heightened, and you could feel the crowd get excited. With that last play, our bench and the crowd exploded and it was really fun.”
Prior to that decisive moment, Worcester’s lineup provided plenty of offense. Abraham Almonte homered twice, and Christin Stewart and Pedro Castellanos also went deep in a 17-hit onslaught.
Most of that production came behind Wacha, who has been on the injured list since June 28 with right shoulder inflammation. The 31-year-old threw 63 pitches (46 for strikes), and he could make another start for Worcester to get further stretched out or return to Boston’s rotation as early as next week.
“Right from the beginning, he appeared to be locked in,” Abbott said. “He was commanding everything. … He stuck around for the two guys who closed it out, so that was really cool.”
Worcester’s first no-no was the 30th in the Minors this season. Wacha, Politi and Shugart combined to issue five walks and Politi pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth. Politi and Shugart only struck out two while recording the final 13 outs.
As they strung them together, anticipation began to build.
“Players were aware of it probably in the seventh or eighth,” Abbott said. “Our assistant hitting coach (Michael Montville) said he just became aware of it with one out in the ninth. Then he got really excited, and was really fired up.”
Wacha is no stranger to that kind of late-inning drama. He was only a 22-year-old rookie when he came one out away from a no-hitter on Sept. 24, 2013, pitching for the Cardinals against the Nationals. Wacha lost that bid on an infield hit with two outs in the ninth, before enjoying a dominant postseason run for St. Louis. The veteran righty is in his first season with Boston, and he went 6-1 with a 2.69 ERA over his first 13 starts.
The start marked his first appearance at Triple-A since he made 15 starts for Memphis in 2013 — the last coming less than two months before the 8 2/3 no-hit innings against Washington. Nine years later, he was finally able to celebrate a no-no in his return to Triple-A.
“Everyone was super excited,” Abbott said. “Those don’t happen every day and when they do, the fan in you comes out. All the guys on our team were fired up that they got to be a part of it. It was pretty cool.”
Joe Trezza is an contributor for MiLB.com.