PEORIA, Ill. — In a rehab assignment from the St. Louis Cardinals, Jaime Garcia started a special evening for the Peoria Chiefs, as three pitchers combined to no-hit the Clinton LumberKings on Thursday. Though Clinton starter Zack Littell matched the Cardinals’ lefty, he allowed a pair of runs in the eighth inning in the loss.
"There's not much to say when you get no-hit," Clinton Manager Scott Steinmann said. "We have to come up with big hits."
Garcia, who is on the MLB disabled list due to a groin injury, made his first, and potentially only rehab start in the Cardinals’ system.
The lefty, who is 3-3 with an ERA under two with St. Louis this season, struck out six and hit a batter over five no-hit innings. He hit James Alfonso with a pitch in the third inning, and Martin Peguero reached on a fielder’s choice that retired Alfonso. The pair were the only Clinton hitters to successfully reach first base Thursday night.
Littell, however, looked every bit as impressive. Through 7 1/3 innings, Littell allowed only three hits and did not walk a batter.
At one point, the young righty retired 12 straight Peoria hitters. But after a foul out by Kenny Peoples-Walls in the seventh, Andrew Sohn doubled over the head of Clinton center fielder Austin Cousino. Jhohan Acevedo followed with a single to right field, and the throw from Chantz Mack got away from Alfonso behind the plate, which allowed Acevedo to get to second base. The error left first base open for Oscar Mercado.
"We definitely pitched well, but didn't support him," Steinmann said.
Clinton (6-22 second half) elected to walk the league leader in stolen bases with the open base. Littell’s first pitch of the attempted intentional walk was high and deflected off of Alfonso’s glove, as Sohn scored from third and Acevedo moved to third. Just a few pitches later, Mercado singled home Acevedo and made it 2-0 Peoria (18-10 second half).
After Steven Sabatino made his 2015 Peoria debut with 2.1 perfect innings, Cody Schumacher went the rest of the way. He inherited a scoreless game, but retired all five men that he faced. Ahead 2-0 entering the ninth inning, the righty set down the side quickly. Alfonso flied out to center field, Martin Peguero flied out to right field, and Austin Cousino lined out to first base, as Peoria combined on the second no-hitter in the MWL in 2015.
Peoria pitching retired the final 19 Clinton hitters that stepped in and faced just one over the minimum 27 in the no-hitter. It was the first no-hitter against the LumberKings since Wisconsin no-hit Clinton in a 5-0 game in May 2012.
"To me, it doesn't matter if it's a hall of famer or a rookie, you have to compete," Steinmann said. "We had pitches to hit, we hit five or six hard-hit balls. They did pitch a good ball game."