While no-hitters are slightly more common in Minor League Baseball because of a greater amount of teams, having two in one week remains a rarity.
The Daytona Cubs, an Advanced-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, earned a no-hitter July 8 when Matt Loosen tossed all nine innings, walking two and striking out nine against Dunedin for a 7-0 win.
Loosen, a 23rd-round pick in 2010 out of Jacksonville, has bounced between minor league teams since signing, but he found some stability over nine innings during an 11 a.m. game. He gave up walks in the first and fourth innings, and an error allowed a third baserunner in the sixth, but he held the Blue Jays hitless.
It is Daytona’s first nine-inning no-hitter since 1996, when future Cubs star Kerry Wood started and combined with two relievers for the feat.
Loosen has 41 strikeouts in 36 innings for Daytona, allowing just nine runs.
This is after being sent down from Double-A Tennessee following early-season struggles, allowing 29 earned runs in 35 innings at the higher level. Three days later and one level lower, the South Atlantic League’s Lakewood BlueClaws hurled a combined no-hitter against Rome, winning 1-0.
Jeb Stefan started and threw six innings, walking four and striking out five. Ramon Oviedo tossed two perfect innings with four strikeouts, and Chris Burgess finished with a hitless ninth, walking one.
The five combined walks prevented the three pitchers from totaling a perfect game. Four of those walks came from Braves second baseman Ross Heffley, who is hitting .182 in 14 games with Rome.
The starter, Stefan, has a 3.78 ERA in 64 ⅓ innings with Lakewood, totaling 60 strikeouts. It was just his fourth start after coming out of the bullpen 22 times.
GALLO HURT: The home run race between Hickory teammates Joey Gallo and Ryan Rua has been the storyline of the SAL season, but it may be taking a hit by injury.
Gallo was placed on the disabled list Thursday with a strained groin, an injury suffered days ago but one which was waited on to see how it would react to treatment. It proved serious enough to force a stint on the disabled list.
The first-round pick in 2012 is second in the minors with 26 home runs, displaying tremendous power from an athletic 6-foot-5 frame. Some reports claim the third baseman’s power is the best in Minor League Baseball.
But the home run leader in the minors stands across the diamond from Gallo at second base; Rua has 28 homers in 82 games.
A 17th-round pick in 2011, Rua had a combined 10 home runs in 118 professional games before this season. He has shown no signs of being a first-half fluke, hitting 14 homers since the beginning of June and four in the past 10 games.
With Gallo forced to miss the Futures Game in New York on Sunday, some have suggested Rua take his place on the roster.
It would be fitting considering the two have been near equals in power numbers.