Indianapolis Indians starter Justin Wilson combined with relievers Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten for a no-hitter today against the Durham Bulls. Wilson threw 7.1 no-hit innings, with two walks and nine strikeouts. It was the first no-hitter that Wilson has ever been a part of. It was also the highlight of a career which features a lot of big game performances, including getting the win in Fresno State’s 2008 National Championship game against Georgia.
“It was pretty awesome,” Wilson said after the game. “Great for Jumbo [Jose Diaz] to come in and not give up a hit. And Doug as well. Great defense all around. Outstanding play to end the game, it was an awesome play. And then Jose Morales behind the plate was just outstanding tonight.”
The left-hander was pulled in the eighth inning after issuing a one out walk to Jeff Salazar. He was sitting at 107 pitches at the time, with Diaz warming up in the bullpen from the start of the inning.
“I liked his attitude when I got out there,” Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor said. “The first thing he says is ‘I’m not coming out of this game’ and I said ‘Yeah, you are.’ And then we just talked about that this is about him, and nothing else. So it was a matter of protecting him.”
“Obviously you’re rooting for him to get it done. But you gotta make the decision for his future. He wasn’t going to see the ninth inning, so soon as he walked that guy it was time to get him.”
“It was tough, but you’ve got to trust your manager,” Wilson said after the game. “He was making the call on what he thought, which was totally okay with me. Totally understandable. I respect him, and understand what he was doing.”
The decision to remove Wilson was greeted by a loud chorus of boos by the Durham crowd, which had 7,374 in attendance today.
“Yeah, if you get booed on the road, then you know you’re doing something good,” Treanor said, with a laugh.
Wilson cruised through a Durham lineup that featured eight left-handed hitters. He recorded nine strikeouts, all of which came against the top six hitters in the lineup. He was ranging 92-96 MPH with his fastball, mostly sitting 92-94 throughout the game. He also threw 72 strikes in his 107 pitches, which was rare for Wilson, who usually deals with control issues.
“I think for the most part he did work ahead,” Treanor said. “I think he was elevating his fastball very effectively today. He got in on some left handed pitchers. It’s tough to do as a left handed pitcher. You’re not used to facing so many left handers, but then I think as the game goes along it’s actually to your benefit.”
Wilson has been working with Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer on repeating his delivery. He moved to more of an over-head delivery, which will help keep his body under control.
“I think it gives me a little bit more rhythm and consistency,” Wilson said of the arm slot.
“I thought he did a really good job of staying in his delivery, and really staying under control,” Treanor said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for him. If he can keep his body under control, he is going to be in the strike zone.”
Wilson also flashed a slider and a nice curveball that was really working for him today.
“His curveball was really in play today,” Treanor said. “I thought his curveball might have been the best I’ve seen in a while for him.”
Indianapolis took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jake Fox led off with a double, then scored when Jordy Mercer grounded in to a double play. They added another in the third when Starling Marte hit a solo homer to deep left field. That was more than enough support for Wilson.
Jose Diaz came in with one out in the eighth inning to continue the no-hit bid. He got two fly outs to get out of the frame, including one that was hit deep to the wall in the left-center field gap. Starling Marte showed his range, easily making the catch to take the game to the ninth.
Left-hander Doug Slaten came on for the ninth inning to close out the game. Slaten started with a hard grounder to third baseman Matt Hague, who made a clean play and a strong throw for the first out. The second out came when Slaten got Will Rhymes to ground out to first on the first pitch, which Nick Evans took unassisted. Reid Brignac came up with two outs and sent a slow rolling check swing to second base. Anderson Hernandez ranged in, bare handed the ball, and made the flip to first base to complete a great play, and complete the no-hitter.
“When it was first hit, I didn’t think we had a chance to get him,” Treanor said. “It’s a great way to finish it.”