Bulls' Montgomery, Boxberger combine to no-hit RailRiders
Mike Montgomery was just hoping to pitch into the sixth inning for the first time this season. Instead, he was the major contributor to just the third no-hitter for the Durham Bulls since they joined Triple-A in 1998.
A second-inning walk to former Bull Russ Canzler was the only blemish for Montgomery in 8 1/3 innings before the lefty was pulled after 106 pitches Saturday. Brad Boxberger completed the no-hitter as the Durham Bulls beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5-0 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” Montgomery said. “It was one of those games where things started working and I got to the point where I said whatever (catcher Roman Ali Solis) throws down there, I’m throwing. And we were on the same page and he was making the right calls and I was just executing the pitches.”
A crowd of 10,011 witnessed the second no-hitter in two seasons for the Bulls (16-8). Four pitchers combined to accomplish the feat last season at Pawtucket, led by starter Jake Odorizzi — who, like Montgomery, came over to the Tampa organization from Kansas City before last season as part of the blockbuster Wil Myers-James Shields trade.
Montgomery (3-0) had combined to throw just 17.1 innings and walk 11 batters in his first four starts. The key Saturday was throwing all three of his pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup — for strikes. He had nine strikeouts against the RailRiders (10-11), the top affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Montgomery, 24, retired the final 22 batters he faced, but had a strict pitch count of 105 and was forced to come out before he could become the first Bull in history to pitch a solo no-hitter at the Triple-A level.
“It’s always nice to finish it, and deep down I wanted to, but I have to respect the decisions and that’s just how it goes,” said Montgomery, whose previous career high was 7 2/3 innings. “I wanted to but I think from an organizational standpoint, it was more about pitch count limits and safety, and I respect that.”
No Bull has even thrown a complete game since Jeff Niemann in 2008. Manager Charlie Montoyo said it was the loudest he’d ever been booed at the DBAP when he came out to replace Montgomery with one out in the ninth.
“I understood that,” Montoyo said. “But I have a job and he’s got a pitch count and I follow my job.”
The RailRiders didn’t come particularly close to a hit except for a sharp grounder in the sixth from Jose Pirela. Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee moved to his left to field it and first baseman Vince Belnome scooped Lee’s throw to get the out.
“When (Lee) made that play in the sixth inning, I thought to myself, ‘This could happen tonight,’” said Montgomery, who said he had never been a part of a no-hitter at any level.
Montgomery had a no-hitter through seven last year against Indianapolis, but walked the first batter in the eighth (his fourth walk overall) and was pulled. A reliever gave up a hit later in the inning, but on Saturday Boxberger got Antoan Richardson to ground out and then struck out Pirela to complete the no-hitter.
“We just got back from an eight-game road trip,” Montgomery said. “We come back here — big night, big crowd — and for that to happen is pretty cool.”
Vince Belnome and Cole Figueroa both went 3 for 4 as the Bulls broke a season-high three-game losing streak in its first of eight straight home games. Belnome had a home run and a double and raised his average to .151 by recording more hits Saturday than he had in his previous 24 at-bats.
That was plenty of offense for Montgomery, who entered the year with a career record of 32-42 in six minor league seasons.
“He did a good job,” Montoyo said. “There’s no explanation to it. That’s the funny thing about this game. From one day to another, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
NOTES — Indianapolis had the most recent no-hitter at the DBAP, on April 29, 2012. … After playing their first 23 games against Charlotte, Gwinnett and Norfolk, Saturday was the first time the Bulls played a game outside the IL South Division. …Merrill Kelly (4-0, 1.50), the IL’s first four-game winner, pitches for the Bulls today at 5:05 p.m. against Brian Gordon (1-1, 2.57).
Durham Bulls (16-8) 5, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (10-11) 0
April 26, 2014
|Flores, R, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.246|
|Almonte, Z, LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.247|
|Garcia, A, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.258|
|Romine, A, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.138|
Team LOB: 1.
E: Canzler (5, throw).
|Lee, H, SS||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.111|
|Figueroa, C, 3B||4||0||3||2||0||0||0||.343|
|Montgomery, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Fontenot (8, Cotham), Belnome (2, Moreno), Sands (8, Moreno), Figueroa, C (6, Moreno).
HR: Belnome (2, 3rd inning off Cotham, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Solis; Fontenot 2; Sands 2; Figueroa, C 4; Lee, H; Belnome 7.
RBI: Figueroa, C 2 (7), Belnome (6), Sands (19).
2-out RBI: Figueroa, C.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Mahtook; Christian; Fontenot.
Team RISP: 3-for-10.
Team LOB: 7.
|Cotham (L, 0-2)||4.0||6||3||2||2||5||1||5.17|
|Montgomery, M (W, 3-0)||8.1||0||0||0||1||9||0||2.81|
Pitches-strikes: Cotham 85-52, Moreno 28-20, Coello 25-16, Montgomery, M 106-69, Boxberger 8-6.
Groundouts-flyouts: Cotham 4-3, Moreno 1-0, Coello 3-1, Montgomery, M 11-2, Boxberger 1-0.
Batters faced: Cotham 20, Moreno 10, Coello 6, Montgomery, M 26, Boxberger 2.
Umpires: HP: Carlos Torres. 1B: Joey Amaral. 3B: David Soucy.
Weather: 81 degrees, clear.
Wind: 11 mph, Out to RF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
April 26, 2014
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media