MIAMI (The Sports Exchange) – Three pitches into Saturday’s game, Edinson Volquez sustained a collision that nearly ended his day.
Volquez stayed in the game … and made history.
Pitching on what would have been the 26th birthday of his friend and former teammate, the late Yordano Ventura, Volquez pitched his first career no-hitter and the first of the Major League season, defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0.
Volquez (2-7) walked just two batters and struck out 10. He struck out the side in the ninth inning, including the last batter, pinch hitter Chris Owings.
Volquez, who was helped by two double-play grounders, needed just 98 pitches to complete the no-hitter.
Before the game, Volquez had posted a picture of himself and Ventura, his former Kansas City Royals teammate who was killed in a car crash last year.
“I was pretty close to him in Kansas City for two years. He passed away, and it really hurt,” Volquez said. “It was special for me to dedicate the game to him.”
Things did not start out great for Volquez.
Arizona leadoff batter Rey Fuentes hit a grounder to first baseman Justin Bour, who flipped the ball to Volquez for the out. But Fuentes bumped Volquez from behind, and the pitcher tumbled.
Volquez twisted his right ankle on the play.
“I told one of the trainers, ‘I can’t pitch any more — it hurts’. But I started feeling better in the fourth. And I told them, ‘You have to let me pitch now.'”
One of the day’s biggest plays came to lead off the fourth, when Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon made a diving stop on a sharp Fuentes grounder.
“He saved the no-hitter right there,” Volquez said.
The next play Volquez made a brilliant grab on a comebacker hit by David Peralta that was tracked at 108 mph.
By the seventh inning, Volquez said he had convinced himself he was going ‘to go for it.”
Catcher J.T. Realmuto, who caught his first no-hitter as a pro, said he realized Volquez was sharp early on in the game.
“Around the second or third inning, I could tell his stuff was really good,” Realmuto said. “I knew he had a chance to have a really good game.”
Previous Marlins no-hitters were thrown by Al Leiter (1996), Kevin Brown (1997), A.J. Burnett (2001), Anibal Sanchez (2006), and Henderson Alvarez (2013).
(Editing by Gene Cherry)