For the second straight day, a Royals affiliate threw a no-hitter. Triple-A Omaha's Luis Mendoza accomplished the feat Monday, and it was duplicated by a pair of Double-A Northwest Arkansas pitchers, Will Smith and Kelvin Herrera, on Tuesday.
Fans who came out to see the game between Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas certainly got their money's worth, as the Naturals didn't just throw a no-hitter, they also turned a triple play along the way. Starter Smith, a lefty, carried a perfect game into the sixth before walking the first two hitters of the inning, but Travelers catcher Alberto Rosario then grounded to third baseman Mario Lisson, who started a 5-4-3 triple play.
Smith, 22, was removed after facing the minimum through seven innings, having thrown 101 pitches. Like Mendoza before him, Smith wouldn't seem to be a likely no-hit candidate. The lefthander, who came to the Royals from the Angels in a trade last July, doesn't miss many bats (5.52 strikeouts per nine innings this year) and his groundball rate is ordinary (1.17 ground-to-fly out ratio). Yet he did it anyway. Smith struck out five last night, picking up his fifth win in his last seven starts to improve to 8-7, 3.93 on the year.
Smith was relieved by hard-throwing righthander Herrera, who retired all six hitters he faced, striking out two, to finish the no-hitter. With the Naturals winning by a 1-0 final score, the game was completed in a tidy 2 hours, 15 minutes. The no-hitter and triple play were both firsts of their kind in Northwest Arkansas' four-year history.
AROUND THE MINORS
• We detailed Ryan Lavarnway's recent exploits in yesterday's Dish, but the Red Sox catching prospect kept on mashing Tuesday. Lavarnway homered again yesterday against Lehigh Valley, part of a 2-for-3 effort that also included a double and a walk. The homer was Lavarnway's sixth in the last seven games, 11th in 32 Triple-A games and 25th of the season overall.
• While the Mariners have called up prospects like Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, third baseman Alex Liddi's been going through an up-and-down campaign for Triple-A Tacoma. Pitch recognition (114 strikeouts in 368 at-bats this year) has continue to hold him back. He hit just .229 in June but he's back on the upswing in July, batting .327/.443/.837 with six homers in 49 at-bats. Liddi was at it again Tuesday against Tucson, going 3-for-5 with a homer, his 20th of the year, and two triples. He's improved to .264/.340/.511 for the season.
• Twins third baseman Miguel Sano put his impressive raw power on display in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The 18-year-old belted two homers and went 3-for-5 for Elizabethton, his fourth multi-hit game in his last five outings. Of Sano's 33 hits thus far for the E-Twins, 18 have gone for extra bases, and he's tied for second in the Appy League in total bases with 66. He's batting .289/.328/.579 in 114 at-bats.
• Moving up to Double-A hasn't slowed down Rangers righthander Joe Wieland yet. The 21-year-old made his fifth start for Frisco on Tuesday and allowed one run on two hits over seven innings against San Antonio. Wieland hasn't been striking out hitters with the same proficiency he did in high Class A (his strikeout rate has dropped from 10.09 per nine innings in high Class A to 7.45 in Double-A), which isn't unexpected, but he's been just as effective at keeping opponents off the board. Wieland has allowed just six earned run in five Double-A starts, and he got the win last night to improve to 2-0, 1.86 in 29 Double-A innings.
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