As good as this Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff has been all season — and they’ve been really good — it felt like if the team was going to record only the second no-hitter in franchise history, it was going to happen this season,
The big question, however, was, who was going to be the catalyst behind it? With a big-3 made up of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, it could have been any one of those three pitchers.
But on this occasion, it was Burnes who put together a masterful performance against Cleveland on Saturday night in what ended up being a 3-0 Brewers win.
From the start of the game all the way through the eighth inning when Burnes was eventually pulled, he was dominant. He rarely gave up any sort of contact, he managed to record 14 strikeouts, and he allowed only one walk.
But as excellent as Burnes was, every no-hitter has “the play.” The play is a defensive gem that helps keep the no-hitter alive late in the game, and in this instance, it was Lorenzo Cain who came up with the big defensive play in the eighth inning. Did you expect anyone else?
By the end of the game, the issue for Burnes wasn’t how he was performing — he still had good velocity on his pitches and didn’t appear overworked — but rather, it was his pitch count. After eight innings, he was at 115 pitches, an amount that was likely making manager Craig Counsell very uncomfortable as he watched on from the dugout.
“I had to fight to go out there for the eighth so I knew I had no shot for the ninth,” said Burnes via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Had this performance from Burnes taken place in mid-July, Counsell probably leaves him out there to try to finish off the game. However, this isn’t mid-July, it’s mid-September, and the Milwaukee Brewers have to focus on the much bigger picture at this point, which is making a deep playoff run.
During this time of the year is when Counsell is likely looking to have his pitchers on a pitch count in an effort to keep them rust-free yet fresh for the playoffs. Throwing 115 pitches is the opposite of that. So while we all wanted to see Burnes have the opportunity to complete the no-hitter on his own, this was the right call.
“From my perspective, he’s got a lot of innings ahead of him still this year, a lot of really important innings ahead of him this year, and I want to make sure he’s in the best possible position for those innings,” said Counsell via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He wanted to go out there, for sure, but I think he also understood.”
Josh Hader was the other member of this combined no-hitter — along with catcher Omar Narvaez — and when it comes to preserving a no-hitter in the ninth inning, there really isn’t anyone else that you’d rather have on the mound. Hader pitched a clean 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts.
While this wasn’t a true no-hitter like Juan Nieves threw in 1987 — the only other no-hitter in Milwaukee Brewers’ history — it was still a masterful performance, nonetheless, and one certainly worth celebrating.