A strong spring had people expecting big things from Adam Conley. On Friday, he came four outs away from something huge.
Conley carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before being removed with two outs, settling for 7 2/3 hitless innings in a 6-3 win over the Brewers. Conley struck out seven and issued four walks in the win, his first of the season.
It's the second time this season that a starter throwing a no-hitter was removed before yielding a hit. Earlier this month, Dodgers starter Ross Stripling was pulled after 7 1/3 no-hit innings after he reached the 100-pitch mark in his first start of the season. In both cases, the no-hit bids ended in the hands of the bullpen.
Friday's start put Conley on the map, but an uptick in velocity this spring caught people's attention well prior to the no-hit bid. In his second start of the season, the southpaw struck out nine Mets over six scoreless innings, and he followed that with eight strikeouts against the Nationals in a start where he faltered late. After Friday, Conley owns a 3.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 28/12 K/BB ratio over 27 innings of work.
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Diaper Dandies Make Debuts
Several top pitching prospects have made their anticipated debuts recently, and two more joined the party Friday.
Michael Fulmer, a prospect traded from the Mets to the Tigers last year in a deal for Cespedes, started his first game for his new major league team, allowing two runs over five innings in a win over the Twins. Fulmer, 23, struck out four while giving up seven hits and a walk.
In Oakland, another pitcher traded around last year's deadline, Sean Manaea, made his MLB debut against the Astros. The southpaw didn't fare as well, allowing four runs on four hits over five innings. Manaea also walked four while striking out three, and two of his runs allowed scored after he was removed from the game.
Despite mixed results, both pitchers have bright futures in the majors. Manaea, a former first-round pick of the Royals, was dealt to the A's along with Aaron Brooks in exchange for Ben Zobrist. He has a career 2.82 ERA in the minors with 257 strikeouts in 214 innings of work.
Fulmer showed up on Baseball Prospectus' prospect list prior to the 2013 season, and he put up a 2.24 ERA with 125 strikeouts in 124 2/3 innings in the minors last year. After a trade with the Brewers for Carlos Gomez fell through at the last minute, the Mets acquired Cespedes from the Tigers for Fulmer and Luis Cessa.
Their debuts followed in the footsteps of debuts from Jose Berrios and Aaron Blair in recent days. Blair made his second start of the season earlier Friday, limiting the Cubs to one run on two hits over six innings in a no-decision.
Cespedes, Mets Have Record Inning
A leg injury has been the only thing able to keep Yoenis Cespedes down lately.
Making his first start since last Friday, Cespedes mashed a grand slam and finished 2-for-4 with six RBI -- all coming in the third inning -- in the Mets' 13-1 trouncing of Jake Peavy and the Giants. Cespedes and his Mets teammates pounded out 12 hits in the win.
Cespedes had a two-run single earlier in the third inning against Peavy before coming up with the bases loaded and one out against reliever Mike Broadway. Cespedes lined a hanging slider over the left field wall for the grand salami, capping a record-setting 12-run inning for the home side. His six RBI in one inning was a Mets record.
“When we signed him it was a huge, huge move for us,” Manager Terry Collins said of Cespedes. “He puts that legitimate big-time bat in the middle of our lineup that every good team needs to have. For me, what he does is he just takes the load off so many guys.”
A bruise on his right thigh had held him out of action in recent days, but when in the lineup Cespedes has been a beast. During a nine-game hitting streak that dates back to April 15, Cespedes is 13-for-34 (.382) with three doubles, a triple, six home runs, 20 RBI and nine runs scored. He's hitting .313/.380/.719 with seven home runs and 23 RBI overall.
National League Quick Hits: Kris Bryant (ankle) sat out of Friday's win over the Braves. The third baseman is expected to miss a few days with a sprained right ankle, but it's not something expected to require a trip to the disabled list. Owners in daily leagues will have to check on his status the next few days ... Juan Nicasio got back to his mid-March form Friday, twirling seven shutout innings while striking out eight Reds hitters. Nicasio is 3-2 with a 3.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 29/12 K/BB ratio over 27 innings this year ... Ryan Howard still has a few fireworks left in his bat, and he sent Phillies fans home happy when he shot one off in the 11th inning. The homer was the fifth of the season for Howard, who finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored in the win ... The Brewers optioned right-hander Taylor Jungmann to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The 26-year-old has struggled mightily this season, posting a 9.15 ERA through 20 2/3 innings ... Matt Szczur played hero for the Cubs on Friday, hitting a grand slam in a win over the Braves. The win moved the club to 17-5 on the young season.
American League Quick Hits: Speaking of first career starts in the majors, Alex Meyer will make his Tuesday against the Astros. Meyer made two appearances in relief with the Twins last season but hasn't started a game for the big club. He's got a 1.04 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings at Triple-A Rochester to start the season ... Michael Saunders homered twice to lead the Blue Jays past the Rays. Saunders is locking up his spot atop the Jays' lineup, batting .324/.377/.606 with four homers in 18 games ... Aaron Sanchez got back on track, firing seven scoreless innings against the Rays. He's now allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his five starts, good for a 2.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 29/10 K/BB ratio over 31 1/3 innings ... Nolan Reimold stated his case for more playing time in a crowded Orioles lineup, hitting a three-run home run and scoring twice against the White Sox. Reimold is batting .355 with a 1.136 OPS in 31 at-bats ... A's placed right-hander Chris Bassitt on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. Bassitt experienced reduced velocity in Thursday's start, leading to concerns. Jesse Hahn was recalled and will start Saturday against the Astros ... The Orioles signed Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league contract. With some injury concerns in their starting rotation, the O's can use the depth. Wandy had a 3.95 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings as a non-roster invite of the Astros this spring.