Despite a 5.16 ERA, Mike Wright has been pitching well as of late. In his past six starts, Wright has only surrendered five runs and has struck out 30 batters. His most recent start came tonight against the Durham Bulls. To call his pitching performance tonight exciting to watch would be an understatement.
After four innings of play, the Tides were winning 5-0 and the only base runners Durham had were off of two walks (one in the second inning and the other in the fourth inning). At this point, Wright had three strikeouts to his name.
However, he was not done here. Wright “turned it up a notch” and retired the next 12 batters in order. Seven of these outs were strikeouts. Although nobody wanted to say it in order to avoid jinxing the right-hander, Wright was flirting with a no-hitter. At this point in the game, Wright was three outs away from recording only the third no-hitter in franchise history.
After Quinton Berry grounded out to the shortstop for the third out in the top of the ninth inning, Wright took a deep breath, grabbed his glove and emerged from the Tides’ dugout to hopefully make history.
To start of the bottom half of the inning, Wright walked Durham’s ninth hitter on five pitches and then had to face the start of their lineup. Wright did not catch any breaks with the next batter as he squared off against Justin Christian in a nine pitch battle. Luckily for Wright, he won the battle with a pitch right down the middle that Christian lined out to center field on.
One out. Two more to go.
The next batter struck out on four pitches with the last pitch low and inside.
Two outs. One more to go.
If Wright was not feeling the pressure at this point, he may not be human. With a 1-0 count to the fourth batter of the inning, Wright got the Durham batter to hit a ground ball to the shortstop, Alexi Casilla. You are probably thinking Casilla threw the ball to first base for the third and final out with Wright becoming the third pitcher in Tides’ history to pitch a no-hitter. Unfortunately you would be wrong with this assumption because an errand throw by Casilla allowed the runner to reach first base safely.
Now with runners on first and second base, Wright had to collect himself and focus on the task at hand. He got ahead of the next batter with a 1-2 count. Unfortunately, Wright’s 121st pitch was his final pitch thrown of the evening as the Durham batter connected with the pitch left up belt-high in the strike zone and lined it just over Dariel Alvarez’s head for a two-out RBI double ending Wright’s chance at “immortality.”
Wright was then replaced with Brock Huntzinger. Although he ended up recording his fifth win of the season with two earned runs, one hit given up and 11 strikeouts, this game more than likely left a bitter taste in Wright’s mouth.
This start hopefully showed scouts who the real Mike Wright is: A solid pitcher who can strikeout at least seven batters per start and go at least seven innings a game.