Poignant no-hitter by Volquez lifts spirits

Righty thinks of late Ventura on what would've been 26th birthday, as well as Miami star Fernandez

June 4th, 2017

MIAMI -- With a sense of purpose, took the mound on Saturday afternoon, and the 33-year-old was not about to be denied in his quest to make history.

Hours after paying tribute on social media to his late friend Yordano Ventura, Volquez threw a no-hitter. Emotionally driven, he struck out 10 and walked two in the Marlins' 3-0 victory over the D-backs at Marlins Park.

:: Edinson Volquez's no-hitter ::

"It's a special day for me and the Ventura family," Volquez said. "It was a good win, no-hitter."

Ventura, the former Royals' ace who died in a car accident in January, would have turned 26 on Saturday. Before taking the mound, Volquez posted on Instagram that he missed his former teammate. The two won a World Series together in Kansas City in 2015, and they were close friends.

"This means a lot," Volquez said. "I was pretty close to him. This really hurts. To do something like I did today, that's really special for me to dedicate the game to him. It was one of those days you wake up don't really know what's going to happen. Next thing you know, you have a no-hitter."

Upon hearing news of Volquez's no-hitter, his former Royals family reacted jubilantly.

Rene Francisco, the Royals' assistant general manager of international operations, helped sign Ventura and is close to Volquez as well.

"Very special for Eddie, especially on Yordano's birthday!" Francisco told MLB.com. "I'm sure that Eddie had Yordano on his mind once he was tasting the no-hitter. What a day for the Royals family."

Along with Ventura's passing, the Marlins and baseball world also grieved the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez, Miami's two-time All-Star right-hander who died in a boating accident last September.

On the mound where Fernandez was so dominant, Volquez turned in perhaps the greatest pitching performance at Marlins Park, which opened in 2012.

"Everybody loved Jose," Volquez said. "I can say that's for him, too. I really appreciate what he did here and people loved him. I'm really blessed to throw a no-hitter on his bump."

What transpired on Saturday almost defies logic. Volquez signed as a free agent with Miami in December, and he got off to an 0-7 start before beating the Angels on Sunday.

The right-hander faced the minimum against the D-backs. He issued walks to in the fourth inning and Chris Herrmann in the eighth. Yet, he got two double-play ground balls, and in the ninth inning, he struck out Nick Ahmed, and Chris Owings, all on changeups.

"He had his changeup going really good today, obviously," catcher J.T. Realmuto said. "What people probably didn't notice was his fastball command and the way he was able to pound righties in with his fastball, and get ahead of lefties with his fastball. His fastball command was really good today, and that's what made his changeup better."

After each no-hit inning, Volquez was his usual talkative self. He's not one to believe in superstitions, like not talking to his teammates.

"Most of the guys, when they're throwing a no-hitter, they're not talking to anybody," Volquez said. "I'm not that kind of guy. I'd go crazy. I've got to talk to somebody. They kind of put their head down, they'd say, 'Yeah. Yeah.' I was like, 'What's wrong with you?'"

Second baseman Dee Gordon provided the defensive play of the game, making a diving stop on Rey Fuentes' ground ball for an out. Statcast™ tracked the exit velocity at 103.4 mph.

had the hardest-struck ball for Arizona, a 108.3-mph comebacker that Volquez handled easily for an out in the fourth inning.

"He had a good day," Fuentes said. "Everything was going towards him. I didn't believe he would get that far. We're a good team, hitting-wise. Some people have their days, and it was him today."

The unpredictability of the day began when Fuentes collided with Volquez at first base on the first play of the game. The rest of the way, Volquez was pitching on a sore right ankle.

"At that moment, it was really hurting me," Volquez said. "I threw two [warmup] pitches. I told myself, 'Just pitch.' You don't want to leave the game in the first inning after one batter."