Burnes after no-no: 'Only going to get better'

September 12th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- Corbin Burnes pitched eight no-hit innings before Josh Hader finished the job on a historic night for the Brewers on Saturday.

But that wasn’t the deepest Burnes had ever gone in a game with a no-no.

When he was a junior in college at Saint Mary’s, Burnes went 8 2/3 no-hit innings in a start at the University of San Diego.

“The nine-hole hitter was left-handed and had been slapping stuff all night,” Burnes said. “We had a full shift on, and he slapped one to right.”

Asked if he had ever come close to throwing a no-hitter in high school, Burnes shook his head.

“Nah,” he said. “I wasn’t that good.”

Burnes was pretty darn good Saturday. It was after the sixth inning that he began to think he could be headed for history.

“That’s when I realized, ‘We’ve got a chance here,’” he said. “We had just gotten through the order a second time. That’s when it starts to sink in. But the leadoff walk [to Myles Straw in the seventh, ending the perfect game bid] was not ideal and caused me to throw a few too many high-leverage pitches, which kind of changes the scope of that game. But once we get through the sixth, I kind of had that feeling.”

Some are getting the feeling Burnes could be headed for something even more special -- a National League Cy Young Award. He entered Sunday with a Major League-leading 2.25 ERA, 1.50 FIP, 35.4 percent strikeout rate (tied with the Dodgers’ Max Scherzer), a 7.1 FanGraphs-calculated pitching WAR and an NL-leading 4.9 percent walk rate.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of big-name guys having great years,” Burnes said. “I try to not get too caught up in it. It’s cool now and then to check it out, but my focus is what I’m doing in between starts and preparing to go out there and be the best I can to help the team win. This is a pretty special team. What we’ve done to this point is impressive, and it’s only going to get better the rest of the season and the postseason.”

Manning connected to both Brewer no-nos

From the Obscure (and Totally Worthless) Trivia Department, we present this:

Rick Manning caught the final out of Len Barker’s perfect game for the Indians on May 15, 1981. It remains the most recent no-hitter thrown by a Cleveland pitcher -- the longest such drought in the game.

Until Saturday night, the second-longest drought belonged to the Brewers, whose first no-hitter was thrown by Juan Nieves against the Orioles on April 15, 1987.

On the Brewers’ bench that day in Baltimore? One Rick Manning.

And who was in the home broadcasting booth for the Burnes/Hader no-hitter that ended Milwaukee’s drought? Rick Manning, of course.

“Here it comes back around!” Manning said Sunday.

Best anybody can tell, there were only three people in the building for both no-hitters in Brewers history -- Manning, Brewers director of clubhouse operations Tony Migliaccio and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Haudricourt. (Note: Bill Schroeder caught Nieves’ no-no and broadcast Saturday’s game for Bally Sports Wisconsin, but the broadcast was done remotely from Milwaukee.)

“I was just sitting on the sideline and watching,” Manning said. “But that was the year that we got off to a 13-0 start. That was the ninth game in that start. And they had a good lineup over there -- Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson. And [Nieves] was dealing, and the catch of the day was Robin Yount, which I was reminded of with [Lorenzo] Cain’s catch. I don’t remember if there was any more than that catch by Robin, to be honest with you. But that was a heck of a start to a year.”