Brash leads way in Travelers' no-hitter

September 3rd, 2021
From left, pitchers Nate Fisher, Matt Brash and Dayeison Arias with catcher Jake Anchia.Arkansas Travelers

While perhaps flying under the radar compared to some of his fellow highly touted Mariners prospects, has quietly authored a terrific 2021 season between two levels. Thursday night was his best performance yet.

Seattle’s No. 10 prospect utilized a career night on the way to a combined no-hitter with relievers Nate Fisher and Dayeison Arias. Brash posted double-digit strikeouts for the third straight start -- matching a career high with 11 -- and faced just one batter over the minimum through six dominant innings as Double-A Arkansas silenced visiting Wichita, 6-0.

“It’s really cool when all your teammates are just as excited as you,” an elated Brash said postgame. “I still don’t really know how to put it into words, but it’s just a lot of fun to do that with this group of guys.”

After totaling 21 strikeouts in his previous two outings, Brash immediately got to work along those same lines against the Wind Surge. The Ontario product struck out the first five batters he saw and seven of the first eight. Brash carved through Wichita’s lineup for six straight innings, striking out multiple batters in his first four and retiring the first 18 batters he faced.

“Tonight I made a plan to throw more changeups and to mix it in there,” Brash explained. “I think I did a really good job of doing that to lefties and righties. It kind of surprised them, I think, because I haven’t been throwing it very much this year. I think it just opened up my fastball, my slider. I got a lot of strikeouts on high fastballs, so I think the changeup was key. I’m definitely going to keep rolling with that.”

The righty finished the sixth with a swinging strikeout of Chris Williams, marking the third time he’s reached 11 K’s this season along with a July 7 outing for High-A Everett at Eugene and an Aug. 19 start for Arkansas at Frisco. Strikeouts are a deeper dimension for Brash’s repertoire this year with a K rate of just under 37 percent.

“During Covid last year, I worked really hard to gain weight and strength,” he said. “I came back this year with definitely plus stuff, plus [velocity], and it just made all my offspeed pitches better. I think just as the year has gone on, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with my arsenal. Now it’s just kind of all going together.”

Perfect through six, Brash took the mound to start the seventh but issued a walk to Ray Morales on seven pitches. The last one was Brash’s 90th of the night, 60 of which went for strikes.

“I didn’t know my pitch count at all,” he said. “I just kind of went out, kept doing my thing, and then when I walked [Morales] and I saw [Arkansas manager Collin Cowgill] coming out, I kind of knew I was at the pitch count. Ninety has been my number for the past month, so it wasn’t a surprise. I understand the pitch count situation, so I wasn’t too mad. I’m just happy the guys after me did an amazing job to make this a really cool night.”

First up was Fisher. Inheriting Morales at first, the southpaw picked up where Brash had spent most of his night. Fisher breezed through two perfect innings with three K’s in the first four batters he faced before giving way to Arias for the ninth.

“I have a lot of faith in the guys coming after me, but I’ve never really been a part of this, especially in pro ball, a no-hitter,” Brash said. “I was a little nervous. I had some butterflies going. The whole dugout was kind of a little tense.”

After recording two quick outs in the final frame, Arias ran into the only jam of the evening for the Travelers, issuing back-to-back walks to Morales and Spencer Steer, but the righty recovered. Arias induced a popout to shortstop by Trey Cabbage to complete the no-no, Arkansas’ first since Jordan Kipper accomplished the feat himself in 2016.

“Everyone was really locked in, but when Arias got the final out, everyone erupted,” the starter said. “It was a lot of fun.”

For Brash, the outing was just the latest impressive piece of an impressive 2021 campaign. Since being promoted to Double-A in mid-July, the 23-year-old has gone 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in eight starts, striking out 69 batters against 16 walks in 44 innings pitched at the level.

The Travelers scored their six runs on seven hits, plating five in the bottom of the sixth. , baseball's second-ranked overall prospect, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk in the win, boosting his slash line to .358/.489/.523 through 31 Double-A games.