BOSTON -- Ahead of the series finale against the Marlins, manager Alex Cora discussed the confidence Brayan Bello has already displayed in his young career.
“He wants to get better, he wants to be good, he wants to dominate,” Cora said.
Hours later Bello did just that, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning in Boston’s 2-0 loss to the Marlins on Thursday at Fenway Park. Bello became the first Red Sox pitcher to take a no-hit bid into the eighth inning or later since Eduardo Rodriguez went 7 2/3 frames on Sept. 4, 2016, in Oakland.
In the end, Bello was charged with one run on two hits and one walk while he struck out five over his seven-plus innings.
After putting up three, four and three runs in each of Bello’s last three starts, Boston’s offense fizzled out vs. Miami, getting shut out for the fifth time this season. Over the Red Sox’s past eight games, the club has been outscored 34-11.
“It’s part of it,” Cora said. “There’s days you’re going to score runs, there’s days you’re going to give it up. And today we pitched well, we didn’t hit. But there was no hesitation for [Bello] to go into the eighth, no hesitation for him to go deep into the game. He’s really good and he’s getting better.”
Bello opened the night by retiring the hot-hitting Luis Arraez on three pitches. One inning later, Jazz Chisholm Jr. reached on a fielding error by first baseman Justin Turner to keep the early no-hitter in tact. Bello assisted himself in the third, snagging a liner from Arraez to end the frame.
“I think since the first inning, all my pitches were doing what they were supposed to do,” Bello said through team interpreter Carlos Villoria, “I was commanding my pitches and I was able to keep the pitches where I wanted to throw them. So I think from the first inning I thought it was going to be a good [outing].”
After Jean Segura singled to lead off the eighth inning and break up the no-hitter, Bello faced just one more batter -- Joey Wendle (single) -- before handing the ball over to right-hander Chris Martin. Segura scored on the following play, an RBI single from Jon Berti, putting Bello on the hook for the loss.
Bello generated a lot of weak contact, giving up just six hard-hit balls: a 103.7 mph lineout, a 101.3 ground into double play, a 100.7 groundout, a 100.6 single, a 99.3 lineout and a 96.8 flyout.
“The sinker/fastball cut a little bit atop the zone, the changeup is real,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “We just couldn't get the barrel on it. Guys were frustrated, a lot of weak contact. He did a really really good job. … That's a really good young pitcher that's going to have a really good future in this league.”
“On the other side, Bello's got incredible stuff,” Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo said. “I know he's a young kid. I've never really seen him pitch, but I saw him pitch today and it was incredible. It was just awesome being a part of it. Kind of keeps you in the game as a pitcher. He was working quick, I was working quick, so I feel like we each had a good rhythm going. But it was awesome to be a part of that.”
The outing continued a trend of strong starts for the 24-year-old Bello. The righty followed up two dominant Sunday night starts against the Yankees with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Boston’s win over the White Sox on June 23.
In that Chicago start, Bello introduced a cutter that he had only worked on during bullpen sessions. Of the nine cutters he threw, only one induced a whiff. Hoping to turn to the pitch as a weapon against lefties, Bello again experimented with his cutter on Thursday against left-handed-hitters Jesús Sánchez and Chisholm. Behind his sinker (44 pitches), the usually changeup-heavy Bello worked his four-seamer (28 pitches) against a Marlins lineup that struggles against the fastball.
“His changeup was good today, his sinker was good,” Cora said. “He has so many weapons and he’s still learning how to use them. There were a few cutters today to lefties, they were good actually. He’s just evolving, keeps getting better. His next one is going to be a challenge, it’s the Rangers. So he’ll be ready for that one and we’ll see what we got.”