Wilson, Diaz and Slaten combine to no-hit Durham

Indianapolis starter Justin Wilson tossed 7.1 innings of no-hit baseball at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Sunday evening before making way for relievers Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten, who finished off the historic ballgame as the Indians no-hit the Durham Bulls 2-0 for the Tribe’s fifth-straight win.

Two Bulls reached base in the game, CF Kyle Hudson on a third-inning walk and LF Jeff Salazar on an eighth-inning walk, but no Durham baserunner reached second base. Both walks were allowed by Wilson. Having thrown 107 pitches, Wilson was pulled after walking Salazar, but Diaz and Slaten combined for 1.2 perfect innings of relief to close out the no-no.

It was the first no-hitter thrown by Indianapolis since Ian Snell’s gem against the Norfolk Tides on May 15, 2005, at Victory Field. The no-hit victory on Sunday night also gives the Tribe a five-game winning streak, besting any winning streak from 2011, when the Indians won four games in a row on five occasions.

Despite allowing the two walks, Wilson (W, 7.1, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K) was outstanding and pitched into the eighth inning for only the second time in his career, the first since August, 14, 2010, when he tossed 8.0 innings of two-hit baseball as a member of the Double-A Altoona Curve. His nine strikeouts were the most in a single outing since that same game, when he recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts.

Fans at Durham Bull Athletic Park booed heartily as Indians manager Dean Treanor made his way to the mound in the eighth inning and signaled to the bullpen, ending Wilson’s evening and the solo no-hit bid, but in the minor leagues pitch counts and player health are more important than no-hitters. If Wilson was going to get his, he would need some help.

Help arrived in a massive way as the 6-5, 315-pound Diaz (0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) took the mound with Salazar leading off of first base. Diaz promptly induced two flyouts, earning a five-pitch hold and a place in the International League record books.

Diaz then gave way to Slaten (SV, 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) in the ninth inning, with the major league veteran southpaw looking for his second save of the season. After inducing a groundout to third and an unassisted groundout to first, Slaten was one out away from completing the no-hitter with Durham SS Reid Birgnac, a fellow major league veteran, stepping up to the plate.

In the lefty-lefty matchup, Slaten went ahead 0-1 on a called strike before Brignac tapped a weak grounder toward the second base position. With history hanging in the balance, Indianapolis 2B Anderson Hernandez raced into no-man’s land and managed to get the ball to 1B Nick Evans just before Brignac reached the base.

For the second straight night, the Indians got all they needed offensively in the second inning, when DH Jake Fox hit the first of his two doubles and eventually scored on a double play. CF Starling Marteadded a third-inning insurance run with a solo home run over the left field fence, his second of the year.

Indianapolis and Durham complete their four-game series on Monday afternoon, with the first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m. Looking for a sweep, the Indians are expected to send LHP Jeff Locke (2-1, 3.86) to the bump. The Bulls are expected to counter with RHP Matt Torra (1-2, 6.85).

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