The Milwaukee Brewers have been playing major league baseball as a franchise for nearly 50 years now, but the organization can claim only one no-hitter thrown at the big league level. If you have ever watched at least one TV broadcast featuring color commentator Bill Schroeder, you know that said event occurred all the way back in 1987, featuring Juan Nieves on the mound and ‘Rock’ behind the plate. There have been a few near-misses since then from guys like CC Sabathia, Dave Bush, and Chase Anderson, but still just the one official no-no.
Yesterday at the lowest rung of the minor league ladder in the Dominican Summer League (DSL), however, the DSL Brewers no-hit the DSL Rangers (2) behind stellar work from starter Alexis Ramirez and reliever Jose Alberro. The 19 year old Ramirez tossed seven frames while allowing only two walks and striking out six before Alberro came on to close out the contest, tossing two clean innings with a couple of strikeouts. The Brewers won, 5-0, with most of the offense coming thanks to Oswel Leones, who hit a homer and had three RBI in the game.
That game was just one of a half-dozen no-hitters that the Brewers have recorded organization-wide since the start of this decade. Prior to yesterday’s game in the Dominican, the last no-no in the org was just last summer at Double-A Biloxi. The Shuckers had a doubleheader on August 14th, 2017, against the Tennessee Smokies, thanks to a postponed game the day before due to rain. MiLB doubleheaders feature two scheduled seven-inning games, so Hiram Burgos got the start in the seven-inning affair and started by tossing two clean innings with a couple of punchouts. Then came Forrest Snow, who was awarded the winning decision after pitching innings three through five, allowing one walk and four whiffs. Lefty hitting-convert Nick Ramirez threw the sixth while allowing a walk, and Jorge Lopez worked a clean seventh to finish up the no-no and record his fifth save of the year. The Shuckers won, 1-0, thanks to a first inning dinger by Troy Stokes.
Before the Biloxi no-hitter, you have to go all the way back to 2012 to find the previous one. The team that would eventually move to Biloxi, the Huntsville Stars, faced off against the Chattanooga Lookouts on August 4th. A familiar name got the start for Huntsville that night: Jimmy Nelson, worked the first four innings with four walks and four strikeouts, but no hits. Then came reliever Dan Merklinger, who was pitching in his final professional season. He walked four batters and allowed a run during his 2/3 of an inning before getting bailed out by La Crosse native R.J. Seidel. Seidel tossed an inning and a third while issuing two more free passes and was credited with the winning decision. Righty Darren Byrd worked two scoreless innings and then future big leaguer Brandon Kintzler came on for the save. Huntsville hurlers issued 11 walks in the contest but zero hits, and won 3-1 on a three-run homer by Brock Kjeldgaard in the third inning.
That wasn’t the only no-hitter the org registered in 2012. On May 4th, the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers defeated the Clinton LumberKings 5-0 while keeping their opponents out of the hit column. Chad Thompson, a 27th-round pick in 2011, got the start in that game and threw the first five innings with three walks and six punchouts. He would go on to miss all of 2013 with injury and was out of baseball after the 2014 season. His tandem partner, Mark Williams, came in to finish the context with four scoreless frames while walking one and striking out three. A former undrafted free agent, Williams hung around affiliated ball until 2015 but never made it past Double-A. 2010 24th-rounder Gregory Hopkins had the big hit, a three-run homer in the first inning, to power Wisconsin’s offense in the no-hit victory. He hung around the org until 2014 before playing a year in independent ball and hanging up the spikes.
We head back to the DSL to remember Juan Francisco’s seven-inning “gem” on August 15th, 2011. The DSL Brewers defeated the DSL Mariners by a score of 2-1, with Francisco tossing a complete game no-no. Francisco walked six batters while striking out only two during the highlight of his brief career, which lasted from 2010-12 and never got higher than the Dominican Summer League. Raul Mondesi, Jr. (the other one) and Jose Pena recorded the Brewers’ two runs batted in during the game, while a young Orlando Arcia took an 0-for-3.
The franchise’s first no-hitter of the decade took place on August 24th, 2010, in a Midwest League game between the Timber Rattlers and the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Jake Odorizzi got the start for Wisconsin and dominated, going eight innings with ten strikeouts versus only one walk. He was relieved by Adrian Rosario, who completed the no-no by throwing a scoreless ninth, walking one and fanning two. Both pitchers were dealt not long after. Odorizzi was sent to Kansas City in the famed Greinke deal and is currently enjoying a solid big league career. Rosario was a part of the 2011 K-Rod trade, and his career flamed out in the Mets’ organization in 2013. But both pitchers brought their best stuff that night, and thanks to RBI hits by D’Vontrey Richardson, Kentrail Davis, and Joey Paciorek, the T-Rats emerged victorious by a score of 3-0.
So there you have it, the six minor league no-hitters that the Milwaukee Brewers can claim since the start of 2010. Hopefully some of that good fortune will shine on the big league team soon, and help spawn the future broadcasting career of whatever backup catcher who may wind up calling pitches behind the plate for Milwaukee’s next MLB n0-no.