Anyone who saw Ricky Nolasco in high school — myself included, thought the former Rialto High star was a very good pro baseball prospect. Many also believed he could’ve been a hitter, too.
You never know if things will totally pan out, especially with injuries. But on Wednesday, he turned in an amazing performance against a team fighting for the playoffs.
Nolasco struck out 16 Atlanta Braves in 7 2/3 innings in Florida’s 5-4 win on Wednesday night in Atlanta. He also struck out nine straight batters at one point, fanning the side in the third, fourth and fifth innings. He was one short of Tom Seaver’s major league record. He was also only the fourth all-time to strike out as many as nine straight batters, the last being Jake Peavy for the Padres in 2007. It has never been done in the American League.
It’s a shame he didn’t have a chance to go for the major league record of 20 strikeouts, because he had thrown 123 pitches (83 of which were for strikes) in those 7 2/3 innings. His previous season high was 12 strikeouts in 8 innings against Pittsburgh July 5 in a 5-0 win.
The 26-year-old Nolasco, who was a fourth-round draft pick out of high school by the Cubs in 2001, had only had a cumulative ERA below 5.00 once this season, and it was 5.28 entering Wednesday’s start. He lowered it to 5.06 by allowing two unearned runs during his stint Wednesday, when he also walked two and gave up four hits.
Despite a poor overall ERA in 2009, he has a good record. After what was supposed to be Nolasco’s last appearance of 2009, he is now 13-9 this season and has won 11 of his last 14 decisions dating back to June. But, he allowed seven earned runs or more in each of his three losses during that span.