Juan Nieves surprised the Brewers who took so long to throw another hit
Posted On September 15, 2021
DETROIT – Juan Nieves once coached against the Milwaukee Brewers.
But Tuesday felt a little different for him after Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader combined in Cleveland on Saturday to pitch the franchise’s second hitter.
Nieves, of course, is the author of the first – since April 15, 1987 in Baltimore – and the parties met on Tuesday for a pre-game chat and to take a few photos at Comerica Park.
“Kudos to both guys and the organization,” said Nieves, now assistant pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers. “One thing I wish I had happened with mine or the newer is the fact that it never happens in Milwaukee. I was hoping Milwaukee fans would see something like that. It would be wonderful.
“I’ve been involved as a coach (in non-hitting games) and it’s always more fun when you do it at home.”
Nieves was in the middle of a game with the Tampa Bay Rays when Burnes struck out 14 strikes in eight innings and added two more in the ninth in a 3-0 victory.
He had learned that his historic feat had finally been matched after returning to the clubhouse and seeing a flurry of texts on his phone.
The Brewers have flirted with players without hitting in the past – including a few close calls this season – but had failed to overcome the bump until Saturday night at Progressive Field.
Nieves said that on such occasions he would usually hear someone tell him that Milwaukee was almost living up to his historic achievement.
“I hear it a bit; my friends always tell me when someone is approaching,” he said. “I think the more I am in the game the more I see, I’m like ‘Wow, this is a special night.’ Suddenly the sun, moon, and stars line up correctly.
“I always say one of the coolest things about being a batterless is that we started the season 13-0 and there was a hero every night. We had the Sunday game that we came back and won Someone threw another Someone hit three home runs in a game.
“It was wonderful what happened in that 13-game stretch.”
Nieves was 23 when he teamed up with Bill Schroeder to form the battery that kept the Orioles without hitting at Memorial Stadium.
Making his second start of the season, Nieves estimated he threw 118 shots, which would have been three more than Burnes threw in eight innings. Nieves scored five goals and generated just three strikeouts while striking out seven.
The signature play of this match was Robin Yount’s plunge down center-right which deprived Eddie Murray of extra goals and took the victory 7-0. But there were a few other moments that Nieves remembered as well.
“Several games that were dynamic games,” he said. “Even in the third inning, (Jim) Paciorek had a great play. Dale Sveum had a double ground play on a ball right against him. Overall I think the intensity of the play (came out) . “
“It was 1-0 until the end. As a young pitcher you never think about the non-hitter. It’s a 1-0 game. You just try to put zeros up there. took the lead, it was a little different, that’s when I started to think about it.
“Meanwhile, Mike Flanagan throws a gem and I’m like, ‘Just another zero.’ That’s all it was. “
Nieves admitted to being “surprised” that his non-hitter was on for so long and said he was not among those who thought a combined non-hitter should have an asterisk next to him when the starter does. can’t go the distance.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “There have been combined draws that have happened in the big leagues before. But it’s a different time. They’re going to be throwing until October, so you have to be very careful not to extend it in order to make it happen. to have fresh throughout this race.
“They have their reasons and I’m sure he’ll have a much better chance of doing it.”
Arm issues only left Nieves pitching for three years in the major leagues, finishing with a 32-25 record, a 4.71 earned run average and a save in 490 innings.
He was the second youngest pitcher to pitch a hit at the time as well as the first Puerto Rican.
Nieves began his minor league coaching career with the New York Yankees in 1992 and returned to the majors in 2007 as a reliever coach with the Chicago White Sox.
He also coached the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins before joining the Detroit team last offseason.
“Unfortunately my career has been a bit short, but I was fortunate enough to be a coach,” he said. “I saw a lot of them (without hitters) on the other side.”