Edinson Volquez dominated the Diamondbacks on Saturday for the sixth no-hitter in Marlins franchise history.
Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez, who two years ago led the Kansas City Royals to a victory in the World Series just hours after his father’s death, on this day honored two of his closest friends with the game of his life.
Volquez, who woke up Saturday morning wanting to dedicate his performance to the two buddies who died in the prime of their lives, sent out an emotional message on his social media account, and then pitched the first no-hitter of his career in the Marlins’ 3-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first in the major leagues this season.
The pitching gem was a tribute, Volquez said after the game, to the lives of the late Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals, who would have turned 26 on Saturday, and Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, who died last September.
“I dedicated this game to Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura,’’ said Volquez, who posted a picture of Volquez and himself before the game. “Ventura’s birthday is today. ..
“I just do it for them. They’re watching right now. And they might feel really happy right now.’’
Certainly, no one was happier outside Miami than Ventura’s former teammates in Kansas City, where the Royals tearfully celebrated Volquez’s feat by sending congratulatory messages:
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, in an Instagram post, wrote: “Volqueyyyyyyy boy! Of all days wow! Goosebumps! What a way to tribute your lil bro.’’
Third baseman Mike Moustakas wrote on his Twitter account: “Unbelievable eddy. What a birthday present for your lil bro.’’
The Royals sent out their team Twitter page: “Congratulations to former #Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez on his no-hitter today. Thank you for your #Ace30 dedication.’’
Volquez, who struck out 10 and walked two batters in his 96-pitch performance, became the first pitcher since David Cone in 1999 to throw a no-hitter in fewer than 100 pitches with 10 or more strikeouts.
And this is from a pitcher who had the lowest winning percentage (1-7, .125) at the time of his no-hitter in baseball history, according to Elias Sports.
Considering the circumstances, maybe there was some help from high above, enabling Volquez to keep his composure while pitching on an ankle that was throbbing since the third pitch of the game after a collision at first base, nearly forcing him to come out.
“I thought I broke my ankle,’’ Volquez said. “I twisted my ankle a little bit, but I talked to the trainer and told him I feel really good and to just let me go and compete and do my best today.
“And it was just one of those days. You wake up and you don’t know what’s going to happen in the game.’’
Yet, this day still felt like no other. He awoke, and realizing it would have been Ventura’s birthday, he posted a picture on his Instagram account, writing how much he missed his “brother,’’ a former teammate with the Royals who died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.
“Ventura was one of my best friends,’’ Volquez said. “He passed away, but I’m sure he’s in the right place right now and enjoying this moment.’’
It was a performance celebrated throughout baseball. Volquez not only became the first Marlins pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Henderson Alvarez on Sept. 29, 2013, but the first Marlin to throw a complete game in 480 starts.
“Just a lot of things lined up,” Marlins Manager Don Mattingly said. “And his stuff was really, really good.”
Unhittable, as it turns out, with the help of a few friends from high above.