Story by Martin Abresch , June 2, 2028
In his major league debut, Detroit starter Dan Pollard tosses eight no-hit innings. His reward? His first major league loss.
Without getting a hit, the Duluth Gulls manufacture two runs. Meanwhile, Duluth’s pitching shuts out the Detroit Thunderbirds. Duluth beats Detroit, 2-0.
Detroit recently traded starter Ronnie Taylor to Milwaukee, opening up a spot in their rotation. Pollard, age 25, was brought up to take his spot and eat innings.
“His performance was something we never quite saw ever happening,” said Detroit General Manager Eddie Komrska after the game, “To be honest, when we traded Taylor we held a roshambo contest with our minor league pitchers, and apparently he’s the best of the best.”
Facing the defending champions, Pollard strikes out the first two hitters he faces and retires 11 of the first 12. The one batter to reach base, Bob Pichon, walks and is promptly picked off.
The Gulls score their first run in the fifth. Pollard walks Pichon for the second time, then hits Barry Brown with a pitch. A ground out advances Pichon to third. Juan Ibarra hits a deep fly ball, and Pichon tags up and scores without a throw.
Pollard then retires the next 10 batters.
“Pollard pitched an incredible game,” said Duluth General Manager Andrew Sather, “He kept our hitters off balance. To have the type of game he did really speaks to his potential.”
Unfortunately for Pollard, Duluth ace Jorge Valdéz pitches one of the best games of his career. Valdéz (8-1) walks none and allows just two hits over 8 1/3 innings of work. He strikes out a career-high 13 batters. His previous career high of 12 came nearly a year ago, on July 16, 2027, against the Toledo Neptunes.
“Valdez has always had the stuff to be an ace,” said Sather, “But he had never truly been consistent to be labeled as an ace. Pitching as well as he did today, maybe he has turned the corner. No doubt this was one of his better games.”
Two T-Birds reach base via errors by Duluth second baseman—and two-time Flashing Leather Award winner—Harvey Ormon. Both Detroit hits are are singles off the bat of Andy Blatchford—the only player on either team to get a hit today. The seventh inning, when Justin Henry reaches base on an error and Blatchford singles, is the only time where a T-Bird reaches second base.
With the score 1-0, Pollard comes out to pitch the ninth. He walks the leadoff hitter—the opposing pitcher Valdéz. With the game still winnable and Pollard having thrown 114 pitches, the Detroit manager makes the tough call and pulls him from the game, despite the no-hit bid.
John Cline comes in to relieve. A sacrifice bunt moves Valdéz to second. A ground out moves him to third. The would-be third out—a ground ball to second baseman Andy Blatchford—is bobbled, allowing Valdéz to score the second run of the game. Coincidentally, it’s Ormon, the man with two errors on the night, who hits the ground ball that Blatchford bobbles.
Cline gets the next batter, Pichon, to fly out, completing the combined no-hitter.
Valdéz comes out to pitch the bottom of the ninth, retires the first batter, then gets pulled for Christian Cassell, who records his second save of the year.
After the final out, the crowd in Thunderbirds Ballpark was silent and seemed stunned. The loss stung, but they knew that they had seen something very special. Some fans made for the exit. On the field, Pollard shook hands then made his way for the tunnel and the clubhouse. Some fans stuck around and started chanting Pollard’s name. The chants grew louder and louder. Exiting fans stopped, turned around, and joined in.
Word reached Pollard after a minute or two of chanting, and he came back out and tipped his hat to the remaining crowd, who cheered loudly.
“That meant a lot to me,” said Pollard after the game, “I’m going to remember that for a long, long time.”