Three Kane County Cougars pitchers combined to no-hit the Quad Cities River Bandits on Friday — at Dozer Park, home of the Peoria Chiefs.
The “home” series for the River Bandits is being played in Peoria because river flooding created ongoing access problems to Modern Woodmen Park, and the Chiefs are on the road for an away series vs. the Burlington Bees. The River Bandits have yet to play a game at their home ballpark this season.
The no-hitter is the 10th pitched by Kane County hurlers. Bryan Valdez pitched the first four innings, Andy Toelken pitched the next 4.2 innings, and Blake Workman struck out the final batter of the game.
The Cougars took a perfect game into the 7th inning, but lost it when Toelken walked the second batter of the frame. Toelken issued all three walks given up by the Cougars; his third walk, with two outs in the 9th inning, led to Workman coming into the game. Toelken got the win and Workman got a save for retiring the only batter he faced.
Cougars third baseman Alex King drove in the game’s only run on a 7th-inning double that plated Eduardo Diaz.
Zambrano attempting comeback
When I realized the Cougars no-hitter was happening at a neutral site, I thought of then-Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter against the Houston Astros on Sept. 14, 2008. That was a “home game” for the Astros, moved from Houston to Milwaukee’s Miller Park because of Hurricane Ike.
The former Midwest Leaguer spent most of his career with the Cubs, though he pitched for the Miami Marlins during his final big-league season. Now 37 (he turns 38 on June 1), Big Z is attempting a comeback with the independent-league Chicago Dogs. He will be a relief pitcher for the Dogs, whose season begins May 17.
Zambrano pitched for the Lansing Lugnuts when he was a Cubs minor-leaguer. He went 13-7 with a 4.17 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 62 walks in 153.1 innings (27 games/24 starts). He also rehabbed with the Peoria Chiefs twice, in 2009 and 2011.