Padres farmhands James Needy, Frank Garces and R.J. Alvarez combined for a no-hitter Wednesday night, as Double-A San Antonio defeated Corpus Christi, 6-0. But they didn't know it until after the game was over.
Needy began the game by retiring the first 16 batters he faced. That streak ended with one out in the sixth inning, when Corpus Christi's Rene Garcia grounded a ball to Missions shortstop Diego Goris, whose throw across the diamond pulled first baseman Cody Overbeck off the bag. The play was ruled an infield single, only to be changed after the game to a throwing error.
Needy struck out the next two batters to end the inning then threw one more inning, retiring the Hooks in order, before Garces relieved him. Garces threw a perfect eighth, and Alvarez followed with a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off what would eventually become a no-hitter.
"We kind of had an idea it would get looked at, just from the way the umpire called it," Needy told MiLB.com. "[After the call,] I was in a bit of shock. "I think it was the last inning or something … [some Corpus Christi players] said their coaching staff said it would be looked at. … Just the way the ump called it, all of us, with our baseball knowledge, we kind of knew. He didn't beat it out."
The Missions gem spoiled right-hander Mark Appel's debut with the Hooks. The top overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft struck out four in five scoreless innings. He scattered two hits and four walks.
But once Appel, ranked No. 46 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, left the game, San Antonio went to work against the Corpus Christi bullpen. The Missions scored four runs in the sixth and tacked on two more in the ninth, giving their pitching staff plenty of run support.
Needy, 23, was the Padres' sixth-round pick in 2009. He has pitched well this year and, with Wednesday's win, improved to 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings. Corpus Christi manager Keith Bodie said he did a good job of using his whole arsenal.
"He pitched great to both sides of his plate with his fastball, mixed in his off-speed pitches in and located," Bodie said. "We didn't get very good swings off him. It happens in baseball when you're on. It was their night tonight."
Garces and Alvarez have been two of the best relievers in the Texas League this season. In 42 appearances, Garces has piled up 67 strikeouts. Alvarez, who was part of the package the Padres acquired from the Angels in exchange for Huston Street, has allowed just two runs in 25 appearances this season. He has struck out five batters in 4 1/3 scoreless innings since the trade.
Catcher Austin Hedges, the Padres' No. 1 prospect, guided Needy, Garces and Alvarez through the no-hitter. He also went 1-for-4 with a run and a stolen base, his first of the season.