At this point in his career, Brad Allen is not taking for granted any chance he gets to toe the rubber.
"I was never drafted and I've bounced around and I came out of independent league ball," Allen said. "Every time my name gets called, I know I have to pitch like it's the last time I'm ever going to throw. That's the mentality I need to take. At times, it's been successful and if not, you just have to learn from it."
Allen combined with Adonys Cardona and Tim Mayza on a seven inning no-hitter Saturday as Class A Advanced Dunedin beat Lakeland, 2-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep at Henley Field.
It was the second no-hitter of the day in the Minor Leagues and the first by the Blue Jays since Tom Singer pitched one against Fort Myers on May 5, 1992. It was not, however, the first no-hitter in which Allen has been involved. On Aug. 10, 2013, he retired 25 batters in a row on his way to a no-no for Class A South Bend.
"I still remember that one like it was yesterday," Allen said. "It's a unique feeling, so it's hard to explain. You feel such a high that you don't want the night to end. Afterwards, you have so much adrenaline you can't even eat. You just want to keep playing and riding that wave when things are going good."
As is the case with any no-hitter, things fell into place for Dunedin on Saturday. After a rainout on Friday, Allen -- who had not started a game this season -- was tapped to pitch the nightcap. When the 27-year-old right-hander learned he was getting the nod, he focused on following the team's mantra.
"This no-hitter is a testament to our defense," he said. "One thing [manager] Ken Huckaby has preached since the beginning of the year is that we have an excellent defense, so he wants us to go right after the hitter. I can think of a few plays that our defense made big plays. That's kind of been our MO the whole time -- these guys will make the plays for [the staff]."
Allen's night didn't get off to the type of start that would suggest the Jays were reserving a spot in the Florida State League record book. He issued a leadoff walk to Ross Kivett but followed that by getting a popup and a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play.
"[After the walk], I just calmed myself and tried to go back to the basics," the Arkansas State product said.
Allen threw 33 of 55 pitches for strikes and just focused on letting the guys behind him pick him up.
"On this team, you just know any ball put in play that there's a good chance that you're going to get the ball back," he said. "I don't know what it is about this team, but it seems like everyone of those guys wants the ball to be hit to them."
Allen pitched a 1-2-3 second, worked around a two-out walk in the third and retired the side in order in the fourth before handing the ball to Cardona. The 22-year-old Venezuelan right-hander issued two walks over 1 1/3 innings before Mayza came in for the five-out save.
"Adonys is so hard to get good contact off of and Mayza coming in from the left side, hitting 95-96 [mph] with that wipeout slider. I liked our chances," Allen said.
The dugout started to percolate around the sixth inning and Allen said he could feel the excitement building.
"We're all kind of just sitting there, watching every pitch and hoping it's a strike or that the batter puts it in play," he added. "There were a couplpe of guys giving looks here and there in the dugout. I don't think a lot of the guys have seen that before. It was pretty fun."
Allen joined the Blue Jays in 2014 after he was released by the D-backs. He spent all of last season with Dunedin and credits the club's pitching coaches for helping him get off to a great start this year.
"This organization has so many amazing coaches," he said. "Pat Hentgen, Paul Quantrill and Sal Fasano do a great job with us on simplifying a very complex game."
The Blue Jays gave Allen a lead before he took the mound as Blue Jays No. 27 prospect Ryan McBroom lifted a sacrifice fly in the first. Jason Leblebijian singled and scored on a balk in the sixth to provide a little insurance.
In the opener, Blue Jays No. 2 prospect Conner Greene allowed one run on three hits and struck out six across 5 2/3 innings as Dunedin posted a 2-1 victory.