In a season full of historical moments for Fort Wayne, Simon Castro added another one Tuesday -- the franchise's first no-hitter in 17 years.
Castro faced just one batter over the minimum in the TinCaps' 6-0 shutout of visiting Dayton in the second game of a doubleheader.
"That's kind of unbelievable," said Castro. "I never expected something like that to happen to me.
"In the fourth inning I was like 'Oh my God, I'm throwing a no hitter right now.' [Then] it was like, 'OK, keep focused, keep working.'"
The mantra served him well. Already the Midwest League leader in strikeouts with 142, Castro (8-6) tied his career high by fanning another nine Tuesday. (The closest pitcher to Castro is Clinton's Kenn Kasparek with 120 strikeouts.)
Fort Wayne had decided before the game to lift Castro's five-inning limit, which proved fortuitous in the long run.
"It couldn't have worked out better," pitching coach Tom Bradley said of Castro's night, which culminated with teammates swarming the mound to hoist the 6-foot-5 right-hander. "He threw 87 pitches in seven innings."
It marked the 21-year-old's third shutout in his last seven starts. The only batter to get aboard was Kevin Coddington, who he plunked in the second inning.
"It was a dominating performance against a team with very good hitters," Bradley said. "I couldn't be prouder or more tickled for him to see how far he's come."
By any standard, 2009 seems to be a breakout season for Castro. The Dominican native captured the Padres' Pitcher of the Month award in July despite having an innings limit, and he was also named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for Aug. 3-9. During that week, Castro (8-6) allowed just one run while striking out 15 in 10 innings over two starts.
The key to Castro's improvement has been his ability to repeat his delivery and not rush to the plate, something which can often be difficult for pitchers of his size.
"When you're 6-5, the release point can throw you off mechanically," Bradley explained. "And he's done a remarkable job."
Like Bradley, Castro's teammates sensed early on that Tuesday could be special. By the game's midway marker, they were sitting on the other side of the dugout from Castro in the time-honored tradition of trying not to jinx the pitcher.
But perhaps no one foreshadowed the historic night better than Castro.
"[Monday] night I was talking with Bradley and I told him, 'Hey, I want a complete game. I want you to let me throw a complete game,'" he said.
In doing just that, Castro might have showcased a future with equally limitless boundaries.
"In 17 years [no one has thrown a no-hitter], it's remarkable," Bradley said. "And we've had some great pitchers here. Quite a night, that's for sure. Quite a night."