Sneed flirts with perfection for Express

Astros right-hander retires first 22 batters in bid for history

The outing marked the third time in his career that Cy Sneed pitched at least six hitless innings. (Julia Price/Round Rock Express)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | May 22, 2019 11:47 PM

With a name synonomous with pitching greatness, the third time was almost the charm for Cy Sneed.

The Astros right-hander flirted with perfection Wednesday, retiring the first 22 batters en route to eight one-hit innings as Triple-A Round Rock beat San Antonio, 4-0, at Dell Diamond.

Cory Spangenberg stroked an opposite-field double to left field with one out in the eighth and was the only baserunner against Sneed, who fanned four and threw 62 of 86 pitches for strikes.

Video: San Antonio's Spangenberg breaks up perfecto

"A matter of 5 or 6 feet," Sneed said of the only hit he allowed. "I thought if he lofted it just a little bit more it would have gone foul. He's a good hitter and put the barrel on the ball and did what he was supposed to do. It's tough to fall behind and get good hitters out and that's what happened there.

"I was pretty well locked in. After I got the ball back from [first baseman] Taylor Jones [after the hit], we both said, 'Well, that was fun,' but there was only one out and I still needed to get out of the inning. Thankfully, I got both outs pretty quickly."


Gameday box score


It wasn't the first time the 26-year-old flirted with history. He tossed six hitless innings for Triple-A Fresno against Las Vegas on April 18, 2018 and took a no-hit bid into the seventh during the first and only shutout of his career against Albuquerque last June 21.

Handed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inninh on Astros No. 3 prospect Yordan Alvarez's 19th homer, Sneed (2-5) worked his way through the Missions lineup with relative ease. The Dallas Baptist product went to a three-ball count on only three of the 25 batters he faced, with an eight-pitch fourth and nine-pitch fifth helping him cruise into the eighth on 78 pitches. He retired Tyrone Taylor on a liner to left to begin the frame and fell behind Spangenberg, 2-0. The 28-year-old big league veteran took a strike, then sliced a liner down the left-field line to spoil Sneed's bid for perfection and what would have been the first in the Pacific Coast League in nearly 10 years.

"I knew what was going on," he said. "I feel like most anyone knows if they're in that position. I was looking at the lineup and how I had pitched to guys in earlier at-bats, and when you notice the same guys coming up in the same pattern, it drops a pretty big hint."

Video: Round Rock's Sneed notches fourth K

The 2014 third-round Draft pick needed only two more pitches to get out of the inning unscathed. It marked the fourth time in 123 games, including 93 starts, that he completed eight or more frames.

"I absolutely wanted to keep going," Sneed said of finishing the shutout. "There's nothing better for a pitcher -- and a team -- than to throw a complete game and give the bullpen a day off. It was just a few too many pitches for me to go back out there, but I'll take a good eight innings any day."

The native of Elko, Nevada, who lives in Alaska during the offseason and drives to the Astros' Spring Training facility in Florida, Sneed entered Wednesday with a 6.30 ERA after surrendering 15 runs and 23 hits over his previous 14 innings. His first scoreless outing of the season lowered that mark to 4.97.

2019 MiLB include

"I've been roughed up a few times, but I've been working a lot with [Round Rock] pitching coach Drew French," Sneed said. "I've been able to make little adjustments and tweaks to my delivery and slider, in particular. It came together tonight. I felt great, though I wouldn't necessarily say I had the best stuff I've ever had, but I was able to command my pitches pretty well."

Gabriel Valdez allowed a single and struck out a batter in the ninth to complete Round Rock's second shutout of the season.

AJ Reed and Jones connected on back-to-back homers in the second to complete the scoring.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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