Before Monday's game, Manny Parra had never witnessed a no-hitter. Now he's thrown a perfect game.
Parra (1-1) retired 27 consecutive batters in his second Triple-A start as Nashville defeated Round Rock, 3-0, at the Dell Diamond.
Parra became the first individual pitcher in the Pacific Coast League to toss a perfect game since the Sounds' John Wasdin did so on April 7, 2003. It was the eighth perfect game in league history and the first since Portland Beavers hurlers Ryan Meaux, Aquilino Lopez and Cla Meredith combined for one against the Sacramento River Cats in the first game of a doubleheader on June 9, 2006.
"It's the greatest feeling I've ever had," Parra said.
The left-hander struck out 11 and threw 107 pitches, 77 for strikes. After Humberto Quintero popped out and Barry Wesson struck out, he got pinch-hitter Jesse Garcia to pop up to first base for the final out.
"I don't think I even watched it come down," Parra said. "I was thinking, 'Is this really happening?' It was unbelievable. It's something I never thought I'd do. I've never even seen a no-hitter in person."
Parra's teammates mobbed the Sacramento native at the mound as the remaining opposing fans at the Dell Diamond gave him a standing ovation.
"I've always said that I don't want to be on the bottom of a pile," said Parra, noting that he's heard about pitchers getting injured that way. "But everyone was just looking at me and helping me up. It was so good to see the excitement on everyone else's face."
The 24-year-old allowed two runs on seven hits and four walks while fanning six in six frames in his Triple-A debut against Iowa last Wednesday. His pitching coach, Stan Kyles, knew Parra was a little "out of sync" that game.
"He wasn't as sharp in his last outing," Kyles said. "But we had a really good feeling early on that the kid was on [his game]. He never really got in any trouble. He pretty much carried us."
"I felt off my last start," added Parra, who admitted he tends to overthink his performance between innings. "But I wasn't going to worry about that. I didn't analyze. A few times I caught myself, but that's normal."
When Kyles realized that Parra was "in the zone" and didn't need any guidance, even he observed the age-old ritual of not disturbing a pitcher in the midst of a no-hitter or perfect game.
"We were scared to death," said Kyles with a laugh. "We wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole. He was on his own."
Parra went 7-3 with a Southern League-best 2.68 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings for Double-A Huntsville before replacing Yovani Gallardo in Nashville's rotation. He has battled various shoulder injuries over his six-year Minor League career (36-19).
"I feel very confident in my game now," Parra said. "After everything I've been through, it's right there. There's just one more step."
If he takes that last step, he has his sights set on one particular slugger.
"I'd love to face [Barry Bonds]," Parra said of his boyhood idol. "I've thought about that forever."
Joe Dillon smacked a run-scoring single in the first inning for Nashville (45-32). Parra's battery mate, Mike Rivera, tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth with a two-run double, and Callix Crabbe went 3-for-4 and scored a run.
Express starter Matt Albers (2-3) took the loss after giving up one run on eight hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Paul Estrada surrendered two runs on two hits while striking out two and walking one in two frames for Round Rock (32-45).