Lloyd Looks Back on A Night to Remember

Last Month Lloyd tossed the Missions 1st 9-inning Solo No-Hitter since 1979

By Pat Turner - samissions.com / San Antonio Missions | June 12, 2017 11:06 AM ET

Saturday, May 13, 2017 will be remembered as the day Kyle Lloyd made history at Wolff Stadium by zapping two birds with 94 pitches.

Although the Missions pitcher has turned in top-notch performances throughout his career as a professional and amateur, he had never thrown a no-hitter. In addition, the Missions have had several pitchers accomplish the feat. However, none of them came at the Wolff.

Photo of Kyle Lloyd during the 2nd inning - Courtesy of San Antonio MissionsLloyd changed all that by no-hitting Frisco in a 2-0 win. It was a special night for the Missions' right-hander, teammates and everyone else involved in the accomplishment. That was evident by the celebration that occurred after right fielder Franmil Reyes snagged a fly off the bat of Scott Heineman to wrap it up.

"I had never come close to a no-hitter," said Lloyd.

"Every day before you pitch you never think about it. But it's unbelievable when it happens, especially at a level like this. When I heard this was the Missions' first at Wolff Stadium, it was pretty crazy."

Lloyd had the same mindset that night as he always does when taking the mound. His goal was to pitch well enough to give the Missions a chance to win. This outing, the former Evansville standout knew he had to deliver a quality performance, because Collin Wiles was on the mound for Frisco and there was a chance runs would be hard to come by.

And they were as the Missions' only scores came on Ty France's first Double-A RBI single and Nick Torres' home run.

While Wiles turned in a top-notch showing, Lloyd was better, much better.

"You want to give the team a chance to win," Lloyd said. "That's what I am always thinking. You want to do whatever you can."

Damage was non-existent this outing.

Lloyd admits to being a bit up in the zone during the first two innings, walking one. But he settled in and allowed one base runner, which came on a wild pitch following a strikeout, the rest of the way. Speaking of strikeouts, that was one of three for the Missions' starter. However, he got 17 groundouts, thanks to an effective splitter, slider and sinker, along with a fastball hitting his spots consistently.

The Missions' fielders provided back-up. Second baseman Luis Urias, third baseman River Stevens and shortstop Jose Rondon halted a couple of potential hits. First baseman Fernando Perez's diving stop was big. The clincher came from Reyes. Heineman's shot wasn't hit particularly hard, but the sound coming off the bat caused brief concern. Reyes was there to put Lloyd at ease.

"The defense did a great job," Lloyd said. "They were back there for me. There were some tough plays. There were some hard-hit balls, but they picked me up.

 

Photo of Kyle Lloyd's final pitch - Courtesy of San Antonio Missions

"When we got the final out, it was so surreal. (Heineman) hit it pretty well. The wind wasn't blowing out. Once (Reyes) caught it I was like it's over I guess. It took a couple of hours to sink in. I couldn't eat at first. I was still too amped up."

Catcher Stephen McGee did his part. Prior to the game, Lloyd and McGee got together with pitching coach Jimmy Jones to go over the plan. The strategy was to attack and keep Frisco batters off balance.

"Steve was awesome," Lloyd said. "We were on the same page the whole night. It's a lot easier when he's putting the signs and I don't shake. Our plan was to go after them. We were able to execute that."

McGee knew Lloyd had good stuff that night by the way the pitches were hitting the zone and loved the end result.

"It's great to be part of a no-hitter," McGee said. "It was important for me to be on the same page as him and work together. Everything has to be going right for that to happen. We knew how were going to attack. I've caught Kyle previously and I know what he likes to throw, when he likes to throw it. I know what works for him."

McGee made sure the plan was followed to the fullest, while making sure the atmosphere was calm.

"We talked about our plan before the game," McGee said. "During the game, I was leaving him alone. I didn't want to talk to him. I wanted to let him stay in his groove and let him do his own thing. When I saw the no-hitter was still going, I told myself I'm not going to change anything. We're still going to attack like we have all night and let it work. Every pitch was working for him. He mixed it up and caught them off balance. When it happened it was very special."

Jones, who is in his seventh year as the Missions pitching coach, has witnessed a few through the years. The first came in 1984 as a pitcher when Beaumont (San Diego's Double-A affiliate at the time) was going against San Antonio, known as the Dodgers then. Jones and the Golden Gators were on the other end as Vance Lovelace, Brian Piper and Steve Martin hurled the no-no in a 1-0 win.

The second no-hitter Jones saw came from a future Mission at the Wolff. Frisco's Joe Wieland shut down San Antonio in a 3-0 victory in 2011. Two days later, he and fellow pitcher Robbie Erlin were in the Missions' dugout after a trade between the Padres and Texas Rangers.

In 2014, Missions pitchers James Needy, Frank Garces and R.J. Alvarez combined for a no-hitter against Corpus Christi in a 6-0 victory at Whataburger Field.

And then there was Lloyd's.

The way Lloyd was working, Jones started thinking a no-hitter was in the works close to the midway point.

"I've never seen a complete game no-hitter for us," Jones said. "It was great to see. His pitch count was really good. He really didn't have any stressful pitches. That helped him do it.

"It seemed like he was cruising. You could feel like it was going to happen by the way he was pitching. It was one of those days where the pitches he was making were a half step ahead of the hitters."

Lloyd began realizing the possibility was there at the midway point. Although his pitches were working, he still had to finish. His best technique for that was to stick to the plan and keep a cool head.

Each inning brought more intensity, but Lloyd stayed in his zone.

Photo of Kyle Lloyd during celebration of No-Hitter - Courtesy of San Antonio Missions

 "As the game goes on you realize what's going on," said Lloyd, who was named Texas League Pitcher of the Week for his accomplishment. "Everyone is leaving you alone. You're in your own little world. You try to make the pitches the catcher is putting down and make sure you are on the same page.

 "I didn't try to do anything differently. I just tried to get that first out and go from there. In the ninth inning, I fell behind the first two guys 1-0, but I was able to get back even in the count. I tried to not get ahead of myself. I took a breath and tried to calm myself when I needed to do that. I just relaxed and focused on the next pitch."

That led to the historical moment,

"It was a special night," Missions manager Phillip Wellman said. "He threw 94 pitches and was absolutely in control. He was dominant. He threw everything where he wanted to throw it, when he wanted to throw it and how we wanted to throw it. He was locked in.

"Kyle Lloyd is the hardest working, most prepared individual we have on this team. He got what he deserved."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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