Indians prospect scatters three hits in eight scoreless
By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com
08/05/2012 11:58 PM ET
T.J. McFarland was 2-4 with a 7.18 ERA in six July
starts. (Elaina Ellis/Norfolk Tides)
T.J. McFarland hasn't had the easiest of transitions to
Triple-A ball, but he showed Sunday just what he's
capable of at the Minors' highest level.
Indians' No. 20 prospect allowed three hits and a
walk over eight-plus innings as the Columbus Clippers
blanked the Norfolk Tides, 1-0.
It was his first scoreless start since tossing a
complete-game shutout June 24, a stretch covering six
starts. In July, McFarland (5-5) was 2-4 with a 7.18 ERA
over six outings. That included his two previous starts,
both losses, during which he allowed a combined 11 earned
runs in 10 innings.
It was back to basics in his first August outing.
"I've kind of had a roller-coaster year so far
here with a lot of ups and downs," McFarland said.
"But I kind of realized that all the good ones came
when I was throwing strikes, attacking hitters and being
confident with all of my pitches. If I'm pounding the
zone, I'll let them hit my sinker, changeup or slider,
but it'll lead to some quick outs like I had
The Illinois native was at his best in the latter innings
Sunday. After walking Bill Hall with two outs in the
fourth, he retired 16 straight Tides hitters. Soon after
McFarland's streak began, Matt LaPorta drove in the
game's only run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. That
slim 1-0 lead was one of the biggest driving factors for
the starter's performance, he said.
"I realized we weren't scoring a whole lot of
runs, and that it was going to be one of those
pitchers' duels," McFarland said. "So I knew
I had to bear down and make sure not to give back that
lead. Every guy you put on base, every run you allow counts
big time in games like that."
The southpaw was pulled after allowing an opening single to
Xavier Avery in the ninth, finishing with 91 pitches, 59
for strikes. Frank Hermann got the remaining three outs to
preserve the shutout and earn his seventh save for the
McFarland earned just his second win in his last six starts
with the other four resulting in losses.
In his 12 starts with the Clippers, the sinkerballer owns a
5.05 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. That contrasts with the 2.69 and
1.21 marks he put up in 10 starts for Double-A Akron to
start the year, and that dichotomy hasn't been lost on
"The biggest part is that [Triple-A] hitters are
smarter," he said. "In Double-A, I could get away
with throwing a sinker or slider in the dirt, and
they'd swing at it. Here, they're less likely to do
that. Plus, through the second and third times in the
order, they pick up more about you, so you have to be more
creative. That's still something I'm trying to
figure out personally."
But with a course-correcting start like Sunday's under
his belt, McFarland has a little more confidence that he
can finish his first International League campaign on
perhaps a higher note than he believed possible 24 hours
"It's just the confidence that I took away
really," he said. "If I do pound the strike zone,
I can get the results and can give the team a win. It's
just nice to know my stuff can play here."
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not
subject to the approval of the National Association of
Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.