The Clearwater Threshers posted a 5-0 win over the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Sunday afternoon. The game marked the last rehab start for Tampa Rays right hander Jeremy Hellickson. The Threshers countered with Mark Leiter. The son and nephew of former major league pitchers Mark and Al Leiter, responded with the Threshers first complete game shut out of the season, and only the 5thcomplete game shut out in the FSL this year.
Leiter kept the Stone Crabs off balance all afternoon. He was a little inconsistent around the strike zone with a strike-to-ball ratio of 64/46, but only allowed 5 hits. He faced 31 batters and only managed 12 first pitch strikes and ran 7 3-ball counts, but walked no one.
Leiter breezed through a 7-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning. After a lead off double in the second inning, he got a pop up and recorded his first strike out before inducing a fly ball to right on his first 3-ball count, still just a 14-pitch inning. He followed that with a 14-pitch third inning recording his second strike out, but he threw as many balls as strikes. The fourth inning was a 12-pitch effort that included his third strike out. After a lead off single to start the fifth inning, ran back-to-back full counts before a pop up and inning ending, around-the-horn double play. Even with 2 full counts, still only a 15-pitch inning.
In the sixth inning, Leiter stranded a runner at second. After 2 fly balls to Roman Quinn, Leiter allowed a double down the left field line. Quinn completed the outfield “hat-trick” when he chased down the final out in the right centerfield gap. After this 11-pitch inning, Leiter had only thrown 73 pitches, but had a 39/34 strike-to-ball ratio and had started pitching from behind having only thrown 6 first pitch strikes.
Leiter gave up a 3-1 double to start the seventh inning. At his point, manager Nelson Prada had a pitcher get up in the bullpen. Before the reliever could finish his stretches and before throwing a warm-up pitch, Leiter had recorded a 2-0 fly ball to left, a first-pitch ground ball, and a 3-pitch strike out to end the inning. Another 12 pitches.
With Cody Forsythe warming up at the start of the eighth inning (in all likelihood to pitch the ninth inning), Leiter threw a 6-pitch inning recording his 5th strike out. Forsythe sat down and Leiter came on to pitch the ninth. He started the inning having thrown 91 pitches. He struck out the first batter on a nasty 2-2 curve ball. He ran a 3-2 count on the next batter who poked a ball down the line just out of first baseman Chris Serritella’s reach for a triple. Leiter bore down and threw 7 strikes in his next 8 pitches to strike out the side and nail down the complete game shut out.
Leiter’s line was an impressive -
9.0 IP; 5 H; 0 R; 0 BB; 8 K
The offense took it to Hellickson early. Quinn tried to bunt his way on at Hellickson’s first offering but was tagged out by the first baseman who fielded the ball. J.P. Crawford hit a soft liner into left field on the 10th pitch of his at bat for a single. Everett Williams follwed with a first-pitch single. After a fly out, hot-hitting Brian pointer came from behind 0-2 to work a walk before Harold Martinez struck out to end the threat.
Crawford reached again on a one-out bunt single in the third inning. With 2 out, Art Charles hit a soft ground ball to the second baseman who had to charge the ball. He fumbled the ball allowing Charles to reach on the error. Pointer immediately cashed in the extra out by doubling into the left field corner and driving in two runs.
Serritella and Corey Bass led off the fourth inning with back-to-back doubles. Two outs later, Crawford picked up an RBI with his 3rd base hit of the day.
Hellickson’s line was -
5.0 IP; 7 H; 4 R; 2 ER; 1 BB; 4 K
The Threshers picked up another unearned run off the Stone Crabs reliever in the sixth inning. Serritella led off with a triple off the glove of the right fielder when he crashed into the wall and dropped the ball. Two outs later, an error by the second baseman allowed Serritella to score.
Quinn was first pitch swinging in his first 2 at bats.
Crawford is still demonstrating discipline at the plate.
Crawford went 3-4 with an RBI and run scored.
Pointer went 1-3 with a walk and 2 RBI.
Serritella went 3-4 with a double, triple, and 2 runs scored.
Bass went 1-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.
Of the 5 hits Leiter gave up, 4 were for XBH.
The radio announcer commented on the less than direct route Quinn took to the 2nd inning double to right centerfield that short hopped the wall.
The Threshers turned a DP on the only batter not to get an XBH.
Did I mention, Mark Leiter? Nine innings, no walks, 8 Ks. NO WALKS!