Steven Wright found himself in trouble about three seconds after throwing his first pitch Thursday. His worries quickly faded, though, as he and the Kinston Indians denied the Myrtle Beach Pelicans another hit the rest of the night.
"It made me mad," Wright said of Gorkys Hernandez's leadoff home run. "I had to get back to work, I didn't want it to snowball. I knew I had to bear down and concentrate on the hitters."
The only snowball effect was a line of zeros on the outfield scoreboard. Wright allowed one hit over six innings as the Indians earned a walk-off 2-1 win over Myrtle Beach.
After the initial shot, the 23-year-old was unhittable.
"First pitch of the game, I just wanted to get it over for a strike," he said. "It was a good fastball, but it caught a lot of the plate. He absolutely crushed it. But after that I settled in, kept my fastball moving, caught them off guard and got a lot of ground balls."
Wright induced nine groundouts, striking out five and walking one. The 56th overall draft pick out of the University of Hawaii two years ago, Wright has allowed two earned runs and five hits in 12 innings this season. Despite a pair of no-decisions, the right-hander is off to a strong start after struggling through 13 appearances for Kinston last summer.
"The difference I think was in the offseason, I really concentrated on my workout regiment," Wright said. "I went back to the basics with my mechanics and started over with my balance, so it now allows my body to stay on top of the ball."
Wright set down the side in order in the second and third before Travis Jones reached on a leadoff walk in the fourth. Jones stole second, but Wright fanned Tyler Flowers and induced a pair of grounders to end the threat. He got a double play following third baseman Jared Goedert's throwing error in the fifth and finished his night with a 1-2-3 sixth.
"I pitch off my fastball, and I've been using the slider to my advantage," said Wright, who said he was clocked between 88-92 mph on his heater. "I can throw the slider 3-2, 0-2, pretty much anytime. I get a lot of ground balls when the slider is working, and that all comes off my fastball."
The new mechanics seem to be working well so far for Wright, who went 3-2 with a 7.13 ERA in 48 innings for Kinston in '07. This season, hitters are batting a lowly .125 off of the starter through two games. He's struck out 13 in 12 innings.
"I used my curveball, but I only threw it twice and got two strikeouts out of it," Wright said. "But I definitely relied on my fastball."
Wright said a trip to Spring Training this spring helped him get set for the season.
"You meet the different pitching coaches, watch the big league guys throw and you can watch their workout regimens, so it's nice," Wright said of Cleveland's Major Leaguers. "I just tried to pick their brains whenever I had the chance."
Wright's new offseason approach developed a few months after he spoke with Indians starter Jake Westbrook during a rehab stint.
"We spoke about attacking hitters and the whole mind-set," Wright said of Westbrook, a former American League All-Star. "His mind-set and approach is unbelievable. His mental approach really makes him effective, and I would love to just sit down and talk to [Major Leaguers] every day."
Kinston's lineup struggled to mount any threats against the Pelicans until the ninth. Carlos Rivero lined a leadoff single and was replaced by Jason Denham, who tied the game when Alex Castillo drew a bases-loaded walk. John Drennen ended it dramatically with a line-drive RBI single to center to plate Cirilo Cumberbatch for the winning run. Lefty Dan Cevette (1-0) hurled the final three hitless innings for the win.
Pelicans starter Ryne Reynoso allowed two hits over five shutout frames in his third start. Right-hander Brett Butts (0-2) recorded only one out, allowing both runs on three hits in the ninth.
Danny Wild 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.