Asher Wojciechowski hurled four scoreless innings for Corpus Christi on Saturday night, so it was a little strange to hear him use words like "upset" and "ruined" after the game.
Nonetheless, those are the words he chose after combining with David Martinez on a two-hitter in the Hooks' 1-0 victory over the visiting Frisco RoughRiders.
Martinez got the start and struck out three in five perfect innings. Wojciechowski (2-0) entered in the sixth and, though he completed the shutout with five strikeouts, he allowed a double to Jared Hoying in the seventh inning that ended the bid for perfection.
"I knew the situation coming in and I wanted to continue it," said Wojciechowski, the Astros' 15th-ranked prospect. "I was pretty upset with myself when I gave up the first hit. I ruined the perfect game, but I was able to move on from that."
His recovery was certainly good enough for the Hooks. It also extended Wojciechowski's season-opening scoreless streak to 18 innings. During that stretch, he's struck out 19 hitters and walked only four while allowing eight hits.
"I think so far this year I've been able to throw quality strikes and attack the zone," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "That means just staying at the bottom of the zone, staying out of the middle part of the plate and mixing my pitches well."
The hurlers combined to throw 107 pitches, with Martinez accounting for 60 as part of the Astros' piggyback pitching system. Frisco's only other hit was a single by Alex Buchholz, and neither Hooks pitcher issued any walks.
"I've never had that kind of game before," Martinez said through a translator. "I felt happy after those five innings."
Martinez has made two starts and two relief appearances this year. As a starter, he's allowed two hits over 10 shutout innings. His overall line includes a 1.88 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks in 14 1/3 frames.
"As a starter, I have time to focus and warm up well before going out there, mentally and everything," he said. "Coming out of relief, I just get up and throw. I feel more comfortable starting and getting extra time to work up and do what I do."
Martinez relies heavily on his sinker and used it effectively Saturday. The RoughRiders grounded out eight times with just two fly-ball outs, improving his 1.67 groundout-to-flyout ratio for this season.
"I've pretty much gone my entire Minor League career as a sinkerball pitcher," he said. "I want to work fast and not walk people, and I feel like I can throw my sinker to right- and left-handed hitters. I don't strike a lot of people out, I just pitch low in the zone, pitch to contact."
Pitching low in the zone also has been a focal point for Wojciechowski, who has been electric since Houston acquired him from the Blue Jays in a 10-player deal last July 20. In 12 appearances (including 10 starts) since the trade, the product of The Citadel has a 1.56 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 18 walks in 57 2/3 innings, all with Corpus Christi.
"It's been great so far," he said. "The coaches have been very helpful. They've been able to give me suggestions here and there, but really they've just let me go out there and pitch, let go and do what I know how to do."
Shutout or not, Wojciechowski still expressed some disappointment at not being able to preserve the perfect game.
"That's never happened to me," he said. "I've never come into a perfect game. That was a new experience there. David did a great job and worked really fast. And before I knew it, I was in the game."