The Bowling Green Hot Rods wrapped up their most successful month in franchise history on Tuesday afternoon, cruising to an 8-0 win over the Peoria Chiefs. Right-hander Jeff Ames, a top-20 prospect in the Rays organization, has been a big part of that success.
Ames struck out five batters over five scoreless innings en route to notching his third win, allowing just one hit and one walk in the process. It was par for the course for Tampa Bay's 2011 first-round Draft pick, who lowered his ERA to 1.80 and, perhaps more impressively, has now struck out 22 batters against just two walks on the season. The Hot Rods have won all five games in which he's taken the mound on the way to an 18-6 record in the month of April.
"Pretty much everything was working for me today," said Ames. "At the start of the game the slider wasn't showing up, but as it went on it did and that was key. When I was taking my warmup pitches before the third inning, I threw a couple [sliders] and had the right feeling in my fingertips, so I just took it from there."
With the slider under his command, Ames retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, a fourth-inning walk to Geoffrey Klein being the only blemish. This marked a nice rebound from the 21-year-old's previous outing on April 23 against Fort Wayne, in which he was touched for three runs on seven hits.
"I didn't change my approach at all. [Against Fort Wayne] the fastball was elevated, and today I had command lower in the zone. It just worked out," he said.
Tuesday's ballgame started at 10:35 a.m. in Bowling Green. This, bizarrely enough, marked the third time in five starts that Ames has toed the rubber before noon.
"Every morning game it seems like I'm the one who starts it. But it's no big deal," he said. "I can't say enough about our infield and the outfield, the way they've been taking good at-bats, getting walks and driving in runs. It's been fun to watch."
Indeed, the Hot Rods scored two runs in the first inning and never looked back. Ames' batterymate Luke Maile led the way with a three-hit, four-RBI performance as the Hot Rods improved to 12-3 within the friendly confines of Bowling Green Ballpark.
"[The Midwest League] has a little longer bus rides than I'm used to, but I've been adjusting well and having a lot of fun with a great group of guys," said Ames. "We mesh really well, and want to win for the coaches and each other."