A little change can go a long way.
Ask Carlos Torres. The 30-year-old righty posted a 7.39 ERA and a 3-1 record in his first six games of the Pacific Coast League season. Then he tweaked his approach and has gone 4-0 since with eight runs -- seven earned -- allowed over 34 2/3 innings.
His latest start was the best of all. He threw a complete game, giving up three hits and whiffing 11 without issuing any walks in Triple-A Las Vegas' 8-0 shutout of Fresno on Monday.
The key to his success? Where his feet are when he begins his delivery.
"It was just a minor adjustment I had to make from Spring Training. In Spring Training, all the mounds are well kept. [The Mets coaching staff] took me off the rubber there and had me standing in the dirt," Torres explained. "In Las Vegas ... you have your foot in a hole 24/7. That was happening when I was pitching on the rubber -- my feet were landing in all kinds of holes -- so I had to get back off it, to stay balanced."
Although the 11 strikeouts are surely a token of his success, he was "not really" excited by them, even when he struck out the side in the third and in the sixth.
"Usually more strikeouts actually cost you innings. Tonight my defense let me go deeper into the game. I was trying to get contact and let them work. They really helped me out, although some [of the batted balls] almost knocked them over."
Two of the Grizzlies' three hits came from Chris Dominguez, who tripled in the second.
"It was one of those plays where our right fielder [Eric Campbell] shaded over. He made a great hustle and almost got to it, but he just missed it," Torres said. "And he got up and got it in as quick as he could, but once you miss it here, it's a triple. Sometimes the ball just skips off this grass. There's nothing you can do."
Dominguez singled in his next at-bat with one out in the fifth. In the eighth, 51s third baseman Brian Bixler made a strong play on a grounder to retire him at first.
"Dominguez," Torres said. "Man, I couldn't keep that guy off the bases. Bixler comes up big to get him in the eighth. I'm glad for that, because I feel like the guy was on the basepaths all night."
Even after his third Minor League complete game and second shutout, Torres focused on what he could have done better.
"My changeup really needs to develop more. It really makes me mad," he said. "That pitch is by far the worst of all of them. By the end of the game, I was bouncing a couple at 40 feet, and I wore out my catcher [Francisco Pena] a bit. I apologize to him for that."
Pena doubled and knocked in three of Las Vegas' runs and Campbell was 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored. Wilmer Flores, the Mets' No. 7 prospect, had two hits and scored twice.
Torres signed with Mets last November after spending 2012 between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs. He pitched in Japan in 2011. Torres was originally drafted by the White Sox in 2004, and he saw Major League action in 2009 and '10.
"It's been interesting, really, to tell you the truth. It's always interesting, coming to a new organization. There's a new vibe, a new feel, new coaching staffs," he said. "I actually don't like the PCL. ... The winds at all the fields blow out at 40 mph. I've seen pop flies go out. I've seen balls that were popups out of the batter's box go for doubles.
"But nonetheless, pitching is pitching. It's all about getting guys out. If you can pitch here, you can pitch anywhere, right?"