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John dominates with ground game
Tigers lefty allows two hits over career-high eight innings
06/11/2013 12:31 AM ET
Jordan John struck out five and didn't issue a walk against Lansing.
Jordan John struck out five and didn't issue a walk against Lansing. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

When Oklahoma head coach Sunny Galloway saw Tigers prospect Jordan John pitch in his college days as a Sooner, he gave the young lefty some valuable advice.

"He said, 'Hey, you're going to get hit, but if they're going to hit it, they're going to hit it on the ground,'" John said.

John (5-3) gave up two hits, induced 15 groundouts, and struck out five over eight innings Monday night to earn the victory in Class A West Michigan's 1-0 shutout of visiting Lansing.

The win continued a hot streak for the 22-year-old lefty, who was recognized as the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week last week and sports an 0.91 ERA over 29 2/3 innings during his last five starts. John didn't issue any walks in the longest outing of his career, lowering his ERA to 2.85 on the season.

John retired the first 10 batters he saw before Dalton Pompey beat out an infield single with one out in the top of the fourth.

"It was a fastball. I dropped my arm slot -- I never drop my arm slot -- and I tried to get fancy with it," John said. "It ended up running back up over the middle, [second baseman] Devon Travis made a great play and it was a bang-bang call.

"It was one of those things where it happens. I'm not used to throwing shutouts or anything like that anymore, I knew I was going to give up hits," he added.

The only other baserunner John allowed was Gustavo Pierre, who singled in the eighth. Pierre made his way to third -- the only Lugnut to do so all night -- via a stolen base and a groundout, but was stranded when Aaron Munoz grounded out to short.

All-Star closer Jose Valdez worked his way in and out of trouble in the ninth for his 13th save. Valdez walked two to put the tying run in scoring position, but struck out Kevin Patterson with a 97-mph fastball to end the threat.

The only run of the game came in the fifth. Jason King and Bennett Pickar singled to start the frame. A passed ball advanced the runners to advance and Jake Stewart plated King with a ground ball to second.

Javier Avendano (4-4) took the hard-luck loss after allowing the unearned run on five hits in seven innings. He struck out four and didn't issue any walks.

Meanwhile, John used his fastball inside and the changeup away to keep batters off balance.

"I was able to work in and away at the knees and get ahead of hitters and then throw changeups and sliders in the dirt for strikeout pitches. [I threw] the changeup a lot to right-handed hitters and got a lot of ground-ball outs," he said.

The former sixth-round pick has over a 4:1 ground-ball/fly-ball out ratio.

"I locate down. I don't throw really hard, I'm not a power pitcher. I'm not going to blow it by anyone," said John, who throws in the upper 80s. "I'm able to spot up and locate, get ahead, and get them to swing at the pitches I want them to swing at."

Unlike in his college days when he was more superstitious and less serious about his diet, John will attempt to keep his hot streak going with dedication in the weight room.

"At Oklahoma, I used to drink a Dr. Pepper and eat a bag of Flamin' Hot Limon Cheetos before every game, or a Big Red if we played on the road," John said. "Up here with the grind that we play every single day, it's maintaining a healthy diet and drinking a lot of water, getting your lifting in away from the field. I'm fortunate to have a great training staff helping me stay in pristine shape so that I can be consistent."

Brandon Simes 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.
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