According to Hoby Milner, it's "kind of just a crap shoot with how you're going to feel on the day you pitch." He left little to chance on Wednesday night.
The Phillies prospect had all of his pitches working against St. Lucie as he allowed one hit and one walk while striking out seven over 7 2/3 innings in Class A Advanced Clearwater's 6-0 whitewash at Bright House Field.
"My fastball command was really working for me today, definitely the best for me of the year, and my changeup, cutter and curveball were all doing really well for me," Milner said. "Today was one of those days where I felt like I could throw anything."
Milner (6-2) retired his first six batters before Robbie Shields singled leading off the third. Shields reached third on an errant pickoff attempt and a groundout, but Gilbert Gomez struck out and Jonathan Clark flied to left to end the threat.
The 22-year-old left-hander retired the next 14 Mets but exited after walking Shields with two outs in the eighth. Ryan O'Sullivan got Albert Cordero to ground out, then struck out the side around a hit in the ninth.
In his last three starts, Milner has allowed two runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out 20 over 20 2/3 innings. The University of Texas product ranks second in the Florida State League with 72 strikeouts to go with a 3.36 ERA and 16 walks in 72 2/3 innings.
"Once you get ahead, if you've got four pitches working for you, you can throw anything," Milner said. "Hitters are probably up there guessing and I kept the ball down for the most part."
Milner pitched primarily out of the bullpen in college, but the Phillies had other ideas when they selected him in the seventh round of last year's Draft.
"The Phillies said, 'Hey, we're going to have you start,' and I was like, 'I'm not going to ask questions, I'll just go out there and throw,'" he recalled.
Wednesday's outing was the longest of Milner's brief career. He pitched 68 1/3 innings in 14 appearances after signing last year and is looking to stay strong over the second half of the season.
"I'll just keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "I think the Phillies have it pretty well figured out the way they condition us and lift, so I'll just go with what they have me doing."
The Threshers gave Milner a lead in the third when Kelly Dugan -- who leads the Florida State League with a .344 batting average -- doubled in a run. The game remained 1-0 until Maikel Franco opened the bottom of the sixth with a homer off Mets starter Rainy Lara (0-2).
Franco also took reliever Wanel Mesa deep with two outs and two on in the seventh to extend Clearwater's lead to 5-0. The FSL All-Star has three homers in his last three games and has tied last season's career high with 14.
"I try to see the ball all the time in batting practice and get my front foot down early. I want to be on time with everything," Franco said. "I think my swing is quicker, I've been working hard every day."