Not many 22-year-olds maintain their cool better than Midwest League All-Star Jeff Ames.
The Rays' No. 13 prospect tossed five hitless innings before reaching his pitch limit Saturday night as Class A Bowling Green shut down Lansing, 5-1, at Cooley Law School Stadium.
Ames (6-1) struck out two and walked one in his final outing before next week's midseason classic in Dayton, Ohio. After a long rain delay ended his previous start after one inning, he and the Hot Rods coaching staff decided a shorter outing Saturday night and skipping the All-Star Game would be the best course of action.
"Development and the long picture are more important than one inning at an All-Star Game," Ames said. "I'm very, very happy that I made it and it's a true honor, but we're looking long-term."
Without his best off-speed pitches against the Lugnuts, Ames relied on his low-90s fastball to get ahead in the count.
"My fastball command was pretty good, besides in the second and third when I ran into some high counts, but I made an in-game adjustment with my mechanics to get the ball back over the plate," he said. "I used my fastball more than I have in previous games purely because my slider and changeup were kind of spotty, but I was able to locate them when I really needed it."
Aaron Munoz greeted Ames' replacement, Ryan Garton, with a leadoff double in the sixth, took third on a passed ball and scored the Lugnuts' only run on an errant pickoff attempt.
Seeing the no-hitter end didn't bother Ames.
"Nothing changed, it's part of the game," he said. "[Garton] was throwing strikes, doing what he's supposed to do. It's no big deal, he pitched great, kept us in the game, letting the defense work behind him. I was really happy with his effort and so was everybody else."
Tampa Bay selected Ames with the 42nd overall pick in the 2011 Draft after a successful career at Lower Columbia College. The Phillies and Rockies previously drafted him, but he said he wasn't ready for pro ball. Instead, he used his time in college -- and in the Appalachian League with Rookie-level Princeton, where he posted a 7.12 ERA in 2011 -- to develop physically and mentally.
"I haven't always been like this. I've had to fail to realize you can't be overanxious and get out of control," he said. "In Princeton, I was the victim of being too amped up and trying to do way too much. And work with my pitching coach and all the pitching coordinators has kind of calmed me down.
"Now I'm just really happy to have made the changes that I have. I feel calm and I feel my calmness helps me if I have a rough inning to go out there and settle down to make an adjustment."
Ames lowered his ERA to 2.47, which is tied for sixth in the league, and has 42 strikeouts against 10 walks over 58 1/3 innings. Last year, he went 6-1 and ranked third in the New York-Penn League with 1.96 ERA and fourth with 70 strikeouts for short-season Hudson Valley.
Lansing committed four errors, several of which proved costly. With two outs in the second, shortstop Emilio Guerrero's miscue and a throwing error by left fielder Dwight Smith helped the Hot Rods score twice to take the lead. Bowling Green added single runs in the fourth, sixth, and ninth as catcher Justin O'Conner finished 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored.
Andrew Toles also had two hits and picked up his league-leading 39th and 40th stolen bases.
Javier Avendano (4-5) took the loss after allowing three runs -- one earned -- on five hits over five innings.