It's easy for Tyler Duffey to have fun when he's pitching like he did on Wednesday night.
The Twins prospect allowed one hit and tied a career high with seven strikeouts over seven innings before Class A Advanced Fort Myers rallied for a 6-4 victory over Dunedin.
Duffey, who did not figure in the decision, walked four batters and did not allow a hit until Matt Newman doubled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
"I started out a little wild, a little spotty with my fastball," he said. "I walked the leadoff hitter in the first and second inning. I was feeling my way back into my arm slot. I was effectively wild, and after the second I got locked in."
"My breaking ball and changeup were probably the best they've been since I've been to Fort Myers. I'm just trying to have some fun."
Duffey is no stranger to pitching deep into games -- Wednesday marked the eighth time in 15 starts this season he's gone at least seven innings.
"Being a starter, you want to give your team the best shot they can to win the game. The longer I'm out there, the more fun I'm having," the 22-year-old right-hander said. "It's a lot better night when you can come out in the seventh or eighth inning versus leaving early."
After going 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA in nine starts for Class A Cedar Rapids, Duffey was promoted to the Florida State League. He struggled at the new level, allowing 18 runs over his first four starts, but he's turned it around recently. The Texas native has gone at least six innings in each of his last three outings, yielding two runs on 10 hits.
"My mechanics go awry every once in a while," Duffey said. "I've been working with our pitching coach, Ivan Arteaga, and I've made some tweaks here and there, and it's been night and day the difference. Gotta credit him with some of that. Just have to keep working harder and getting better in every start."
D.J. Hicks slugged a two-run homer in his debut for the Miracle and grabbed a share of the Minor League lead with 84 RBIs.
"That was pretty cool to see him," said Duffey, Hicks' teammate for two months in the Midwest League. "His second at-bat, he got a hold of one and put his name on it. It's pretty cool to watch. It's expected at this point, he put up good numbers all year. He's a big, huge guy with a lot of pop and he's gonna get some pitches to hit."
Hicks was one of four players promoted to Fort Myers on Wednesday, joining left-hander Steven Gruver, right-hander Tyler Jones and outfielder J.D. Williams.
"I know the feeling," Duffey said. "When I came here, early on, I knew one or two guys. Coming into a new environment is a little awkward at times. When I got here and everyone was welcoming, it made it a lot easier and I'm trying to do the same thing."
Nelvin Fuentes (2-1) allowed a grand slam to Mike Crouse after taking over for Duffey in the eighth but was credited with the win. He surrendered four hits on four hits in one inning, but Zach Jones tossed a hitless ninth for his 10th save.
Kennys Vargas delivered a go-ahead two-run double and scored in the ninth for the Miracle.
Rehabbing Blue Jays right-hander Kyle Drabek got the start for Dunedin and gave up one hit over three scoreless innings.