Low numbers meant good things Friday evening for Jamie Callahan.
The Red Sox prospect turned in the best start of his career, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning before allowing his only hit as short-season Lowell blanked Connecticut, 6-0, in the first game of a doubleheader.
"I felt really good, everything was smooth and together," Callahan said. "I was really just out there pitching -- I was a pitcher not a thrower. I was locating pitches instead of trying to blow up the radar gun."
Making his first appearance in 13 days, the 18-year-old right-hander established career highs with eight strikeouts and six innings in his 10th start since the Red Sox made him their second-round pick in the 2012 Draft.
"It's been a struggle sometimes. Lately, the curveball has really been hit-or-miss -- miss for the most part," he said. "I've been working on my fastball and changeup mostly. I had the curve working tonight and I was throwing it for strikes, so I really focused on that and was really comfortable with it today."
Callahan struck out Curt Powell to end the first, fanned Kasey Coffmna in a 1-2-3 second, induced three straight grounders to shortstop in the third and struck out the side in the fifth. The South Carolina native added two strikeouts in the fifth but lost his bid for a perfect game when Tigers third baseman Brett Harrison singled to center leading off the sixth.
"I was kicking myself because I let up for one pitch and left a changeup a little bit up away and he just took it up the middle," Callahan said. "I was getting it down all night and made just one mistake and he made me pay, unfortunately."
Callahan erased his only baserunner moments later when Chris Taladay bounced into a double play. Javier Azcona took a called third strike to end the inning and put the Spinners starter in line for his third career win.
Mike Adams pitched the seventh, striking out two around a one-out single to finish off Lowell's fifth shutout of the season.
Callahan, who debuted last season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, won for the first time since his New York-Penn League debut on June 21 when he held Tri-City to one hit over five shutout innings. He faced one batter over the minimum through four frames against the ValleyCats and retired the first two batters in the fifth before Ronnie Mitchell singled up the middle.
Callahan's outings since haven't quite lived up to that precedent. He was winless in his previous four starts after serving up five runs over two innings at Tri-City on June 27. The Spinners skipped him in the rotation last week and he had his start pushed back twice this week due to rainouts.
"The organization likes to give you a break to recover, especially with the younger guys," Callahan said. "There was no real reason behind it -- just take a break, catch a breather and get back after it. It was really just a mental reboot."
Callahan was drafted out of Dillon High School last year after he was named the 2012 Gatorade South Carolina Baseball Player of the Year and Region 8-2A Player of the Year. He was 1-0 with a 5.19 ERA and seven strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings last season for the GCL Red Sox.
The Spinners gave their starter a lead in the first when Carlos Asuaje tripled home Tzu-Wei Lin and scored on Kevin Mager's single to left. They tacked on four runs an inning later when Mager delivered a two-run single and Jose Colorado and Natha Minnich added RBI hits.
Tigers starter Hunter Scantling (1-2) was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings.
Connecticut took the nightcap, 3-2, when Ben Verlander -- the brother of Tigers ace Justin Verlander -- hit a walk-off homer in the eighth.