Andrew Heaney has seen his strikeout rate dropped significantly over his past four starts. But, since he hasn't allowed a run during that stretch, he'll take it.
Miami's No. 3 prospect allowed three hits and struck out four in six shutout innings to extend his scoreless streak to 28 innings and earn the win in the Jupiter's 9-4 defeat of Dunedin on Friday night at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
"I had good fastball command," Heaney said. "The second pitch I'll go to is the change-up. I also threw a couple sliders that weren't very good, but in the sixth inning their three-hole hitter [Mike Crouse] was up and I threw three straight sliders that were good, so it kind of worked out not having to use it early."
Heaney (5-2) dropped his ERA to 0.88 with 66 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings. Since whiffing seven in six scoreless frames on July 5 at St. Lucie, the 6-foot-2 left-hander has fanned 15 in his last 21 innings.
"My strikeouts have been down, which has actually been a good thing," the 22-year-old said. "I've been getting contact earlier in the count. I've been lucky and gotten good breaks with runners in scoring position, the guys behind me have been making plays, and my catchers have done a great job behind the plate.
"I guess it's just kind of fluky."
First baseman Ryan Rieger has had a great view of the streak.
"[Heaney]'s awesome to watch and awesome to play behind, too," Rieger said. "He has great tempo, pounds the zone, and comes right after guys. He's not a guy I'd want to face, I'll tell you that. He has a live fastball and a wipeout slider that nobody seems to hit. He's fun to play behind."
Heaney, who's allowed 13 hits during the streak, is also having fun.
"I just want to keep it going as long as I can," he said. "If I give up a run, I'll keep pitching and won't change anything. Obviously, what I've been doing has worked for me."
Rieger collected four hits and four RBIs -- both career highs -- to lead the Hammerheads' attack.
"It was a little bit of a shock because earlier in the cage I didn't feel good at all, but I just came out and tried to pick up the release point of the pitcher and put good swings on it," he said.
The 22-year-old came up in the ninth, needing a triple for the cycle. Instead, he blasted his second homer of the night and third in two games over the fence in center field.
"I was surprised because in the Florida State League not a lot of balls go out to center field," Rieger said. "I was running hard."
"It looks like [Rieger]'s seeing the ball really well, getting his pitch and not missing it," Heaney said. "You love to see a guy go out there and do his thing like that."
Marlins No. 18 prospect Brent Keys added three hits to up his average to .345. The 23-year-old center fielder launched his second homer of the season and drove in three runs.