In less time than it takes to watch the weekend's highest-grossing movie, Tim Shibuya tossed a complete-game shutout on Saturday. But he admitted his performance felt more like a screening of a foreign art film than a trip to the multiplex.
"It was mentally draining," Shibuya said. "To stay focused the whole time, it was still a long game."
Over an hour and 56 minutes, the Twins prospect pitched a four-hitter as Class A Cedar Rapids beat Clinton, 5-0. He struck out six, recorded 12 ground-ball outs and issued one walk.
"I like to try to keep a good tempo and keep our infielders on their toes," said Shibuya, who improved to 4-0 while lowering his ERA to 0.96. "It's just about trusting myself and trusting the pitch calls and also trusting the catcher and the defense behind me. I've been attacking the zone and letting my catcher and the defense work hard."
Shibuya combined on a no-hitter for Rookie-level Elizabethton on July 16, 2011 and threw a three-hit shutout in the Midwest League last year. He made 15 appearances between the two levels this season, but Saturday's was only his fourth start and third straight. He's won those last three outings, yielding one earned run over 24 innings.
"It's definitely been something I've been building up throughout the year. I would go one or two [innings] in extended spring training and then I'd get stretched out a little," the 25-year-old right-hander said. "I've bounced around as far as the length of my outings. All along, I was always working on my strength and conditioning, so I'd be ready if I needed to get extended."
Shibuya fanned the first two LumberKings but wasn't particularly excited about that.
"You can lose a game in the first inning, but you can't win a game in the first inning," he said. "I'm not really a strikeout pitcher. I was trying to get ground balls in those at-bats, but I was kind of surprised to strike them out."
The only time the UC-San Diego product allowed two baserunners in one inning was the seventh. He surrendered a leadoff single, got a strikeout, then allowed another base hit.
"I hung a slider," after the first single, Shibuya said. "When we got to first and second, I was trying to get a ground ball."
Instead, the runners moved up on a passed ball. Shibuya got the second out with a whiff.
"It was pretty important. With the infield back, I was trying to get weak contact in the air or get a strikeout," he said. "I wanted to avoid a fielder's choice ground ball. Getting the punchout there was big."
Kernels second baseman Tyler Grimes made "a great play" on a hard-hit ball up the middle, Shibuya said, to end the threat.
After facing five batters in the seventh, Shibuya didn't know whether he'd be allowed to go out for the eighth. He was and got three groundouts around a walk.
"I wasn't quite sure what the plan was. I knew I'd been efficient with my pitches," he said. "[Cedar Rapids manager Jake Mauer] came up to me after the eighth and said, 'How do you feel?' I told him I felt good and he said, 'All right, you got this.'"
The California native gave up a leadoff single in the ninth before getting the final three batters in order.
Mike Gonzales hit his third homer in five games for the Kernels and Twins No. 8 prospect Max Kepler lifted a sacrifice fly for his 11th RBI in 10 contests.