Sitting through the opener of Lake County's doubleheader on Saturday, Game 2 starter Jordan Milbrath mostly had one thing on his mind: Stay warm.
"You never really get used to throwing in the cold," said the 2013 35th-round Draft pick, a Minnesota native. "I can't say it hasn't happened before, though."
Milbrath fought off temperatures in the 30s as the Captains won Game 1, 7-5. In the nightcap -- his first professional start -- he froze Lansing's bats en route to a complete-game two-hitter and a 5-0 blanking of the Lugnuts.
A 6-foot-6 right-hander, Milbrath was drafted by the Indians last June after pitching one season Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. As a Viking, he posted a 4.57 ERA with 60 strikeouts over 67 innings and two complete games.
Milbrath originally committed to St. Cloud State after high school but transferred after redshirting his freshman year. He didn't pitch collegiately for two more seasons before landing at Augustana. His only action in the interim was in 2012 in the Northwoods League, where he compiled a 5.10 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 60 innings, primarily as a reliever.
After signing with the Indians, Milbrath moved back to the bullpen, logging 20 1/3 innings in 13 appearances in the Rookie-level Arizona League before making a forgettable appearance with Lake County (he surrendered four runs -- three earned -- while retiring just one batter).
During Spring Training, the Indians told Milbrath he'd be stretched to potentially start, a decision that was confirmed when they assigned him to the Class A Midwest League near the end of camp. He's since worked with the organization's instructors on a number of things, most geared toward getting the 22-year-old to throw more strikes. He features a three-pitch mix of fastball, slider and changeup, and said he mixed all three in Saturday's gem.
"Being able to locate those when I needed to helped me to control the tempo of the game," Milbrath said. "I was able to keep my tempo up, too, and that helped me."
He faced the minimum over the first three innings, allowing just one baserunner. That was Ian Parmley, who walked but was thrown out trying to steal by Richard Stock to end the third.
Dickie Joe Thon finally got Lansing's first hit in the fourth but was stranded. Milbrath retired the side in order in the fifth, then worked around a one-out walk to Parmley in the sixth.
Milbrath nearly completed a one-hitter but allowed an infield single to Jason Leblebijian with two outs in the seventh as Leblebijian narrowly beat the throw from third baseman Grant Fink.
In Game 1, the Lugnuts got a grand slam from Thon but allowed three runs over the final two innings. Thon's miscue in the bottom of the sixth allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
Lake County's Claudio Bautista hit a three-run homer in the opener.