The New York Mets have not been to the playoffs since 2006 and they have finished third or worse in the five-team National League's East Division in each of the past six seasons.
Pitching help is slowly but surely coming through the system, but 26-year-old Darin Gorski knows it's now or never if he wants to be included in that mix.
Gorski allowed one unearned run on four hits and two walks while striking out 10 batters over six innings in the Double-A Binghamton Mets' 9-1 win over the host New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Thursday.
He threw 56 of 88 pitches for strikes and induced three ground balls in the victory, which lowered his ERA to 0.93.
"I was happy with the way it went, coming off the first outing where I didn't throw as many strikes as I wanted to," Gorski said. "I get into trouble when I fall behind guys ... you can't do that as you move up the levels.
"I had a pretty good changeup and good fastball location. It was about getting ahead and staying ahead. I had my slider, but with a right-handed-heavy lineup, I was predominantly going fastball-changeup. I was throwing a lot of strikes, but I didn't know [I had 10 strikeouts] until I came out after."
The 6-foot-4 left-hander struck out two batters in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings and one in each of the first and fourth. It was his third double-digit strikeout game. He fanned a career-high 13 Blue Jays in the St. Lucie Mets' 5-1 victory over Dunedin on May 26, 2011.
Gorski retired the first seven batters he faced before Mike Crouse tripled to center field in the inning, but he set down Aaron Munoz and Kenny Wilson to preserve the B-Mets' 2-0 advantage.
The Fisher Cats got on the board against the 2009 seventh-round pick in the following inning when Jon Berti reached on a bunt single, stole second and third and scored on catcher Kevin Plawecki's throwing error.
"It was just one of those things, a baseball play," Gorski said. "I could have done a little more, but he's a fast guy and he was looking to run. Maybe if I varied my looks more, he doesn't run. From a pitching standpoint, if I vary my looks, then he's guessing more than timing me up. I might have fallen into a pattern."
Gorski tossed a perfect fifth and worked around a pair of singles in the sixth before turning a 5-1 lead over to the bullpen.
The Pennsylvania native is repeating the Eastern League for the second time. He went 9-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 25 games with Binghamton in 2012 and he was 6-1 with a 1.83 mark in 14 contests last season after struggling with Triple-A Las Vegas in April.
Gorski posted a 6.59 ERA in four Pacific Coast League appearances last year, walking more batters (nine) than he struck out (seven) while opponents hit .315 against him.
The Mets already have three pitchers in the Majors younger than Gorski (Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia), not including 25-year-old Matt Harvey, who is currently on the DL.
New York has 10 pitchers among its top 20 prospects. With 21-year-old top prospect Noah Syndergaard and No. 3 Rafael Montero, 23, both already at Triple-A Las Vegas, Gorski could be on the outside looking in.
"We have incredible arms coming up through the system so that doesn't make it any easier," he said. "But what it does do is help competition. We all go out there trying to one-up each other, so that keeps it interesting.
"I can definitely pitch at the next level. I think I have the stuff to stick in the Majors. Guys get there for a reason, but they stick there for another reason. Once you get there, you can't just hope to stay around, you have to work on it. You have to put your nose to the grindstone."
Binghamton's No. 9 hitter Matt Reynolds was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, Brian Burgamy hit a three-run homer and Dustin Lawley added a two-run jack.
New Hampshire's Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1) allowed five runs on seven hits over six innings. He struck out five batters and did not issue a walk.