For some athletes, it's helpful to slow the game down, but William Cuevas has learned that picking up the pace is exactly what he needs to succeed.
After losing four straight starts, the right-handed Boston prospect cruised through six one-hit innings as Class A Advanced Salem edged Wilmington, 2-1, on Wednesday.
"I don't know why [but] I was starting to think about everything too much," Cuevas said. "That's why I was being slower the last couple starts. So I started to work on my tempo and fortunately it worked out. Now I'm going to be aggressive every pitch [and] not think about the things that I can't control."
The 23-year-old carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but Terrance Gore broke it up with aone-out single. Cuevas -- who struck out three without allowing a walk -- said all of his pitches were working for him, particularly his two-seam fastball.
The Venezuelan threw six scoreless innings in his first start of the season, but ran into trouble in the next four, giving up 19 runs -- 18 earned -- on 25 hits, including a start in which he didn't make it out of the first inning after yielding eight runs.
"Things weren't going his way, so he lost some confidence," said Kevin Walker, Salem's pitching coach. "He pitched determined tonight, he pitched with confidence."
During the past couple days, Walker worked with Cuevas on speeding up his tempo and not thinking too much between pitches and at-bats.
"You just kind of talk to [pitchers] about what the tempo does to them. It really does help them getting into a great rhythm," the coach said. "They are able to be on their toes and make defensive plays. It also helps you forget bad pitches and focus on the next one."
Cuevas lowered his ERA from 7.84 to 6.08 and has totaled 20 strikeouts in his second stint in Class A Advanced. In his full-season debut in 2013, the 6-footer went 8-9 with a 5.05 ERA in 26 starts for Salem.
Walker thinks that if Cuevas continues to have similar outings and improves his command, he'll be able to advance to Double-A.
"This is a game where every game is a new challenge. You can be really high like tonight or really low," Walker said. "It's just about getting those starts under your belt and continuing to do what you do when things are going well.
"I think he still needs to command his fastball. When I say command, I mean command of the corners, tightening up the curveball -- making it a more consistent strike pitch and also an out pitch for him."
Madison Younginer entered in the seventh for the Red Sox. The right-hander worked around a run and a hit over two frames. Kyle Martin picked up his second save after pitching a hitless ninth.
Salem got on the board with a pair of doubles -- Jonathan Roof's two-bagger in the third that plated Matty Johnson and another by Tim Robertson in the sixth that drove in Roof. Roof leads Salem with 22 runs while Johnson has 21.
After pitching in relief during his last outing, Yender Caramo (1-3) returned to the rotation for Wilmington. The right-hander allowed a run on five hits over five innings.