Everything was golden for Jacob Faria on Saturday night until his opponent keyed into Wee Willie Keeler's famous advice.
"They were dropping hits down where guys weren't," the Rays prospect said. "It was just a little bit of bad luck. I can't be too disappointed because I was still throwing strikes, still pitching my game."
Faria took a no-hitter into the seventh before things turned sour as Class A Bowling Green dropped a 5-4 decision to visiting Lake County. He ended up going 6 1/3 innings and was charged with five runs -- two earned -- on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
"The last inning snowballed after the first hit or the first run scored, but for the first six, I felt the best I've felt all year," Faria said. "There's still a lot of positives to take away from those first six."
The walk, to the Captains' Dorssys Paulino, came with one out in the first inning, and the threat was short-lived. Faria struck out the next batter and catcher Armando Araiza threw out Paulino trying to steal.
"That was sweet. Araiza is one of the best I've ever seen behind the plate, probably the best I've worked with for throwing out runners," Faria said. "And being quick to the plate is something the Rays harp on. It's something we work on a lot and it's big in situations like that."
The 20-year-old right-hander, who threw a one-hitter on April 30, was perfect from the second through the sixth.
"My fastball and changeup command were on point. It was one of the better days I've had, command-wise," Faria said. "My breaking ball was not 100 percent there, but I flipped it in every once in a while to keep them off-balance. The main thing, though, was to be able to mix it up with the fastball and changeup.
"They were hitting into my game and into where our defense was. Having that command makes it so much easier, when you don't have to fight to come back in counts."
Second-ranked Indians prospect Clint Frazier singled off Faria to open the seventh and moved to second when first baseman Alexander Simon could not handle a pickoff attempt.
"I'd [thrown] over a couple times before. I noticed that every time (Frazier) was coming up, he was taking an extra step off, so I thought if I [threw] right when I touched [the glove], I'd get him," Faria said. "Maybe the throw was a little low. I'm not too sure, but it's just one of those things."
Faria surrendered four consecutive hits -- two singles, a double and another single -- before being removed.
"I was still making pitches. I was still throwing to the glove and hitting the spots my catcher was calling for. Actually, my curveball started coming in for me in that inning," the 2011 10th-round pick said. "There were just a couple of ground balls through holes and then that soft line drive down the right-field line."
Faria (3-3) gave way to Brad Schreiber, but the Captains added two runs on a throwing error by second baseman Pat Blair and an RBI single by Brian Ruiz.
"I was more frustrated about not being able to finish my innings. The runs and hits are going to happen every time you go out," Faria said. "The main thing I can control is, finish my outing. The biggest disappointment was not being able to finish my inning and putting my bullpen in that tough spot, where there was no room for mistakes."
Faria is nine starts into his first full season in the Minor Leagues. Saturday's outing came in front of a spectator he's particularly fond of.
"My girlfriend's in town. She was standing in the stands, cheering me on," he said. "It was great [to have this start in front of her]. She's a big supporter. She shows me a lot of love."
Lake County starter Adam Plutko (3-1) ended up outdueling Faria, limiting the Hot Rods to two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out eight over 6 1/3 innings.
Ariel Soriano went 3-for-4 with a double for Bowling Green.