As a reliever, Tim Shibuya experienced the pleasure that can come with watching a starter pitch a complete game. On Saturday, he delivered that joy to his friends in the bullpen.
Making his third start for Class A Advanced Fort Myers, the Twins prospect hurled a five-hitter as the Miracle took the opener of a doubleheader at St. Lucie, 3-0. He struck out one and did not walk a batter en route to his third career complete-game shutout.
"It's always nice to finish what you start," Shibuya said, "and more importantly, just preserve our bullpen because we were having a staff day for the second game."
Steven Gruver, Brian Gilbert and Brandon Peterson each pitched two innings for the Miracle in the nightcap, which the Mets won, 2-0.
As for Shibuya, he's thrown 19 1/3 innings without allowing a run. Over 21 games this year, he's 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA.
When starting, the Los Angeles native owns a 2-0 record and 0.50 ERA. His relief statistics include a 3-2 record, two saves and a 4.09 ERA.
"No matter where I'm at, if I'm in the 'pen or if I'm starting, my job is just to get outs," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "So I'm just trying to get some outs and just go from there. That's really all I'm kind of worrying about doing. I started a couple games, then I came out of the 'pen again, now I'm back in the starting rotation. So I'm just trying to help the team win in any way I can."
In his latest effort, the 2011 23rd-round pick yielded first-inning singles to L.J. Mazzilli and Jairo Perez, a base hit to Jeff McNeil in the third and singles to Perez and Cam Maron in the seventh. He also committed a throwing error in the fifth that allowed Cole Frenzel to reach.
Shibuya benefited from two double plays and wound up facing 25 batters. He recorded a whopping 16 groundouts while inducing one fly ball.
"The stuff felt about the same," the UC-San Diego product said. "I felt like I hit some pretty good spots. The defense made some really good plays for me, so it was easy to pitch to contact at that point, just knowing my defense was working so hard."
Offensively, Fort Myers got runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings. Lance Ray brought home Jorge Polanco with an early sacrifice fly, then Florida State League All-Star MVP Adam Brett Walker scored on a wild pitch by Jake Kuebler and Ray doubled in Twins No. 13 prospect Max Kepler.
"I was just trying to work ahead in the count and get some contact early," Shibuya said. "I knew, with the doubleheader today, I was just trying to save our 'pen. Stuart [Turner] had a great game, calling behind the dish. And I just tried to get ground balls for our defense, who made a lot of plays for me."