It took Spencer Turnbull a few weeks to get used to his regular turn in a Minor League rotation. Now that he's adjusted, New York-Penn League hitters are having a hard time getting used to him.
The Detroit second-round pick pitched three spotless innings as short-season Connecticut took a perfect game into the seventh inning in a 5-0 victory, the first in a doubleheader sweep of Williamsport on Thursday night.
"It was a pretty big change my first few weeks," the University of Alabama product said of the transition from his college workload, "but I'm starting to get used to it now. My arm's definitely responding and recovering a lot better now. It's not a big of a deal as it was the first few weeks."
Matching his longest outing of the year, Turnbull struck out a batter while recording five outs on the ground and two in the air.
"Having no walks is huge for me, commanding my fastball," Tigers' No. 12 prospect said. "I had a lot more life on my fastball. I don't think I was throwing any harder than usual. I might have been a little down [in velocity] actually, but I had a lot more run on my two-seams and four-seams."
Though he boasted an effective arsenal Thursday, the right-hander wasn't aware how strong it was until he took the mound.
"I couldn't tell until I actually got into the game," he said. "I couldn't tell in the bullpen today. That happens sometimes. I don't know what I have in the bullpen, and as soon as I get the actual game going, I start figuring what I have. I threw some sliders today too, but it was mostly just fastballs."
Josh Laxer (2-0) posted an identical line to Turnbull, striking out a batter and retiring the nine men he faced. The Tigers entered the final frame of their scheduled seven-inning game with the perfecto intact, but Crosscutters center fielder Jiandido Tromp tripled with one out against Paul Voelker to break up the bid.
"It feels kind of weird because it's a seven-inning game, so it's not quite the same thing," Turnbull said, "but it's still really cool if you can pull it off. We just couldn't quite get it. We were really close, but it's still a shutout. That's what really matters."
Tim Remes collected three hits and a run and Steven Fuentes homered and scored twice in the victory.
Williamsport's Feliberto Sanchez (2-5) was charged with four runs on six hits while striking out three and not walking a batter in five innings.
In the nightcap, Michael Gerber smacked a two-run go-ahead homer in the 13th en route to a 6-5 win and the doubleheader sweep.