Matt Barnes wasn't shy about offering his assessment of his start on Saturday. You'd be hard-pressed to find any dissenters.
The Red Sox's No. 14 prospect tossed seven hitless innings but did not figure in the decision as Triple-A Pawtucket dropped a 2-1, 11-inning decision to visiting Columbus.
Barnes recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts, issued two walks and faced two batters over the minimum. He exited after throwing 66 of a career-high 106 pitches for strikes.
"It was good," he said. "I had good command of my fastball tonight; I was able to work it in-and-out of the zone. My secondary pitches were working well. I was able to command those in fastball counts and use them as putaway pitches as well. There are certain days where you're going to have some of your better stuff and you can give yourself a chance to get that strikeout. I was fortunate enough to get ahead in counts tonight.
"I felt great. It's the best start I've had of the season and probably one of the better ones I've had in my professional career. I almost felt better in the sixth and seventh than I did early on in the game."
Saturday marked the second time this season that the 24-year-old right-hander has gone seven innings and the first since May 11 against Louisville.
"It's awesome," Barnes said. "That's what I've been striving to do. Every starting pitcher wants to go as deep into the game as they can. It feels really good."
After compiling a 5.06 ERA in 15 outings in the first half of the season, the University of Connecticut product has found success since the All-Star break, posting a 1.96 ERA while limiting International League foes to a .115 batting average. He credits changes made to his mental approach during the All-Star break.
"The game plan I have right now is really working for me," Barnes said. "I'm just trying to go out there and have a good outing every time for the team. I know the guys in Boston are watching, but I'm not focusing on that. I don't control if I'm getting called up or when I'm getting called up."
The last week has seen the promotion of two of Boston's top pitching prospects in Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster. The big league club's willingness to turn to its young arms provides affirmation to Barnes that his hard work will eventually pay off.
"It shows that the organization and [general manager] Ben Cherington is committed to the youth in the farm system," he said. "It was awesome to see guys like Rubby [De La Rosa] and [Brandon] Workman, Ranaudo and Webster get a shot. It just shows that they're committed to us. That's what we like to see. That allows us to push a little harder."
Miguel Celestino took over for Barnes and gave up a one-out single in the eighth to Carlos Moncrief that broke up the no-hit bid. Elliot Johnson and Luke Carlin followed with base hits to lift the Clippers into a 1-1 tie.
In the 11th, Giovanny Urshela reached on a throwing error by shortstop Deven Marrero and scored the go-ahead run on Zach Walters' single.
In his first game off the disabled list, Bryce Brentz collected two hits and helped produce the PawSox's lone run.