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Phillies' Biddle dominates once again08/24/2012 12:14 AM ET
By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com
At a time when other Minor League pitchers are being shut down after five frames to preserve team-mandated innings limits, Jesse Biddle has gone seven in three of his last five outings.
That's because he's been so dominant lately.
The 20-year-old left-hander struck out nine and surrendered only two hits in seven frames Thursday night to lead Class A Advanced Clearwater to a 3-0 win over Daytona. He now has a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless frames through his last three starts, including his seven no-hit innings in a win last Friday,
With that recent success, Biddle (10-5) believes he might have forced his coaching staff's hands when it comes time for his exit.
"I don't think I have an innings limit, at least nothing that they've told me," said the Phillies' No. 2 prospect, who threw 103 pitches . "As long as I'm pitching well out there and if I'm strong enough, they're going to let me go. A lot of the credit for that goes to our training staff and our strength coach for the regimen they have us on.
"I just want to finish up strong and healthy here. That's the biggest thing I want to take away from the end of the season."
Biddle looked the part of both adjectives on the mound Thursday. He gave up both of his hits in the first inning -- one on Ronald Torreyes' infield single to second base and the other on Rebel Ridling's liner to center. He set Nelson Perez down looking to end the threat and strike out the side.
The Threshers posted three runs in the bottom half -- two on Jim Murphy's double -- and that would be all the scoring they would need on the night. MLB.com's No. 64 prospect responded with six more hitless innings to conclude an outing that was reminiscent of last week's gem, except for a few minor details.
"That first inning, I was just rushing a little bit," he said. "My tempo in my delivery was just off, definitely different from last time out, which was something I was trying to replicate. But as the game went on, I began to really find my rhythm and settled in. The 3-0 lead in the first certainly helped too."
With his nine strikeouts, the 6-foot-4 southpaw, who has a four-pitch arsenal, passed former teammate Adam Morgan (140) -- now with Double-A Reading -- for the top spot in the Florida State League with 146 punchouts. Along with fellow left-hander Austin Wright (125), the top three strikeout leaders in the circuit have played in Clearwater. They also all rank in the top five for ERA, led by Biddle's 3.10 -- second-best in the league.
That's not a mistake, according to the Philadelphia native.
"I actually think it's cheating [that I passed Morgan], but we all work really well together here," he said. "We're all three left-handers who seemed to push each other and learn from each other. Plus our pitching coach [David Lundquist] has been unbelievable with everybody."
Quality pitching performances from that trio are a big part of the reason why the Threshers find themselves in the midst of the Minors' tightest division race. Four teams find themselves within a game of the FSL North Division lead with a little more than two weeks left in the season.
"We're taking this very seriously. We've got guys checking scores on their phones and keeping everyone else updated all the time," Biddle said. "We want it, and we want it bad. We want our ring."
That quest for an FSL championship should push Biddle to continue to pitch deep into games and potentially extend his shutout streak. That's his hope anyway.
"I'm just enjoying it right now and really trying to utilize everything from it as well," he said. "Look, everyone wants to pitch seven, eight shutout innings every time they go out there. But I understand how baseball goes, and that's not going to happen every start. My goal is to get us the win, and that just means making sure our score is higher than theirs."