Angel Gonzalez overcame a rocky start and tossed six hitless innings Tuesday as the Greeneville Astros defeated the Kingsport Mets, 7-2, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Signed by Houston as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Gonzalez struck out four, walked two and hit a batter in his second start of the season. He struggled against Burlington on June 23, surrendering five runs on three hits in three innings.
"Basically I took him in the 'pen and we worked on his fastball and getting it down on lefties and hard and in on righties," said Greeneville pitching coach Dave Borkowski, a former Major Leaguer.
The 21-year-old left-hander was in trouble early, plunking Lucas Stewart with two outs in the first and walking Aderlin Rodriguez and Nelfi Zapata to load the bases. But he retired Javier Rodriguez on a liner to second base and finished up with five perfect innings to lower his ERA to 5.00.
"He started off the game quick, got two quick outs and then got a little fine and got in a rut," Borkowksi said. "From the second on, he pounded the zone, made the hitters swing at his pitch and forced the hitters to be aggressive. He did a heck of a job."
B.J. Hagen came on in the seventh and set down the first two batters before losing the no-hit bid on a double by Javier Rodriguez. Albert Cordero spoiled the shutout with an RBI single and Brandon Brown delivered a run-scoring double before Hagan got Semel to ground out.
"It wasn't really a bad pitch," Borkowski said. "B.J. threw a ball that was down and maybe a little over the plate, but the guy put a good swing on it and got a double."
Marcus Nidiffer supplied the offense for the Astros (5-2) with a two-run homer in the second and a sacrifice fly in the third. Jhonny Mercado smacked a two-run shot and scored twice and Emilio King also scored two runs.
Former seventh-round pick Michael Hebert (0-1) gave up five runs on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts over four innings.