Chance Adams found relatively quick success during his first stint with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a year ago but struggled to start the 2018 campaign.
Looking for his first win in his eighth start of the season, the Yankees' No. 5 prospect found a hint of last year's form on Wednesday night.
Video: Adams picks up 10th strikeout for SWB
Adams allowed one hit and two walks while striking out a season-high 10 over seven scoreless innings to pick up that elusive first win as the RailRiders topped Lehigh Valley, 3-1, at PNC Field. He dropped his ERA to 4.69, the lowest it's been in more than a month, one start after he failed to get out of the third inning.
"Tonight was a big step for him," Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. "Now he just needs to be able to repeat that, outing to outing. This was really good stuff tonight and I hope he can take it into each start so he can go back to being Chance Adams again."
Wednesday's start began remarkably similar to last week's outing, in which Adams surrendered five runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings. In both games, the third inning told the tale. Against Syracuse on May 9, the right-hander cruised through the first and had to grind through the second. In the third, five consecutive batters reached with two outs, ending in four runs and a pitching change.
Gameday box score
Against the IronPigs, Adams struck out four over the first two innings, issuing a leadoff walk in the second, before finding minor trouble in the third. The 2015 fifth-round pick gave up another leadoff pass to Logan Moore after getting ahead, 0-2, then allowed a single to Alexi Amarista. This time, however, after falling behind Dean Anna, 2-0, he induced a double play on a fastball away. Adams then snared a soft comebacker from Danny Ortiz to escape unscathed.
To Phelps, responding like he did was a window into Adams' fortitude.
"The other day, he wasn't able to make that pitch when he wanted to get through a tough spot," the pitching coach said. "He was able to do what he wanted when he wanted it. And when he can do that, it makes it tough on batters to square it up. He had good rhythm and tempo and attacked throughout the night. I thought he got better as the game went on."
Adams retired the final 14 IronPigs, striking out the side in the fourth and seventh.
The key to his consistency and potency, Phelps said, is Adams' fastball, a pitch that improved markedly between outings.
"He had good life with his fastball tonight, and he moved it in and out and elevated it when he wanted to," Phelps said. "It had a late bite, and he mixed it effectively between speeds and in and out.
"Now he just needs to do that one and two and three games in a row."
Ryan McBroom gave the 23-year-old an early lead with a two-out two-run homer in the second and Mike Ford added a solo shot -- his fourth of the season and second in four games -- in the fourth.
International League batting leader Joey Meneses belted a solo homer in the eighth for Lehigh Valley.