In his first full season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Chance Adams has made a habit of emphatically halting a difficult stretch with a brilliant outing, although the turnaround has not always occurred with alacrity. The Yankees' No. 5 prospect was less patient to flip the switch on Friday night in Indianapolis.
Adams gave up four hits and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings as the RailRiders blanked the Indians, 4-0, at Victory Field. He lowered his ERA to 5.26 with his third scoreless outing of the year.
"My defense made good plays behind me and I was just locked in and just trying to pound the zone with fastballs, and then my changeup was working pretty well," the 23-year-old right-hander said. "Changeup and curveball, I thought it was all right. But the fastball [location] was working really well tonight."
Video: RailRiders' Adams picks up seventh strikeout
MLB.com's No. 68 overall prospect did not make it out of the first inning in his last start against Syracuse and had surrendered eight runs over 3 2/3 frames in his previous two outings. The ugly stretch came on the heels of one of his best games in the pros as he struck out 10 over seven one-hit innings to earn his first win of the season on May 16. That effort ended a stretch of five starts in which he was roughed up for 17 runs over 23 2/3 frames (6.46 ERA).
"It's got to be command. Just commanding my fastball and throwing pitches for strikes," he said. "I just had a few rough outings. It happens. It's baseball. Sometimes things don't go the way you want, but it's kind of a problem for everyone: just commanding their pitches 100 percent."
The Dallas Baptist University product debuted on the level last year after going 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA and 32 punchouts in six starts for Double-A Trenton. He was quickly elevated on May 13 and went 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts for the RailRiders, striking out 103 batters in 115 1/3 innings.
"How it was last year and the year before, just, consistent," he said. "You kind of expect the same thing every outing ... This season has been sporadic. ... Consistency has been the problem."
Gameday box score
On Friday night, Adams (2-2) worked around a leadoff single by Pirates No. 7 prospect Kevin Newman in the first and recorded eight consecutive outs, striking out the side in the second. Newman singled again in the third, but the righty came back to fan Max Moroff on seven pitches to end the inning. Newman, who went 2-for-4, also stole second after each single.
Following a 1-2-3 fourth, Adams ran into some trouble in the fifth. He yielded hits to Jacob Stallings and Erich Weiss before Pablo Reyes flied to right, bringing Newman to the plate with runners at the corners and two outs. He fell behind, 2-0, but got the Indianapolis shortstop to fly to right for the final out.
The 2015 fifth-round pick retired the first two batters in the sixth before being lifted after throwing 62 of 93 pitches for strikes.
"I haven't been super-consistent, which is what I want to be. That's been the issue," he said. "I've just got to work on just staying 100 percent locked in when I go out there and just hit my spots and not get too wired.
"It helps build momentum for the next one and I've just got to keep on it and just keep working."
Sixteenth-ranked Cody Carroll was perfect over the final two frames, striking out a pair and lowering his ERA to 1.75 in 25 2/3 innings.
No. 17 Yankees prospect Billy McKinney slugged his third homer of the season and Mike Ford doubled, singled and drove in two runs for the RailRiders.