Just 12 days ago, Shawn Morimando said his first career shutout left him speechless. His second was even better.
The Indians' No. 18 prospect recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts without issuing a walk and tossed a five-hitter for another complete game as Triple-A Columbus blanked Charlotte, 5-0, on Tuesday at BB&T Ballpark.
"It went really well tonight," Morimando said after his fourth straight win and fifth in six starts. "I felt really good. Me and [catcher Erik Kratz] were on the same page the whole night, and this time around, I executed a lot better with my pitches and got ahead of a lot more hitters. I just kept on the gas pedal the whole time and my defense played awesome behind me again."
Video: Morimando completes shutout for Clippers
Morimando dominated Durham in an 8-0 win on June 15 but followed that outing by allowing four runs on six hits over six innings of a victory at Louisville. On Tuesday night, he was in his arguably the best form of his career.
The left-hander faced multiple baserunners just once and got help from his defense to get out of the few jams he faced. Charlotte's Rymer Liriano doubled to left leading off the second but was thrown out by right fielder Ronny Rodriguez trying to score on Grant Green's single. Rodriguez came through again with Green at the plate in the seventh. With one out and Nicky Delmonico aboard, he caught Green's fly ball and doubled Delmonico off second to end the inning.
While his defense was doing its part, Morimando was Tuesday's star.
Gameday box score
"I was really trusting my fastball command," he said. "I was trying to get ahead early with my fastball and I was just mixing a lot of changeups and sliders. I think I threw three curveballs tonight, and mostly it was just early with my fastball or early with the changeup. It was a three-pitch kind of night. I was able to execute early in the count and then continue mixing my fastball and changeup. Once I was able to get 0-2, 1-2, in those kind of counts, I'd try to execute my slider to see if they'll swing at it."
Morimando front-loaded his strikeouts, fanning nine over the first four innings and, like his last shutout, credited his catcher.
"It's a calm, relaxing, confident feeling," he said of his rapport with Kratz. "After every pitch that I throw, it seems like he knows what's working tonight. He knows how the hitters are taking pitches or swinging at pitches, and I just have a good feeling with that. It helps when we're on the same page like that and in rhythm. It gives me that time to make every pitch a committed and aggressive one and just trust it. When that happens, a lot of good things come from it."
With his most recent win, Morimando capped a month in which he was 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA over 37 2/3 innings.
"It's a blessing. I couldn't be more thankful," he said of his recent success. "I've always tried to be real humble and confident in my work ethic. I always let my playing speak for itself because that's the type of person I am. It's just really humbling that things are looking up right now and I'm in a good groove, and as a team, we're playing really good baseball right now. You just continue, day in and day out, to get a little bit better every single day. Eventually, the whole package will start to form."
The growing momentum of Morimando's run has come with lessons to build on. After his first shutout, the moral was to have confidence in the work he puts in between starts. Tuesday provided more knowledge.
"I would say the importance of strike one and getting ahead of hitters early in counts and not falling behind guys [stands out]," he said. "Obviously, when you get ahead of hitters, a lot more good things will happen from it. It keeps me aggressive and in attack mode."
Indians No. 25 prospect Nellie Rodriguez and Ronny Rodriguez homered for the Clippers, while Abraham Almonte went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a run scored.