Saturday was not Eudis Idrogo's first complete game this season. But the Tigers prospect had a win to show for it this time.
Idrogo tossed a seven-inning three-hitter, striking out 11, as Class A West Michigan beat Burlington, 6-0, to earn a split of its doubleheader at Fifth Third Ballpark. On April 29, he allowed an unearned run in another seven-inning complete game against Lansing but took the loss.
Gameday box score
Idrogo (2-2) leads all Class A hurlers with a 0.49 ERA. More than half of his outs Saturday came via the strikeout. Considering he had 23 strikeouts over his previous five starts, it was a slight reversal, but the Whitecaps will take it.
"He's one of the guys who always pitches to contact, but the big difference tonight was his fastball moving a lot," West Michigan pitching coach Jorge Cordova said. "His fastball tonight had a lot of life with a big sink action."
The 22-year-old mixed the fastball with a sharp curveball that he was able to control all night, to keep hitters off-balance all night, Cordova said.
Video: Idrogo completes three-hit shutout for Whitecaps
Idrogo retired the first eight batters he faced before Harrison Wenson singled with two outs in the third. Idrogo was unfazed as he came back to strike out the side in the fourth, then got Spencer Griffin swinging to begin the fifth.
"He was getting sharper," Cordova said. "His feel was getting a lot better. The hitters started trying to guess him because they were starting to get a little bit frustrated trying to make contact with his fastball. He was pitching kind of backwards than when he started the game."
The southpaw faced the minimum in the fifth, thanks to his defense. After Julio Garcia singled to left, Franklin Torres lined to right fielder Garrett McCain, who doubled off Torres at first. Idrogo worked around a two-out error by third baseman Jordan Pearce in the sixth and a two-out single by Griffin in the seventh prompted Cordova to emerge from the dugout to see if the young hurler had anything left the tank.
"As soon as he saw me walking to the mound, he said, 'Please give me one more hitter, I can finish this,'" Cordova said. "Obviously, I knew it, but I just wanted to see for myself how he looked on the mound."
Cordova left a recommendation to throw curveballs because Garcia would be trying to time a fastball. The approach resulted in Garcia rolling over and grounding out to third to end the game.
It took Idrogo 104 pitches -- 67 for strikes -- to complete his fourth scoreless outing of the season. Cordova said he sees a more mature and experienced pitcher this year, one who has learned how to challenge hitters. An example, the pitching coach noted, is throwing changeups to both righties and lefties, opposed to years past when he only threw the pitch to right-handed hitters.
"His command has been great," Cordova said. "He just learned how to trust himself, how to pound the zone. His command is way, way better than last season. He can command his fastball in and out. He has more movement with his two-seamer, too. That's part of the process. That's what the Minor Leagues are for -- for players to get better and learn."
Cordova and Idrogo had a long talk after Spring Training when the Venezuelan was upset to be repeating Class A for the third time. It was time for him to show the Tigers what he's made of.
"After that conversation ... that's the reason why he understands it's so important to pitch to contact, how important it is to work ahead in the count," the pitching coach said.
Luke Burch went 2-for-3 with a two-run single to pace the offense for West Michigan.