Bulls' Faria records longest start of season

Rays No. 9 prospect posts seven scoreless frames in sixth win

Jacob Faria's six wins are tied for the International League lead. (Walmer Medina/Durham Bulls)

By Chris Tripodi / MiLB.com | June 2, 2017 12:26 AM

Thursday's matchup between Triple-A Durham and Rochester provided quite a contrast.

The Bulls' Jacob Faria took the mound tied for the Minor League lead in strikeouts, while the Red Wings had the fewest whiffs in the International League.

Rochester did well to avoid being fanned but still couldn't figure out Faria in one of his best outings of the season.

Tampa Bay's No. 9 prospect spun seven scoreless innings to help the Bulls to a 6-3 win at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The right-hander allowed three hits and two walks while matching his second-lowest strikeout total of the season with six.

Gameday box score

"This is an aggressive team, they don't strike out very much," Faria said. "They don't allow themselves to get into a deep count. That's been the Twins [organization] forever.

"I've been facing them since I was in the [Rookie-level] GCL. They've always been very aggressive and I knew that going in. They're going to swing early in the count. I had to mix it up early, let them put a swing on it and trust my defense to get the out."

Faria (6-1) showed no ill effects from taking a comebacker off his calf last Saturday, when he didn't factor in the decision in the Bulls' 6-2 loss to Pawtucket. He opened Thursday night with two perfect innings before walking Leonardo Reginatto on four pitches to start the third. But Faria struck out John Ryan Murphy and Mike Marjama caught Reginatto running on a 3-2 pitch for the double play.

After facing the minimum through 3 2/3 frames and not allowing a runner reach scoring position through the first six, Niko Goodrum roped a leadoff double to start the seventh. A groundout by Kennys Vargas moved the runner to third with one out, and Faria knew what he had to do.

Video: Bulls' Faria ends the seventh

"That was probably the one time in the game where I'm really going for a strikeout," he said. "One out with a runner on third, even with a four-run lead, he's still scoring. You have to be a little selfish there. I don't want to give up any runs, even though we'll still be in the lead. We did change [the mentality] at that point, but that was the only time."

Faria knew he wasn't going to rack up strikeouts against the Red Wings, who whiffed 337 times in 47 games coming into the game. But despite huge strikeout numbers over his career, Rochester played right into the 23-year-old's gameplan.

"The biggest thing I've learned from the Rays is the approach -- the thing they teach and really harp on is that you want to get guys out in three or four pitches or less," the California native said. "You want to attack. There's no such thing as a wasted pitch. The strikeouts are just coming because of the approach we have -- get ahead early and put them away as soon as you can."

Tampa Bay's 10th-round pick in 2011 moved back into the Minor League lead with 84 strikeouts, six ahead of Oklahoma City's Wilmer Font, Birmingham's Jordan Guerrero and Greenville's Michael Shawaryn, but strikeouts are usually the furthest thing from Faria's mind.

MiLB include

"I think it's cool being in that category. It's obviously fun striking out guys, and it's a big thing people like," Faria said. "I really don't even think about it too much. The only time I ever think about it is if somebody else brings it up. It doesn't really cross my mind all too often."

Johnny Field and Rays No. 4 prospect Jake Bauers had three hits apiece for the Bulls. Bauers singled in two runs.

Goodrum had three hits and two RBIs.

Rochester's Nik Turley surrendered five runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings. 

Chris Tripodi is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @christripodi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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