Familia fans nine in Bisons' shutout

No. 3 Mets prospect scatters four hits, den Dekker adds slam

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By Zack Cox / Special to MLB.com | August 14, 2012 7:45 PM ET

Jeurys Familia has been a bit of an enigma for Triple-A Buffalo this season.

When the Mets' No. 3 prospect is on his game he can be nearly unhittable, but he's also had starts in which doesn't last four innings.

Familia was fully locked in Tuesday night, scattering four hits over seven innings in the Bisons' 6-0 shutout of Lehigh Valley.

The power-throwing right-hander is known for his arm strength, and Familia (8-7) displayed expert command of his upper-90s fastball by striking out nine while walking just one.

"[He showed] the ability to pound the bottom of the strike zone from left to right," Buffalo pitching coach Mark Brewer said. "[It] was probably the best command we've seen from him, especially over the first six [innings]. We also liked his ability to throw his curveball for swings and misses."

In five of his 10 starts, MLB.com's 73rd overall pick has allowed one earned run or fewer, totaling at least five strikeouts in each. He has given up five or more runs in the other five, never striking out more than four.

"He got ahead of hitters, was able to expand the zone," Bisons manager Wally Backman said. "That's why you want pitchers to throw first-pitch strikes, so they can expand the zone. ... The way that he pounded the zone tonight is what we would like to see on a consistent basis. I saw it last season with him, so I know it's there."

Brewer said the 22-year-old is at his best when he does not allow himself to be distracted by other facets of the game.

"Tonight, he just simplified things," Brewer said. "He didn't put himself in a situation where he had to do too much. He had a pretty easy plan tonight, to execute from side to side and use his legs to do that. Sometimes with runners on base, he just needs to clear his mind and keep his focus on the batter at hand."

"He doubted himself at times earlier in the year," Backman added. "He's just got to let his stuff play, because his stuff is definitely good enough to pitch in the big leagues. It's about consistency for him and just commanding the strike zone."

Despite the lopsided final tally, the game had all the makings of a pitchers' duel until the late innings. Familia's command was matched by IronPigs hurlers Tyson Brummett (3-3) and Juan Morillo, who combined to allow a run on two hits through the first six frames.

The Bisons changed that in the seventh. First baseman Adam Loewen smacked an RBI double and center fielder Matt den Dekker connected on a grand slam two batters later -- his ninth homer of the year.

Robert Carson pitched two scoreless final frames to secure the shutout for Buffalo.

Zack Cox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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