Over the past couple years, Christian Friedrich might have tried to be too fine with his pitches. Now he's just concerned with being aggressive.
That approach worked out Tuesday as the Rockies' No. 14 prospect prospect gave up just two hits over 7 1/3 shutout innings to lead the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox to a 2-0 shutout of the Tacoma Rainers.
The 24-year-old left-hander struck out six while walking one.
"[Catcher Wil] Nieves and I were on the same page more than I feel like I've ever been," said Friedrich, who allowed four runs over five innings in his first start of the season. "I was confident in what he threw down. I probably only shook him off once, and that wasn't the right thing to do. I was confident in my fastball on both sides of the plate."
The first hit off Friedrich came in the third when Scott Savastano tripled to center field with one out. The southpaw recovered by getting consecutive popouts by Luis Rodriguez and Trayvon Robinson to end the inning.
In the sixth, Savastano was again the perpetrator, doubling to lead off the inning. After Rodriguez bunted him over, Friedrich induced another popout by Robinson and then walked Carlos Triunfel. He escaped the frame when Vinnie Catricala grounded out to shortstop.
"[Savastano] was one of the few guys -- it's funny how you notice the small things -- in the box waiting for me," Friedrich said. "Usually I'm waiting on hitters. I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but it kind of surprised me the couple times he was waiting on me. When he got his pitch, he punished it."
Dustin Molleken took over for Friedrich in the eighth, getting the final two outs of the inning without a problem. Edgmer Escalona then tossed a one-hit ninth to notch his second save of the season.
Chad Tracy and Nieves both hit solo homers for the Sky Sox, providing the team's only offense on the day.
Though the game was close throughout, Friedrich said he enjoyed playing in that type of contest.
"I think it makes it a lot more fun," he said. "Our whole team was in the game, and some of our guys made huge plays for me. [Third baseman] Jimmy Cesario was taking some hot shots for me, and one of the biggest plays of the night ... [shortstop Brandon] Wood went to the hole and made a jump-throw to second. It was one of the cooler plays I've seen from a guy playing behind me. In those close games, you get that adrenaline and confidence and just want to keep competing."
The 25th overall pick in the 2008 Draft, Friedrich has had his struggles the past two seasons. He compiled a 5.05 ERA in 18 Double-A starts in 2010, then put together a 5.00 ERA in 25 outings at that level last year. He said he has modified his approach somewhat this season.
"[Manager] Stu Cole was saying that he was in Double-A one year and got sent back there, and you take it personally," Friedrich said. "And you tell yourself that's not you, that's not how you play the game. I've definitely taken that into this year, knowing I'm not a fine pitcher. I'm a guy that the more aggressive I am, the more successful I am."
For the rest of the season, Friedrich simply wants to maintain that aggressive attitude.
"I just want to keep the mentality I had tonight and to keep learning," he said. "Try to stay the course that I put myself on this offseason, and I cannot let off the gas."