The ice on Michael Fulmer's shoulder was just starting to work its magic when he threw his hands up. Aderlin Rodriguez's walk-off homer had sent the Sand Gnats to victory, ending what was arguably the best start of Fulmer's career.
"I just got iced down and I came up to the dugout, and with that guy at the plate, it's in your mind -- he can hit the ball a long, long way," Fulmer said. "We've seen him do it many times before. He's one of those guys, if he gets that ball in the zone, he'll put it out of the ballpark, no problem. As soon as it left the bat, we popped up and ran out of the dugout. It was a great feeling."
While Fulmer did not get the win, he did not care. The 19-year-old pitched seven dominant innings to help Savannah stay alive in a game that remained scoreless until Rodriguez homered in the 10th inning to stun Charleston, 1-0, on Friday at Grayson Stadium.
Fulmer, the second of the Mets' two first-round picks in last year's Draft, took a no-hitter into the fifth and left after allowing two hits over seven innings. The RiverDogs' only success off Fulmer were singles by Dante Bichette Jr. leading off the fifth and Francisco Arcia with two outs in the seventh.
"It was one of my better outings, I felt good up there," said Fulmer, the Mets' No. 8 prospect. "I had fastball command and pitched to contact tonight and my defense was great behind me. They made two or three really great plays behind me."
Rodriguez's 15th homer came off reliever Mariel Checo (7-2), who pitched a scoreless ninth. T.J. Chism (2-2) struck out two in a perfect 10th to pick up the win for Savannah.
Charleston starter Matt Bashore, the Twins' 2009 first-round pick out of Indiana University, allowed only two hits and three walks with six strikeouts in six frames to keep up with Fulmer. The left-hander, who missed substantial time following Tommy John surgery, owns a 2.20 ERA in nine outings this season, his first with the Yankees' organization.
"He looked good out there, he was throwing the ball well," Fulmer said of his fellow first-rounder. "We had opportunities. He walked a few guys, our leadoff guys did what they needed to, we had guys on base every inning, so the hits will come around. Rodriguez hit that bomb and we knew they'd come around. If I can put zeros on the board, that's the best way for us to win."
Fulmer has allowed one earned run or fewer in six of his last seven starts for the Mets' Class A affiliate. He's struck out 62 batters over 70 innings, with 25 walks and a 2.70 ERA, and Friday's game was his fourth this year in which he's allowed two hits.
Fulmer said a no-hitter was a thought early on.
"You know, it's always in the back of your mind," he said. "And the hit, it was a chopper up the middle, it glanced off the shortstop's wrist, it was a tough play. He hit a changeup up the middle, so hat's off to him.
Fulmer, noted for his maturity coming out of high school, knows he can't overpower every batter he faces.
"I can't go up there looking to strike out each guy, you need to pitch your game," he said. "I felt good on the mound, let my defense work, and our two relief guys, Chasen Bradford and T.J. Chism, they slammed the door."
Fulmer, who appeared in only four Gulf Coast League games last summer after signing, said he's satisfied with the way his first full professional season has unfolded.
"It's going good, I've learned a ton and I'm only 19," he said. "I'm working with [pitching coach] Frank Viola and the staff, so it's been an unbelievable experience. At the start of the season, I was pitching like I was in high school, but the last few starts have been nice, quality starts. I feel like I'm actually pitching now, I'm throwing to a spot. I gotta give credit to Frank and everyone here -- a lot of these older guys give me tips, so I love it."