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Back in Triple-A, Snell fans 13 straight

Streak comes in season-high 17-strikeout performance for Indy
June 28, 2009
A change of scene produced spectacular results for Ian Snell.

Snell recorded 13 consecutive strikeouts on his way to a Minor League season-high 17 over seven innings Sunday as the Indianapolis Indians walked off with a 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Toledo Mud Hens.

The historic outing -- he also broke the Victory Field-era team record for strikeouts in a game -- came after Snell asked to be assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis.

"I haven't felt like that all year. It's just amazing," he said. "These guys are great and these guys are a bunch of goofballs. It makes you want to be here and pitch well here."

The 27-year-old right-hander was 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA and one complete game in 15 starts with Pittsburgh. He hadn't pitched in the Minors since 2005, but was nearly unhittable against a Toledo lineup that included five players with big league experience.

"The guys made me feel welcome here. It was just fun to see this relaxed and fun atmosphere," Snell said. "Nothing against the guys up there [in Pittsburgh], they work hard, they do everything. I just have a lot of thoughts going through my head and I just wanted to get my thoughts together and it felt great. I felt awesome today and they made me feel awesome."

After walking Will Rhymes to start the game, Snell struck out the next 13 batters.

"I owe a lot of credit to [catcher Erik] Kratz. He did a tremendous job of setting up. He didn't set up too early, so they can see where I'm going," he said. "He mixed the pitches really well, and when I left a pitch up he reminded me, 'Your elbow is hanging over' or 'Your head is bouncing over.'

"A lot of it had to do with him and I have to give a lot of credit to him because he did a great job of game-calling."

The streak -- which is three strikeouts longer than the longest in Major League history -- ended when Brent Dlugach singled with one out in the fifth. Dlugach later scored an unearned run when Mike Hessman bounced into a forceout.

Snell bounced back with two strikeouts in the sixth and two more in the seventh, fanning Dlugach on his 108th and final pitch of the afternoon.

"I just worked off my fastball," said the Delaware native, who threw 70 strikes.

Snell's outing came before a crowd of 9,729 at Victory Field, where he pitched a no-hitter on May 15, 2005.

"The fans are electric here," he said. "You can tell, even though they don't say much or cheer much, they pay attention to the game. It was just fun pitching in front of them again."

After all the negativity Snell felt in Pittsburgh, a return to a more carefree environment might be just what he needed to get back on track.

"These guys welcomed me with open arms and it just felt good to see fresh faces," he said. "And this crowd, I loved pitching here in 2005, so it was a great feeling for me and I just enjoyed it."

Kira Jones is an associate reporter for