'Jackets' Johnson makes final start his best

Giants prospect fans career-high nine over seven scoreless innings

Chase Johnson allowed one run on nine hits over 14 innings in his last two starts. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | August 28, 2014 12:11 AM

Chase Johnson wanted to end the season on a high note. He ended up making the best start of his brief Minor League career.

The Giants prospect recorded a career-high nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings Wednesday night as Class A Augusta held on for a 5-4 win at Savannah.

"I've been feeling pretty confident lately with my fastball command and I would say my fastball command tonight was the best it's been all year," he said. "Tonight was the best start of my Minor League career with the nine strikeouts, and all my pitches were working."

Johnson (4-7) gave up first-inning singles to Yeixon Ruiz and Champ Stuart before getting Mets No. 5 prospect Dominic Smith to bounce into a double play and Jonathan Leroux to ground out. Ruiz, who singled again in the third, was the only baserunner against the 22-year-old right-hander until the seventh.

"It was a leadoff bunt and a fast runner and then another single, so I had guys on first and second with no out. I was trying to get a ground ball out and minimize the damage," Johnson said of the opening inning. "I was just trying to get ahead early with my fastball, and once I got a first-pitch strike, I was able to locate and stay down in the zone."

Savannah threatened in the seventh as Leroux walked, Jorge Rivero reached on an error by shortstop Rando Moreno and Jonathan Johnson singled to load the bases with two outs, Again the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo product got the ground ball he needed, retiring Jeff Glenn on his final pitch of the night.

Johnson registered his first win since Aug. 1, when he tossed six shutout innings against Kannapolis. Since surrendering 13 runs -- 11 earned -- on 13 hits over 10 2/3 innings in back-to-back starts, he's held South Atlantic League foes to one run in his last two outings to lower his ERA to 4.57.

"I did really good at the beginning of the season, and toward the middle I struggled a little. I was glad I could finish strong," the 2013 third-round Draft pick said. "I just figured [the problem] out on my own. In the last couple innings of the last start where I didn't do that well, I kind of figured things out.

"Before, I was focused too much on guiding the ball in, and the last two starts I've been letting it go."

Raymundo Montero followed Johnson in the eighth and was roughed up for four unearned runs on three hits while recording two outs. Luis Castillo picked up the final four outs for his 10th save.

The GreenJackets gave Johnson an early lead as Ryan Tuntland capped a three-run second with a two-run double. Scott Price doubled, singled, drove in a run and scored twice for Augusta.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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