JetHawks' Tinoco flirts with perfection

Rockies righty sits down 20 in a row over seven scoreless frames

Jesus Tinoco has compiled a 3.18 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 17 innings with Lancaster this season. (K. Ross Way)

By Michael Leboff / MiLB.com | May 11, 2017 11:48 PM ET

After dealing with an abdominal strain in Spring Training, Jesus Tinoco struggled in his first two starts and surrendered six runs on 18 hits in 10 innings.

On Thursday, he looked like a completely different pitcher.

The right-handed Colorado prospect sat down the first 20 hitters he saw and faced one over the minimum en route to seven one-hit innings to lead Class A Advanced Lancaster over Modesto, 6-0, at he Hangar.

"The most impressive part of the game was when he would miss with a pitch or something like that, he would regroup behind the mound and control his breathing and really took his time," Lancaster pitching coach Brandon Emmanuel said. "Before, he would get frustrated and try to go harder, and now he's controlling himself out there. He didn't think he had to do more, he just got back to what he did well."

Tinoco was in a groove in the early going, needing just 31 pitches for his first trip through the Modesto lineup without allowing a baserunner. 


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"He had some pretty quick innings and kept his pitch count down," Emmanuel said. "He did a good job mixing his three pitches. He had a good feel for the zone and went right after hitters and let them put balls in play."

The Venezuela native induced a strikeout, flyout and a groundout in a clean fourth inning. In the fifth, Tinoco retired Joey Curletta on one pitch and then went toe-to-toe with Ricky Eusebio for nine pitches before striking him out.

"He's a guy who doesn't back down, so he kept challenging Eusebio and got him with a 3-2 slider," Emmanuel said. "It was good to see him under control and executing pitches in that long at-bat."

Tinoco continued to cruise after the long at-bat and retired the next four hitters to get through six perfect innings. 

"He's a baseball player, so he was aware of what going on out there," Emmanuel added. "It didn't interfere with him trying to go out there and do his job. It was one of those nights where he could throw multiple pitches in multiple counts so he was unpredictable. His fastball was up at 97 [mph] and his slider and change were sitting at 88, so he had really good stuff going."

Following two quick outs to begin the seventh, Tinoco was finally bested by Eric Filia, who singled up the middle to halt the right-hander's streak of 20 outs in a row. 

"Filia's been swinging a hot bat and just hit a single up the middle," Emmanuel said. "It wasn't a bad pitch or anything of that nature, he just put a good swing on it and got it up the middle."

The end of the perfect game didn't rattle the 22-year-old, who came right back and got Curletta to ground out to third to finish seven innings for the first time this year. 

"He was on a limited pitch count, so that was his last batter no matter what," Emmanuel explained. "He just put the foot on the gas pedal and went right at him to get the out. He wasn't frustrated at all about losing the perfect game, he was pleased with his outing and happy to get the last hitter out."

Carlos Polanco took over for Tinoco in the eighth and didn't allow a hit over two innings. 

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Nathan Bannister (2-2) was roughed up for five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings for Modesto. 

Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 2-for-4 outing while Yonathan Daza recorded his third multi-hit game in a row with two RBIs to pace the JetHawks offense.

Michael Leboff is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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