Steve Wright is certainly the wise old man in the Midwest League these days, although he proved on Wednesday that he's young enough to learn some new tricks.
Wright, back in Class A as a knuckleballer, spun six innings of one-hit ball before letting the bullpen finish it off as Lake County blanked Fort Wayne, 4-0. The 26-year-old right-hander struck out three and walked three, holding the TinCaps to one hit, a fifth-inning single from Tommy Medica.
Wright (1-0) has been here before -- Lake County, that is. The Hawai'i product made his way up the Indians' farm system after the Tribe drafted him in the second round of the 2006 Draft. He reached Triple-A last year, appearing in nine games, but struggled, finishing 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA.
Cleveland paired him up with former Major Leaguer Tom Candiotti this offseason, who taught the California native to throw a knuckleball. The results speak for themselves: in six starts with the Captains, Wright owns a 1.71 ERA and has struck out 24 batters in 34 2/3 innings.
Walks, of course, are still a task to be mastered for any knuckleballer. Wright has walked 17 so far, although he's undefeated. The former Carolina League All-Star also still has a fastball, curve and cutter.
J.D. Reichenbach, Dale Dickerson and Nickolas Sarianides all pitched an inning apiece to seal the one-hit shutout, a win that took two hours and four minutes and withstood a two-hour, five-minute rain delay.
For Fort Wayne, they did keep a record of sorts intact -- the Fort Wayne franchise, in existence since 1993, has never been no-hit.
The Captains gave Wright a lead in the first without getting a ball out of the infield. LeVon Washington drew a leadoff walk, swiped second and scored on an infield hit by Jesus Aguilar.
Lake County added two more runs an inning later when Washington singled home Alex Lavisky. TinCaps starter Andrew Werner balked home Nick Bartolone to make it 3-0 and Giovanny Urshela added a sacrifice fly in the seventh to plate Washington for the final run.