Mets' Huchingson finds first-half form

Left-hander takes one-hitter into ninth in best start since break

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | August 25, 2012 7:34 PM ET

On July 25, Chase Huchingson took to Twitter for the second -- and last time -- to present a paraphrased Nolan Ryan quote he found on a cell phone application: "A beautiful thing about baseball is that once in a while you come to a situation where u want to&where you have to, reach down&prove sumthn."

Exactly one month later, he turned those 139 characters into action.

The Mets prospect took a one-hitter into the ninth and fell one out shy of a complete game Saturday before Class Advanced St. Lucie dropped a 2-1, 12-inning decision to Charlotte.

It was the longest outing of Huchingson's three-year Minor League career and easily his best of the second half of the season. After going 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA and earning a Florida State League All-Star nod, he was 2-3 with a 6.86 ERA in the second half.

As the poor outings began to pile up, Huchingson admitted he let the struggles go to his head in the worst way.

"I went through a real mental spell there," he said. "I wasn't locked in mentally really at all. Everything just got to me. It's not like I was trying to let that happen and I'm not saying I wasn't lagging physically, either. But I was bouncing from a lot of games early, and I've spent a lot of time on the mental aspect of the game. I'm focusing on what I can control. That's it."

The 23-year-old left-hander, who saw sports psychologists to deal with his problem, had control for most of Saturday's game.

After giving up a leadoff single to Robby Price in the first inning, he retired 23 of the next 24 batters. Riccio Torrez was the only Stone Crab to reach during that span, getting aboard on third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez's throwing error in the fifth.

The Arkansas native, who features a two-seam fastball, knuckle-curve, slider and changeup, lost the shutout in the ninth after allowing a single, a sacrifice, a groundout, a walk and another base hit. Todd Glaesmann's RBI single tied the game, 1-1, and ended Huchingson's night.

He was charged with one run on three hits and a walk while striking out three over 8 2/3 innings.

Glaesmann struck again in the 12th, launching a solo homer off reliever Jeffrey Walters to put the Stone Crabs in front.

Despite the loss, Huchingson's gem represented an improvement from his previous outing on Sunday, when he surrendered four runs on a season-high 12 hits in seven innings against the same Charlotte squad.

The difference between the two starts surprised even the man behind them.

"I didn't really do anything differently today than last time out, to be honest," Huchingson said. "These Stone Crabs, they're a tough team to strike out. I knew that, but I didn't really look to change anything. It just felt like balls that found a hole last time were hit right at guys. It could've caused some trouble, but my defense and my catcher [Blake Forsythe] really helped me out today."

Whether it's been luck, a change in mind-set or the more likely combination of both, the numbers are beginning to turn back in Huchingson's favor. He lowered his ERA in four August starts to 2.60 -- his best mark in any month since April.

That type of month has given the Mets prospect a little optimism that he's proved something -- to his opponents, to his coaches and, most importantly, to himself.

"It's been a pretty good year, I'd say," Huchingson said. "It's obviously been a battle, but I know it's made me stronger as a pitcher and a player in general. Last year in [Class A], I didn't have as many tough situations. But having gone through that this year, it makes you want to show a little more the next time, and I feel like I'm doing that."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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