Tyler Pill took the mound on Friday with his sixth straight win in sight. But after beaning the first batter he faced, he needed a little help to stay on track.
"The first inning, my center fielder bailed me out a couple times," said Pill, who plunked leadoff man Levi Michael but ended the inning with three straight fly balls to Alonzo Harris. "After that, I did pretty well."
Pill, the Mets' fourth-round pick last year, allowed three hits and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings in Class A Advanced St. Lucie's 6-0 blanking of Fort Myers.
The 22-year-old right-hander, who also fanned 10 on May 11 for Class A Savannah, has allowed one earned run or fewer in eight of 10 outings since being promoted to the Florida State League. And, despite hitting a few batters, he extended his winning streak.
"I kept mixing my pitches and the second time through their lineup, I switched it up and was going in more," Pill said. "The next time through the lineup, I had to go with fastballs in and threw other breaking balls. I started going fastballs up, since they were looking for breaking balls in the dirt. I mixed up the game plan and pitching patterns."
Pill picked apart Fort Myers like a veteran. It helps coming from a baseball family: His brother, Brett, plays in the Giants' organization and his father, Michael, was the Pirates' second-round pick in 1977.
The Cal State-Fullerton product worked around a walk in the second with a pair of strikeouts, gave up a double in the third and stranded another runner in the fifth after Andy Leer singled with one out. He reeled off 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh before striking out two more in the eighth.
That's when he reached his pitch count and took a seat.
"I felt good. Obviously, you want to get that last out, you don't want to come out," he said. "We were up by quite a bit of runs and it was the right call. I've still got four more outings, still got a month left. But I felt good."
Pill went 3-4 with a 2.61 ERA in nine outings at Savannah before the Mets brought him to St. Lucie. After 10 outings in the Florida State League, he's 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA.
"I would say the hitters are more ... they would swing at a lot more pitches," he said of facing hitters at the higher level. "They have more of a plan and kinda know what they're trying to do with the ball. Here, we have scouting reports on guys and we kinda already know what they're doing with the ball. We set them up for those pitches and work around and get to their weak points."
While he's unbeaten since June 12, Pill said he's simply pitching to his routine.
"I'm just going out there and doing my job, getting outs, making sure I'm going deep in the game," he explained. "Give them a chance in trying to win the game."
Pill did not put more than one runner on base in an inning until the seventh. The Mets, meanwhile, staked him to a 2-0 lead in the first, then hit three homers off Miracle starter Matthew Summers in the third. Cory Vaughn led off with his 18th homer of the season and, after Blake Forsythe struck out, Rafael Fernandez and Aderlin Rodriguez cracked back-to-back blasts to open five-run cushion.
Pill, although not ranked among the Mets' top prospects, could reach Double-A Binghamton by the end of the regular season. He's not too concerned about when that call may come.
"I have no idea. That's [the Mets'] call," he said. "But as of now, I'm just trying to keep doing what I've been doing."