In his second game of a rehab stint with Class A Advanced St. Lucie, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud made a lasting impression on his batterymate, Nabil Crismatt, leading to one of the best starts of the hurler's career.
"I had the opportunity to be in the game with Travis all day and talking with him after the game. I'm trying to learn the most I can," Crismatt said. "This is a process. Every day you learn something new, but those guys, when they come down here, it's amazing. It's an amazing experience."
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The Mets prospect equaled his career high with 11 strikeouts and scattered four hits over seven innings Friday as St. Lucie blanked Dunedin, 4-0, at First Data Field. Crismatt hit a batter but did not issue a walk and recorded seven of his final nine outs by way of the strikeout.
"Every time that you are in a game you started and the hitters, you face them and then the next time, you know what they are looking for," Crismatt said. "The way they stand in at the plate and the way they are moving with their shoulders and all that stuff."
The 22-year-old (2-4) lowered his ERA to 3.86 and pushed his team-leading strikeout total to 42 in eight starts. After his stellar outing against the Blue Jays, he was anxious to talk about everything he learned during his day with a big leaguer.
"The way he called the game -- trust your pitches all the time; when you hit something, you can come with the same pitch again," Crismatt said. "When the game goes on and you have the hitters out of balance, you don't have to be so perfect. Sometimes I want to be perfect. Just got to trust yourself sometimes. It's more mental."
Crismatt retired the first five batters he faced before plunking Connor Panas in the second inning. Josh Almonte reached on an error by St. Lucie shortstop J.C. Rodriguez, putting two runners in scoring position with two outs. The native of Colombia buckled down and struck out D.J. Davis looking to get out of the jam.
Crismatt allowed a leadoff single to Kevin Vicuna in the third, then recorded seven consecutive outs before surrendering a base hit to Davis with one out in the fifth. He got Vicuna to bounce into a fielder's choice and fanned Cavan Biggio to get out of the frame.
"I was trying to have all the hitters out of balance. That's what happens when you have all your stuff," Crismatt said. "Today, I had all my pitches -- my fastball, my changeup, my curveball -- for strikes. I can use them whenever in the count."
Biggio's strikeout began a streak of four consecutive punchouts prior to a 1-2-3 seventh in which Crismatt got Panas looking for the second out and made Almonte his 11th strikeout victim.
"I was trying to control my pitches, throw the ball where there I was trying to throw it. The strikeouts come by themselves," Crismatt said. "I was in the seventh inning and I went inside and I looked and I had 11 strikeouts. I never think about that during the game, I try to just use my pitches and that's it."
It was the second time in his five-year professional career that he struck out 11. He completed the feat last July 23 in a five-inning start for Class A Short Season Brooklyn.
Less than two weeks later, Crismatt earned a promotion to Class A Columbia. He finished the year with a 2.47 ERA and 74 strikeouts over 65 2/3 innings across two levels.
Crismatt's start Friday was preceded by apprearances by rehabbing big leaguers Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, on Thursday against Lakeland. Matz threw the first three innings, allowing a run on two hits and two walks with three punchouts, while Lugo yielded two hits in 3 2/3 scoreless frames.
Patrick Mazieka, the Mets' No. 26 prospect, went 2-for-4 with a run scored to raise his batting average to .354.