The game-time temperature at Louisville Slugger Field on Sunday afternoon was 86 degrees and the humidity made it even more uncomfortabl. Cole Irvin didn't want to be out on the mound any longer than he had to be, so he and batterymate Logan Moore devised an aggressive game plan to go right at hitters and pitch to contact.
The Phillies' No. 10 prospect executed that strategy brilliantly as he gave up three hits and three walks while striking out two and throwing 83 pitches in Triple-A Lehigh Valley's 4-0 blanking of Louisville. Only one Bat made it into scoring position while Irvin was on the hill, and that came four batters into the game. The southpaw also knocked in a run.
Video: Lehigh Valley's Irvin completes the seventh
"It was just one of those days where you just try to get through it as quickly as possible," Irvin said. "And I had seen their lineup before, so there was some familiarity with their hitters, and we came up with a really good plan and Logan did a really good job behind the plate. The whole team really stepped up behind me and the offense did their job. It was a great team win."
The 24-year-old is tied for second in the International League with 11 wins and moved into sixth place by lowering his ERA to 2.85. He leads the circuit with 142 innings pitched and ranks fourth with 116 punchouts.
"My mentality is always to just go after guys. I like to pitch to contact and if you're not throwing the ball over the plate, you can't attack," he said. "I like making weak contact, and the wind was in my favor today -- it was blowing in. I made quality pitches when I had to early to escape damage and then, once I got settled in, was able to limit any damage."
Gameday box score
Irvin (11-4) retired the first two batters on five pitches before giving up an infield single to Gabriel Guerrero on a 2-0 fastball. Taylor Sparks worked a six-pitch walk and, with two on and two outs, Irvin got D.J. Peterson out front with a first-pitch changeup that he flied to right field.
"My changeup was really good today," the left-hander said. "I located my fastball well on both sides of the plate and that really helped set up my changeup, which was absolutely my best weapon. I was able to throw it in the zone for strikes and also get guys to chase it for swings and misses."
It was deja vu for the University of Oregon product in the second as he picked up two outs on seven pitches but was burned on a 2-0 fastball, this time by Indians No. 25 prospect Nick Longhi, who lined a single to right. Irvin recovered quickly by getting 28th-ranked Jose Lopez looking at an 0-2 changeup.
The 2016 fifth-round pick walked Blake Trahan on four pitches leading off the third but locked in from there -- facing the minimum the rest of the way. He retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to Guerrero in the sixth by getting Peterson to bounce into a double play on a first-pitch changeup.
Video: Irvin doubles in a run for Lehigh Valley
"I think I was just trying to get settled into the game plan over the first three innings," he said. "Just trust what we were doing and see that it was working. You know, early on just trying to find the zone and get comfortable."
Irvin never threw more than 15 pitches in any inning and he only needed that many once -- in the first. He navigated the fourth on five pitches.
Moore not only helped Irvin behind the plate, he drove in Lehigh Valley's first run with a double in the fifth off Lopez (5-11). Irvin helped himself plating Moore with a double to right. The IronPigs scratched two more runs across in the next frame as Aaron Altherr delivered an RBI grounder and Danny Ortiz lifted a sacrifice fly.