Quakes' Windle keeps JetHawks guessing

No. 7 Dodgers prospect allows three hits in seven shutout frames

Tom Windle dropped his ERA to 3.52 in four starts against Lancaster this season with Thursday's win. (Megan Casselle)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | June 13, 2014 2:45 AM ET

Tom Windle is well acquainted with the Lancaster JetHawks and their talented lineup, but Thursday night, he didn't look much like the guy they'd seen before.

The Dodgers' No. 7 prospect pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out four as Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga beat Lancaster, 4-2.

Windle had faced the JetHawks on three prior occasions this season and gone 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA against them. In his last start against Lancaster on June 2, the left-hander worked four scoreless innings before stumbling in the fifth, giving up six runs -- four earned -- in the loss.

In their fourth matchup, though, Windle (5-4) came prepared to keep the powerful JetHawks off balance.

"I thought I was really productive today with my pitch counts," he said. "I threw all three pitches for strikes and attacked batters. I have to give credit to my catcher, Tyler Ogle. He called a great game from behind, and we worked really well tonight.

"This is my fourth time facing them, so I have an idea of what some of their approaches are. They mix it. They had a ton of lefties and righties in there. I was going in on righties and away on lefties while mixing my changeup in more than I have and going with that approach."

With last year's top overall Draft selection Mark Appel opposing him, Windle waited through a lengthy but scoreless top of the first inning to get to the mound. Then after retiring Lancaster in order, he did the same in the second.

Appel threw 34 pitches in a four-run Quakes second, surrendering a leadoff homer to Aaron Miller and RBI doubles by James Baldwin and Brandon Dixon. The struggles of the Astros' No. 2 prospect struggles continued in the loss. Appel (0-2) made it through just three innings, charged with four runs on six hits while striking out three and walking one.

"Our guys have been taking good swings against him," Windle said. "From what they were saying, he was throwing all of his pitches for strikes. What I've noticed -- he's pitched against us twice now -- we have had a few bleeders, but we've also taken advantage of times when we've had guys on base. That's what I think has helped us put runs on the board."

With the early support, Windle cruised. Only one JetHawks player made it to scoring position against the southpaw, and he retired the side in order in three of seven innings. Despite having seen Lancaster for 23 of his 68 2/3 total innings pitched this season, the University of Minnesota product didn't shy away from the familiarity.

"It's probably more difficult [for a pitcher], but we both have records on each other," Windle said. "We know what we do when we face each other. At times, they might get me, but I think when I can look back at charts and talk gameplans with my coach and catcher, we can figure out how I'm going to attack them."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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