Hudson Valley's D.J. Slaton didn't feel "on" through the early innings Thursday night. Tell that to Mahoning Valley's lineup.
The right-handed Rays prospect Slaton pitched six no-hit innings and ran his scoreless-inning streak to 23 frames as the short-season Renegades defeated the Scrappers, 4-1.
"From the start, I didn't necessarily have my best stuff," Slaton said, "but I grinded through the first couple of innings. My stuff got better and better as the game went on. That's always a good feeling when you have to get better and better [during a start]. I just trusted my fastball and let the defense work."
The San Jose State product walked Francisco Mejia in the second inning and hit Greg Allen with a pitch in the third, but avoided further damage.
"You've just got to establish your fastball, locate your fastball, and that's the biggest thing for me," said Slaton, who struck out three. "I work off of that whatever way I can, whether it's changeup or curveball. I just establish the fastball, and once that's kind of settled, I start breaking in everything else."
The 2013 37th-round pick faced just one over the minimum in his final three innings, by way of a leadoff fielding error on second baseman Jace Conrad in the sixth.
"It's definitely a good feeling knowing through the first couple of innings that, if you don't have your best stuff, you can go with what you've got and try to get through those with the least amount of pitches that you can," Slaton said. "I had decent stuff throughout the game, but it wasn't what I had at the end of the game, that's for sure."
Wilmer Dominguez singled home a run in the fourth for Hudson Valley. Coty Blanchard followed with an RBI triple and later scored in the fifth, and Alec Sole added a run-scoring single in the sixth.
Scrappers starter Cameron Hill (0-1) gave up a run on four hits with one walk and one strikeout in four innings. Ramon Rodriguez was tagged with three more tallies in two frames out of the bullpen.
With Eli Echarry on in relief of Slaton, Mahoning Valley got into the hit column on Leo Castillo's double with two outs in the seventh. In three innings, Echarry allowed a run on three hits, striking out two and not issuing a walk for his second save.
The Renegades became the first New York-Penn League team to hit the 20-win plateau with the victory.
"All the guys, everyone's clicking," Slaton said. "Even the new guys we get in, every single one of them has been cool and ready to go. It's definitely contagious. When you're winning, everybody has that feeling that they've got to do their job and come to the park ready to go. It's a good vibe in the clubhouse right now."