Bowling Green needed a special outing from Resly Linares on Saturday. And he delivered.
The Rays' No. 20 prospect spun six scoreless innings, striking out nine and allowing four hits, as the Hot Rods shut down Peoria, 6-1, in Game 3 of the Midwest League Finals at Bowling Green Ballpark. Bowling Green has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 series.
Gameday box score
"When you go out there and throw strikes, it gives you a good chance. And he went out there and competed and he threw strikes," Hot Rods manager Craig Albernaz said of Linares, who has a 1.54 ERA in two playoff starts. "He had some good command on his fastball and some late life on his breaking ball. He was throwing it for strikes and also for his putaway pitches.
"To rise to the occasion and go out there and compete, it was fun. He was out there and was just having fun. It was fun to watch. Nine strikeouts to no walks, for me the no walks is huge for him."
Linares (1-0) was sidelined from May 3-June 11 due to shoulder fatigue, so he doesn't rank particularly high in the Midwest League in terms of total strikeouts. But he's fifth with 10.35 per nine innings, according to FanGraphs.
• Complete postseason coverage »
The southpaw has struggled with his control at times this season and while he hit a batter, he did not issue a walk, flashing some of the improvements he's made in that facet of the game.
"Obviously in Minor League Baseball we're about development, trying to develop them for the big leagues, so we don't want him to pace himself by any means," Albernaz said. "We want him to go out there and attack the hitters, that's how he's going to learn how to pitch when he gets to the big leagues. So when he gets there he knows how to work backward, fill it up, to get contact with his breaking ball."
The Hot Rods plated four runs in the second on Carl Chester's two-run triple to center field and an RBI single by Rays No. 12 prospect Vidal Brujan, who scored on an error.
The lead helped Linares let it loose.
"We were fortunate enough to score four runs in the second to give Linares some cushion," Albernaz said.
Bowling Green added two runs on the sixth as Jim Haley scored on a wild pitch and Justin Bridgman drew a bases-loaded walk.
Chiefs starter Jake Dahlberg (0-1) was tagged for four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts over four innings.
Nick Dunn plated the Peoria's lone run with a seventh-inning double.
Game 4 is Sunday in Bowling Green.