Anthony Kay stayed in his groove.
The Mets' seventh-ranked prospect pitched a three-hitter for his first career complete game, leading Double-A Binghamton to a 7-0 blanking of Altoona in the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader at NYSEG Stadium. He struck out eight and walked one.
Video: Mets' Kay strikes out eighth
"It's awesome to be in a groove like this," Kay said. "You're confident and know you have the guys behind you to make all the plays. We're rolling right now as a team."
Throwing 60 of 87 pitches for strikes, the 2016 first-round pick allowed only two runners to reach second base. Bligh Madris drew a one-out walk in the fourth inning and advanced on a single to center field by Logan Hill, but Kay retired Hunter Owen on an infield popup and Jerrick Suiter on a fly ball to left.
Pirates No. 12 prospect Jared Oliva led off the sixth with a single to right-center and moved up when Mitchell Tolman flied to right. Kay fanned Madris for his final strikeout, induced Hill to fly out and worked a 1-2-3 seventh.
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Getting command of his fastball has been key for the New York native.
"I'm attacking with my fastball to get ahead and then using my secondary speed pitches to get them out," he said. "I've been attacking the zone a little bit more lately and getting ahead of guys rather than working from behind. It has been working a lot better than it did last year."
Kay (4-2) lowered his ERA to 1.24, which ranks second in the Eastern League to Akron's Zach Plesac (0.96). In his last five starts, the 24-year-old has given up two earned runs while striking out 33 over 30 2/3 innings. The UConn product split last season between Class A Columbia and Class A Advanced St. Lucie, compiling a 4.26 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 122 2/3 frames.
He's found preparation to be a key element to success in Double-A outings.
"There's been a lot more video [watching] going on this year and working on mechanics," the southpaw said. "I'm looking at other hitters' swings. We have more analytic stuff on how to get hitters out. I'm definitely looking at that before each start.
"The hitters have more of an approach up here. They are more looking for one pitch to drive rather than just swinging at anything in the strike zone. They are looking for one pitch in one spot."
2019 MiLB include
Top Mets prospect Andres Gimenez led off the fourth with a single and scored the only run Kay needed on a sacrifice fly by Barrett Barnes. The Rumble Ponies broke the game open with a six-run sixth. Gimenez got things started again with a single, Barnes hit an RBI double, 26th-ranked Patrick Mazeika delivered a two-run double and Dario Pizzano smacked a three-run homer.
Mazeika wasn't done for the day. In the second game of the doubleheader, with the score tied in the bottom of the seventh, the catcher/first baseman smashed a walk-off grand slam to give the Ponies a 5-1 victory and a sweep of the double dip.
"He's starting to get hot at the plate," Kay said of his teammate. "It's fun to watch whenever someone gets hot like that. You saw in Spring Training what he was capable of stuff like that."
New York's No. 20 prospect Ryley Gilliam (2-0) picked up the win for the Ponies in the night cap, facing the minimum over two frames while striking out four.