Shawn Morimando employed an important lesson Thursday night in one of the best games of his professional life -- not to try to do it alone.
Cleveland's No. 16 prospect twirled the first shutout of his career, scattering five hits and generating 12 outs on the ground as Triple-A Columbus rolled past Durham, 8-0, at Huntington Park.
"I'm kind of speechless," Morimando said. "It was an amazing night. Everything kind of went right. My defense, huge ups to them. Without my defense tonight -- and me and [catcher Erik Kratz] on the same page -- I mean, they made so many plays tonight to help me out and to have quick innings so the offense could do their thing and put up a lot of runs. Everything went well."
Video: Columbus' Morimando finishes shutout with K
The right-hander rarely ran into trouble during his 13th start this season. Morimando (5-5) saw baserunners in seven innings, but only two got past first.
"There were some pitches I made some mistakes on, and that's a really good offensive team in Durham," he said. "They put together a lot of quality at-bats ... so I knew they wanted to continue to swing the bats well.
"In those situations, I just tell myself to slow down, execute one pitch at a time and just trust the defense. There was a hard line-drive double play right at [first baseman Nellie Rodriguez] that was right at him for a huge double play to end one inning. I just kept on trying to mix it up and keep the hitters off balance."
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That double-play ball came off the bat of Tampa Bay No. 4 prospect Jake Bauers and got Morimando out of his tightest spot with runners at the corners and one down. The Canandaigua, New York native walked three and struck out three.
"They made a lot of plays behind me. It was so exciting because it helped me just to not really worry about trying to be too fine and nibble," Morimando said. "I was just trying to be aggressive and pitch to contact and let them make the plays behind me because they were ready. They were on point tonight, and I couldn't ask for anything better. Overall, it was a great team win."
The win marked his third straight quality start and his fourth in a row going at least seven innings. Over his last three outings, the Virginia Beach high school product dropped his ERA from 5.24 to 3.97 by allowing two earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.
Morimando got a head start on his Triple-A tenure with 11 appearances last season. The 24-year-old went 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA and got an education in what it takes to conquer the Minors' top level.
"I started to learn a lot more about how to look at lineups, how to watch hitters in their approach after every pitch, what they're looking for and just having a better understanding of the gameplan," he said. "Me, and if it's Erik Kratz behind the plate or Adam Moore, we're just really locked in on trying to execute more quality pitches.
"Sometimes I get away from it, and my misses, they're not always a small miss and sometimes it hurts me. Lately, I've been working really hard on trying to narrow my focus and execute way more quality pitches than bad pitches."
The 6-foot, 200-pound hurler was approaching 100 pitches when he issued a leadoff walk to Bauers in the ninth. He induced a double-play ball off the bat of Patrick Leonard and fanned Shane Peterson for the final out.
The 2011 19th-round pick took more wisdom from his third career complete game.
"Just be confident in every pitch I throw and trust all the work I do every day in between starts," he said. "Let it play out. Have more confidence out there and know everyone behind me and the catchers, we're all on the same page. We're all working hard. It's a team effort for sure. It's a lot of confidence moving forward."
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