Right-handed Twins prospect Tim Shibuya entered his most recent Midwest League outing having pitched into the seventh inning in just one of his past seven Class A games.
On Tuesday, he went the distance ... and had a fun time doing it.
Shibuya delivered the second nine-inning shutout on the circuit this year in the Beloit Snappers' 1-0 win over the Clinton LumberKings.
The 22-year-old yielded three hits and did not walk a batter in tossing his first complete game. He had never pitched more than seven innings in any of his previous 20 games since signing with Minnesota in the 23rd round of last June's Draft.
"I felt pretty good out there," said Shibuya, who threw 109 pitches in his longest professional outing. "The ball was coming off my fingertips pretty well and I was in sync with [catcher] Jairo [Rodriguez]. It was nice to be on the same page.
"This was one of my better ones. I was getting a lot of ground balls, so it's up there. There were some balls hit hard into the ground, but there was only the one hit hard into a gap."
The California native worked around Mario Yepez's leadoff single to start the game, and he faced the minimum through the first three innings.
Steven Baron laced a two-out double to center field in the fourth inning to snap a streak of 10 consecutive outs, but Shibuya stranded the runner in scoring position by inducing an inning-ending groundout off the bat of Daniel Paolini.
After a 1-2-3 fifth frame, Yepez recorded his second base hit of the night against the UC-San Diego alum with a two-out single to left field. But that was as far as any LumberKings hitter got for the final third of the game as Shibuya proceeded to set down the final 10 batters he faced.
"I let my defense go to work," he said. "It's nice when you know everything will get gobbled up. I'm just trying to make them hit my pitch. I wasn't going for strikeouts unless the situation called for it, and there weren't too many of those."
The outing lowered Shibuya's ERA more than half a run to 2.25 and gave him his first win since April 24.
In eight Midwest League starts this year, he has fanned 39 batters over 44 innings. The Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, Shibuya has walked just seven batters -- and no more than two in any one game -- while holding opponents to a .247 average.
Last year with short-season Elizabethton, Shibuya was 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 13 starts. Among those wins was a
combined no-hitter on July 16
, in which he pitched seven near-perfect innings.
"This was pretty fun too. They were both fun," he said. "One isn't better than the other, they're just different feelings."
The Midwest League's only no-hitter this year came on May 5 when Jordan Shipers went the distance in a 4-0 win over the Burlington Bees.
On Tuesday, Shipers scattered six hits and a walk over seven shutout innings, but was outpitched by Shibuya. Clinton reliever John Taylor (1-3) surrendered a run on a hit and two walks over an inning of relief.