Jacob Faria's cutter wasn't working Wednesday, but that taught him an important lesson.
"I just had to battle through it and get it done with my other stuff," the ninth-ranked Rays prospect said. "Me and [catcher] Mike Marjama had a good mix of all my other pitches going, to a point where I could get out of situations without using the cutter. We were able to adjust the gameplan when one of my main pitches wasn't working."
Relying on a steady mix of fastballs and changeups, Faria struck out a season-high 13 while allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks over just 4 2/3 frames in Triple-A Durham's 13-9 loss to Columbus in 11 innings at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
"It was kind of a weird game," Faria said. "I had a lot of long at-bats because I was throwing a lot of fastballs, and that's where the hits came from. They were really good at fouling pitches off and I just had to out-battle them, wait for them to miss a pitch or throw a pitch I wouldn't normally throw in a certain count."
The 23-year-old right-hander danced in and out of trouble all night, working around five hits in the first five innings while striking out the side in three of those frames.
"They were really, really aggressive early in the count, so if I was able to jump ahead with the fastball, I could just move it anywhere in the zone and just play off that with the changeup," Faria said.
Video: Durham's Faria notches 13th strikeout
But the Clippers finally tagged him in the fifth when former teammate Richie Shaffer sent an 0-2 pitch just over the center-field wall for a three-run homer to give Columbus the lead.
"It was frustrating giving up that home run, but Shaffer is just a good hitter," Faria said. "I just left a pitch in the middle of the strike zone, and he took advantage and hit it out."
The 2011 10th-round pick struck out top-ranked Indians prospect Bradley Zimmer following the homer before making way for eighth-ranked Rays prospect Chih-Wei Hu, falling one punchout short of his career high.
"The last two games, I went six [innings] on a little over 90 pitches and everything was working," said Faria, who had never thrown more than 103 pitches during his Triple-A career coming into the contest. "Today, kind of having it be the opposite, it was frustrating because I know I'm better than that. I know I'm capable of much better than 4 2/3 innings on 108 pitches. But it's just one of those games. I'll move on and I'll work in the bullpen, getting all my stuff back to normal. Just take the positives from today and apply them toward the next game."
After the Bulls tied the game in the sixth on an RBI infield single by Shane Peterson, the game remained scoreless until the 11th.
Giovanny Urshela helped the Clippers break through with a grand slam when catcher Michael McKenry took the mound for the Bulls as part of a 10-run inning. In the bottom half, Columbus shut down a rally by Durham highlighted by a grand slam from Patrick Leonard.