When Resly Linares has gone seven innings this season, really good things happen.
The Rays' No. 20 prospect gave up two hits and struck out seven over seven frames on Wednesday, pitching Class A Bowling Green to a 6-0 blanking of Great Lakes at Dow Diamond. It matched the longest outing for Linares, who held West Michigan hitless on April 18 in his second Midwest League start.
Video: Bowling Green's Linares fires seventh strikeout
Linares (6-3) gave up a leadoff double in the bottom of the first to Josh McLain, then fell behind Jacob Amaya, 2-0. The southpaw flipped a switch, retiring Amaya on a fly ball to right, striking out Drew Avans and getting Devin Mann to ground to shortstop to end the frame.
"Those first two hitters were really crucial," Hot Rods pitching coach Brian Reith said. "He got out of that somehow, and that was really important. The game really could have gone either way after that, but you could tell he was starting to feel it."
The native of the Dominican Republic retired 18 consecutive batters, needing 67 pitches to mow through the Great Lakes lineup twice. Reith watched from the dugout as Linares grooved his fastball early in counts, getting ahead in the count consistently while varying his placement to essentially turn it into four unique offerings.
Gameday box score
"When he's able to do that with his fastball, he's really hard to hit and he can just dominate games," Reith said. "When he can mix in a few curves toward the end, he's more than effective. Controlling the count is the name of the game, and with that fastball that he can elevate on both sides of the plate when he needs to, it can be really hard for hitters to get a good swing on anything."
By the time Amaya lined a single to right to end the streak in the seventh, the Hot Rods had built a 6-0 lead behind the 20-year-old. Just like the opening inning, Linares responded to the hit quickly, punching out Avans and Mann before inducing Romer Cuadrado to roll to third.
The southpaw extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings, won his third straight start and lowered his ERA to 3.38.
"He's done a great job at not letting things fluster him," Reith said. "Sometimes things can speed up for him and he can get ahead of himself. But lately, when things are going well, he's been calm and if things don't go the way he wants, he's easily gotten back in focus and collected himself with just one pitch."
Kyle Goodbrand struck out two and worked around one hit over the final two innings to nail down the Hot Rods' 10th shutout of the season.
Bowling Green staked Linares to a 4-0 lead before he took the mound. Carl Chester hit an RBI triple and scored on a base hit by Trey Hair before Zach Rutherford smacked a two-run homer, his sixth.