Tyler Thornburg sets high standards for himself. Even when he's putting up zeros and piling up strikeouts, he thinks he can do better.
The Brewers prospect allowed one hit and matched a season high with 10 strikeouts over six innings Friday, pitching the Class A Advanced Brevard County Manatees to an 8-0 blanking of the Clearwater Threshers.
Thornburg (2-0) said he didn't have his best stuff in his second start since being promoted from Class A. Still, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
"It probably wasn't my best performance of the year, but I was locating my fastball early on and throwing quality curveballs," the 2010 third-round Draft pick said. "My curve bailed me out of a lot of problems and got me a lot of strikeouts.
"I did know [about the no-hitter]. I looked up there in the third inning, but I know it wasn't going to be one of those nights. I wasn't feeling great."
Thornburg, who ranked second in the Midwest League with seven wins and a 1.57 ERA before his promotion, faced the minimum through three innings but walked one batter in each of his final three frames.
The 22-year-old right-hander issued a one-one walk in the first, but Michael Dabbs was caught stealing second. He struck out the side in the second and was perfect in the third before walking Jonathan Singleton with two outs in the fourth. He walked his third batter in the fifth, then retired the final two batters to end the inning.
"Definitely, those first couple innings were huge, but we were able to get a run early on. Putting up zeros was big for me," Thornburg said.
Jiwan James broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single to right field in the sixth, and Thornburg walked Singleton again to put two runners on base for the first time all night. But the Texan preserved the shutout by getting Darin Ruf to fly out to end the inning.
"I started walking a couple guys in the fifth and sixth inning and I felt like I was trying to rush through them. I was trying to make too many perfect pitches behind in the count," said Thornburg, who will pitch in the All-Star Futures later this month. "I just felt like I was getting by.
"I was throwing a lot of fastballs early in counts and [James] jumped on the first one I threw him."
Thornburg turned things over in the seventh to Bradley Blanks. He lowered his ERA to 0.82 in two Florida State League starts and improved to 9-0 across two levels. In his FSL debut against Tampa on Sunday, the Charleston Southern product allowed a run on two hits while fanning six over five innings.
"I would say that with the middle-of-the-order hitters you have to be a lot more careful and hit your spots," Thornburg said of the two levels. "Other than that, there is not too much difference. I'm happy with how my season is going and I can't complain too much at all."
Bradley Blanks worked around a hit in the seventh to keep his ERA perfect before Jonathan Pokorny and Rolando Pascual combined for two perfect innings to complete the Manatees' eighth shutout.
Hunter Morris and Khristopher Davis each hit his 12th homer and Sean McCraw drove in three runs for Brevard County.
FSL All-Star Jarred Cosart (6-6) took the loss after yielding two runs on four hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts over seven innings.