From his 133-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio to his demeanor on the mound, control has been the theme of Adam Morgan's 2012 season.
"It covers a lot of ground when you think about it," said the 22-year-old southpaw. "There are so many things you can't control in this game. Whether it's your defense, your offense, errors behind you, the umpires, whatever, there's only so much you can control. Once you figure that out, things become a lot easier."
For the first 7 1/3 innings of his start Sunday for Class A Advanced Clearwater, everything was coming as easily as could be. He was perfect in that span -- 22 up, 22 down -- before Jupiter's Jacob Realmuto singled to left field to break up the feat.
At that point, Morgan went back to his mantra.
"I just told myself, 'Whatever happens, happens. Control what you can control,'" he said. "It's out of my hands what happens once I let go of the ball. It was a little bit of a letdown, I'm not going to lie. But I just looked at my shortstop [Edgar Duran] and told him, 'All right, we're going to turn two here and get it done.'
"Obviously, that isn't what happened."
Instead of the double play, Morgan allowed two more singles and an RBI groundout in the next three at-bats to surrender his team's one-run lead. The Threshers ended up falling to the Hammerheads, 2-1.
The loss dropped Morgan, a third-round Phillies pick in 2011, to 4-9 on the season -- unfortunate given his 3.05 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, numbers that rank third and second in the Florida State League. But the University of Alabama product prefers to focus on the positives of the first seven innings than the negatives of one bad frame.
"Everything felt like it was working for me," he said. "My defense was great behind me, and I was pitching to all of my strengths. I wasn't throwing the same pitches in the same patterns. I was locating them both in and out. I give a lot of the credit to [rehabbing catcher Brian Schneider] for that. He called a great game for me. It was just a combination of a lot of things."
To give an idea of just how good Morgan was through seven innings Sunday, consider the following. He didn't allow a ball to reach the outfield until Realmuto's base hit with one out in the eighth. Of the 22 consecutive outs he recorded, 11 came on the ground, nine via strikeouts and the remaining three were popped up to the infield.
The start closed out what has been a strong July for the left-hander. After going 0-4 with a 5.30 mark in June, he ends the month with marks of 2-1 and 1.56. He also put up a batting average against of just .156, almost 100 points lower than that stat has been in any other month this season, while striking out 53 and walking just five over 40 1/3 innings.
With a month like that, Morgan didn't quite know where to place his latest near-gem, but added he's hoping to start August just as hot.
"It's up there, that's for sure," he said. "I don't really know if it's my best. My last start with 13 strikeouts was pretty good. I just hope that my next one is my best one."