Alex Torres has been working on being more consistent with his release point and limiting his walks. That work paid off Thursday.
Torres tied a career high with 12 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings and pitched the Triple-A Durham Bulls to a 4-1 triumph over the Buffalo Bisons.
The Rays' No. 6 prospect allowed three hits and issued three walks in his 14th start of the season.
"I'm really happy, I think it was a great outing tonight," Torres said. "I was working hard before my start, I was working in the bullpen. I tried to be a little bit more consistent with my release point."
Torres also recorded 12 strikeouts on Aug. 3, 2008 in a 5 1/3-inning stint for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga in the California League.
On Thursday, the 23-year-old left-hander allowed baserunners in six of his seven innings, although only one got past second. In the fourth, Nick Evans doubled and took third on a wild pitch. After walking Jason Botts, Torres retired Fernando Martinez on a fly ball to end the threat.
"Tonight, I had my three pitches working," Torres said. "The fastball and changeup, I was throwing really good; the curveball, I threw for strikes. I got ahead a lot of times tonight. I think that was the key."
Signed by the Angels as a free agent on Jan. 10, 2005, Torres was dealt to the Rays in the 2008 trade that sent Scott Kazmir to Anaheim. The native of Venezuela has fanned better than a batter an inning during his Minor League career and ranks second in the International League with 84 strikeouts over 75 2/3 innings.
"I just try to be aggressive with my mechanics, aggressive with the hitters," Torres said. "I try to be ahead in the count and work with other pitches. I attack with fastball command and, after that, I go to the changeup or curveball."
Torres' main trouble spot has been walks -- he's issued a league-high 45 free passes. But he said he's been better in recent starts.
"My last two outings, I've been working better," Torres said. "But I'd still be in a little bit of trouble and be a little inconsistent. I've been working on the release point. I'm trying to eliminate the walks because I've got really high walks right now."
Torres (4-5) lowered his ERA to 3.69 and said he hopes to continue his success. He's 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his last two starts.
"I know the Tampa Bay team, the pitching staff, they're doing well," he noted. "I'm going to be getting my chance. I'm just going to try to keep it going like tonight and we'll see what results."