Torres excels in return to rotation

Rays prospect strikes out six, pitches five one-hit innings

By Robert Emrich / Special to | June 19, 2012 8:51 PM ET

Alex Torres needed little introduction to the role he assumed on Tuesday.

The Rays' No. 6 prospect struck out six and gave up one hit over five scoreless innings as Triple-A Durham beat Rochester, 8-2.

Torres, who walked two, allowed only a first-inning single to Danny Valencia. He retired his final 13 batters and threw 47 of 74 pitches for strikes while facing two over the minimum in his first start since April 27.

"Everything worked well tonight," Torres said. "I had good fastball command and good command of my breaking pitches. I could throw my changeup for a strike whenever I wanted. After two or three innings, I threw a lot of sliders and my two-seam fastball, too."

Torres (2-3) began the year in the Bulls' rotation before being asked to work out of the bullpen at the end of April. It was a big change for a pitcher who had made 80 starts over the last three seasons.

"I'm starting to feel comfortable in the bullpen, but I was just waiting for that moment, for the moment that they told me that I am going to come back to the rotation," he said. "My role since I played pro baseball is starting pitcher, so it was new being in the bullpen."

Torres had struggled in both roles this season, posting a 4.95 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen and a 10.38 ERA in five starts heading into Tuesday. The 24-year-old left-hander recorded his first win since April 11.

"I feel great. I just say thank you for that, thank you, God, for the opportunity to win tonight," he said.

Torres made his Major League debut last July and ended up allowing four runs over eight innings in four appearances for the Rays. The native of Venezuela hopes Tuesday's outing is a stepping stone toward getting back to Tampa Bay. And he's not the only one.

"I just have to do like I did tonight," Torres said. "Just like the pitching coach [Neil Allen] told me: 'If you continue to do the things I saw tonight, you'll be back in the Majors again. You were consistent tonight with all your pitches and you threw the pitches right at the strike zone and down. Just keeping doing that and keep working and that's the consistency we're talking about.'"

Jhonny Nunez followed Torres and yielded two runs on three hits over two innings before Bryan Augenstein gave up two hits in a scoreless eighth to lower his ERA to 0.49. Dane De La Rosa fanned two in a hitless ninth.

Stephen Vogt was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and fell a triple shy of the cycle, while Reid Brignac slugged a two-run homer and scored twice for the Bulls.

Wilkin Ramirez smacked a two-run homer for the Red Wings.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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