Travelers' Roth evens up TL series

Arkansas rides southpaw to 1-0 victory in Game 2 of Finals

By Jake Seiner / | September 11, 2013 8:44 PM ET

Left-hander Michael Roth and Arkansas pitching coach Mike Hampton spent the month of August trying to clean up the pitcher's mechanics. After a month of bullpens and instructions, the tweaks stuck for Roth -- which turned out to be convenient timing for the postseason.

The Angels prospect was stellar in his second playoff start Wednesday, helping the Travelers even the Texas League Championship Series at a game apiece with a 1-0 Game 2 win over San Antonio.

Roth logged seven four-hit innings, striking out two and walking one. He was pulled after 84 pitches and lowered his postseason ERA to 0.64. The hurler threw first-pitch strikes to 11 consecutive batters at one point betwen the first inning and the fourth.

"He's cleaned up his mechanics quite a bit," Arkansas manager Tim Bogar said. "He was working with our pitching coach here ... on staying over the rubber a little longer, giving him a chance to get his arm extended toward the plate to execute better.

"He's been working hard on that, and the last two starts have been exactly what he's been looking for. I give him all the credit in the world for being open to what Mike was trying to teach him."

Bogar tabbed Roth for the opener of Arkansas' first-round series against Tulsa, and the southpaw pitched seven innings, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on five hits with five strikeouts and a walkin an 8-3 victory.

The Angels' 2012 ninth-round Draft pick began the season with the Travelers, but was called up to the Major Leagues in June. He made 15 appearances -- 14 in relief -- with the Angels, logging a 7.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts and six walks in 20 innings.

He returned to Double-A on July 27 and that's when he and Hampton went to work on correcting his mechanics. For the season, Roth made 17 appearances -- 15 starts, compiling a 4.20 ERA for Arkansas.

"The more consistent he gets with it, the more times he goes out there, he's going to be able to repeat everything," Bogar said. "I feel like if he continues on that development path that he's on right now, he can help a Major League team as a starter."

The Travelers plated their run in the second inning. Angels' No. 14 prospect Travis Witherspoon began the rally with a two-out walk and then moved to third on Carlos Ramirez's single. No. 5 prospect Randal Grichuk then laced a single to center to bring Witherspoon home.

Grichuk finished 1-for-4 and is hitting .238 in the postseason after finishing the regular season batting .304 with a .907 OPS in August. The month was something of a breakout performance for Grichuk, who found success after recovering from a wrist injury sustained during a collision with a teammate.

"Grichuk fought through the whole month [of July] with soreness in his wrist and his hand and his fingers," Bogar said. "He battled through it and went out every day and played and kept himself ready to go. Once he felt good, that whole month of August he was locked in.

"He's been driving balls to all fields. He has power to right and he can drive the ball to left and he has a pretty good approach."

The right fielder also threw a batter out at the plate in the bottom of the second. After the Padres' No. 2 prospect Austin Hedges singled to right with Jake Blackwood at second. Grichuk's throw beat Blackwood by a number of steps and the baserunner was retired in a rundown.

The 1-0 victory came a night after San Antonio bested Arkansas by the same score. The only other time the Texas League Finals featured back-to-back 1-0 games was in a 1957 series between Dallas and Houston.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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