Shane Greene got his groove back on a Saturday night in Tampa. For that to happen, however, he had to lose it on a Tuesday night in Jupiter.
On May 6 against the Hammerheads, Greene surrendered eight runs on nine hits and didn't make it out of the third inning. It was his seventh turn in the Class A Advanced Yankees' rotation, competing in the Florida State League for the first time, and it wasn't going well.
A month later, he said he's learned, "It's all about having confidence. If you believe you're better than the guy in the batter's box, then you're throwing pitches with conviction and things are going to turn out in your favor."
And that's just what happened.
Greene recorded a season-high eight strikeouts over six perfect innings in Tampa's 7-0 win over the visiting Daytona Cubs.
Of the 18 outs recorded -- half were ground balls -- only Rubi Silva, who flied to center field in the second, got the ball out of the infield. Greene (1-2) earned his first win, lowered his ERA to a less-unseemly 4.01 and, in the midst of his fourth pro season, appears to have turned a corner.
"I was throwing strikes, filling up the zone," he said. "I attacked the hitters and everything panned out for me."
The 23-year-old right-hander -- a 2009 15th-round Draft pick -- has hurled 10 shutout innings in two outings since the organization nudged him to spend three works working out the kinks in his body and mind.
"I was digging myself in a hole, losing my confidence, so I took some time over at extended [spring training] to work on mechanical things and get my confidence back," Greene explained. "The biggest thing for me, when I took that break, I learned a lot about myself and I'm slowly but surely being able to coach myself when I'm out there on the mound. I can feel myself when I'm out there doing something wrong, when I'm doing something right, so it's easier to make adjustments."
Greene was so good in his second outing back from obscurity that there was very little he needed to alter mid-game. He struck out his first three batters, then, when the Cubs started timing his fastball, he emphasized his slider.
"There was only four right-handed batters in their lineup, so going changeup to the lefties helped a lot, too, to keep them off-balance," he said. "They didn't really know what was coming."
Greene said he believed his pitch count was around 85 and knew he wouldn't have a shot to finish what he started.
"It's hard not to think about it, what's going on, after the third inning," he said. "But once I got on the field, it all just came naturally. I went one pitch at a time.
"Coming out of the game, I knew I was on a pitch-, inning-limit. There's one goal and that's to make it to the big leagues. I'm saving my bullets."
Rigoberto Arrebato followed Greene to the mound and allowed a single to Arismendy Alcantara,the first batter he faced in the seventh.
Mark Montgomery also yielded two hits but pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to secure the shutout.
Kyle Roller led the Yankees at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer off starter Frank Del Valle. He fell a triple short of cycling.
Del Valle (4-2) was charged with three runs on four hits over five frames.