Working up through Minors is as much about failure as it is success, and Matt Tracy has largely been on the winning side of things since signing with the Yankees in 2011. Lately, though, he's been learning things the hard way.
"You gotta really stick to the process, keep focused on each day about getting better, not letting results get to you," said Tracy. "Just stay focused each day and try to improve."
After a string of ugly starts that forced the southpaw to buckle down in side sessions, he came up big Monday, holding Binghamton to one hit and striking out nine over a season-high 6 1/3 innings for his third Double-A victory in Trenton's 5-0 win.
Tracy (3-2) fell one strikeout shy of a career high and allowed just a one-out single by Darrell Ceciliani in the sixth. He walked three and hit a batter but threw 62 of his 97 pitches for strikes before handing the ball over to Aaron Dott and Branden Pinder.
"I was able to mix it up pretty good," he said. "I had a good feel on my fastball, my curveball was better tonight than it had in been previous nights."
Tracy took a no-hitter into the sixth and admitted to being aware of his line.
"I was thinking about it definitely," he said. "But you don't try to change your pitching, you just take it one pitch at a time, try to execute each pitch."
The Yankees' 24th-round pick out of Mississippi in 2011, Tracy had allowed 19 runs over his three previous starts -- he entered Monday's game at 2-2 with a 10.98 ERA with 33 hits, 24 runs and 15 walks in 19 2/3 innings since being promoted to the Eastern League.
"It was just a few small things mechanically that I kind worked though, my timing and rhythm, but I've been working on that a little bit with my pitching coach, Tommy Phelps," Tracy said. "We've been working hard the last few weeks and making adjustments to get better."
Monday's nine strikeouts were the most for Tracy since he whiffed 10 in five innings on Sept. 1, 2011 for Class A Short-Season Staten Island. The win was also just the fifth time that Tracy had pitched into the seventh inning of a Minor League game.
"It's definitely exciting to have good results tonight and kind of start to see some of the stuff we've been working on pay off," he said.
Trenton immediatelly gave its starter a four-run lead in the first when No. 3 Yankees prospect Tyler Austin plated Ramon Flores with a sacrifice fly, No. 4 prospect Slade Heathcott followed with an RBI single and Reegie Corona capped the frame with a two-run single to right.
"It was definitely awesome. Our offense has been doing a great job all year, it makes it easy on you," Tracy said.
The 6-foot-3 lefty authored a solid season last summer at Class A Advanced Tampa, where he went 5-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 18 starts. He made one spot start for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre, when he allowed one run over five innings to beat Pawtucket on Sept. 2. In his first season, he helped pitch Staten Island to the New York-Penn League championship.
On Monday, though, success was measured by his ERA being trimmed to 8.31. Even with the bumps so far, he's happy to be with the Yankees in Trenton.
"It's been a great experience so far, playing against good competition, being surrounded by a lot of talent on this team, a lot of great players," he said. "It's nice to be around them, seeing how they go about everything, and it's great to work with a great coaching staff."
As far as getting back to Triple-A or beyond, Tracy was hesistant to look beyond Monday night.
"I try not to think about any stuff like that that I can't control," he said. "I just focus on getting better each start."