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Cyclones' Diaz fans career-high 11

NY-Penn League All-Star allows three hits in seven innings
August 23, 2013

Miller Diaz again did his part in the Brooklyn Cyclones' push for a New York-Penn League playoff spot.

The Mets prospect recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings Friday night and the Cyclones got a grand slam from Alex Sanchez in a 10-2 romp at Vermont.

Diaz (5-3) held the Lake Monsters to three hits and three walks to win for the first time since Aug. 2. He retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced after a leadoff single in the fourth, lowering his ERA to 2.22.

"Tonight we saw big league stuff. We saw big league makeup," Cyclones pitching coach and former Major Leaguer Marc Valdes said. "His mound presence was excellent and the way he got into the game from the get-go -- even when he gave up a leadoff single, he wanted to attack the bottom of the zone and put guys away."

The 21-year-old right-hander induced a double play to erase a first-inning single, then fanned two after giving up a walk and a single in the second. He pitched around another walk in the third, struck out two more in the fourth after a leadoff single and worked his first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.

"Every time you walk two guys, that is an inning it takes off the end of the game," Valdes said. "If it wasn't for the three walks, he had nine innings in him. He had a complete game in him.

"If you're not getting it done in 95 pitches, if you're not going six innings, that means you're getting to a lot of 2-2 counts and that you're not going to go deep in the game. We like our guys to go four or less and go from there. Minimize two of those walks and he could have pitched into the ninth inning."

Diaz, who started the New York-Penn League All-Star Game for the National League squad earlier this month, fanned four straight batters between the sixth and seventh innings, getting Mitch Marincov to line out to end the seventh after issuing his third walk.

The gem came four years to the day that Brooklyn no-hit Aberdeen behind a seven-inning masterpiece by Brandon Moore.

Diaz, who was named the league's Pitcher of the Week on July 22, has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight straight starts. He signed with the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 2009 and spent most of the previous three seasons with the organization's Rookie-level affiliates before appearing in one game with Class A Savannah last summer.

Diaz has made a good first impression in the NY-Penn League. After a pair of mediocre outings to begin the season, he'd held opponents to three hits or fewer in six of his last eight starts. He leads the league with a .184 opponents' batting average, shares the top spot with 73 strikeouts and ranks 10th in ERA.

"He is just getting better," Valdes said. "He has had a good six, seven, eight starts that have all been pretty decent. This one sticks out a little more. He had 11 strikeouts, but the way he had guys on base and didn't panic, he made the adjustment.

"When you walk a guy with two outs or one out, it can lead to a big inning, but tonight he made the adjustments to where he thought he was always just one pitch away from a double play."

Before Friday, the Venezuela native's best outing of the year came on July 20 when he struck out nine and held Batavia to a pair of hits over five innings. He followed that up with a pair of eight-strikeout performances.

Brooklyn gave its starter a lead in the first when L.J. Mazzilli hit an RBI single, Mets No. 8 prospect Gavin Cecchini scored on an error and Mazzilli came home on a fielder's choice. The Cyclones got two more in the third before Sanchez hit a grand slam in the fourth to break the game open.

The win moved Brooklyn within a half-game of first-place Aberdeen in the McNamara Division.

Vermont's only offense came in the eighth on B.J. Boyd's two-run double off Juan Urbina, the son of former Major League pitcher Ugueth Urbina.

Danny Wild is an editor for