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Sheffield continues rolling for Yankees

Acquired at deadline, left-hander drops ERA to 1.04 in third FSL start
August 16, 2016

The Yankees weren't getting hits, but they were winning. Justus Sheffield wasn't working his best game, but he was throwing a shutout. Baseball can be weird.

Sheffield and his team are fine with that.

The Yankees' No. 7 prospect gutted his way through six three-hit innings, striking out three while issuing one walk and leading the way as Class A Advanced Tampa edged Clearwater, 1-0, to earn a split of its doubleheader.

"It was pretty wild," Sheffield said after his third outing since being acquired from the Indians on July 31. "You see 1-0 and you see zero in the hit column [for Tampa], and it's like, 'What in the world is going on tonight?' But we battled through it and were able to come out with the win."

It was that kind of night for the left-hander and his club. Sheffield's final line looks stellar. The 20-year-old didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning and only allowed three singles; behind the scenes, it wasn't quite as glamorous.

"To be honest, I really didn't have my best stuff tonight," he said. "It took me a while to even find my slider, and it was off and on all night. I threw some changeups, which I really wanted to focus on coming in, getting my changeup established and trying to cut guys down on my changeup and get quick outs. I feel like I did a pretty good job with that tonight. My fastball command, it was there and then it wasn't."

Sheffield managed to keep the Threshers at bay, inducing eight outs in the air against two on the ground to go with the three strikeouts. 

"I was battling tonight,," he said. "My defense really picked me up behind me. There were some hard-hit balls tonight where guys ran them down. They really had my back out there tonight, so you've really got to tip your cap to those other guys behind me.

"I wasn't able to put many guys away. I don't know how many strikeouts I had, but I know it wasn't many. It was just one of those nights where you try and get guys out within three pitches, keep your pitch count down and let them get themselves out."

After facing the minimum through three innings, Sheffield pitched with one baserunner in each of his final three frames. And he had to work to maintain his rhythm.

"It actually gets kind of tough when you're not in the stretch as much, just because you're so used to going from the windup, you get kind of in a groove," he said. "I was getting a little comfortable in the windup, and then you have to go from the stretch, which you haven't done much all night. Now you've got to go find your groove in the stretch. It makes it easier when guys aren't on, but then again, when guys are on, you just mix up your looks and try to keep them at the base they're at."

The southpaw worked with an unusual lead from the bottom of the second when Tampa's Devyn Bolasky plated a run with a double play grounder. The Yankees didn't crack the hit column through five innings against Threshers starter Ranfi Casimiro (8-9) and Yacksel Rios.

"We were hitting the ball hard all night, and it was kind of the same way both ways," Sheffield said. "We were just hitting it right at their guys. Their defense played well and our defense played well. It was a weird game, definitely. We didn't get our first hit until the bottom of the sixth."

Sheffield improved to 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his third Florida State League start since coming over from Cleveland in the trade that sent Major League reliever Andrew Miller to the Indians. In those three outings, the 2014 first-round pick has allowed two runs on 10 hits over 17 1/3 innings, striking out 17 and walking four. That success has helped ease the transition to a new organization.

"At first, it was a whirlwind," he said. I" didn't really know what to expect coming to a new organization, new teammates, completely new uniform, just a whole new organization. It was a whirlwind. I didn't really know what to expect. I was definitely anxious, but I've kind of settled in. It's a great organization.

"I love my teammates. Great group of guys, and I've really settled in within a week. That's when you know the team chemistry we have on this team is great."

Clearwater outhit Tampa, 4-1, with catcher Wes Wilson notching the Yankees' only knock with a leadoff single in the sixth. Threshers leadoff man Jiandido Tromp had a pair of hits.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.