Clearwater's Carpenter constructs perfecto
Almost six weeks after tossing a nine-inning blanking, Carpenter pitched a seven-inning perfect game as Clearwater beat Fort Myers, 2-0, to sweep Monday's doubleheader at Hammond Stadium.
Carpenter (16-6) moved into a five-way tie for the Minor League lead in wins with his third victory in as many starts with Joshua Geer (San Antonio), Brandon Hynick (Modesto), Heath Rollins (Columbus) and Keith Weiser (Asheville).
The 22-year-old right-hander struck out seven as he faced the minimum 21 batters through seven innings. In his last outing Aug. 21 against Tampa, he gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk in five frames but still picked up the win.
Since the Florida State League All-Star break, Carpenter is 9-2 with a 2.09 ERA over 13 games -- 11 starts -- and opponents' batting average has dropped 63 points from .282 to .219. Carpenter, Philadelphia's second-round draftee in 2006, attributes this to simply having command of his fastball.
"At the beginning of the year, I wasn't doing a good job of putting the fastball where I wanted," the former Long Beach State Dirtdog said. "After really working on my mechanics with our pitching coach [Scott Lovekamp], I've had a lot more success with it. I can now set up all my other pitches with my fastball and that goes a long way for pitchers."
Having a good defense also goes a long way in helping pitchers too. First baseman Clay Harris helped his hurler out in the fifth inning. Dustin Martin led off the fifth inning by hitting a hard groundball toward shortstop Jason Donald. Donald unleashed a wild throw to first, but Harris extended his 6-foot, 4-inch frame to scoop up the ball while keeping his foot on the bag.
"I kind of felt that I had a no-hitter going on in the fifth, but I didn't realize that I had been perfect so far," Carpenter said. "I wasn't getting the silent treatment either. The guys in the dugout kept things pretty loose and didn't leave me alone.
"I actually wish the game went nine innings, just to see what I could have done," he added
Carpenter also said the shortened perfecto his previous shutout -- the first of his professional career -- on July 19. Carpenter scattered three hits and two walks while striking out a career-high 10 batters against Dunedin. The native of Vacaville, Calif., sat down the first 10 batters he faced and retired 11 of the last 12.
The 157 innings Carpenter has pitched this year are the most he has ever thrown in his career, but the second-year pro says he is actually getting stronger as the year winds down.
"The arm was a little sore at the start of the season," he said, "but as the season went on and I kept on working on my mechanics, it just kept improving and feeling stronger. This is the way you always want to finish the season."
Brad Harman drove in the only runs of the game for the Threshers (38-25). He belted his 12th home run of the year in the third, a two-run shot that cleared the wall in left field. Harman also doubled with two outs in the fifth.
Starter Kyle Waldrop (6-5) gave up both runs on five hits and two walks over six innings while striking out three for the Miracle (35-29).
Michael Echan is a contributor to MLB.com.