Triple-A Indianapolis' James Marvel certainly enjoys pitching against Syracuse.Six days after putting up six scoreless innings against the Mets, the Pittsburgh right-hander was at it again, working around a hit and four walks while striking out seven over six frames as Indy shut out Syracuse, 1-0, at NBT Bank Stadium.
Triple-A Indianapolis' James Marvel certainly enjoys pitching against Syracuse.
Six days after putting up six scoreless innings against the Mets, the Pittsburgh right-hander was at it again, working around a hit and four walks while striking out seven over six frames as Indy shut out Syracuse, 1-0, at NBT Bank Stadium.
Marvel (3-0) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Rubén Tejada singled to right field with one out for the Mets' only hit of the game. That followed a walk to Danny Espinosa and put runners on the corners. The 25-year-old whiffed Travis Taijeron and induced a groundout from Arismendy Alcantara to end the threat and his outing.
Marvel knew coming into the game that Mets would adjust their strategy against him Wednesday, particularly since the lineup was full of veteran guys.
"I think the thing is to go out and kind of feel out what those adjustments were going to be early," he said. "For an example, last night they were going against our guy, [Eduardo Vera], and they were swinging early and often, very similar to what they did to me in my previous outing. Today, they were much more patient in the first couple of innings and made me throw a lot of extra pitches. From there, it's just about how I'm able to adjust back to them."
Using more high fastballs and changeups in an attempt to keep the hitters off balance, Marvel put a lot of trust in his batterymate Christian Kelley in calling the game.
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"My catcher was a good resource for me," the Duke product said. "I leaned on him a lot on what he was seeing today and just kind of rolled with what he was throwing down."
On July 18, Marvel retired the final 11 Mets he faced, finishing with nine strikeouts while allowing one hit, a walk and hitting two batters in a 9-1 Indians victory.
The 6-foot-4 hurler sports a 1.90 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings since being promoted to the International League on July 1. For Double-A Altoona, Marvel held opponents to a .228 average while posting a 3.16 ERA and 82 whiffs over 99 2/3 frames.
For the California native, a key to the transition to Triple-A has been trusting what has made him successful in the past and not trying to stray away from that.
"What makes me me," Marvel said.
A big part of that is his fastball, the pitch he relies on to set everything else up in his arsenal.
"Today, and what I have a lot of success with generally, is being able to execute and locate a good fastball," Marvel said. "When I'm able to do that, when I can sink it down in and out and then move up and down the strike zone with my heater, everything for me plays off of that. I'm able to throw my breaking ball for strikes and for swing-and-miss if I am throwing my fastball aggressively. I can mix in a changeup and keep guys off balance."
The 2015 36th-round pick finds the tougher competition enables him to focus on the task at hand.
"I've had success against them the last two games, but I think part of that is trying to rise up to the challenge of competing against a good lineup," Marvel said. "They've forced me to lock in and execute pitches one at a time. It's just about executing one pitch when I'm out there and then once I throw that one, trying to execute as best I can the next one. Trying to control what I can control in that sense."
Of course, the right-hander appreciates having "an incredible defense" behind him when on the mound. That allows him to be more aggressive in the strike zone and getting ahead in the count.
"This defense seems to be at a completely other level than I have been playing with," Marvel said. "I had a good squad in Altoona, but if I can get a ton of ground balls here and fly balls and let my infielders and outfielders work behind me, chances are that if the ball is in play that these guys are going to go get it somewhere."
This makes the game enjoyable for the San Francisco native, even when it gets a little surreal.
"It's fun to be here competing against guys that I've watched on TV," he said. "Obviously, this level is incredibly talented. Just in a handful of starts, I have faced a number of big leaguers, a number of guys that will be playing in the big leagues."
But the top goal is always being in the victory column when the game is over.
"The first series we played them at home, they came in and beat us around pretty good for the first couple of games. So it's been nice to get our guys back on track and win some ballgames," Marvel said.
Right-hander Montana DuRapau fanned three over two perfect innings of relief and righty Dovydas Neverauskas picked up his seventh save by retiring the side in order in the ninth.
The lone run of the game came in the seventh. With second-ranked Pirates prospectKe'Bryan Hayes on third and fifth-ranked Kevin Kramer at the plate, lefty Ryan O'Rourke was called for a balk that allowed Hayes to cross the plate.
Mets right-hander Chris Mazza was perfect through five before Hunter Owen singled to left to lead off the sixth.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.