Although it's statistically been his best month to date -- at least in games that count -- Lewis Thorpe has had a hard time going deep in his starts for Double-A Chattanooga. The 10th-ranked Twins prospect had a 3.00 ERA over 15 innings in four previous July outings, but he
Although it's statistically been his best month to date -- at least in games that count -- Lewis Thorpe has had a hard time going deep in his starts for Double-A Chattanooga. The 10th-ranked Twins prospect had a 3.00 ERA over 15 innings in four previous July outings, but he stretched out in Friday night's tilt at AT&T Field.
Thorpe carried a no-hitter into the fifth and was lights-out for seven innings as the Lookouts blanked Pensacola, 5-0. The 22-year-old gave up two hits and a walk while striking out seven in his second straight victory.
"I think just what was working was fastball command and locating my breaking stuff," Thorpe said. "The changeup wasn't really working, but I still had my slider and curveball in my back pocket, which I could throw for strikes and get down when I was 0-2 and could strike a couple guys out, which was nice."
Gameday box score
He retired the first 11 batters, registered four successive strikeouts over the opening two innings, before shortstop Jordan Gore made an errant throw on Mitch Nay's grounder with two outs in the fourth. Thorpe walked the next batter, Reds No. 8 prospectShed Long, on four pitches but induced a flyout from 16th-ranked Aristides Aquino to quell the threat.
The left-hander got two quick outs in the fifth before Taylor Featherston bounced a single through the middle on an 0-2 pitch for the Blue Wahoos' first hit. Thorpe whiffed Chris Okey on three pitches for the final out of the frame and worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Narciso Crook lined a single to right with two outs in the seventh, but Thorpe got Gavin LaValley to fly to right, ending his outing after 90 pitches, 66 strikes.
The Melbourne, Australia, native last seven innings on June 21 against Biloxi and earned Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors with that late-June hot streak but totaled nine innings in his first three July starts before pitching in the Futures Game.
"Being able to go seven innings is huge. I would like to be able to go nine," Thorpe said. "They were putting the ball in play [on Friday] and it was just working out for me. It's good to save the bullpen, too."
The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder gave up three runs on three hits, including two homers, while recording two outs in the prospect showcase.
"I didn't get the results I wanted, but it was the experience of a lifetime," he said. "Not many people get to do it. Just go out there and being on a big league field is just great. ... It was a time that I will never forget."
Thorpe didn't appear in another game until a week later but performed admirably in his return. He said his hiatus and lighter workload were not the result of anything physical, but he did make the most of the mental break that time provided.
"I just sort of was out of it," Thorpe said. "You're going to have a good stretch at one point, fall down the next and then be up the next couple of weeks."
The southpaw returned to the Lookouts with six strong innings on Sunday against Mobile, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out five. Thorpe, who along with Orioles prospect Alex Wells were the only Australians on the World team roster, learned in that short time against the elite competition that he stands to benefit more from attacking hitters and staying in the zone.
"I'm not going try and be too fine with anything," he said. "Now I'm just putting the ball around the zone and things are starting to look good."
After struggling to get his ERA below 5.00 over the first two months of the season, Friday's start lowered that mark to 3.61 -- 10th best in the league. He also ranks third behind Jackson's Taylor Widener and Montgomery's Génesis Cabrera with 118 strikeouts.
"I think just fastball up and then off-speed down is just playing really well for me," Thorpe said. "I've been getting a lot of swings and misses up, which is good. And then just off that I'll throw a curveball or a changeup or a slider and they'll be out in front. That's been a huge help for me."
Cody Stashak struck out the side in the eighth and Ryne Harper worked around a leadoff single in the ninth, nailing down Chattanooga's fourth shutout of the season.
Twins No. 7 prospect Brent Rooker had a pair of knocks, including his 20th homer, which puts him second in the league lead to Biloxi's Corey Ray, who hit his 21st Friday. Alex Perez punctuated the Lookouts' four-run fourth with a two-RBI double.
Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4.