When pitchers strike out a multitude of batters in a game, they often say that they weren't trying to do so, that unforeseen circumstances crept in and padded the hurler's statistics. The credibility of those comments can frequently be called into question.
Chad Sherman used such reasoning after striking out 12 Shreveport-Bossier Captains on Sunday, and his explanation was sound because his performance often looked effortless.
Sherman pitched a complete game two-hitter and got plenty of run support in the Wingnuts' 11-0 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
After the game, the Wingnuts traded outfielder Ryan Patterson to Fort Worth for right-handed pitcher Derek Blacksher, who pitched for Wichita during the 2009 season. The Wingnuts advanced to the playoffs that season and Blacksher was named the American Association's right-handed pitcher of the year.
Sherman hadn't shown many signs of breaking out before Sunday, carrying a 7.11 ERA after his first four starts. The quick turnaround was credited to a mechanical adjustment he made between starts with the help of pitching coach Luke Robertson.
"All four pitches I was throwing for strikes whenever, Sherman said. "You don't try to strike people out, you try to get groundballs. But I threw strikes with all four of my pitches today, so that obviously helped."
Shreveport-Bossier sent nine batters to the plate during the first three innings, and after that the strikeouts began happening in bunches for Sherman.
The rookie right-hander struck out two in the fourth, two in the fifth and struck out the side in order in the sixth. Sherman exhibited the importance of throwing strike one, as Captains hitters were often overmatched after falling behind in the count.
In one stretch, Sherman struck out eight of 10 batters. He retired 14 in a row before Alex Cowart reached on an error with one out in the ninth.
"I've been struggling getting ahead of people," Sherman said. "When you get behind, you have to throw it over the plate and you're going to get behind. The one thing I had to do was get ahead. When I did, I tried to keep them guessing and strikeouts just come."
During a side bullpen session Saturday, Robertson changed Sherman's mechanics. Sherman had been bringing his front leg down at an angle before he threw, forcing the top half of his body to do extra work to get an optimal release point.
Robertson had Sherman bring the leg straight down, allowing for minimal effort and helping Sherman get better location. Sherman didn't go to a three-ball count after the fourth inning and his strikeouts came at little cost to his pitch count — he was at 14 pitches or below in every inning but one and finished with 112.
" (Sherman) was very confident with the adjustment they made," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "It's great to see. I felt like he had run into some tough luck with the strike zone his last couple starts. Tonight was pretty fabulous."
The Wingnuts gave Sherman enough offense in their six-run second. Jorge Delgado accented it with the first of three Wichita home runs, a three-run shot to left field. Juan Richardson hit a two-run homer over the scoreboard and into the parking lot well beyond the left-field fence, and Josh Workman homered in the sixth.Patterson had a single and an RBI in his final game with the Wingnuts. He is the team's all-time leading home run hitter with 26, and leads the team with 11 after hitting a club-best 15 last year. He leaves Wichita with a .299 average and 44 RBIs.
Blacksher was 11-2 with a 3.38 ERA for the Wingnuts in 2009, when he won Game 1 of Wichita's playoff series against Lincoln. This season with Fort Worth, he is 3-6 with a 4.55 ERA.
Prvnchr 3b4000Duran 2b4000
Perry cf4010Patterson rf5111
Sabatella rf3010Clevlen cf4131
Urtuzu rf1000Richrdsn 3b3332
Rodrigz 1b2000Delgado 1b5223
Peterson c1000Workman dh5122
Kuhn c2000Conroy lf4120
Karr dh/lf3000Powell c4111
Frichter ss3000Fitzgrld ph/ss2020
Shreveport-Bossier000 000 000 — 0 Wichita060 302 00x — 11
E—Fitzgerald (4). DP—Wichita 1. LOB—Shreveport-Bossier 3, Wichita 11. 2B—Clevlen (10), Workman (22). HR—Richardson (7), Delgado (5), Workman (6). S—Duran (3). SF—Clevlen (1).
Krstn L, 3-64109943
Sherman W, 2-19200112
HBP—By Kirsten (Conroy).
Umpires—Home, Kurt Branin; First, Lance Vaughn; Third, Nick Gonzalez.