• Frisco starting pitcher Doug Mathis gave his team at least seven innings for the fourth time in nine starts at the Double-A level on Tuesday night. The right-hander went exactly seven innings, yielding just one run on four hits. Of the four hits, only two left the infield and only one – Chase Headley's home run – was hit particularly well. Mathis, who has walked just seven batters over his last five starts, walked one and struck out four.
Despite the excellent outing, Mathis says he wasn't completely comfortable.
"Early on I was pretty bad," said Mathis. "Even though they didn't get to me, I didn't feel really good. I was missing spots and I think I got lucky a couple of times. I grinded through that, got settled back down, and figured some stuff out."
Mathis' curveball and slider were often inconsistent, but he displayed excellent command of his above-average changeup throughout the night. The Show Low, Arizona, native says it was his go-to pitch.
"My best pitch was probably my changeup because I was throwing it for strikes," he said. "Pretty much every time I threw it I got a swing and a miss or a ground ball on it."
Though he recorded 11 ground ball outs versus just six in the air, Mathis wasn't particularly happy with his sinker.
"My worst pitch tonight was probably my fastball," explained Mathis. "It wasn't bad, but my command was not that good. I still spotted it when I had to in certain situations."
Four of Mathis' nine starts since joining the RoughRiders have come against the San Antonio Missions club that he faced on Tuesday. The former Missouri Tiger believes that he must continue to make adjustments to stay ahead of the curve.
"It's a little cat-and-mouse game that you play because they've seen me a lot," said Mathis. "You still have to do what works against them, but they make adjustments too. You have to make adjustments at-bat to at-bat because they see what you're doing"
The right-hander believes that his time in Double-A has helped him develop in several aspects.
"I've gotten a little bit stronger," said Mathis. "Over these last three or four starts I've gotten control of my full range of pitches. Early in the year I was walking more guys and now I'm throwing most of my stuff in the zone."
Doug Mathis lowered his ERA to 2.37 on Tuesday
• The rehabbing Brad Wilkerson looked like a major league hitter against the San Antonio pitching staff. He continually worked the count and finished with a single, a double, and a walk in five plate appearances.
• Centerfielder Brandon Boggs was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks.
The Georgia Tech product has drawn 17 walks in just 83 at-bats since his promotion to Double-A. He walked just 40 times in 284 at-bats with High-A Bakersfield one season ago.
Boggs also showed off solid range in the field. He made a nice over the shoulder catch early in the game and raced into the right-center field gap to snag a well-hit ball in the late innings. With a good arm for his position, it appears that Boggs could be a solid defensive centerfielder in the majors.
• Though third baseman Travis Metcalf was just 1-for-5, he hit the ball hard nearly every time up.
Metcalf hit an RBI double to the right-center field gap in the first inning, but that would be his only hit of the evening. The University of Kansas product went on to hit deep fly balls to dead center field and left field.
• Hitting in the third spot in the batting order, second baseman German Duran raised his average to .307 with two singles and a walk in five plate appearances.
"I try to take the same approach," said Duran of hitting higher in the order. "When I'm a three-hole hitter, I have more guys on base and I get more opportunities to drive a run in. I have to be more patient and I can't be so aggressive. I have to take it pitch-by-pitch and try to drive something into the gaps so I can get some runs for the team."
Duran, who already has 11 home runs after hitting 13 with High-A Bakersfield last season, also discussed the source of his extra power this season.
"I think I'm just getting more pitches to hit," said Duran. "Early in the season I was getting more fastballs in the nine-hole. I'm not trying to hit home runs, I'm just trying to hit the ball in the gap. They're carrying this year."
The second baseman believes that part of the reason his low home run total last season was a slow start.
"Last year I started off a little slow because I was trying to get used to the league," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. I stopped trying to be aggressive and I was trying to take. I was trying to slap the ball around instead of playing my game, which is driving the ball from gap-to-gap."
• Shortstop Casey Benjamin continued to build on his solid season with a 2-for-3 night that included a home run and two free passes. The 26-year-old is hitting .281 this season.
• Playing in just his fifth game of the season, left fielder Ben Harrison went 2-for-4 with a home run, his first of the season.
"Prior to the at-bat, one of my coaches told me that I was a little too wide," said Harrison of his home run. "I just tried to shorten it up and be simple and I was fortunate enough to hit it on the barrel. It felt good to get that first one under my belt."
Harrison missed the first two months of the season because of a shoulder injury he sustained while playing winterball in Venezuela. The outfielder, who has been injured for much of his four-year professional career, says he currently feels fine.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Harrison. "It's a lot different playing a game here than in extended spring training. My timing is still off a little bit. I feel like there's certain pitches that I'm seeing well and I'm still jumping a little bit, but I feel like I'm close. I just have to keep working and hopefully I can get into a good groove.
The slugger also realizes that it is early in the season for him, and he can't let any early-season struggles that may occur get to his head.
"This is kind of like my spring training," he said. "I can't come in and be too hard on myself. Right now, every day that I'm out there I'm feeling good and I'm not hurting. I'm pretty happy to be out there and playing some competitive ball."
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