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Wood credits new pitches for success
Oklahoma RedHawks ace Mike Wood turned in yet another outstanding effort on Sunday night, as he held the Round Rock Express to just one run on four hits in eight innings of work. He walked only one batter while recording six strikeouts.
Wood struggled in the game's first two innings, surrendering three of his four hits allowed, including back-to-back triples from Josh Anderson and Mark Saccomanno.
"I think in the first couple of innings, I really wasn't too warm," said Wood. "I took my warm-ups a little bit lighter because it was hot out."
The righty quickly settled down, retiring the side in order for the next six innings. The one hit Wood allowed – an infield single off his leg – was quickly erased on a double play.
"When I realized what I was doing after two innings, I just started letting it go," he said. "When I let it go, the ball started moving more and I started getting more aggressive with it."
Though the Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter friendly, Wood appears to be having little problem mastering it. The former Kansas City Royal currently leads the Pacific Coast League with a 2.95 ERA, which is over a half run better than Tacoma's Jorge Campillo (3.48), who ranks second. The 27-year-old is also striking out nearly 7.2 batters per nine innings, the highest mark of his career since pitching with High-A Modesto in 2002.
The Florida native, who throws a fastball, a curveball, a slider, a changeup, and a splitter, credits the development of his five-pitch repertoire for his success this year.
"I've gotten a lot better," said Wood of his success this season. "Over the past couple of years I've been working on some things and they've all come together this year. The curveball has really helped me; I haven't had that in the past. The cut slider, even though it was kind of hanging tonight, I haven't had that in the past. Those have really brought my other pitches to where I don't need to use them too often."
In addition to his five-pitch arsenal, Wood has also been known to add and subtract velocity from his fastball. While it happens, Wood says it isn't intentional.
"It comes naturally," said Wood. "I don't really try to throw it softer or harder. Sometimes I try to throw it real hard, but other times it just comes naturally."
Wood, who admits it can be frustrating to pitch so well in Triple-A and not get a call to the majors, was asked what he thought he had to do to get back to the show.
"That's what I'm trying to figure out myself," he said.
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