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• Frisco starting pitcher Doug Mathis was nearly flawless for five of his six innings, but he struggled in the top of the fifth. The right-hander surrendered all five runs that inning, including a three-run homer by Corpus Christi DH J.R. Towles. Mathis felt he pitched well in the inning, outside of a few bad pitches.
“I made some good pitches,” said Mathis of the fifth inning. “They got some guys on base with a couple of ground ball base hits. I had a second and third situation with one out and left a fastball up. I walked the next guy, which shouldn’t have happened. Then I left a 3-2 pitch over the middle of the plate and [Towles] hit it. Other than a couple of pitches that inning, I pretty much threw the ball the best I could.”
Mathis, who has surrendered at least seven hits in each of his last seven starts, believes he has run into a stretch of bad luck.
“Weird stuff has been happening to me pretty much this whole second half,” he said. “It seems like I can’t catch a break. I’m happy with how I’m throwing the ball, there are just little things I’ve got to tweak and I’ll be back to where I need to be.”
The 24-year-old gave up five runs on seven hits in six innings, walking four and striking out four. Despite the mediocre stat line, Mathis, who was making his third start since returning from the disabled list, said he felt good.
“I felt great tonight,” said Mathis. “Everything was coming out good and I had good stuff. Physically, my last two times out, I’ve felt the best I have felt in a long time.”
In addition to feeling well, Mathis also had some of his best velocity of the season. The University of Missouri product saw his fastball top out at 93 MPH multiple times.
“My fastball has gotten better based on velocity and how I’ve been able to locate it,” said Mathis. “I’m throwing a little harder. I think tonight I was 91-93, and I hit 93 quite a few times. Last year I would be 89-90, not even touching 92.”
With a four-pitch repertoire, Mathis is pleased with the development of all his pitches this season.
“I would say [my fastball] could be my most developed pitch,” he said. “It is tough because everything is right there, but it just needs to get to the next level.”
• Second baseman German Duran led the way offensively, as he was 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs, giving him 20 on the season. It was the Fort Worth native’s first multi-homer game since he did it with High-A Bakersfield last season.
“Both times I had two strikes and I was just trying to put the ball in play,” said Duran of his round-trippers. “The first time I was trying to put the ball up the middle and he threw it inside. The second one, I got to 3-2 and I was hoping he would leave a changeup up. He did, and I got enough of it.”
Duran, who is enjoying a breakout season with the RoughRiders, was able to participate in the MLB Futures Game earlier this month. The second baseman enjoyed his experience, to say the least.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I felt like a big leaguer out there with all the people, all the fans, and the way they treat you. It just seemed like I was walking on cloud nine. It was really an unreal and overwhelming feeling.”
The 22-year-old was also able to hang out with some of his idols.
“Ozzie Smith was out there, I was taking ground balls with him,” said Duran. “[Juan] Marichal was our coach and Dave Winfield was there as well. I was kind of like ‘wow, I’m hanging out with these guys and playing at the same ballpark’. It was nice.”
• Third baseman Micah Furtado boosted his Double-A average to .484 (15-for-31), as he was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.
Unfortunately, Furtado left the game after dislocating his shoulder while sliding head first into second base in the bottom of the seventh inning. He was taken to the hospital shortly after the game for precautionary x-rays and has been placed on the seven-day disabled list.
• Catcher Kevin Richardson had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a home run and a walk. The normally solid defensive catcher had a rough night behind the plate, however, as he gave up three stolen bases in four attempts.
• Right-handed reliever Kea Kometani struck out four batters in two scoreless innings en route to his eighth save of the season.
“I felt pretty good,” said Kometani of his outing. “They got a few runners on, but I was throwing my good stuff, so I felt confident I could get out of those situations.”
The 24-year-old has posted a 2.97 ERA in 23 appearances since moving to the bullpen in mid-May. In 33.1 innings as a reliever, Kometani has surrendered 23 hits, walked 11, and struck out 36.
After being a starter for his entire professional career, Kometani was used to knowing exactly when he was going to pitch. However, he has begun to settle into the relief role.
“Even tonight I thought I might throw one inning, not two,” he said. “[The schedule] is definitely a big part of getting used to being in the bullpen. You don’t know when you’re going to throw. You might come in during the sixth or in the ninth. I think that’s also real good as far as your mindset goes. It keeps you in the game the whole time.”
Kometani, who threw three pitches when he was a starting pitcher, has become a two-pitch pitcher in the bullpen.
“I still have my slider,” said Kometani, “but I haven’t thrown it as much. The majority is fastballs and splitters.”
• Hitting just .209 in the month of July, left fielder Steve Murphy showed signs of breaking out of his month-long slump on Friday. The Kansas State product was 2-for-3 with a double and a home run.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Murphy after Frisco’s 6-5 victory.
Jason Cole: Can you talk about your home run at-bat tonight?
Steve Murphy: I’ve been working on some things and I’ve been trying to sit down a little lower and use my legs. I had swung at a couple of changeups that I was way out in front of. On a 3-2 pitch, he threw me a low fastball and I was able to go down, use my legs, and hit it pretty well.
Cole: How long have you been working on those changes?
Murphy: Since today. Since batting practice today. We’ve got a couple of instructors in and I felt my power had been down. I’ve been taking my legs out of my swing, so I think this new thing is really trying to start with my legs to power the ball so I’m not all arms. It’s working out pretty well so far.
Cole: How big is that for your confidence to go out and get a double and a homer on your first day of working on it?
Murphy: It’s big. It is always tough to try and change your swing for the better, especially late in the season. But it’s definitely a confidence boost. Baseball is a game where success doesn’t come right away. You work on things, you work on things and maybe things don’t come. You keep working on it and eventually your swing is going to come around.
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