Indians lefthander Chuck Lofgren allowed a run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings of Double-A Akron’s 4-1 win against Binghamton on Tuesday, facing Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez three times.
Lofgren walked Martinez, got him to ground out and struck him out. But it’s probably better if we leave the details of facing the 18-year-old phenom to Lofgren:
“Going into the game, I sat down with (acting Akron pitching coach) Jason Bere and we went over who we didn’t want to beat us,” Lofgren said. “Obviously he was the main guy. I think he was hitting .500 in series before my start and so we needed to find a way to shut him down.
“I got to see him face a couple of lefties before I faced him and the first thing I picked up was how aggressive he is early in counts. He wants to hit the fastball. He likes to get out in front of the ball and pull it, so my game plan was basically to focus on attacking him soft away.
“In the first at-bat, I got him looking at a fastball on the outside corner. Then I came back with it again and he fouled it off. Then I went away, away with fastballs and worked myself into a 3-2 hole before he laid off one more just outside the zone and I walked him.
“In the second at-bat–this guy is always swinging–I started back with a fastball again and he fouled it off. Then I threw a slower curveball and got him to hit a soft ground ball to second base.
“The last time I faced him was in the seventh inning with one out and a runner on first base. I had just lost the chance of a no-hitter, and I was pretty ticked off. So (catcher) Wyatt (Toregas) came out to me before Martinez got in the box. We just talked about how my pitch count was getting up there, but I wanted to get this guy.
“So we started with a curveball for a strike to get ahead, and he didn’t swing. Then I went fastball in for a ball, fastball away for a ball. I threw a curveball that got him to swing and miss to make it 2-2, then threw a slider away that he didn’t quite bite at. That was a questionable call, but whatever.
“Wyatt called for the slider again, and (Martinez) looked real aggressive–like he almost went after the first one. So we came back with a slider away again and got him swinging.
“For him to be 18 and in Double-A is phenomenal. I think if he was even a little more patient, he’d be even more dangerous. I think he needs some work with quality breaking balls left-on-left, but there’s no way he seemed like he was 18 years old. He’s got all the tools.”