Deck McGuire didn’t earn a win in his second Triple-A start, but that was through no fault of his own.
The former Toronto Blue Jays first-round pick went seven innings, allowed just two runs on three hits and struck out four.
Saturday’s effort was quite the follow-up for McGuire, who won his first ever Triple-A start last week in Indianapolis.
While McGuire only struck out four, he hit the strike zone often and induced a lot of ground balls early in counts.
“I went into the game with a good game plan,” McGuire said. “I kept the ball down, found the fastball early and kept them off-balance.”
McGuire allowed a solo home run to Syracuse’s Zach Walters in the fourth inning, but recovered to retire the next six batters in order.
“The guy’s a professional hitter and he hit a good pitch on a 3-2 count,” McGuire said.
“It’s not the first I’ve given up and it won’t be the last. You just go after the next guy and make some good pitches.”
According to Bisons’ manager Gary Allenson, McGuire’s done a better job mixing up his fastball to fool hitters.
“You get a certain level and hitters do something with the fastball if it’s not in the right spot,” Allenson said. “He does a real good job of mixing it up now and not being predictable. That’s what pitching’s about.”
McGuire was drafted 11th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. He spent most of 2011 season in A-ball in Dunedin, Fla., where he excelled with a 7-4 record and 2.75 ERA.
However, he struggled when he moved to AA ball in New Hampshire. He posted ERAs of 5.88 and 4.86 in 2012 and 2013, respectively, breaking the Fisher Cats’ loss record with 15 in 2012.
McGuire improved markedly this year, posting a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts before being promoted to Buffalo. He credits his 2014 success to a number of factors, not the least of which is his improved fastball control.
“My fastball command has been first and foremost,” McGuire said. “I think my comfort level has been (important) too. Just going out every time, knowing what I want to do and then executing it.”
Going forward, McGuire plans to remind himself that he’s still just playing the game that he’s played since childhood.
“Baseball is baseball,” McGuire said. “The game doesn’t change, just the people who you’re playing against.”
The Bisons scored five runs for just the second time in the past eight games Saturday. Before its eighth-inning rally, the team had scored runs in just six of the 44 innings during a four-game losing streak.
Rickey Romero will make his ninth start of the season today, still looking for his first win.
In 2011, the lefty won 15 games for the Toronto Blue Jays on his way to earning a place in his first Major League All-Star Game.