Frederick, MD - From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans
FREDERICK, MD – Number two just isn't good enough for Pelicans starter Julio Teheran. The top pitching prospect in the Atlanta Braves minor league system established a new career high for the second time in a Myrtle Beach uniform with 14 strikeouts in his third start as a Pelican and tied a single-game franchise record with that number.
The jaw-dropping strikeout total rocketed the young right-hander up the chain to third in Minor League Baseball in strikeouts. More importantly, his record-setting performance came in a win.
The Pelicans busted out of the gate in 2010 with three straight wins against the Wilmington Blue Rocks to open the year on April 8-10. Since then, Myrtle Beach had not matched that feat and had only won consecutive games twice. That was the case until Monday as the Pelicans matched their season-high winning streak with a 4-3 series-opening victory over the Frederick Keys.
Just about every superlative had been used to describe the Pelicans' 19-year-old Teheran in his first two Carolina League starts in which he went 1-0 with 14 Ks, four walks, and a 0.69 ERA, and Teheran's third start was his best. The right-hander baffled Frederick's Northern Division-leading lineup over eight shutout innings, racking up strikeout after strikeout after strikeout while waiting for his offense to break out. And break out they did in the sixth inning.
After Matt Kennelly led off the sixth with a double, his second of Myrtle Beach's two hits to that point, center fielder L.V. Ware continued his hot start to his Pelicans stint with his sixth home run in his professional career, and first as a Pelican, a two-run shot to left-center staking Teheran and the Birds to a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, with the bases empty, Dan Nelson cranked his second as a Pelican, a solo shot that made the lead 3-0.
In the top of the ninth, Myrtle Beach added a run that would prove to be vital. Travis Jones doubled to lead off the inning, going to third and scoring on back-to-back groundouts by Mike Jones and Samuel Sime. In the bottom of the inning, reliever Paul Clemens entered and got two outs sandwiched around a Miguel Abreu single before things got interesting.
A Greg Miclat walk and a Buck Britton single scored Miguel Abreu, and nine-hole hitter Brian Ward doubled the pair in to cut the Pelicans margin to 4-3 with the game-tying run at second base. Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler went to his bullpen and summoned Luis Avilan who induced a heart-stopping warning track flyout from Xavier Avery to end it. Avilan (1) picked up the save with his one batter of work.
The story of the day, however, was Teheran (2-0). On a day when the right-hander faced multiple baserunners in an inning only twice, the Myrtle Beach lead was more than enough. Teheran (2-0) scattered six hits while striking out his record-tying 14 and not issuing a walk over eight brilliant shutout innings. He became the fourth straight Pelicans starter to not walk an opposing hitter dating back to Friday night.
Six players in the Keys lineup recorded strikeouts against the right-hander with five of those posting multiple Ks against him. Three of those five players struck out three times against Teheran, and Billy Rowell added a fourth whiff to his hitless day in the ninth inning against Clemens. The Cartagena, Colombia native matched a Myrtle Beach franchise record with his 14 strikeouts originally set by Kyle Davies against the Kinston Indians on June 12, 2004.
Teheran and fellow starter Randall Delgado had each already matched the second-most strikeouts by a Pelicans starter in a single game in franchise history with 12 K efforts earlier this year. Delgado's 14 strikeouts Monday moved him into third place in that category among all minor league pitchers with 73.
Frederick's Nate Nery (3-5) took the loss despite allowing just three runs on five hits while matching Teheran's eight innings. Nery struck out one man and issued one walk.
Myrtle Beach and Frederick continue this three-game series tomorrow night at Harry Grove Stadium. Lefty Matt Crim (2-3, 4.35) will get the ball for Rocket Wheeler's club against Frederick righty Oliver Drake (1-1, 4.19) with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM. The Pelicans return to Myrtle Beach on Monday, June 7 for the first of three against the Winston-Salem Dash.