Cutters’ pitching staff has 2nd shutout in 3 days

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Mahoning Valley’s Michael Tinsley is tagged out by Williamsport catcher Rafael Marchan on a single by Jose Fermin in the third inning on Tuesday at Bowman Field.

Kyle Young towered over the hitters he faced Tuesday night. It’s nothing new. The 7-foot-tall pitcher is used to it.

Manuel Silva isn’t nearly as imposing. He’s a more modest 6-foot-2 and listed at 157 pounds.

The two were equally effective, though, for the Williamsport Crosscutters last night. Working his way back from an elbow injury, Young threw three no-hit innings last night in a rehabilitation start. Silva followed with five-plus shutout innings. And Blake Bennett gathered the final three outs as the Cutters’ pitching staff threw its second shutout in three days in an 8-0 win over Pinckney Division-leading Mahoning Valley.

Williamsport took two out of three games from the Scrappers in their final meeting of the season. And the loss combined with Auburn’s lead trimmed Mahoning Valley’s division lead to just 1 1/2 games over the Doubledays with just five games to play. Three of Auburn’s games will be against the Crosscutters starting today.

“It brings back memories being here,” said Young, who completed his fourth rehab outing last night. It’s nice being back and seeing some of the guys and seeing some fans. It feels like I never left in a way.”

His season has been limited to just 12 total appearances because of a left shoulder injury which delayed the start of his season until May 19 with the Lakewood BlueClaws. He made eight starts for Lakewood, posting a 2.98 ERA for the South Atlantic League’s best pitching staff.

That’s when an elbow injury sidelined him again following 4 2/3 innings on July 4 in which he allowed three runs. Prior to arriving in Williamsport he made three starts with the GCL Phillies West totaling just four innings. His three-inning start last night was his longest since coming back from the injury.

And while there was some rust to knock off, Young was his typical dominant self when pitching at Bowman Field. He struck out two in the second inning, working around an error to start the inning. He popped a 90 mph fastball on the outside black to strike out Michael Cooper for the final out of the inning.

He added another scoreless inning in the third, picking up a pair of groundball outs. In all, he recorded five of his nine outs on the ground.

It just continued Young’s dominant ways at America’s second-older minor league ballpark. In four career appearances at Bowman Field, he has yet to allow an earned run in 19 innings. In three starts there last year, he surrendered just one unearned run in 16 innings.

“I’m just trying to get back to my normal self and feel good with the off-speed stuff,” Young said. “I’d say the toughest part about all the time off is the command and trying to get back to where you want to with that, especially with the fastball.”

He wasn’t exactly crisp in a nine-pitch first inning, but he was good enough for a clean inning. He had a six-pitch battle in the second with Mahoning Valley’s Simeon Lucas before getting him swinging on a pretty slider off the outer half.

“After that first inning everything felt a bit easier,” Young said. “I fell into a groove a little bit.”

“It looked like he felt his way through the first batter. After that first inning, he threw really well,” Cutters manager Pat Borders said. “He changed speeds pretty well, he changed tempo, changed times of delivery to the plate and held runners well.”

Young left after three innings with a zero in Mahoning Valley’s hit column, and Silva followed suit. Hitting 93 and 94 mph in his first inning of work, Silva struck out three of the first six hitters he faced. He helped carry the no-hitter into the sixth inning before the Scrapper’s Jose Fermin doubled with two outs. Mahoning Valley had just one more hit after that.

Silva was in complete control the entire outing, finishing with five strikeouts and allowing just two runners to reach second base. Although he’s just 2-5 this year, Silva lowered his ERA to 2.78 and has been one of the most consistent pitchers all year for Williamsport.

“He’s kind of grown up a little bit, physically and emotionally, on the mound,” Borders said. “Last year when I saw him he was throwing substantially slower, to my recollection. He’s got more maturity to go and I would expect even more velocity out of him.”

Rafael Marchan provided all the run support the three Cutters’ pitchers would need when he beat out a double play ball with a head first slide into first base to allow Matt Kroon to score in the third inning. But the offense added even more insurance with a four-spot in the fifth inning thanks to RBI hits from Lenin Rodriguez, Ben Pelletier and Jake Holmes.

In fact, despite entering the game in the fourth inning after Marchan took a foul ball off the mask, Rodriguez went 2 for 2 with a double, walk and two RBIs. He also threw out a basestealer from his knees in the top of the ninth inning.

“He’s done that more times than not when he gets the chance to play,” Borders said. “He’s got a tough role to fill and he’s filled it with dignity. He’s not disgruntled in any way. He’s handled himself very, very, very respectfully.”