With the B-Mets in the midst of a June swoon, and back on the road after an eight game homestand, the team seemed in need of a great outing from a starter. On Saturday night, Michael Devaney provided the antidote for this month’s ills.
Saturday night, Binghamton opened a four game series at Connecticut after they dropped four of five to Akron this week. Brett Harper’s first inning RBI single allowed Michael Devaney to begin his game with a lead and he did not look back. He quickly went to work on a dominating performance which led to a 4-1 B-Mets win.
The 24-year-old right-hander set the tone early with a strong dose of fastballs. He used his number one often which later allowed him to keep hitters on their heels with his changeup and slider. Both pitches were as effective tonight as any time during the season.
“Early on, throwing my fastball for strikes was key. I felt good in the bullpen before the game and I had a feeling my stuff was there. It was about going out there and attacking hitters."
Devaney and Connecticut starter Nick Pereira both displayed tremendous effectiveness and management as they weaved through the opposition’s lineup until the top of the fourth.
In that half inning, Caleb Stewart, the team’s leading power hitter, crushed a 1-2 slider to just right of the batter’s eye at Dodd Stadium for his 13th home run of the season and made it a 2-0 Binghamton advantage. He finished the night 3-for-4, with two singles. Every ball he hit came echoing off his bat.
Devaney ran into his first, and only, trouble of the night in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Defenders’ catcher Steve Holm smacked a two-seam fastball for a double down right field line, breaking a string of ten straight outs by Connecticut. On the very next pitch, Simon Klink turned on a high fastball and put runners on the corner with one out. But, that’s when Devaney buckled down.
He got ahead of Mark Minicozzi 0-2 and caught him looking at strike three with a perfectly placed two-seam fastball on the outside corner. He then got Pereira to fly out harmlessly to Stewart in right field. However, it was that two-seamer to Minicozzi that defined the night Devaney had.
Despite a fastball that reaches 87 MPH at best, he was able to master both sides of the plate and induce many routine outs. After the game, he admitted it was the best he had felt all year.
”Right from the start, I thought that their guys were kind of defensive and it allowed me to pitch inside and get a lot of weak pop ups and groundouts. That allowed me to open up my breaking stuff and work guys harder. I was able to keep my changeup down and get swings and misses which I thought kept hitters off balance. I was pitching as better than I had all year,” Devaney recounted.
Just as important, in that fifth inning pressure, Devaney did not let the hitters get the best of him. Although there were men on the corners, the bottom two spots of the Defenders’ order stepped to the plate. He knew he could not miss the opportunity to quash any rally.
”I had to get through the number eight hitter because with first and third and at the bottom of the order that’s when I have to get my outs. With the pitcher coming up next, I had to bear down,” he said. “Getting through that inning was a big moment in that start and it really made my night.”
Drew Butera, just called up from St. Lucie and catching Devaney for only the second time, agreed with the pitcher’s self analysis.
“He was outstanding,” said Butera. “He really had his command tonight. He threw where he wanted to and stayed ahead of hitters. His slider helped him stay on top of the ball and stay through his pitches. The second time through the lineup we mixed in the changeup more and it opened up all possibilities.”
Devaney probably could have returned for the seventh inning, but with a pitch count around 90, the coaches decided to let him end his night on a high note and rest up for his next start.
His final line read: 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 K, 0 BB, HBP
Robert Paulk began the seventh in relief and completed the game. Paulk too demonstrated crisp fastballs. He surrendered his only mistake to Tyler Von Schell in the ninth inning. The first baseman turned on a two-seamer for a high, lofting home run to left field. Paulk did earn the three inning save – his second save of the season.
In the top of the seventh, Jose Coronado redirected an inside fastball from Pereira for a two-run home run to right field. It was his first round-tripper since July 31, 2005 when he was with Hagerstown.
Coronado also made a very nifty play on a bounding ball up the middle in the second. He fielded the ball well to the first base side of second, and threw back across his body for the out. Mike Carp received the ball on the other end with a great stretch and pick.
Brett Harper, who was hit by a pitch just below his right knee in the sixth, played left field on Saturday night. It was the first time all year he played somewhere other than first base or designated hitter. He was replaced by Jamar Hill in the ninth.
Dodd Stadium is the site of the Eastern League All-Star Game which takes place on July 11. It is also where the B-Mets will begin the second half of their season.