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Chad James earns first win of season

    JUPITER, Fla. -- Baseball is a funny game. You can show up to the ballpark and see something new every day.

    Marlins prospect Chad James has learned about one of baseball’s quirks the hard way this year: No matter how well you pitch, you’re never guaranteed a victory. On Saturday, fans in Jupiter witnessed something James hadn’t done all year: earn a victory.

    “It feels good to finally get that first ‘W’ under my belt,” James said.

    James, Florida’s first-round pick in 2009, entered the night with an 0-13 record, but he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out seven and walking four to earn his first win of the season. James left with a 5-0 lead and the High Class A Hammerheads held on, 9-5.

    The southpaw’s 0-13 start was the longest losing streak by a Minor League pitcher since statistics were centralized in 2005.

    “Every body knows that’s baseball,” said James, who entered the year as the Marlins’ second-ranked prospect according to Baseball America. “We’ve been around the game for a long time. It happens. It just doesn’t happen all that often.”

    James, 6-3 and 185 pounds, hasn’t pitched poorly in 2011. In fact, he has pitched quite well for a 20-year-old in the Florida State League, and he lowered his ERA to 3.59 on Saturday. The circuit’s sixth-youngest pitcher has averaged 7.47 strikeouts and 2.85 walks per nine innings pitched.

    But a combination of bad luck and inconsistent run support hurt James’ win-loss record. Before Saturday, James had permitted two runs or less in 10 of his 18 starts, but Jupiter scored more than three runs only five times.

    James took matters into his own hands Saturday. He didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning when Brevard County’s Scooter Gennett bunted for a base hit, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But James worked out of the jam, striking out a pair of hitters after inducing a pop-up on a bunt attempt.

    The lefty took the mound to start the seventh, but manager Ron Hassey motioned for the bullpen after James completed his warm-up tosses. James, who had thrown 90 pitches (55 for strikes) left to a standing ovation from the 801 fans in attendance.

    “I had good command with all my pitches,” he said. “I threw my fastball where I wanted to. All my off-speed pitches I could throw wherever I wanted — down, up, in, out. Just mixing it up and everything fell into place [Saturday].”

    James’ slider, which he only started throwing this year, was particularly effective — six of his seven strikeouts came courtesy of the 83-84 mph offering.

    A season ago, James went 5-10 with a 5.12 ERA for Low Class A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League. Even if his record doesn’t appear to indicate progress, James said the difference between last year and 2011 has been “night and day.” That was certainly evident on Saturday, when Brevard County made solid contact only twice all night.

    “I would take this season over last season any time, including the record,” he said. “As long as I’m improving and getting better, the record does not bother me. It’s just a learning process, and the whole goal is to keep getting better and better.”

    We’ll have more on James’ development next week. For now, check out this exclusive post-game interview, taken in the clubhouse hallway at Roger Dean Stadium.

-- Matt Forman

 

Comments

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Mr. B

801 fans? Sounds like he's with the big league club already.

Samsons Boyfriend

Looks like James is pitching for a bad team in Jupiter....Had a 13 game losing streak in June(sound familar} and are 38-53 now...Cogz is 4for16 w/4bb 1db in Jax..Skipworth hitting a solid.190 6hr thru 69 games...the other catcher on same team,Luke Montz, thru 75 Games is hitting .295 w/18HR's and an OBPS of.971 at 28 yrs old....Matt D is at .245 63games 7Hr..Sean West no help. 3-6 6.87era didnt last 5 last nite in loss... Farm not looking too good right now....And what are the plans for Cogz,Petersen, Wise, and Cameron in CF ??

Glags

Why is there a 28 year old in the minors? Don't they cut them loose after a while?

Samsons Boyfriend

Another Crash Davis in Bull Durham..the minors are full of them, guys still chasing their dream...

Glags

Nice reference.

Michael A.R.

I was at the Hammerheads game on Saturday night when Chad pitched and he was solid. He was locating his pitches and keeping the ball down. The only hit he allowed was a squib bunt that both he and the first baseman converged to cover, leaving first base open.

Hugh Bleak

Second baseman was suppose to cover the base on the bunt play though. Not the pitchers job to cover in that situation. Second baseman should crash as soon as bunt is shown.

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