NILES - Mahoning Valley pitching continues to dominate the opposition.
In a game shortened to eight innings due to rain, the Scrappers gave up two infield hits and no earned runs in a 4-1 win against the Auburn Doubledays.
With the hype of the game surrounding Cleveland Indians two-time all-star closer Chris Perez, who made a rehab appearance, starter Matt Whitehouse made his first professional start and delivered a dominating three innings of work. Whitehouse allowed only one baserunner, who reached first after a wild pitch came on strike three.
"There's always those butterflies, but I think if you don't have those butterflies, you're not ready to pitch," said Whitehouse about making his first pro start. "Once I got that first out, I kinda settled in and just stuck to my approach of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters."
"I talked to Chris Perez before the game and he gave me some pointers. He was a hell of a guy to talk to, a great guy. He took time for a good amount of the pitchers and talked to us for a while. I think that was a good way to start a day of when I was going to be pitching."
Perez took the hill in the fourth inning and looked back to form, retiring the side in 1-2-3 fashion. Perez struck out the first batter he faced, David Masters, on three straight pitches. Wanting to simulate an in-game situation, Perez came into the game with the mentality that he was back with the Indians.
"I attacked the hitters like I would a big-league game," he said. "I tried to make it, as much as I could, like a big-league situation."
Perez said he felt "normal" and is confident he can be effective when he rejoins the Tribe.
"I feel like I'm good," he said. "I feel like I can get some big-league hitters out.
"I don't know what their plans are, but I'm ready whenever they need me. I think I'm ready to be able to come back and do my job."
Scrappers pitching had a combined-no-hitter into the sixth inning. The no-hitter was broken up on an infield single that appeared to hit what could have been a rock, bounced high in the air and went off the glove of shortstop James Roberts. The Doubledays weren't able to hit the ball sharply the entire game as only three balls left the infield, all for flyball outs. The only run given up by the Scrappers was unearned.
The Scrappers hitters had much more success as they were able to string together 11 hits and drive in four runs. Second baseman Claudio Bautista set the tone as he led off the first inning with a double. Bautista eventually scored on a single by Roberts in his first major league at-bat.
Bautista then drove in two runs in the second inning with a second double down the line. Juan Herrera, who played third on Tuesday but is normally at shortstop, also had a big game for the Scrappers, going 3 for 4 with a hit-by-pitch.
"Claudio's a good little hitter. Him and Herrera are like two peas in a pod to me," Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak said. "Both of them are really aggressive. It's interesting to see two guys who are so similar."
The middle infield Dominican duo has the top two batting averages on the team. Bautista is batting .361, and Herrera is hitting .333.