Krook brings perfecto into 8th for RailRiders
After tossing five perfect frames his last time out, Matt Krook flirted with baseball immortality on Friday. The left-hander took a perfect game into the eighth inning before yielding an infield single with two outs in the frame en route to setting the table for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 8-1 victory over
After tossing five perfect frames his last time out, Matt Krook flirted with baseball immortality on Friday.
The left-hander took a perfect game into the eighth inning before yielding an infield single with two outs in the frame en route to setting the table for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 8-1 victory over Buffalo at PNC Field.
"Being in the strike zone a little bit more, particularly with my slider, and having multiple pitches that I can throw for a strike has been the biggest difference for me lately," Krook said. "I've never thrown a no-hitter or a perfect game before, I've actually never pitched in the eighth inning before, so that was new and exciting ... I heard I was going to be stopped at 100 pitches if I got there, but it would have been interesting to see what actually happened."
The only other blemish on the evening for the Yankees prospect was a six-pitch walk to Eric Stamets following the hit. Krook exited the game after that with his final line showing one hit and one walk with 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 frames. It's the longest career outing for the 27-year-old, who tossed 63 of his 93 pitches for strikes.
"That was the best I’ve seen him," RailRiders skipper Doug Davis said. "I mean, it was about command tonight, he had command of everything. He was ahead in counts, throwing strike one and put them on the defense all night. They didn’t hit one ball hard to right field. Exceptional outing for him."
In addition to a perfect outing his last time out, the Oregon product had a streak of 39 straight batters retired that spanned his past three appearances.
"It means a lot. I had a couple of frustrating weeks there and you start to question stuff and yourself and the work you're putting in," Krook said. "And I haven’t really changed my work, it's just starting to show up on the field a little more. And its manifested itself today and the last couple of outings.
"In my career, I haven’t really had the command that I have now, and the feeling that I have on the mound, and it gives me a lot of confidence. Even when the results are not as great, I can throw what I want to throw when I wan to throw it."
Against the Bisons, Krook threw strike one to 18 of the 25 batters he faced. Only four balls put in play made it beyond the infield and he whiffed the side in the third before settling in to need just six pitches to navigate through the fourth and eight pitches to retire the side in the fifth.
"For him, we haven’t been able to [provide a lot of run support] for his starts," Davis said. "You get ahead by four runs in two innings, and he puts up zeros, so it’s a confidence builder for a starting pitcher. He just kept us there and we just kept adding ion. I think that’s a confidence builder for both ways: our hitters are watching him and know he's not giving anything up out there, and then he's seeing us and knows we're gonna score in every inning.
The RailRiders scored a pair of runs in each of the first two innings before plating one run in the third and another in the fourth. The club capped its scoring with another two-spot in the seventh.
"The offense was a lot of fun to watch today," Krook said. "We’ve been swinging the bats so well this week and just playing to our potential this week, and obviously the defense was awesome tonight."
After recording the first two outs of the eighth on a weak ground ball to third and a strike-three call on a full-count pitch to LJ Tally, Chavez Young stepped to the plate for the third time. After falling behind 1-2, Young connected on what was essentially a soft bouncer with backspin. Krook fielded the ball, but never made the throw to first as the speedy Young broke up the potential milestone.
"I get the call against Tally there and then with two outs in the eighth I'm feeling good," Krook said. "Against Chavez, you know, you see the chopper go up and I know he's got some speed and I'm like, 'This probably isn’t going to go well.' And as soon as I grab the ball and turn around, I saw he's a step away from the bag. So, then my focus is, 'I just want to finish the eighth.' So, then walking the next batter was a little frustrating."
Krook twirled five perfect frames of relief with eight punchouts his last time on the bump for the RailRiders on June 24, in a 2-0 victory over Toledo. After a rocky start, his recent success has brought his ERA down to a respectable 4.01 with 90 strikeouts over 74 innings pitched this year.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.