His defence really didn’t help him, but Yosver Zulueta struggled in his Eastern League debut last night.
The right hander, who is pitching at his third level this season (and may find himself in a big league bullpen later this summer), faced a challenge against the Red Sox’ Portland affiliate. A packed house of over 7 000 was on hand at Hadlock Field to see rehabbing Chris Sale, who mostly toyed with New Hampshire hitters in his four inning stint.
Zulueta was squeezed a bit, but also had issues with his command in going to full counts with four of the first five hitters he faced. A bad throw by SS Orelvis Martinez, an errant toss by 2B Rafael Lantigua, and Zulueta’s own inability to hold runners close led to a 28 pitch 2nd inning. Martinez’ throw to nab a runner at home brought in the first run of the frame, while Zulueta’s brain cramp (with runners on 1st and 3rd, he threw three times to 1st to hold the runner) allowed the second run of the inning to trot home. With two out, his pitch limit had been reached, and Zulu’s night was over. The Sea Dogs’ running game (they stole 3 bases in the inning) clearly had him rattled.
It was a rough night for the Fisher Cats, who fanned 7 times against Sale in a 15-4 defeat.
It was definitely a learning experience for Zulueta, and shows the work he has to do at this higher level. The Portland hitters were patient against him, and lefty hitters for the most part laid off of his elevated fastball with arm-side run. He did hit 99 on the gun in the first inning, so that’s a positive. Zulueta isn’t the first pitcher to be overwhelmed in his first start at a new level; how he responds in his next outing will give us a better gauge.
Some video, in case you missed it…..