“Hard to Believe, Harry” was one of the signature comments of the late great Hall of Fame Phillies player and broadcaster Richie Ashburn when hearing about an amazing accomplishment or play by some player or players during the baseball season from his broadcasting colleague the late Harry Kalas. Though Whitey passed away many years ago I could still hear him use that famous comment if he would have learned that three Phillies minor league pitchers have started this season a combined 13-0 after the first five starts for each of them.
Though Clearwater’s Austin Wright came into the second inning of a game after Jose Contreras completed the first inning in a rehab assignment, for our purposes we count that appearance as a start for him since Wright was the scheduled starter. After Wednesday’s win for Clearwater, Wright went to 4-0. Reading’s Trevor Cloyd is 4-0 and Trevor May is 5-0 to start the 2012 season. Combined after five starts they have pitched 91 innings and struck out 98. Cloyd has the best earned run average of the three at 1.45 and May and Wright each have an ERA of 2.40.
Up early Wednesday morning and on the road just as the sun was rising on the Tampa Bay horizon, Baseball Betsy and I left across the Courtney Campbell Causeway to head east right into that rising sun toward Daytona Beach to watch Austin Wright and the Threshers take on the Daytona Cubs in Florida State League action. It was an interesting three hour trip passing a major car accident along I-4 that caused a five mile backup in the west bound lanes and then we all but stopped briefly in morning rush hour traffic on I-4 in the Orlando. Defying all odds or should I say “the odds were with us” as we made it in time for the 10:30 a.m. start of an Education Day morning game in historic Jackie Robinson Stadium on City Island along the Atlantic coast in Daytona Beach.
It turned out that it seemed about 2,000 elementary school age children and their chaperones also were at the game to go with about 111 of us adult fans in the announced crowd of 2,111. The screams and shrieks from the youngsters throughout the game, just happy to be out of the class room on a sun baked morning, did not seem to bother Austin Wright. He pitched his second consecutive game of seven innings. This time giving up only two earned runs on four hits to pick up the 6-4 win over the D-Cubs.
Maybe this goes to show how far we will travel to see good pitching. The accomplishments of Tyler Cloyd , Trevor May and Austin Wright to start the 2012 season after five starts may never be equaled again by any three pitchers in the same organization. I was fortunate enough to have watched Cloyd’s six inning perfect game emergency start for Lehigh Valley back on opening day and Trevor May’s win against the Harrisburg Senators early in the season both on MiLB-TV. In person we have seen the last four starts of Austin Wright.
To me, good starting pitching is the first step to winning championships and these guys have shown that in the not too distant future they have the potential to be pitching in important roles in getting the Phillies back into the World Series. That I don’t find hard to believe!