Durham pitcher Michael Roth won his second consecutive start Wednesday night, leading the Bulls to a 4-1 win over the Charlotte Knights.
It had been a rough welcoming to town for the former South Carolina Gamecock, who joined the Tampa Bay Rays system on July 8 after opting out of his minor-league deal with the San Francisco Giants organization. Roth had to make adjustments before finally settling in and finding his groove with the Bulls.
Wednesday was Roth’s fifth start for the Bulls, and things got off to a rocky start with his new club. One day after he was added to the roster Roth, 27, gave up six hits and four runs to Toledo in a 5-1 loss. He dropped to 0-2 when Indianapolis tuned him up for eight hits and four runs nine days later. Roth quickly found himself at 0-3 on the season before he finally had a successful start on the road against Buffalo. In six innings of work, Roth, a lefty who led South Carolina to consecutive College World Series championships, pitched six innings, only surrendering three hits, no runs, while striking out three in his first win.
At home against Charlotte, perhaps for the first time this season, Roth felt and looked comfortable on the mound. Durham manager Jared Sandberg said the experience helps, having a number of games under his belt. It also helps that Roth has now had a chance to settle in and just focus on baseball, instead of all the things that go along with being assigned to a new team midseason.
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“I think he came here to new surroundings, new setting and he was trying to do too much,” Sandberg said.” With this experience he was able to find himself and dig deep and know what he is all about. He made some small adjustments to his delivery and his stuff, but the experience has paid off.”
Against the Knights, Roth didn’t surrender his first hit until the fourth inning. Considering Charlotte has a fairly even lineup of right and left handed batters, Roth was able to use a good mix of his pitches, Sandberg said.
That made for some quick innings, and Roth was able to stay fresh, having only thrown 79 pitches in six innings of work. When Roth was done he only had given up two hits and no runs, while striking out four, earning his first home win in the process.
One difference, Roth said, was simply focusing on executing every single pitch. He said he wasn’t “locked in” versus the Knights, but rather focused on making good pitches. Another thing that helped was a sit down with Bulls’ pitching coach Kyle Snyder.
After his first two starts Roth got together with Snyder to establish a rhythm. The thing is, with Roth being new to the club, Snyder was initially hesitant to make many suggestions of adjustments, mainly because he wasn’t that familiar with Roth.
“I typically don’t like to jump to conclusions after watching a guy pitch for the first few games,” Snyder said. “I was just taking stock of what my eyes were telling me a little bit.”
But Roth wanted an extra set of eyes on what he was doing, so he and Snyder sat down and watched film from the past couple of seasons. The two talked and were able to bounce some ideas off of each other. Snyder talked with Roth about going back to the windup to create some rhythm in his delivery and it’s worked out pretty well.
“As far as pitching goes, this game is a lot about how you feel,” Roth said. “I was just feeling terrible out there, no other way to put it. I didn’t feel like the ball was coming out right. My pitches were telling me that, too, just by the swings I was getting.”
By watching the film, Roth wanted to return to being fluid and more athletic on the mound. After a few sessions of throwing in the bullpen, things are back to normal.
“It finally feels better,” Roth said. “It feels back to the way that I am capable of throwing, which is nice.”