Cashner's Dominance on Display

Whether it's in the bullpen or the starting rotation, Andrew Cashner has a bright future. The Cubs' top pitching prospect has proven apt in both roles and in his second start of the season for Class AA Tennessee Wednesday, the right-hander looked as strong as ever.

Cashner opened the game with six innings of no-hit ball, facing one batter over the minimum. He finished with 10 strikeouts for the second straight start and allowed two runs after serving up a single and a run-scoring triple to open the seventh.

He threw 90 pitches, 59 strikes and did not allow a walk.

"I felt like I was attacking the zone early with my fastball, just trying to get ahead of guys," Cashner said. "I wouldn't have been in the situation I was in had my defense not played as well as they did. (Shortstop Starlin) Castro made a really good play in the hole, and (second baseman Ryan) Flaherty made two really good plays for me.

"I was throwing my off-speed for strikes and felt I kept them off-balance really well," Cashner added. "The two hits I allowed in the seventh were both changeup's, so I got a little too fine instead of going after them with my fastball."

The 90 pitches Cashner threw were the most since his days at Angelina Junior College prior to transferring to TCU and being drafted with the Cubs' first-round pick in 2008.

In two starts this season, Cashner has struck out 20 and walked two. He has a 4.35 ERA and opponents are batting just .135 off him through 10 1/3 innings.

Cashner said the pitch he's gone to most with two strikes is his four-seam fastball.

"It's been kind of different because I struck a guy out (Wednesday) on a changeup," he said. "That's the first time in a long while I've done that. My first start, I threw a lot of fastballs and didn't throw many off-speed pitches. I tried to stay real aggressive with my fastball. That's what they really wanted me to do.

"I'd say the majority of my strikeouts have been with my fastball, probably more than half. I got quite a few with my breaking ball (Wednesday)."

Cashner has also helped his cause with the bat this season. He was 2-for-2 with two singles up the middle in his start Wednesday, a 15-2 Smokies drubbing of Chattanooga.

"I just went up there looking to hit through," Cashner said. "My second at-bat, I got a (first-pitch) fastball and I figured he was going to throw it down the middle. I just tried to get my timing down and put a good swing on it and luckily it went through. The third time, there was runners on and I just went up swinging at the first pitch."

Cashner said at the end of Spring Training that he'd like to make his big league debut some time in 2010. It's a long season and anything can happen, but his early season dominance isn't doing anything to deter that goal.

"I feel like they know what I can do. It's just a matter of me not walking guys and that was my biggest key (Wednesday)," Cashner said. "If I want to get to Chicago, I just have to cut down on my walks and I think that will come with the more I throw and the better feel I get for the zone."

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