"The stats were backwards 180 degrees," Bobby Parnell said of his fourth start as a Binghamton Met. "It's just one of those things."
In five of those six innings against Akron at NYSEG Stadium on June 26, Parnell allowed the third batter of the inning to reach. From the second through the fourth, he retired the first two batters before giving up either a single or a walk.
"He was getting the two quick outs," said B-Mets pitching coach Ricky Bones. "And then he fell behind in counts and walked the third hitter."
The 22-year-old right-hander was called up on June 6 from St. Lucie, where he was 3-3 with a 3.25 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings—good enough for a Florida State League All-Star selection.
In his six starts with the B-Mets, Parnell has gone six innings three times, five innings three times and has yet to allow more than three runs.
He has the kind of stuff, a plus fastball, a plus slider and a developing changeup, that even when he's off—"I wasn't as crisp as I wanted to be"—he's on.
"I had good stuff and it just wasn't going where I wanted it to go," Parnell said. "I don't know if I was falling off a little bit or something I wasn't really sure; it's just one of them games where you know everything is not working right."
Parnell struck out none, so it may have been luck that Akron managed just four hits on 23 balls put in play (one error). It could have just been an off night for the bats. But, the Aeros, first-place in the Eastern League Southern Division, did win the game, 2-1. They score more runs and strike out the least of any Eastern League team. Seemingly, they just could not hit Parnell hard.
"(Parnell) has such good stuff that he can still win and make pitches when he needs to," Bones said. "He got himself out of jams in crucial situations. He's facing the best team in the league."
Parnell must have forgotten that he's in the Eastern League now.
"I didn't really know what to expect," he said of the transition to Double-A. "I've always heard that hitters are more patient up here, they'll hit your mistakes. When I came up here, I figured I pitch my way to get up here—I didn't come up for an injury or anything like that—so I've just stuck with my game plan."
Parnell's catcher from St. Lucie, Drew Butera, joined the B-Mets two weeks later. Since spring training, Parnell has worked with him and his pitching coaches on his changeup, which has improved significantly.
"The changeup's a feel pitch," Parnell said. "You have to make sure you get good arm extension and feel it. If you don't feel it that day, just throw it enough that you'll have it the next. Work with it, play with it—that's what I've been doing."
"It's night and day from when he started in spring training to now," Butera said of the changeup's progress. Against Akron, Butera felt that Parnell went into cruise mode after getting two quick outs, "and kind of forget we play three."