Stephen Faris on one-hitter

The Fort Wayne Wizards and close calls with no-hitters have become commonplace. While the team ERA is the worst in the Midwest League, the pitching staff has notched eight shutouts and taken no-hitters late into games. It was Stephen Faris' turn on Tuesday.

Faris pitched to the minimum through his first six innings, walking the first batter in the third inning before getting a double play liner.

In the seventh, Faris issued a one out walk on four straight pitches before third baseman John Whittleman came to the plate. He hit a ball down the first base line that dropped in and was thrown out trying to extend it into a double.

The problem – many of the Fort Wayne players and coaches said it was foul.

"What is sad is I talked to the guys and they said it was three feet foul," said Faris. "I swear. The coaches and everyone came out and everyone was about to get thrown out. The only hit of the game right there – a foul ball down the first base line."

It was the first complete game of his professional career and took just 92 pitches to accomplish the deed.

Faris (5-5) became the third Wizard pitcher to throw a complete game one-hitter in team history, joining Keith Linebarger (who defeated Clinton 2-0 on May 22, 1993, in a game shortened to five innings due to rain) and Tom Mott (who defeated Wisconsin 2-1 on May 24, 1995).

You threw 92 pitches, got a ton of ground balls – it had to still feel pretty good to get everything working again.

Stephen Faris: I can't complain. It is kind of a bittersweet feeling that it could have been a no-hitter.

Either way, my outings have been up and down lately so I was glad to get back on track. Get things going on the good side and just stay there. I would love to keep throwing no-hitters – that would be nice – but just getting guys out, getting ahead, and throwing all my pitches for strikes. It is a good feeling to have.

Was there one pitch in particular that you had success with on this night?

Stephen Faris: I think I threw my changeup a little bit more today and not just to strike guys out. I threw it to lefties and was just really putting it in there for strikes. First pitch 0-0 (count) – they have a few lefties in their lineup that can hurt you, and I was just trying to keep them off-balance. I threw the changeup for strikes and kept them guessing. Then I would come hard and throw the fastball or come back with a changeup. It looked like they were getting frustrated and I kept them off-balance.

Other than that, I had the breaking ball going. At times, I was just locating my fastball all day and the few guys I got behind – the three or four guys I got behind, the next pitch was a ground ball out.

It was a good outing, and I was just happy to get back on track.

This was the first time this season you made it past the sixth…

Stephen Faris: I could not get out of the sixth inning! Every time it was, ‘You are done.' I wanted to at least get into the seventh and finally tonight I blew that open.

Your previous two outings saw some struggles. Was there anything that you can point to that you changed between then and now, especially since I believe you had eight days off between starts?

Stephen Faris: I took the time to go back to the basics. I put those two games – two games ago I gave up two bad pitches and gave up two home runs and the rest of the game was good. Two bad pitches and five runs. That stunk that two pitches ruined the whole game. And last game was a little bit of everything went wrong. I think I just went back to the basics and tried to put the outings behind me and keep working hard.

If you think about the last outing you have a tendency to want to do too much and it comes back to haunt you. Calm down, get ahead of the guys, and get back to what I do best, which is not striking out guys but getting guys to roll over and hit ground balls so I can get to them later in the game.

Is it difficult for you to pitch with such a big lead? You were up by five runs after two innings and the tendency is to see some runs come back on the board with such a big league since pitchers know they just have to throw strikes and the opposition gets some runs because of that.

Stephen Faris: I think it is more about the coaching. From college into here I think it is knowing that if we have a five-run or 10-run lead I still know I have to bear down and make it like it is a close game. I try not to get too lackadaisical and just lay balls in there. I have to do my job as if it was a close game.

I kept going tonight and took the same approach as if it was 1-0.

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