"He competed. He worked fast and it seemed like he found his rhythm early but then whether it was conditions or what, he seemed to lose his feel for his release point and got into a little bit of trouble," explained Sal Rende, who was sitting in as IronPigs' manager in the absence of Dave Brundage.
Zambrano faced the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the top affiliate of the New York Yankees, who came into the game ranked last in the International League in hitting with a team average of .248 on the season.
While Zambrano used to work with his fastball in the high-90s, he neglected to even hit 90 on the ballpark radar gun all night. While he relied heavily on his fastball, the highest that Zambrano hit was 88, which he did a number of times throughout the night. Generally, Zambrano was around 86 or 87 with his fastball. On occasion, Zambrano mixed in some breaking pitches and change-ups, with a couple of his change-ups dipping down to the low 70s, but generally sitting in the mid-70 mile-per-hour range.
"You have to remember that I have more than 2,000 innings in my shoulder. The major leagues punish people and there is nothing I can do, but I was able to go out and compete and keep the team in the game," said Zambrano of his lower velocity.
According to catcher Cameron Rupp, the game plan was to pitch away from hitters and come inside just to keep them honest. The majority of Zambrano's pitches were down-and-away, especially to right-handed hitters and he really only came inside hard on a couple of hitters.
"We stayed away and then went inside for effect and we were able to get some groundballs," explained Rupp. "He threw real well; got himself into a couple of jams with walks, but he kept hitters off-balance for the most part and when he got back in the zone with his fastball, he was able to do some damage."
Zambrano faced 23 hitters and threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of them. Of the 64 strikes that Zambrano threw, eight of them were swung on and missed, 17 were called strikes, 14 were put into play and 25 were fouled off. Of the outs recorded, five were on the ground, four were in the air to outfielders, one was an infield pop and Zambrano added five strikeouts.
The bottom line is that Zambrano simply wasn't as good as in his previous outings. With the results from Thursday, it would be surprising if the Phillies would add Zambrano to the major league roster at this point. They have until July 1 to make a decision and it's likely that they'll take a good chunk of that time, even though Zambrano insists that he's ready to pitch at the major league level right now.
"I've been feeling like that since two outings ago, but like I've said, it's not my choice. It's not my decision," said Zambrano on whether or not he should be pitching in the majors.
Zambrano also added that he would like the Phillies to make a decision prior to the July 1st deadline, but did allow that he's likely going to have to show more against minor league hitters than what he showed against the RailRiders.
If Zambrano stays on schedule, his next start would be Tuesday. The IronPigs will be in Toledo Tuesday, opening an eight-game road trip. If the Phillies want to keep Zambrano in friendlier confines, they could have him pitch again at Double-A Reading in one of the games of their home double-header against Portland. Reading would also be home for Zambrano's next scheduled start. The last potential start for Zambrano could then come on June 28th with Lehigh Valley when they host Durham.
Carlos Zambrano's 2013 starts
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