Cruzin'; Clearwater's De la Cruz Near Perfect

After missing the last two seasons because of injuries, Julio De La Cruz has been off of the Phillies' radar somewhat. A no-hitter Friday night has him clearly back on the screen though as a prospect.

If not for Sarasota's Paul Janish, Julio De la Cruz might have had a perfect game. De La Cruz walked Janish in the fourth inning and he reached on an error by third baseman Mike Costanzo in the seventh. Somewhat ironically, it was Janish who hit a soft liner to second baseman Tim Moss to end the game.

"I said 'Thank you God, thank you'," said De La Cruz in his reaction to the final out. De La Cruz faced just two hitters over the minimum and struck out five hitters in Clearwater's 5-0 win over Sarasota. It was the second no-hitter in the Phillies' system this week, following a combined no-hitter by Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Barb at Lakewood last Sunday. It was also just the second no-hitter in Clearwater history.

De La Cruz mixed his pitches well and his change-up was near perfect all night. De La Cruz admitted that he had been working on his change-up because it hadn't been very effective for him in his previous starts. He also attributed his success to location with his fastball. "I was moving my fastball in and out. I had very good control," said De La Cruz.

To complete the masterpiece, De La Cruz needed just 94 pitches. The 25 year old De La Cruz has been pitching well this month, with Friday's game giving him a 2-1 mark with a 2.63 ERA for the month. Opponents are hitting just .182 against him in the month of August. For the season, De La Cruz is 6-9, 4.11 in 25 games (23 starts).

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