Instant Analysis: Clinton/Kane County (6/22)

Lone Star Dugout was in attendance for Clinton's 4-0 victory over the Kane County Cougars on Friday night. Starting pitcher Zach Phillips and relievers Jeremiah Haar and Brennan Garr combined on the two-hit shutout. Lone Star Dugout has analysis, observations, and interviews from the game.

• Left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips turned in one of his best performances as a professional on Friday, as he yielded just one hit in six scoreless innings. The 20-year-old walked two and struck out eight.

The start was very similar to Phillips' outing on June 8, when he tossed seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball.

The Sacramento native worked off a two-seam fastball that sat between 89-91 miles per hour. But Phillips' strikeout pitch was his curveball. Ranging between 71-76 MPH, Phillips recorded six of his eight punchouts on his devastating curveball. He also flashed a changeup, which he has been throwing since joining the organization in 2005, in the later innings.

• Two relievers helped to finish out the shutout, including right-handed pitcher Jeremiah Haar. A product of Dallas area Keller High School, Haar allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out one.

Though some players enjoy the extra rest of the All-Star break, Haar says it can be difficult to get back into a groove.

"These three days off kind of get you a little bit," said Haar. "You have to get back in the routine of doing things. For my first time coming back since having three days off, I thought I did alright tonight."

An undrafted free agent, Haar has been outstanding in his first year in the Rangers organization. The 22-year-old is currently 1-0 with seven saves and a 1.77 ERA in 45 2/3 innings. Though Haar is currently working out of the bullpen, he has been a starting pitcher in the past. The righty says he has no preference when it comes to starting or relieving.

"I'm always open to being a starter," said Haar. "But I've adapted to being a bullpen guy. That's what they want me to do right now. Either way is fine, I just want to pitch."

As for what has made Haar successful this year, he credits improved command and consistency.

"The key for me has been working on good command, being consistent, and making the right pitches at the right times."

• Fireballing reliever Brennan Garr finished the two-hitter with a perfect ninth inning that included two strikeouts.

In just his first year of being a full-time pitcher, the Northern Colorado product has fanned 35 batters in 29 innings while limiting opposing hitters to a .183 batting average.

• Backstop Manuel Pina wasn't given a chance to showcase his arm on Friday, but he did have a solid night at the plate. The 20-year-old hit a hard single to shortstop in his first at-bat and later blistered a ball to left field that was eventually caught on the warning track. Pina is hitting .333 in 13 games this month.

• Though third baseman John Whittleman has hit just .250 in June, he showed signs of breaking out of his sump on Friday. The Kingwood native blasted a long home run to right-center field off Kane County reliever Inoel Deaza.

Whittleman says that even though the homer was his only hit of the evening, he felt he put together some good at-bats.

"I've squared up a lot of balls lately," said the third baseman. "I'd like to say I had three or four quality at bats tonight even though they weren't all hits. I've been struggling, but at the same time, our team has been winning."

Whittleman also believes that as he has gained a reputation around the league, teams have begun to pitch him more carefully.

"They've been pitching me harder than usual and I'm not getting the same pitch sequences as the other left-handed hitters in this lineup," said Whittleman. "I've had to make an adjustment and learn from my own mistakes."

The home run gave Whittleman 13 on the season, which is four more than he had in nearly twice as many games with the LumberKings last season. He believes Friday's shot was one of the longer ones he's hit at Alliant Energy Field.

"That's definitely one of the longer ones I've hit here," explained Whittleman. "Usually the wind is blowing in or across to left field. But with this storm coming through tonight, it looks like it is blowing out to right."

• Leadoff hitter Marcus Lemon continued to hit well since moving into the leadoff spot earlier this month. Lemon reached base three times in four plate appearances, as he was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.


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