"It was a little different here with there's more fans getting a little adrenaline going," Daniel McCutchen said of the 3,596 in attendance at NYSEG Stadium. "Which is hard to do in the Florida State League."
(If he thinks Binghamton, which drew the third fewest fans in the Eastern League last season at an average of 3,214, is intense, wait until he gets to Trenton—the Thunder drew a second-best 5,986 in 2006.)
The second and most important difference was effective command of all three of his pitches —a fastball, curveball and changeup— something he had sought all year, despite pitching well enough to earn an 11-2 record and a 2.50 ERA for the Tampa Yankees.
He shutout the B-Mets for five innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven.
It appeared as though he was headed for trouble in the fifth: Caleb Stewart reached on shortstop Reegie Corona's poor throw to start the inning. Jamar Hill followed with a line drive single to right, and the B-Mets, trailing 2-0, were in business.
J.E. Cruz hit a sacrifice bunt that McCutchen fielded toward the third base side. He spun and looked at third before throwing to first base, putting two in scoring position with one out for the top of the B-Mets' lineup.
McCutchen used his curveball to escape unscathed. He struck out left-hander Miguel Negron on an inside curve, and right-hander Mark Kiger - who has been the B-Mets' most clutch hitter - on an outside curve. Kiger tossed his bat in frustration.
"He had his curve tonight [Wednesday]," said Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras. "He had everything going tonight."
McCutchen did not earn the win to show for it as the B-Mets scored five runs in the sixth to win 5-2.
A 24-year-old right-hander drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2006 draft out of the University of Oklahoma, McCutchen was suspended 50 games in August of last season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Even with that trouble behind him, he could not seem to find his curveball for the first time in his career this season.
"It was a lot better tonight, I just felt it," McCutchen said. "I threw it a lot tonight, which I haven't been doing. That time struggling with my curveball has really helped me develop my changeup."
As McCutchen's changeup improved, his numbers followed. But McCutchen praised his teammates in Tampa for his success.
"The offense showed up every time. I didn't strike out many guys out up there, and had an obscene amount of double play balls. A lot of things went my way there, the defense always played well behind me."
Still, McCutchen's promotion was a testament to his own performance.
"It was time for him to move," Contreras said.
Despite giving up just four hits in his debut, McCutchen was not entirely pleased.
"I was a little wilder than I'd like to be," he said. "I'm just trying to stay within myself and not overthrow. A few times I overthrew. [Going forward it's about] keeping the ball down and letting the defense work."
Joba Chamberlain, sent to Trenton for one game, was more impressed with McCutchen's strong outing than his own [one inning, two overpowering strikeouts and a broken bat groundout].
"To see Daniel come up here and throw well was awesome," Chamberlain said. "I was with him in the beginning of the year. He did a tremendous job, it's awesome to see a friend succeed."
With his curveball back and his changeup now better developed, McCutchen and both said the only thing to do going forward is to keep doing more of the same.
"He's just got to continue to pitch and gain experience, that's all," Contreras added.
It's All Coming Together For McCutchen
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