PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Mark Melancon would like nothing more than to get back to the Red Sox to prove that hes not the pitcher who left last week after being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket with just four outings under his belt and an ERA of 49.50.
His three outings with the PawSox are helping to prove that. Spanning 3 13 innings he has yet to allow a run or a walk, giving up three hits with six strikeouts. He has held opponents to a .231 average with a 4.00 groundball-to-flyout ratio.
Tuesday against the ScrantonWilkes-Barre Yankees, Melancon entered in the ninth with the PawSox leading 4-3. He faced four batters, allowing a double, with three strikeouts, earning a save.
That was good stuff, said PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler. He has a good arm, good stuff. he worked on his breaking ball and changeup a little bit more tonight, which is one of the goals here to try to utilize the off-speed stuff a little bit more because its good stuff, and get ahead in the count so we can utilize it.
It was an outing, like Melancons first two with Pawtucket, that he can build from.
It was good, Melancon said. I felt good. Still working on stuff but what I was working on was effective tonight. So its positive.
Ive been working on my changeup. Ive been working on location, first of all. But being more aggressive, throwing in, climbing the ladder with two strikes. Just a lot, I guess.
What Melancon went through with the Sox -- especially his last outing on April 17 when he faced six Rangers batters in the eighth, giving up six runs and three home runs without recording an out is not easy for any pitcher, especially for a pitcher in his first season with a new team.
An experience like that can stay in a pitchers head.
To me, it doesnt look like it, said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur said. If it is, its not showing. He just wants to get back.
Melancon also wants to use that as a learning experience.
I havent lost perception of who I am and what I can do, he said. Obviously my outings up there werent good but that doesnt mean Im a bad pitcher and dont know how to get outs. So, unfortunately, had a rough go for the first couple of outings. But its a long season.
You cant really bring it back and do it over. So obviously Im learning from it and hopefully we can look back and go, Wow, thats great. Im glad I went through that because it made me that much stronger and Im that much better now. But its unfortunate that I went that far but baseballs tough. I respect the game. Big league hitters are good.
Location has been the key for him with the PawSox.
Were going to work on pitching inside a little more. His stuff is good. We got to keep it down, Sauveur said. Throw the cutter more and mix in the changeup. Just another thought to put in the hitters minds. But we want to pitch in a little more.
And hes been awesome. The stuff hes been through, its not easy. But hes been outstanding. He came down here. He didnt shy away. He said, Can you get me in the game? Hes been awesome. Back-to-back games and one was a tough situation too, bases loaded, 6-3, he gave up a base hit but he got the next guy.
Melancon is pleased with the strikeouts and groundball outs, which can be keys to his success.
I noticed that while I was up there, I just wasnt getting any groundballs, he said. I dont know if I ever went through a stretch with the lack of groundballs that I had up there. I have a couple different opinions on why. But at the end of the day its location.
Even if I didnt strike three guys out in an inning, Im looking for groundballs. And no more home runs.