07/02/09 12:58 AM ET
Tatusko flirts with Cal League no-hitter
Rangers prospect allows one-out single in ninth inning
By John Torenli / Special to MLB.com
The 24-year-old right-hander had to settle for a one-hitter and his first career complete game as the Blaze blanked the Modesto Nuts, 2-0, at John Thurman Field.
Not bad for a former 18th-round pick who began the year in the bullpen.
"I was always primarily a starter in college," said Tatusko, who starred at Indiana State before being selected by Texas with the 506th overall pick in 2007.
"I'm more accustomed to the routine. Whatever the Rangers see me doing in the future, I'm up for it. I'm just happy to show them I'm ready for whatever role they have for me."
Tatusko (2-2), who went 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in three starts leading up to his best outing as a professional, struggled to command his stuff early before a chat with pitching coach David Chavarria.
"He told me that I was trying to overthrow everything," Tatusko said. "He just told me to relax and let my mechanics do the work, and I coasted through the middle innings."
After issuing a one-out walk to Jay Cox Jr. in the fourth, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound hurler set down 13 batters in a row before walking Willin Rosario with two outs in the eighth.
Michael Mitchell grounded into a forceout to end the inning as Tatusko moved within three outs of recording the Blaze's first no-hitter since Kym Ashworth achieved the feat against San Jose on July 4, 1994.
Tatusko fanned Charles Blackmon to start the ninth, but Hector Gomez reached him for a sharp single into center field to break up the no-hit bid.
"I made a great pitch, but he did his job better than me that one time," said Tatusko, who threw a season-high 117 pitches. "I was mainly focused on the shutout. If that's all I was going to give up, I'll take a one-hitter anytime."
Cox grounded into a forceout on Tatusko's 113th offering, bringing Blaze manager and former Major League third baseman Steve Buechele out for a visit.
"The first thing he did was look at me and I said, 'Don't do this to me,'" Tatusko revealed. "He told me that if one more guy got on base, I'd be done."
The Merrillville, Ind., native made sure that wouldn't be necessary, striking out Matt Repec to wrap up his gem.
"This by far eclipses the best outing I've had as a professional," said Tatusko, who struck out seven and walked three while lowering his ERA to 3.06. "I hope this shows the Rangers that no matter what role they put me in, I can succeed. Hopefully, it opens some eyes."
John Torenli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.