Mitchell Unfazed

Mitchell is hoping Tuesday's start gets him going

ROCHESTER, NY - It has been a good week for this Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees right-hander. Not only did his beloved Clemson University's biggest rival, the University of South Carolina lose in the College World Series, he pitched one of his best games of the season on Tuesday and now he's getting a second shot in the Bronx.

"Yea, that was huge. I needed that one," pitcher D.J. Mitchell said. "I was struggling a little bit and it feels good to go out there and finally you know get a goal that was accomplished that I was working towards and like I said I was struggling a little bit. But I feel pretty good now and I'm just trying to build off of that."

Mitchell kept the Gwinnett Braves off-balance through out the night. With his array of off-speed and breaking ball pitches, he fanned six Gwinnett batters through seven innings of work. He caught two batters looking and got four more to swing and miss.

"I think I was able to get ahead of the hitters, throw more strikes," he said. "I think in the past I was more in hitters' counts and they made me pay for it. [Tuesday], I was able to get ahead of them and put them in a defensive mode and avoid them."

The only blemish the 6-foot right-hander had that evening was allowing a 2-out run batted in single to Felix Pie during the top of the sixth inning. This cost Mitchell his first victory since June 5.

Mitchell had been mired in a rough stretch as of late. In his previous outing on June 21, he allowed six runs in only two innings against the Louisville Bats. The 10th round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft has given up at least five runs in five of his last eight starts. He very rarely fails to make it to the sixth inning in the majority of his starts.

After pitching a brilliant April that ultimately led him to don the pinstripes in early May, Mitchell's earned run average has skyrocketed each month. He boasted a respectable 3.13 ERA in the month of April but in the month of May it rose to 5.40 ERA and in the month of June it continued to climb to 7.16.

For the season, Mitchell is 5-4 with a 5.36 earned run average.

"I think I was just pitching bad. It happens but I'm glad [Tuesday] I kinda got back on track but haven't done anything yet and I got to keep building off of that."

The right-hander has been excelling in the field. Mitchell flashed the leather on two separate occasions during his last start. The first one occurred in the top of the fifth inning when he fielded a ground ball off the bat of Stefan Gartrell.

In the next inning, Mitchell cleanly corralled a sacrifice bunt and threw out the speedy Luis Durango at first. His .952 fielding percentage this season has been the best of his Yankee career.

"It's part of pitching. If you can get some outs yourself, why not, it makes it a little easier. That's definitely one thing I try to take pride in as well as competing and pitching."

Even though Mitchell has not had the success he would have liked since returning from the majors, he understands it takes one start to change his fortunes around and return to form. His start on Tuesday may have done that.

"Earlier in the year I was pitching well but there is really no excuses. You go to go out there and do your job," Mitchell concluded.

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