Top photo: Burlington Bees pitchers Dylan King (left) and Kyle Tyler combined on a two-hitter in Thursday’s 5-0 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
By John Bohnenkamp
Kyle Tyler has done just about everything for the Burlington Bees this season, so pitching the final six innings of Thursday’s 5-0 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps was just another night for the right-hander.
Tyler and starter Dylan King combined on a two-hitter as the Bees (48-42 overall, 9-11 second half) extended their winning streak to five games, the best current streak in the Class A Midwest League.
Tyler has started 12 of the 16 games he has pitched this season, but he also has two saves, which means he is accustomed to all kinds of situations.
“I was a starter and a reliever in college,” said Tyler, a 20th-round pick out of Oklahoma by the Los Angeles Angels in last year’s Major League Baseball draft. “So this is all fairly routine for me.”
Tyler was the winning pitcher, moving to 5-0. He has allowed just one earned run in his last four outings, a span of 23 innings.
“He’s been good,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “Really good.
“The big thing is his slider. He locates his fastball well. But he’s got to command that slider, to keep them honest on his fastball. Tonight he threw some 1-0 sliders to get even in the count. Once you establish that you can throw it any time, you can mix around the fastball, and it looks like 100 miles per hour. He throws strikes, he goes right at guys, pounds the zone. He’s got good stuff.”
“I’ve just trying to get ahead of everybody, trying to keep them off my fastball as much as I could,” Tyler said. “The slider has been pretty much my go-to pitch, just trying to get ahead with the fastball before I come back with it. Over the last few weeks, last few outings, I’ve been able to develop my changeup, use it more.”
King, selected two rounds before Tyler last year, missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. This was his first starting assignment with the Bees after two relief appearances.
King threw 46 pitches, 28 for strikes, allowing just one hit while striking out three. He has allowed just three hits in 10 innings while striking out 12, and his earned run average with the Bees fell to 0.90.
“We were wanting him to go 50 pitches, or three innings, and he was right at that,” Howell said. “It was good to see him, we haven’t seen a lot of him. He threw good, clean three innings.”
Tyler took over in the fourth, and continued the domination. He allowed just a seventh-inning single to Fort Wayne’s Michael Curry. Tyler then retired the next seven hitters to end the game.
Tyler walked three and struck out four, and lowered his ERA for the season to 3.14.
Kevin Maitan watches his solo home run in the first inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
The Bees got all of their runs in the first three innings off Fort Wayne starter Sam Keating (3-6).
Kevin Maitan hit a solo home run in the first inning. Alvaro Rubalcaba, who was 3-for-3 in the game, singled in a run in the second inning. Francisco Del Valle hit a two-run home run in the third, then Rubalcaba added an RBI single later in the inning to close the scoring.
Del Valle extended his hitting streak to five games. He is hitting .529 in the streak, with eight runs batted in.
“I thought Maitan’s home run really got us going,” Howell said. “And Del Valle has really been hot lately.”
So have the Bees.
“We’ve been getting good pitching, timely hits, and we’ve played great defense,” Howell said. “It’s been the same story every night.”
ON DECK: The two teams close the three-game series with Friday’s 6:30 p.m. game. Burlington’s Hector Yan (3-2, 3.38) will face Fort Wayne’s Omar Cruz (0-0, 5.19).
NOTES: Burlington’s Justin Jones had his nine-game home hitting streak snapped. Jones reached base twice, once on a hit by pitch and once by walk, and scored twice. … Keating hit four Bees with pitches. Five players were hit by pitches in this game, after four on Wednesday night.