BUFFALO, N.Y. - It's been 12 months and one elbow operation since Charles Nagy has pitched in the big leagues. But yesterday the rehabbing Cleveland Indians righthander gave a big league performance in hurling the Buffalo Bisons to a 3-0 win over the Toledo Mud Hens.
Nagy, who had surgery last May to remove bone chips from his right elbow, was nothing short of sensational in his third outing with the Bisons. Throwing 82/3 scoreless innings, the 34-year-old veteran of 11 major league campaigns whiffed nine Mud Hen hitters while walking only one.
He grew stronger as the game wore on, and at one point, set down 11 men in a row, and 19 out of 20.
It was something to excite any Tribe fan.
Nagy, who expects to take a few more turns with Buffalo before rejoining the Indians was certainly encouraged.
“It felt good,” said Nagy. “I was able to spot my fastball a lot better. I had a lot to work on, and still do. But I just want to continue to improve, work on my mechanics.”
There was little to improve upon, given the way he kept the Hens off-balance. He threw 111 pitches, 75 for strikes, and even though he never topped the 90 mph mark with his fastball, he didn't need to. His pitch selection and location was that fine.
“We didn't have a lot of opportunity to score,” said Toledo skipper Bruce Fields, whose team still managed to split the four-game set with the league-leading Bisons. “But Nagy just pitched a good game against us. He mixed his pitches well, he changed speeds, he did a nice job.”
More importantly for Nagy, the elbow is remaining relatively pain-free.
“Every time you pitch you're going to be a little sore the next day,” he said with his elbow sporting a huge ice-pack. “But I feel good. You work that out and do what you have to do to get ready for the next start.
“I'm not going to rate my performances. That's not my job. I'm just going to go out and pitch, and whatever they decide is fine with me. It's still a long year, and I've got a long ways to go. I'll be down here until the end of the month, and after that, we'll reevaluate and go from there.”
Lost in the shuffle was a solid outing by Toledo starter Shane Loux (3-2), whose numbers were a little deceptive. Loux allowed three runs on nine hits in his 62/3 innings. But he minimized any damage by walking just one.
He held the Bisons scoreless through the first four frames, with the help of left fielder Kurt Bierek whose strong throws nailed two Bison baserunners and short-circuited a pair of Buffalo uprisings.
The scoreless duel was finally snapped with two out in the fifth when Trace Coquillette, fresh from IL player of the week honors, took Loux's 2-2 fastball offering over the wall in left center. Scoring ahead of him was Jason Hardtke, who had singled.
In the ninth, Toledo made rally noises by loading the bases with two away, before Nagy was relieved by Roy Smith, who got Chris Wakeland on a weak groundout to end the game.