Mud Hens pitcher Charlie Furbush finished second among all minor league pitchers in strikeouts last season.
But that didn't keep him from doing some tinkering in the off-season.
The 25-year-old left-hander added a new breaking ball to his arsenal, and that new pitch helped him throw a one-hit shutout against Indianapolis in the first game of a twinbill at Fifth Third Field Thursday.
Furbush's fine effort led Toledo to a 6-0 victory in the first game; in the second contest, the visiting Indians rebounded for a 3-1 win.
Furbush said he worked on grips for a new breaking pitch and taught himself a hybrid pitch that combines the best parts of a curve and a cutter.
"It gives me another look," he said.
"I ran into some struggles here last year, and I figured it can't hurt to have another pitch."
Last year Furbush dominated in Hi-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie before reaching Toledo in late July.
He struggled with the Hens, though, posting a 3-4 record and 6.29 ERA in nine starts that he said helped him prepare for this season.
"I learned to not get too far ahead of myself or try to do too much," Furbush said. "When I got here, I tried to be better than I could be, and I ran into some trouble.
"Instead of doing the things that got me here, I tried to do more and gave up some runs."
Furbush had no problems Thursday, giving up only a leadoff single in the third to Jason Jaramillo while striking out nine.
Furbush threw 77 pitches, with 56 going for strikes (better than 72 percent).
He did not walk a batter -- in fact, he reached a three-ball count with only one hitter, Andrew Lambo in the second.
"I felt pretty good, and I was throwing all of my pitches for strikes," Furbush said. "When you do that, good things are bound to happen. "
The key is to throw strikes and get ahead so you can pitch to your strengths."
Meanwhile the Mud Hens gave Furbush all the offense he would need in a three-run first inning off Indians starter Brad Lincoln. Andy Dirks led off with a double down the left-field line, and Scott Sizemore was hit by a pitch.
Timo Perez sacrificed both runners up a base, and Scott Thorman beat out an infield grounder for a single that scored Dirks and sent Sizemore to third.
Ryan Strieby then capped the rally with a two-run double in the left-center gap.
"We came out with three runs in the first and we got a big hit from Strieby," Toledo manager Phil Nevin said.
"He hit that ball pretty good, and it was a good at-bat to drive in two [runs]."
The Hens added to their lead with a pair of runs in the third thanks to a two-out, two-run single to center by Clete Thomas.
Toledo scored its final run in the fourth when Danny Worth singled, moved to second on a one-out single by Max St-Pierre, then came home on a sacrifice fly by Dirks.
In the second game the Hens got a run in the first when Dirks led off with a triple and Perez lined an RBI single.
But after that the Hens were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners in seven innings.
"I know this team can hit," Nevin said.
"If our starting pitching continues to pitch the way it has, we'll be all right.
"I'm not worried about this club hitting. When we get some consistency with our hitting, we're going to score some runs."
The Indians used an RBI single by Dusty Brown off Toledo starter Chris Oxspring in the second to tie the game.
They scored the game-winning runs in the fifth off reliever Matt Hoffman thanks to a run-scoring hits by Corey Wimberly and Pedro Ciriaco.
NOTES: RHP Jose Ascanio, the Indians' second-game starter, was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Scott Sizemore. Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor said Ascanio was struck on the temple by the hit, but never lost consciousness. "He tried to talk me into keeping him in the game," Treanor said. Ascanio was taken to a local hospital for observation. ... RHP Enrique Gonzalez, who was sent down by Detroit on Tuesday, joined the Mud Hens Thursday. To make room for him on the roster, the Hens sent LHP Ramon Garcia to Double-A Erie. ... The two teams will finish their four-game series with a single game Friday, with first pitch set for 7 p.m.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.