HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- Lakewood BlueClaws jumped on Hagerstown lefthander Daniel Rosenbaum early, scoring three runs off four hits in the opening frame of the Lakewood 3-0 win over the Suns at Hagerstown Municipal Stadium Tuesday.
After that rough first inning, Rosenbaum settled in and retired 11 of the next 13 Lakewood hitters. He finished with 5 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts, inducing 8 groundouts and 3 flyouts.
That was more of what Hagerstown fans have seen to begin this season for the crafty lefthander from Loveland, Ohio. During the early part of May, Rosenbaum had a span of 20 scoreless innings spanning three consecutive starts and had dipped his ERA down to 1.53. He was so good he earned MiLB.com South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week honors for the period of May 10-16.
Daniel told me afterwards he felt like the BlueClaws anticipated his pitches well in that first inning.
"I think they were just hot to start. This is the third time I have faced them this year. I think they started to figure me out.
Because I like to get ahead with my fastball a lot so they jumped on me early. After that I was able to throw my off speed stuff. I was able to change speeds and got them out.
I had trouble locating my fastball a little bit. But I kept battling."
Rosenbaum told me pitching coach Chris Michalak has been concentrating on his change of pace pitches since March.
"We have been working on the changeup since spring training. Going out and concentrating and being able to throw my game.
Rosenbaum also showed off his fielding skills against Jiwan James in the bottom of the 2nd inning, picking up a dribbler down the third base line and then off his back foot firing a strike to first baseman Justin Bloxom for the out.
"I didn't know were that came from. I haven't played the field since really high school. My reaction time has slowed down a little bit. That play felt really good and it was a big out for me."
Despite the loss, the Suns have battled to second place in their division.
"This team is great. We have good team camaraderie. It is a lot different from the GCL because we are playing in a stadium and it is a different feel and it is great and I love it.
The whole organization has helped me a lot. Whether it is the right pitch selection or what to think on the mound, the coaches have really helped me to compete at a high level."
Rosenbaum recognizes if he can pitch well, the Nationals recognize great pitchers and move them up quickly.
"Absolutely, (Stephen) Strasburg and (Drew) Storen are already in the big leagues with the Strasburg start coming up. In the minor leagues we are doing very well. We are in second place. It seems the organization is going in the right direction.
When you are down here in the minors you are competing with your other teammates. You want everyone to do well but you are also competing for that next spot. That is a good motivation for you."