Pitching prospect Zach Lee is making life in Albuquerque look easy. In his second home start, Lee threw six shutout innings as the Isotopes held on for a 3-1 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas on Wednesday night.
Lee (2-0) scattered three hits and two walks while striking out three batters. The 22-year-old right-hander threw 53 of his 89 pitches for strikes. Perhaps most impressively, Lee did all of that despite not having good command of one of his most important pitches.
"Fastball command was definitely pretty much a non-factor throughout the entire game," Lee said. "It was really just one of those days where you've got to go out and battle, maybe almost pitch to contact a little more than normal. Try to get it over for strikes more, get ahead more and let your defense work for you."
With three good starts overall under his belt, Lee may be positioning himself for a future in-season call-up to the Dodgers. If Lee does get that call, manager Damon Berryhill said Lee will be ready.
"Well, I think injury-wise if they need Zach he's ready to go," Berryhill said. "He's still got some stuff to work on, some command stuff, things like that.
"But the thing about Zach is he's going to compete. He's a smart kid, he knows how to pitch. He's going to compete, he's going to give you strikes for the most part. He's only going to get better."
Lee never allowed more than one baserunner in any of his six innings. Kyle Blanks singled to lead off the fourth, went to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a groundout, but he was left stranded when Adam Moore flew out to center field.
Lee's best inning was the fifth. He retired the side in order on three groundball outs.
"The fifth inning was probably by far my best fastball command inning," Lee said. "The fourth inning was one of those innings where I kind of got lucky. I had some hard-hit balls hit right at guys. I had some guys barrel-up some balls but not drive balls. I was able to contain them."
Lee said he and pitching coach Glenn Dishman will get to work on reclaiming his fastball command. Lee will not, however, overdo it focusing on just one pitch and ignore the rest of his arsenal.
"We'll go to work here in two days on bullpen day," Lee said. "I'll probably throw a lot more fastballs. But I'll probably tone it down a little bit. I think one of the problems was I threw it too much after my last outing."
The rest of the Isotopes (7-6) did just enough to support Lee. Jamie Romak blasted a solo home run to right field in the first inning and Nick Buss later added an RBI single.
Albuquerque added its final run on Trayvon Robinson's sacrifice fly that scored Alex Guerrero in the seventh inning. Josh Judy then came on to pitch a scoreless seventh and eighth to help the 3-0 lead stand up.
Sam Demel gave up a leadoff home run to Blanks, a New Mexico native, in the ninth. The Albuquerque closer then retired the next three batters on a flyout, a lineout and a strikeout for his third save.
"Outstanding pitched game by our guys," Berryhill said. "It's rare in Albuquerque. Offensively we did just enough."
The Isotopes and Chihuahuas will continue their series Thursday at 6:35 p.m.