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House, Scorpions flirt with no-no in shutout

Indians prospect hurls five hitless innings, bid extends to eighth in 1-0 win

Special to
There's never been a no-hitter in the history of the Arizona Fall League, but T.J. House put together an effort that got pretty close Friday.

House, a left-hander in the Indians system, struck out four batters and walked three over five hitless innings before the Scottsdale Scorpions blanked the Salt River Rafters, 1-0.

House handed the gem to reliever Kevin Johnson (Angels), who fanned three in two perfect innings. But the bid ended in the eighth as Giants southpaw Dan Runzler was touched for a leadoff single by Blue Jays prospect Ryan Goins.

Holding a no-hitter together for that long is no easy feat in the notoriously hitter-heavy AFL. House said it was personally satisfying to handle the bulk of his team's second shutout of the young season.

"It's awesome," he said. "It was definitely good, the guys behind me played great defense. All-around, a good victory. My fastball command [was key] and then I pretty much used my slider late in the count, kept hitters off-balance.

"[Pitching in the AFL] for me is something that helps me elevate my game, my mental and physical approach every time I'm on that rubber. You face three-, four-, five-hole guys, big guys [every at-bat]. It gives you a chance to elevate your game play and go after those kinds of guys."

The 2008 16th-round Draft pick bounced back this season after a tough 2011, when he was 6-12 with a 5.19 ERA over 130 innings with Class A Advanced Kinston.

House began this year back in the Carolina League, where he put up a 1.44 ERA over 25 innings before a promotion to Double-A Akron. He was 8-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 124 1/3 frames and helped the Aeros win the Eastern League championship.

The 23-year-old finished the season with a 3.56 ERA in 149 1/3 innings, striking out 116 while walking 50.

"One major thing that I took [into this year] was coming in at the top shape I could possibly be in. That helped greatly, to go six, seven [innings], as long as I could," he said. "Another thing I took in was my mental approach, my confidence. Behind every pitch, I wanted meaning and intent. And that helped, too.

"I'm greatly satisfied [with the year]. With baseball, you can't go out there and put up bad years back-to-back. It helped me re-establish myself in the organization, show I do belong here and I'm able to pitch at this level and go about my business in the right manner."

Giants prospects Gary Brown and Joe Panik hit back-to-back triples in the eighth to account for the game's only run. Brown also doubled in four trips to the plate, while Panik went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Runzler (1-0) worked around two hits in one inning, striking out two to get the win. Heath Hembree, another Giants prospect fanned three in the ninth en route to his first Fall League save.

Blue Jays right-hander Ryan Tepera started for the Rafters and was nearly as good as House, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out three over four scoreless innings.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to

Cleveland Indians, Gary Brown, Ryan Goins, Heath Hembree, T.J. House, Kevin Johnson, Joe Panik, Dan Runzler, Ryan Tepera