Aberdeen pitcher Ryan Childs's first game this year illustrates the kinds of highs and lows the former Damascus pitcher is experiencing as a pro.
After pitching in a rookie league last season, the right-hander made a spot start at Class AAA Ottawa this April. But the high of getting the call to pitch at that level was dulled because he was chased from the mound early in the game.
"It felt great to get that opportunity, that they felt comfortable letting me pitch up there," said Childs, who was in extended spring training when he got the one-game promotion. "I did pretty well the first two innings, but they got to me in the third inning. I learned a pretty good lesson."
The former All-Met has dealt with similar ups and downs pitching the rest of the summer at Class A Delmarva and Aberdeen. He did well in relief for the Shorebirds, but then he surrendered six hits and six runs in 11/3 innings in his last appearance for them.
He was then transferred to Aberdeen, where he started several times in front of his nearby friends and family. After a couple of rough outings, Childs was sent to the bullpen, where he has found his niche. In his last 13 appearances, he has a 1.59 ERA.
Childs, a 33rd-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2002, grew used to being a reliever in college. He pitched out of the bullpen a great deal in his three years at Clemson, which reached the College World Series twice during his career.
Childs attributes some of his success to a recent change in his approach. In his last 281/3 innings he has walked just six batters; in the 311/3 innings before that at Delmarva and Aberdeen, he surrendered 17 walks. The result has been more consistency and fewer ups and downs for the 23-year-old.
"The way I pitch, I can't afford to walk a lot of people, and that got me in trouble earlier in the year," Childs said. "I'm learning to let the defense play behind me."