Byline: Bill Doyle
BROCKTON - The Tornadoes wouldn't mind if a little bit of Junior Guerrero rubbed off on the rest of their pitching staff.
It seemed to happen last night.
Guerrero tossed a seven-hitter as the Tornadoes beat Brockton, 4-1, in the opener of a twi-night doubleheader at Campanelli Stadium.
Then D.J. Mattox scattered three hits and a walk to earn his first win in three decisions as Worcester completed the sweep with a 6-0 victory.
"Junior did a great job in the first game and all I wanted to do was come out and do the same thing," Mattox said. "I fed off of him."
The 6-foot-3 right-handed Guerrero earned his first decision while lowering his earned run average to 1.59. Entering last night's second game, the rest of the Tornadoes staff owned an earned run average of 6.08, but Mattox lowered it half a run to 5.57.
A low earned run average is nothing new for Guerrero. Last season, he led the Can-Am League with a 1.89 ERA. Mattox, on the other hand, entered the night with a 5.63 ERA and had a 7.50 ERA last season in three starts against Brockton. But Mattox is a different pitcher this year, finally healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in 2004 and 2005. Mattox hadn't pitched a shutout since he was with the Class AA Binghamton Mets in 2003.
"I was rushing a lot of things last year," Mattox said, "trying to make myself come back quicker than what I should have. I was expecting too much of myself. I feel like I'm a different person this year. I'm throwing more strikes."
The Tornadoes needed a couple of well-pitched games after dropping three out of four at home to Quebec and they got them. Guerrero and Mattox gave Brockton fans so little to cheer about, less than 100 of them remained in the stands late in the second game.
Guerrero walked four and fanned four. He has allowed one run in each of his three starts, going five innings in each of his first two and the full seven innings last night.
"He's become very mature," Tornadoes manager Rich Gedman said. "He understands how to pitch, he knows how to compete and he doesn't try to give us something he doesn't have. He's starting to trust what he has for pitches."
Guerrero mixed his slider and changeup well with his fastball.
"The mound had a big hole in it and he had to adjust," Worcester catcher Patrick Perry said. "Those kinds of things, he doesn't let them bother him. He'll adjust, he'll grind through those things and when things get tough. That's...