Chris Beck had things on cruise control on Thursday against the Louisville Bats, until he didn’t.
A late night phone call from the White Sox led to an early morning flight from Class AA Birmingham to Charlotte for Beck, who made his first career start with the Knights in the place of Eric Surkamp, whose assistance was required in Chicago.
Riding high on the adrenaline of the morning, Beck, 23, retired 11 of the first 13 batters he faced, including a stretch of nine in a row, while working between 92 and 96 miles per hour.
Beck caught Donald Lutz looking at an inside fastball for strike three with a runner on and hopped off the mound, rolling the ball on the grass, as he headed for the dugout with another clean inning in tow.
But there was a problem.
“As soon as I (rolled it), I was like man, ‘That’s a bonehead move.’” said Beck, who had just recorded second out of the inning. “It showed that I lost a little focus and you can’t do that.”
The BB&T BallPark scoreboard had been malfunctioning all game and was completely blank at the time of the mix up.
Beck was never the same and the Bats took advantage, knocking the White Sox No. 9 ranked prospect around and handing the Knights a 6-4 loss in front of 10,231 at BB&T BallPark.
The next batter Beck faced, sent a run-scoring single to right and then the first pitch he threw to Rey Navarro landed in the bleachers, giving the Bats a 3-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
“As a starting pitcher you should know how many outs there are, whether the board’s out or not,” Beck said. “That was a lapse in focus for me and that usually doesn’t happen. I tried to laugh it off, but you know the end result."
The 41-pitch inning did a number on Beck, who issued three walks sandwiched around a strikeout and a fly out in the fifth before heading to the showers.
A two-run single allowed by the Knights pen inflated Beck’s final line to 4.2 innings pitched, five hits, five runs, four walks and four strikeouts.
Opposite Beck was one-time New York Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang, who pitched like in was 2007 again, holding Charlotte to three hits and no earned runs in 7 and 2/3 innings of work.
With Wang out of the game, the Knights rallied for four runs thanks to two Bats errors and a two-run home run from Matt Tuiasosopo, but the five-run lead Louisville had built was too much.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Charlotte (30-51), which will host the Bats (41-40) again on Friday for the final game of their four-game set.
“It’s good to get the feet wet,” said Beck who was reassigned to Birmingham following the start. “It was a good experience. I learned some things out there that I’m going to take back with me. It was almost like a blink, but hopefully, I’ll be back soon.”