GET TO KNOW: MATT BLACKHAM
Through 7.0 innings of work on the mound and seven strikeouts, Matt Blackham’s debut shutout on June 22nd carried a meaning that would far surpass the numbers and statistics of his performance. With Cyclones’ 14-0 victory against Tri-City ValleyCats, the right-hander’s first career win also marked the fulfillment of a Father’s Day promise.
“It was very important for me because I promised my step dad that I would get a win for him so I did that for him for Father’s Day,” Blackham said. Upon hearing the news of his son’s accomplishment, Blackham’s step dad was wholly moved.
“He actually said that I brought tears to his eyes.”
Despite such a remarkable hit-the-ground-running start to the season, Blackham is modest to take credit for the explosive victory.
“Obviously individually that was a great accomplishment but I mean I couldn’t have done it without my defense.”
The impact of such a successful professional debut will be invaluable to Blackham’s mindset as the season progresses.
“[Moving forward] I’ll be very confident on mound knowing that I have such a good defense behind me and having good catchers behind the plate to help me call a good game. I will never be in doubt of the pitches they call to me so that will definitely help me throughout the season,” Blackham said.
This summer marks Blackham’s first season as a starter after being strictly out of the stretch for nearly two years of junior college. While preparing to go back into the wind up throughout the offseason and getting used to throwing more than 20 pitches per game, Blackham was able to hone his skills and make corrections before they become threatening.
“I think the biggest thing was learning how to make adjustments on the mound quick instead of going out there and ball four, ball four, ball four,” Blackham said. “Now, a pitch or two later I can make quick adjustments and that’s probably been the biggest factor that has helped me.”
In terms of preference between starting and relieving, Blackham’s choice was an easy one. “Starting—after last night, starting.”
While the Murfeesboro, Tennessee native is far from home, he is eager to take advantage of the opportunities he will be presented with during his time in Brooklyn. Aware that he is one of the few players who is able to actively pursue his pro ball dreams, Blackham is unwaveringly grateful every time he puts on his Cyclones uniform.
“It’s different from the west, that’s for sure but I love playing ball here so far,” Blackham said. “[I’m thankful] Just being able to play the game I love, still having a chance to be here. You know, I see a lot of my friends and they don’t get to play anymore and, you know, everyday they sit and they wish that they could be in the position that I’m in so I’m grateful that I was fortunate enough to get a chance to play with the Mets.”