For the first time in his professional career Wednesday, D-backs' first-rounder Archie Bradley put up zeros in consecutive starts.
But considering the way his Visalia teammates have been pitching lately, it might not have been that big a surprise.
MLB.com's No. 24 prospect struck out 10 batters over six three-hit innings in the Class A Advanced Visalia Rawhide's 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Blaze. It was one strikeout short of his career high.
"I felt like maybe for the first time in my professional career like I was very consistent in the things I did," said Bradley, who stuck primarily with his fastball-curveball combination. "I got ahead and threw first-pitch strikes, and when you're ahead, you can do a lot of different things."
Before the game, Bradley dedicated the outing to the memory of teammate Seth Simmons' grandfather.
"It makes guys realize that life is always bigger than the game of baseball," Bradley said. "When you have a teammate like him who you've grown close to, you see his pain and suffering. Before the game I told him I was going to go out there and pitch for his grandfather.
"With what he and his family is going through, it was a special moment for me. I wanted to be there for him because he's like my own family. He's a big part of our bullpen and he wore it on his sleeve and you could see he was down."
Selected by Arizona seventh overall in the 2011 Draft out of Broken Arrow Senior High School in Oklahoma, Bradley last fanned 11 on July 29 for Class A South Bend in an 11-10 loss to Lansing.
The six innings tied a career high, achieved six times in South Bend last year and most recently on Aug. 30 in a 9-3 win over Lansing. It also represented the third time in his career that he pitched six scoreless innings.
"Any time I got a guy with two strikes, 0-2, 1-2, I wanted to end that at-bat," Bradley said. "I'd throw a fastball or drop a curveball in there to keep them guessing and off balance.
"A couple times when I went 3-1 or 3-2 where I would have struggled in the past, that part of me is gone. Mentally, physically, I'm over that."
The 6-foot-4 hurler struck out two batters in every inning except the fifth. That inning was also the only time a Blaze hitter reached second base against Bradley, who threw Sammy Diaz's ground ball back to the mound away.
Bradley was replaced in the seventh by Willy Paredes, who gave up two runs to ensure Bradley would not factor in the decision. It was the first runs the Rawhide had allowed in 29 innings, dating back three games.
On Sunday, Visalia relievers Diogenes Rosario, Paredes and Blake Cooper blanked San Jose over the final four innings of the Rawhide's 5-3 win.
The following day, Andrew Barbosa fanned 11 batters over six four-hit frames and four bullpen pitchers completed a shutout of Bakersfield. On Tuesday, Andrew Chafin posted zeros for seven frames and three relievers extended the scoreless streak to 22 innings.
In the three-game series with Bakersfield, Visalia pitchers combined for 39 strikeouts. The staff allowed 17 hits and eight walks in those three games.
There have only been four shutouts in the California so far in 2013; Visalia is responsible for three of them.
"Everyone's pitching well and throwing strikes," said Bradley, who praised catcher Raywilly Gomez for setting up hitters and framing pitches. "We have a very good understanding of throwing the ball inside and that makes hitters uncomfortable. We have a swagger about us even though it's early in the season. We're confident that if we can go out there and throw well, the offense will pick us up."
Only Louisville's Tony Cingrani (21) has more strikeouts than the Muskogee native, who is one of five pitchers to have pitched 10 or more innings without giving up a run so far in 2013. Cingrani, Eddie Butler (Asheville), John Gast (Memphis) and Andy Oliver (Indianapolis) are the other four.
In his first start of the season Friday, the D-backs' No. 2 prospect (behind left-hander Tyler Skaggs) scattered four hits and issued three walks while recording nine punchouts over 5 2/3 shutout frames.
Last year, the right-hander held opponents to a Midwest League-leading .181 average. He ranked second with 152 strikeouts (Burlington's Drew Granier had 167) and 12 wins (Beloit's Jason Wheeler had 14). He also walked 84 batters and hit 15 more, both league highs.