Walk into one of the many Starbucks on any street corner in America and you're bound to hear some idle chatter. Somebody talking about the latest hip Twitter hashtag. A customer getting confused over the difference between a tall and a grande. Someone else laughing at the misspelling of their first name on a vanilla chai.
If you had walked into a Tacoma-area Starbucks on Saturday, you may have overheard a prophecy.
"[Reliever] Joe Paterson and I were walking into Starbucks with my roommate, Chase Anderson, and I told them both that I was going to go eight innings again tonight," said Reno Aces right-hander Charles Brewer, who had hit the mark in his previous outing on April 28 against Fresno. "And Joe turns to me and kind of jokingly goes, 'Yeah, and I'll be the one closing it out.'"
Hours later, Brewer and Paterson pretty much followed that script.
Brewer allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four over eight innings and Paterson recorded the final three outs Saturday as Triple-Reno cruised to a 7-0 blanking of Tacoma.
"I think [the prediction] actually really set me up for success tonight," the 25-year-old right-hander said. "I got some confidence in myself after going through eight last time out. Our pitching coordinator, Mel Stottlemyre Jr., challenged me a little while back and told me I wasn't pitching deep into games and that he thought I could do a better job at that. So I wanted to prove him right there and started to focus more on getting deeper into games."
The advice has worked wonders. After his first four starts, during which he reached the sixth inning just once, Brewer was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. Now, after allowing just one run in back-to-back eight-inning outings, that ERA is down to 3.89.
Still, it takes more than just predicting and hoping that you'll pitch deep into games to actually achieve that goal. For Brewer, it took developing a new game plan.
"I knew I had to be more pitch-efficient," said the UCLA product, who threw 69 of 108 pitches for strikes against the Rainiers. "So far, that's meant doing a better job of establishing my fastball earlier in the game and throwing more off-speed stuff as it gets along. Tonight, I was able to throw my curveball, my cutter for strikes, so that was a big help."
This recent run of success comes after a rough introduction to the Pacific Coast League last season. While his record was a solid 11-7, Brewer's 5.99 ERA and 1.60 WHIP showed deeper struggles.
Now in his second go-round, he's out to prove he can be successful at the Minor Leagues' highest level.
"I saw last season as a year to get out the kinks," Brewer said. "It really is a very significant jump from Double-A to Triple-A, and there are so many more things I needed to work on if I was going to be good here or above. I've just focused on keeping everything down and continuing to work on the off-speed pitches because that's what's been working."
So with consecutive eight-inning performances under his belt, does Brewer have any predictions for a third his next time out?
"No, man, that's too far ahead," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy this one first."
D-backs No. 4 prospect Matt Davidson doubled twice and drove in two runs in support of Brewer, while first baseman Kila Ka'aihue went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, a walk and three runs scored.