A good curveball can be a devastating weapon. Tanner Peters displayed just how devastating on Wednesday night.
The Athletics prospect struck out 10 in Stockton's 2-1 win over Bakersfield, allowing just one run on four hits in eight innings. By his own count, nine of the 10 punchouts came via his curve.
"That's the best start I've ever had in pro ball. Really throughout the game I had a lot of first-pitch strikes, which is always big, and my two-seamer today was running quite a bit, which was nice," Peters said. "Later in counts, I was able to put a lot of guys away with the curveball. I can only remember one [strikeout] that was on a fastball."
Peters (3-3) has notched back-to-back strong starts after he scuffled a bit in his first few California League outings. The 2011 16th-round pick had a 7.12 ERA through six starts before holding Modesto to two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts over seven frames on May 9.
He followed that up with Wednesday's sterling effort.
"My last two starts -- the one in Modesto went pretty well -- in both, I've been able to locate the two-seamers with a little sink," the UNLV product said. "If you look at the last two starts, I've been getting a lot more ground-ball outs."
Peters stood out as a riser in the Oakland system last year after posting a 3.16 ERA over 68 1/3 innings with 66 strikeouts and 18 walks for Class A Burlington. While he's already surrendered 10 home runs in the hitter-friendly California League (he gave up eight all of last season), he said honing his craft in the tough environment has ultimately helped him developmentally.
"Absolutely, it gets frustrating, but at the same time we know what the ballparks are like and what the weather's like. If you make your pitches, you won't give up too many home runs," Peters said. "It makes you work on the littler things, like lately for me being able to get a little more sink on my fastball and locate it at the bottom of the strike zone. It's a good learning experience."
Peters lowered his ERA to 5.16, roughly two runs lower than it was two starts ago. He's also maintained strong peripheral ratios, with 44 strikeouts against nine walks in 45 1/3 innings.
"I never go out there thinking I want double-digit strikeouts, but on nights like tonight, where it felt like I was ahead of every single hitter, yeah, I expect to put a few of them away at least," he said. "Not necessarily 10 -- 10 is awesome -- but it just happens."
Stockton totaled only three hits on Wednesday, but Myrio Richard snapped an eighth-inning tie with his first homer of the season. Brett Hunter struck out two and worked around a hit and a walk in the ninth for his first save of the season.