Judging by the box score, Taylor Jungmann's Tuesday night outing was his finest of the season and maybe the finest of his pro career. But don't try to tell him that.
"My last outing was better," he said. "I just had one bad pitch and gave up three runs on a home run after six almost perfect innings."
The No. 2 Brewers prospect limited Double-A Birmingham to an unearned run on two hits and three walks while striking out five over seven innings in Huntsville's 5-1 victory. He will admit it was a pretty good performance, though.
"Tonight was huge to me," he said, mostly because it was easy for him to see the progress he's made working in the Brewers system since he was drafted out of the University of Texas No. 12 overall in the 2011 Draft.
Jungmann (6-5) went 11-6 with a 3.53 ERA over 153 innings in the Class A Advanced Florida State League last season, his first in pro ball. His start Tuesday lowered his Southern League ERA to 4.22.
The only run the Barons scored off him came in the first inning after he walked Birmingham leadoff hitter and 16th-ranked White Sox prospect Marcus Semien. Semien stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Stars catcher Adam Weisenburger.
"Tonight started pretty ugly. I didn't have my fastball command and I had to rely on my offspeed stuff more than usual," he said. "I've been working on being able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes for the past year-and-a-half. A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did tonight and use them to get me through the first few innings. It's nice to see a little improvement."
Specifically Jungmann's been working with a new curveball grip and being able to attack the zone with that pitch and his changeup.
"My curveball, that's been frustrating," he said. "I think it's been frustrating for my coaches, too -- it has to be."
But his coaches had to be pleased with the way he got through this win.
Keenan Walker, the White Sox's No. 8 prospect, drove in Semien with a single, but not because Jungmann threw a bad pitch.
"I did get down in the count, but then I threw exactly what I wanted to throw," he said. "I went in on him and he hit it anyway."
What can you do?
"Get a better count," Jungmann joked. "Get him to an 0-2 count instead of a 2-2 count."
With one run in and Walker standing on first, Jungmann got second-ranked White Sox prospect Trayce Thompson to pop out to second base. At that point, he began to feel more in control.
"For me, for a long, lanky, tall guy, it's pretty easy to get out of your rhythm," said Jungmann, who's listed at 6-foot-6. "The difference between having a good outing and a bad outing is being able to realize and acknowledge that you're out of your rhythm in the game, and to make an adjustment after three pitches instead of after 10."
Walker stole second and Jungmann buckled down to whiff Andy Wilkins.
"I don't rely on the strikeout too much, but I pride myself on being able to strike a guy when I need to," said Jungmann. "That was a situation where I needed a strikeout, and it was big that I was able to get it."
He got the final out of the turbulent first with a groundout, the first of nine he'd induce through the night.
"Later in the game, when I'd found my fastball command, I had them swinging at first-pitch fastballs down in zone," he said. "That's what I live on -- fastballs down in the zone. It was nice later on to be able to locate my fastball after using the offspeed stuff earlier."
After that, he didn't allow more than one runner in any single inning, and he retired 11 in a row from the bottom of the fourth through the end of the seventh.
"The next time [through the lineup], I didn't throw very many offspeed pitches," he said. "Even though it would have been nice to have that fastball command earlier, it ended up setting them up nicely so they weren't expecting it the next time around."
Jungmann felt no fatigue and would have preferred to keep pitching -- he'd lasted seven innings only once previously this year and has never gone deeper in his pro career -- but he also understands the reality of being a 23-year-old in Double-A.
"In Minor League ball, that's always going to be the coaches' decision, with innings limits and pitch counts and all that," he said. "They told me when I came in from the seventh that was it. You can't argue.
"[Still] I pride myself on being an innings eater," he said. "To be an innings eater, you've got to go six, seven, eight, nine every time out. I've been getting through six a lot instead of seven or eight. But going longer comes with being able to throw all your pitches for strikes, and I'm getting there."
Brewers' No. 19 prospect Kentrail Davis singled in the win, and Weisenberger was 3-for-4 with a homer.
"He did have a good night at the plate," Jungmann said of his backstop, "but he had an even better night behind the plate. He did a good job of keeping me in rhythm. That's something that's really important to me and makes a big difference for me. After that first inning, we were on the same page through the whole game."