It's almost unanimous among pitchers that the goal every time out is simply "to put the team in a position to win." What better way to do that than going all nine innings?
Michael Bolsinger did just that on Saturday, pitching a six-hitter for his first Triple-A complete game, as the Reno Aces shut down the Tacoma Rainiers, 4-1, at Cheney Stadium.
After striking out five without walking a batter, the D-backs' prospect said taking the mound in the ninth was never really in doubt.
"As soon as I got to the dugout after I finished the eighth, they told me to go out there and finish the game," he said. "Didn't say anything else, so I just went to the end of the bench and waited.
"My defense, man, they picked me up big-time. I got a lot of ground-ball outs. And on the mound, my curveball, throwing it for a strike, using it for a strikeout when I needed to helped out."
The 25-year-old right-hander has proven to have one of the more elastic arms in the Minor Leagues this season. Saturday's game was his second nine-inning effort of the season, the last coming on May 31 when he hurled a two-hit shutout in his final start for Double-A Mobile.
"It's always fun to throw a complete game, or even get a chance to. I did it the last time in Mobile, but this time means a little more, being up here with a lot better hitters," Bolsinger said. "You know you really have to pitch well up here, and I'm happy with it, happy with myself and more than happy with my defense."
On a night when Tim Lincecum threw 148 pitches in a no-hitter in San Diego, Bolsinger needed 112 pitches to finish off his gem. Fifteen of the 27 outs came on ground balls.
"There's times when I can get the strikeouts up, but with my curveball and my cut fastball, those two pitches combined generate a lot of groundouts," he said. "And when you have a good defense like I have behind me, it makes the games quicker, helps your pitch count."
The 2010 15th-round pick has ascended the D-backs' ladder quickly since arriving in pro ball. After a full season with Class A South Bend in 2011, he jumped from Class A Advanced Visalia to Mobile after only seven starts last year.
This season, after going 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA in nine appearances for the BayBears, Arizona deemed him ready for the Pacific Coast League.
"Well, they hit the ball a lot farther," he said of the differences he's noticed since arriving at Triple-A. "I've noticed I've given up a few home runs. Hitters are a lot more patient with 0-2, you can't just throw that ball in the dirt and have them swinging at it, especially with this [Tacoma] team, too. They have really good hitters, and obviously as you go up levels, the strike zone gets a little bit smaller. You really have to learn how to pitch."
Bolsinger has acquitted himself nicely to the new surroundings. In eight PCL starts, he's notched a 3.91 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 18 walks over 50 2/3 innings. And across the two levels, he's got a 3.27 ERA.
The University of Arkansas product spotted the Rainiers a 1-0 lead in the second as Scott Savastano hit his third homer of the season.
Tyler Bortnick tied the game in the fourth with an RBI single and Juan Rivera put the Aces in front with his third homer. Mike Jacobs singled in an insurance run in the sixth and Alfredo Marte capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.