Although Brandon Sinnery made his Class A Advanced debut Sunday, he knew several of his teammates from the Midwest League and Spring Training. That natural comfort in the clubhouse extended to the mound for the Arizona prospect.
Sinnery gave up two hits and struck out a career-high nine over six innings to earn the win in Visalia's 3-0 blanking of High Desert in the opener of Sunday's doubleheader at Mavericks Stadium.
"It definitely helps the transition, coming into sort of a familiar group of guys so you don't have to meet everyone over again. You can just flow right in," Sinnery said.
The 23-year-old, who signed with the D-backs after pitching for two independent league teams in 2012, was 7-3 with a 3.04 ERA in 103 2/3 innings with Class A South Bend before his callup. He went 3-0 with 14 strikeouts and two walks over 23 innings for a 1.57 ERA in his final three starts.
"I thought I was ready and it felt good," Sinnery said. "There's a lot of good pitchers in this organization who've been here and definitely deserve a chance."
The Midwest League All Star struck out 5.82 per nine innings for South Bend, but used his slider and curveball while mostly putting his change-up aside to set the Mavericks down Sunday.
"I usually try to pitch to contact so I get hitters out on the first two pitches, but it was one of those games where you had offspeed working, located and got swings and misses," Sinnery said.
The former Michigan Wolverine left with a pitch count in the mid-80s, missing out on the chance to throw his second complete game in four starts.
"If we had pushed a runner across in the sixth inning, I was going to go back out there. We had a good chance, runners on first and third I think, but we didn't end up scoring so I handed the ball over to the closer," the 6-foot-4 right-hander said.
RJ Hively picked up his fifth save with a scoreless seventh.
Sinnery was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Worcester, Mass. With the Red Sox taking on the Yankees in the Sunday night game, who did he root for?
"Neither right now. Right now, I'm a D-backs fan, I guess," he said, "but growing up I was a Red Sox fan."
Third baseman Raul Navarro drove in a run and designated hitter Jon Griffin went 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored.
Despite two homers and three RBIs from designated hitter Tom Belza, the Rawhide fell in the nightcap, 7-5.