Daniel Renken and Lee Hyde are on top of their respective games and there doesn't appear to be anything Southern League hitters can do about it.
Renken and Hyde combined with Trevor Bell to shut out the BayBears in the Double-A Blue Wahoos' 2-0 victory Monday night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.
The Reds prospects are both riding high. Renken (5-7) extended his scoreless streak to 17 1/3 innings by allowing three hits and a walk and fanning six in six innings before Hyde gave up a hit in two otherwise perfect frames to extend his run to 27 1/3 frames since May 21.
"I just throw my pitches over for strikes to get the hitters to get themselves out," Renken said. "I didn't try to really overdo it too much. My slider was pretty decent tonight and my changeup, like always, got me through -- it's my go-to pitch."
Renken, whose fastball sits in the upper-80s and occasionally touches the low-90s, struggled last year in the Class A Advanced California League, going 6-9 with a 5.93 ERA. This season he's dropped his ERA to 3.38 with 94 strikeouts in 114 2/3 innings and has thrown at least six frames in six straight starts since a three-inning outing against Mobile on June 15.
"[The key] has been taking the pressure off myself and throwing all three pitches over for strikes," he said. "Last year, I tended to bury all my offspeed pitches, and when I do that, the hitters really can just look for my fastball."
The 6-foot-3 righty wanted to go out for the seventh after throwing 84 pitches, but he was also dealing with a blister issue on the bottom of his foot that needed to be drained between the fifth and sixth innings.
"It was just annoying, a little pain, but nothing to worry about," Renken said. "It was one of those things where I had to go to a reliever so I didn't favor my foot too much. Obviously when we have guys like [Hyde] out there who can keep the scoreless streak going, it's better to hand the ball off."
Hyde credited his defense -- and not his pitching -- for the two scoreless innings he tossed against Mobile.
"My defense is what was working for me," he said. "I wasn't very good tonight but got out of there unscathed. I'll take it. I was getting around all my offspeed pitches -- I was underneath and I wasn't locating my fastball. It was just one of those nights."
Hyde said after a rough start to the season -- the 28-year-old left-hander gave up seven runs in an inning during his second appearance of the season -- that he decided to forget about his numbers. It's been two months since he looked at his stats.
"I take it night to night instead of trying to focus on what my ERA is or anything like that," he said. "Did I do my job, help my team win and make good pitches?"
An adjustment to his approach on the mound has enabled Hyde to drop his ERA down to 3.09 after it crested at 40.50.
"I think for me early in the year when I kind of struggled a little bit, I was trying to be -- I don't know if it was too fine, but I was pitching a little too much toward the edges instead of throwing my stuff," Hyde said. "I'm 28 now and I've been around Minor League baseball a while. I had an issue with walking guys and putting guys on base, so I told myself to just throw it over the plate and see what happens."
Both pitchers said there's no rivalry between them to see who can continue his streak the longest. Before the game the story was a little different. The pitching staff had a chance to take batting practice, and neither of the scoreless streakers earned the MVP.
"Loek Van Mil hit two doubles and a homer, but he's 7 feet tall and got a lot of leverage so it doesn't count," Hyde said.
Trevor Bell earned his ninth save after allowing a walk and picking up a strikeout in the ninth to finish the shutout.
Reds' No. 16 prospect Yorman Rodriguez hit a solo shot to left in the first and Ray Chang doubled in Travis Mattair in the second for Pensacola.