Tanner Peters wasn't quite perfect for Class A Advanced Stockton on Friday night, but he came pretty close.
The A's prospect retired the first 25 batters he faced before Jared Simon reached him for a double to left field.
It was the only blemish on the evening for Peters, who recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings and pitched the Ports to a 2-0 victory over Modesto at Banner Island Ballpark.
The California native, who turned 23 on Tuesday, fell two outs shy of the California League's first perfect game since June 14, 1999, when San Bernadino's Marcos Castillo pitched one against Lake Elsinore.
The 14 punchouts were four more than Peters' previous career best. He'd fanned 10 over eight innings on May 15, which was his longest outing before Friday.
"I've had games where I've had perfect bids, no-hit bids, after the sixth inning. I think two earlier this year after the sixth inning, but yeah, I could see that second wind [tonight], just felt fresh," Peters said. "Mentally, I just tried to keep it the same. A perfect game's on my mind, but I did everything to just concentrate on pitching: first-pitch strikes, ground balls.
"Absolutely. Very, very pleased with that outing. Just proud of my team and everything, proud of myself, obviously. It was just a real quality outing. I'm very happy."
According to Peters, the pitch he threw to Simon was a mistake.
"I mean, anybody can go eight innings perfect, but 8 1/3, need only two more outs, I would've loved to throw a perfect game," he said. "The pitch on the double was the worst pitch I threw all night, a changeup I just left up. Professional hitters are paid to hit those, and it just didn't work out for me."
Seth Frankoff came on after Simon's double and retired both batters he faced to record his fourth save and finish off the Ports' fifth shutout of the season.
The brush with perfection was the exclamation point on what's been a very positive season for Peters. In 24 starts, he's 11-5 with a 3.84 ERA that ranks seventh in the hitter-friendly Cal League. He's also third with 132 strikeouts while walking 24 over 143 innings.
Peters spent most of last season with Class A Burlington, where he was 2-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 73 strikeouts against 20 walks over 71 1/3 innings.
"I feel I've made big progress this year," the 2011 16th-round Draft pick said. "Early in the year, I struggled, especially pitching in this league. And as of late, I've had more success. I think fastball command is definitely improved, improved my changeup command to both sides of the plate and I'm throwing my breaking pitch for strikes. I think I improved my overall game a lot."
Stockton scored the only runs Peters needed in the fourth as A's top prospect Addison Russell drew a leadoff walk, moved up on a ground ball and scored on a base hit by Tony Thompson, who finished 3-for-3. After a passed ball, Thompson raced home on a single by Antonio Lamas.