Most people would look at the gaudy strikeout total next to Kyle Crick's name in the box score Thursday and come away impressed. For the hurler, the start was more about the much smaller number one column over.
The top-ranked Giants prospect tied a career high with 11 strikeouts and gave up two hits over seven innings as Class A Advanced San Jose routed Visalia, 11-1.
Crick rolled to his third win, retiring 15 in a row following a one-out single by Tom Belza in the second inning. The 20-year-old right-hander faced two over the minimum and did not allow a runner to reach second base while notching a season high in innings.
"I was throwing fastballs to both sides of the plate and using my changeup pretty well," Crick said. "I think it was the best I've thrown my changeup all year. As soon as you start retiring a couple in a row, you build confidence and start working off that."
The Texas native was most pleased about not issuing any free passes, the first time he's done that in 14 California League starts.
"I would say the lack of walks is what I'm more excited about," he said. "It's just commanding the strike zone and throwing good pitches. I wasn't thinking about walking a guy, I was thinking about throwing a fastball away and it worked for me."
Crick, who fanned 11 on July 30 against Visalia, has come on strong down the stretch, going 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 31 strikeouts over 23 innings this month. It couldn't come at a better time for the Giants, who are heading to the California League playoffs following a first-half title.
"It's really important," Crick said of heading into the postseason on a hot streak. "It's good to to build confidence to win a couple of back-to-back playoff games and hopefully take home the championship."
Overall, the hurler is 3-1 with a miniscule 1.57 ERA and 95 strikeouts for San Jose. Despite missing time in May due to an oblique injury, Crick is happy with how his season has progressed.
"I feel like it's going well," he said. " I don't focus on strikeouts so much as throwing strikes. I just have to focus on fastballs down in the zone and using my offspeed."
Jose Casilla gave up an unearned run on two hits in the eighth and Derek Law yielded a hit in the ninth to finish things off for San Jose.
Mac Williamson slugged a two-run homer in the first, his 25th of the season, to give Crick an early lead. Matt Duffy hit a three-run blast and Myles Schroeder was 3-for-5 with three runs scored out of the leadoff spot for the Giants.