By being unpredictable, Joe Ross got a predictable result on Tuesday night.
The Padres' No. 9 prospect notched a career-high nine strikeouts and gave up four hits over six innings, pitching Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore to a 1-0 blanking of Visalia at The Diamond.
Ross (2-2) exited after throwing 80 pitches, 58 for strikes. He did not issue a walk and Socrates Brito was the only member of the Rawhide to advance past first base against him when he doubled in the second inning. The 20-year-old right-hander bounced back by retiring the next nine batters, a stretch that ended when Ryan Court singled with two outs in the fifth.
"Fastball location was pretty good," Ross said. "I don't think my velocity was as high as it has been before, but I still felt pretty good. My changeup was working pretty well. [Catcher John] Nester called a really good game and everything just came together and went really well."
Ross eclipsed his previous high of eight strikeouts, set on April 13, 2013 with Class A Fort Wayne. He attributed his most recent success to being willing to be flexible in his approach on the mound.
"Moving in and out," Ross said. "Mixing up pitches throughout the at-bats and mixing up how I attacked certain hitters and pitching backwards on occasion. Not being too predictable. I felt pretty good, but a little bit of luck comes into play."
Ross lowered his ERA to 1.95, which ranks second in the California League. He's also tied for fifth with 31 strikeouts over 32 1/3 innings, has limited opponents to a .234 batting average and has given up just one home run.
"My fastball location has been really good," the 2011 first-round pick said. "I feel good on the mound; I feel aggressive and feel like I can get after batters. The defense has done pretty well. My changeup feels really good, that's been a big plus to rely on a third pitch besides fastball-slider."
Chris Nunn and Cody Hebner each pitched a scoreless inning and Trevor Gott worked around a hit in the ninth to record his league-leading seventh save.
Corey Adamson provided Ross with the only offense he needed, delivering a two-out RBI single in the sixth.
Rawhide starter Brandon Sinnery (2-2) took the hard-luck loss after giving up one run on six hits and two walks while fanning seven over seven innings.