An effective breaking pitch has helped a pitcher on many an occasion. Such was the case for Rob Kaminsky on Monday.
With the help of old "Uncle Charlie," the Cardinals' third-ranked prospect fired seven scoreless innings in Class A Peoria's 8-2 win over Quad Cities at Dozer Park. The southpaw scattered three hits while fanning seven and without a walk in the longest outing of his career.
"This is the first time I've ever had my curveball back to where it was," said Kaminsky, who also heaped praise on his catcher, Steve Bean, and the rest of the defense. "It was nice working with a three-pitch mix."
Following his ninth start of the year, the 2013 first-round pick (28th overall) owns a 4-1 record and a 1.26 ERA, with 47 strikeouts and 12 walks across 50 innings. Opposing batters are hitting .181 against him, and his WHIP sits at 0.90.
"The year is far from over," Kaminsky said, "so I've got a lot more time to work on things and continue getting better. I'm not too worried about statistics right now. I've never really been one of those guys to look up stats or anything. But I'm just trying to put my team in a position to win. That's all I can do."
The 19-year-old often does just that, since he's yet to allow more than two runs in a game this year. He's surrendered two earned runs once since coming to Peoria on May 4 after extended spring training.
On Monday, he yielded a second-inning single to Jon Kemmer. James Ramsay singled off him in the sixth and Chase McDonald followed with a leadoff single in the seventh.
In all, he induced seven groundouts and two flyouts, while throwing 66 of his 89 pitches for strikes.
"The command has been there mostly all year, but some games are better than others," Kaminsky said after his fourth walkless outing. "Tonight, it went really well. My curveball command was the best it's been all year. I think I threw 21 pitches, 19 for strikes."
The New Jersey native credited work with pitching coach Jason Simontacchi for the revitalization of his hook.
"I wouldn't say it was missing, but it was definitely not what it was in high school," Kaminsky said. "I've been working with [Simontacchi] a lot and he's been helping me. Hopefully, we just keep working from here and keep getting better and better. Hopefully, good things will happen.
"I was more competitive tonight than I have been. Tonight's going to be a good learning experience for me. I'm super excited."
The Chiefs lineup produced 12 hits, four off the bat of Juan Herrera, the Cards' No. 14 prospect. The shortstop drove in four runs and scored once while raising his batting average to .293.
C.J. McElroy, Kenneth Peoples-Walls and Michael Schulze each produced multi-hit efforts, while Peoples-Walls, Bean and Mason Katz finished with one RBI apiece.
River Bandits starter Jandel Gustave fell to 5-4 after giving up six runs on five hits and three walks over just two innings. He recorded four strikeouts.