Still trying to determine the adequate number of pregame pitches to throw, Rob Kaminsky wasn't exactly ready to start Sunday's game. But his arm "felt great," so he left the bullpen and eventually took the mound at Dozer Park. Twenty-two pitches later, he returned to the Peoria dugout, not very happy with himself.
"I wouldn't say things were tight, but not as loose as it normally is," the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect said. "The first [inning] was rough, but after that I started getting my legs underneath me."
After allowing a hit and a walk in that opening frame, Kaminsky improved with each inning and eventually helped the Chiefs blank visiting Great Lakes, 4-0.
"I settled down after the first," he said. "My velocity went up [and] I felt good for every other inning."
The 19-year-old left-hander scattered four hits and a walk over his final five innings, totaling four strikeouts. The Loons had two baserunners in each of the first three frames, but Kaminsky continually pitched out of trouble.
"That's when you got to have your best stuff, when guys are on first and second. You have to have a second gear," the 2013 first-round pick said. "It's a lot easier when you trust your defense; and I do."
Kaminsky (5-2) admitted he didn't have his best stuff in his 13th start of the season, but he was able to register his third scoreless outing. He attributed his success to his batterymate, Cardinals 13th-ranked prospect Carson Kelly, who he said called one of the best games he's ever thrown.
With the win, Kaminsky improved to 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in seven home starts.
"I never knew my stats, but I love pitching at home and I don't mind pitching away," the New Jersey native said. "I'm definitely used to pitching at Peoria and I like my routine."
Overall, Kaminsky leads Chiefs starters with a 1.50 ERA. Sunday's outing followed his roughest start of the year -- he lasted 3 2/3 innings at South Bend on July 20 and gave up two runs on three hits and three walks. The young southpaw spent the past week working on fastball command as well as he mental aspects of pitching.
"My last outing, I definitely wasn't happy with it. I did a lot of work with the pitching coach, Jason Simontacchi, and it feels good to get the 'W,'" Kaminsky said. "I would say it helped [to bounce back], but it's a 24-hour rule. No matter if you have a good start or have a bad start, you have to wipe it away. It's yesterday's news."
Since Kaminsky's last start, the Chiefs have added Rowan Wick to the lineup. The Cards' No. 19 prospect has four RBIs in five games since being promoted from Short-Season State College, where he needed only 19 contests to break the team's single-season home run record. On Sunday, the 21-year-old outfielder legged out a triple and scored a run.
"It's great to have in him in the clubhouse, too. He's an awesome kid," Kaminsky said. "He had another great hit tonight and there's definitely more to come from him."
Robert Stock relieved Kaminsky and allowed one hit over two innings before Josh Lucas pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down the Chiefs' Midwest League-leading 11th shutout.