After a pair of rough outings, Aaron Phillips turned in a solid bounceback performance in his last start. On Sunday, he took it to another level -- and went the distance in the process.
The Giants right-hander tossed nine almost spotless innings in Class A Advanced San Jose's 4-0 win over Inland Empire. Phillips allowed one hit while striking out eight without a walk in his first career complete game.
Video: San Jose's Phillips completes gem
Giants pitching coach Matt Yourkin was delighted to see Phillips (8-7) produce such an emphatic performance, but based on what he's seen both recently and this season as whole, he wasn't necessarily surprised.
"He's been throwing the ball well all year," Yourkin said. "He was an All-Star earlier in the year. He's been working hard in his bullpens leading up to this start and always trying to improve, and he put it all together tonight. It was an outstanding performance."
The 2017 ninth-round pick was perfect through five frames but lost his chance at history when he yielded a leadoff single to Gleyvin Pineda in the sixth. Phillips and Yourkin obviously would've preferred to have a perfect game, but the latter said there wasn't any nervous tension building up.
"I don't think there was any nerves going on," Yourkin said. "I think he was competing on the pitch. He made a good pitch, but the lefty put a good swing on it and hit a good pitch for a knock."
Gameday box score
Phillips was, however, perfect from that point on. He set down the next three in order to end the sixth and faced the minimum the rest of the way.
He was extremely efficient, throwing 64 of 94 pitches for strikes. After the Giants scored two runs to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth, he dealt a six-pitch seventh. Then, when his offense put up two more in the bottom of the inning, he one-upped himself by throwing four pitches in the eighth.
According to Yourkin, the key to Phillips' effectiveness was his stellar use of off-speed pitches, as is often the case.
"He had a really good feel for his changeup," he said. "That's his favorite pitch to throw. He got his last out of the game on a changeup."
2019 MiLB include
The 22-year-old lowered his ERA to 4.28 and has 95 strikeouts over 107 1/3 innings. He made one start for Triple-A Sacramento in July, giving up one run over six innings against Tacoma. After returning to San Jose, Phillips allowed 10 runs over 13 1/3 innings in his next three appearances, then yielded one run in 5 2/3 frames last week at Visalia.
The end of the season is approaching, but Yourkin believes the confidence Phillips had been pitching with coming into Sunday, coupled with the momentum he'll gain moving forward, will only help him continue to perform at a high level.
"He's been having some really good bullpen sessions, starting to improve on stuff he's been working on," he said. "It showed today."
Giants No. 16 prospect Sandro Fabian went 2-for-4 with a two-run double, while Dalton Combs also had two RBIs.