A positive outlook following a rough introduction to the hitter-friendly California League has Jake Jewell off to a solid start at the outset of his third professional season and second with Class A Advanced Inland Empire.
The Angels' No. 26 prospect gave up two hits and struck out eight over seven scoreless innings Saturday before the 66ers posted a 1-0, 10-inning victory over Visalia. It was the deepest Jewell has pitched into a game without allowing a run and just the second seven-inning performance of his career.
"In the bullpen [before the game], I just felt kind of out of whack, really," Jewell said. "So my thought process going into the game was just to make it simple: attack the hitters with sliders and fastballs over the plate and let them get themselves out. And that kind of worked for me today."
The 2014 fifth-round pick out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M allowed only three baserunners all night. He surrendered a double to the first batter he faced, Matt McPhearson, and a one-out single to Colin Bray in the second inning.
Jewell got out of the second with a pair of flyouts, then struck out the side in the third on 13 pitches. Marty Herum was the final man to reach base for the Rawhide during Jewell's outing after being hit by a pitch with two outs in the fourth.
The eight strikeouts fell one short of a career high for the 23-year-old, who described his slider and changeup as his putaway pitches against the Rawhide.
Jewell combined with Tyler Warmoth and Jeremy Rhoades to throw 8 2/3 hitless innings following Bray's single. Warmoth (1-0) struck out three and walked one in two innings for the win, while Rhoades struck out two in a perfect 10th for his first professional save.
Rawhide starter Trevor Simms matched zeros with Jewell, exiting after yielding four hits and two walks while fanning eight through five innings.
"I think pitching a scoreless game with the other pitcher throwing a scoreless game is a lot of fun. It's really intense, you know, it's like every pitch is kind of heightened, it kind of matters more to both of us," Jewell said. "It's a lot of fun and the stakes are definitely heightened when you're both throwing a shutout like that."
Jewell has allowed one run over 11 innings while recording 12 strikeouts in his first two starts of the season. It's a healthy turnaround from a year ago, when he posted a 6.31 ERA and .334 opponents batting average over 137 innings.
"I try not to think about what happened last year, I just think about picking myself up and keeping it moving, really. I'm just coming out and trying to be as confident as I can," Jewell said. "I've got good stuff and I've worked a lot on my mechanics this offseason and I just really want to attack the hitters this season. I think last year I got too wrapped up in being perfect and trying to throw perfect strikes, then I'd fall behind and that would hurt me."
The 66ers finally broke through in the 10th inning on a one-out solo homer by Jake Yacinich. It was the first of the year for the 24-year-old third baseman, who had one hit in his previous four games.