When most pitchers struggle to locate their pitches, they can say they didn't have a feel for their stuff or they weren't getting the close calls.
D-backs top prospect Trevor Bauer isn't most pitchers. He knew exactly what the problem was. But even a lack of command could not derail his strong start to the season on Sunday.
MLB.com's No. 9 prospect allowed one run on four hits and a career-high five walks while striking out two batters over five innings in Double-A Mobile's 11-3 win over Montgomery in the Biscuits' home opener at Riverwalk Stadium.
"I had absolutely zero back hip rotation, so I wasn't forcing enough energy up the kinetic chain," he said. "My hips weren't opening up enough, so my release point was too far back, and that meant everything was up and flat.
"Normally, I can make the adjustments I need to, but I was physically incapable of doing that tonight. Everything was up to the arm side and down to the glove side."
The baseball translation? If one part of the delivery is off, everything else is off, too.
Working with catcher Rossmel Perez instead of usual backstop Ed Easley, Bauer was not at his best in earning his third win of the year.
The former Golden Spikes Award winner, who had not issued more than three free passes in any of his nine previous appearances, struggled to get ahead of hitters and allowed the leadoff batter to reach in each of the first four innings.
"I think the most positive thing I can say is that the team got a win and that I got through five innings without giving up more than one win. I don't know how that happened," Bauer said.
"Some of the pitches were missing down the middle, some of the them were missing up and some of them were missing inside. It was just one of those nights where balls were balls and strikes were balls."
The 21-year-old also threw a wild pitch and Perez allowed three balls to get away from him. The mishaps led to Bauer (3-0) allowing his first run of the year.
Henry Wrigley drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and advanced to second on a passed ball. A two-out wild pitch moved him to third, where he scored on David Wendt's single to snap Bauer's 14 1/3-inning shutout streak.
Bauer allowed two hits over five
shutout innings in his season debut against Mississippi on April 5, then struck out a career-high
11 batters over 5 2/3 two-hit frames against Pensacola on Tuesday. Sunday's outing raised his ERA to 0.57.
"It was just a frustrating night. I usually have a lot of fun on the mound, but tonight wasn't fun for me," he said. "Every pitch was a pressure pitch because guys were on base. I had to split my focus and vary my timings and leg kicks, and that took away from my focus at the plate.
"I didn't lose my rhythm because I never established a rhythm. I gave my team a chance to win, and while I wasn't at my best, my defense and offense picked me up."
Bauer's 12 walks are the most in the Minors, while his 20 strikeouts rank second behind Salt Lake's Garrett Richards (21). Two relievers, Harrisburg's Erik Davis and New Orleans' Elih Villanueva, also have three wins.
Alfredo Marte slugged a three-run homer, Perez went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and D-backs No. 5 prospect Matt Davidson reached base five times and picked up two RBIs.
Montgomery starter Shane Dyer (1-1) allowed three runs on three hits and a walk over one inning.