Something about the Beloit Snappers just brings out the best in Drew Granier.
The Class A Burlington right-hander posted career highs in scoreless innings and in strikeouts, going 7 2/3 frames while striking out 11 in the Bees' 3-0 win over the Snappers. He allowed just two hits and two walks in the process.
It was his fourth start against Beloit this season. In those four outings, Granier has gone 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA, giving up 18 hits and six walks while striking out 31 over 28 1/3 innings.
Granier said he just feels comfortable against a team he has seen more than any other Midwest League squad this season.
"I've pitched against these guys four times now, so I've studied a lot of stuff, a lot of the scouting reports, and the other three times I had pretty good outings so I was just trying to have it carry over," he said. "In a way [it might be easier] the fourth time, but maybe not. They also know what you've been doing too. I just tried to do the same thing tonight, get ahead early and punch them out with the slider."
In his other 14 starts this season, the 23-year-old is 6-5 with a 4.25 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings. In all he sports a 10-5 record with a 3.37 ERA in 106 2/3 innings -- second-most in the Midwest League -- while fanning a league-best 102 and walking just 31.
He said it was a particularly memorable start because he had never before reached the 10-strikeout threshold in his professional career.
"It felt pretty good. I mean I've gotten like seven, nine and I've been waiting all season to get 10, so it definitely felt nice," he noted.
Monday's outing was the Louisiana native's 10th start this season with at least five strikeouts and his seventh lasting at least seven innings.
A 32nd-round pick in last year's Draft by Oakland, Granier has had considerably consistent success in his young career. He began last year with the Rookie-level Arizona League Athletics, where he posted a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings before moving to Class A Short-Season Vermont. He once again kept his ERA south of 2.00 with the Lake Monsters, posting a 1.91 mark in seven starts.
As a later pick out of the lesser-known University of Louisiana-Monroe, Granier said he's taken a deal of pride in pitching as well as he has so far in the Minors.
"It's been awesome. I've had really good success so far in pro ball and I hope to keep it going," he said. "I knew I'd get picked late being a senior, but I just wanted the chance to get out there and pitch."
Granier added that he hopes he could string together a few more good outings before the season is over.
"I'd like to have some more like tonight," he said. "Go six or seven strong innings, keep us in the game, two or three runs, couple punchouts. Keep doing what I've been doing and give the team a chance to win."
On Monday, catcher John Nester provided the bulk of the run support for Granier, going 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and two RBIs.