It's been nearly 40 years since the California League had a 20-game winner. Christian Bergman is threatening to end that drought.
The Rockies prospect became the first 13-game winner in the Minor Leagues, allowing four hits and striking out six over six innings Saturday night as Modesto routed Lake Elsinore, 14-0.
Bergman (13-5) appeared to be in early trouble as Rico Noel reached on an error to open the game and quickly swiped second for his 69th stolen base. He took third on Donavan Tate's fly ball but was stranded as Bergman struck out Justin Miller and Tommy Medica.
Bergman also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by retiring Chris Bisson on a popup and Noel on a ground ball.
"My fastball command was good early on, throughout the whole game," Bergman said. "I was using the changeup and slider, too. The slider wasn't quite where I wanted it to be, so I started throwing the curveball a little bit more later in the game. Commanding the fastball in and out and up and done, just doing the usual thing."
The 24-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.70, which ranks second in the hitter-friendly league. He also is fourth with a 1.14 WHIP and has fanned 97 batters over 123 1/3 innings.
"It's not just me though," the California native said. "I've had great defense behind me and obviously scoring runs, especially tonight."
Bergman is trying to become the Cal Leaguer to win 20 games since Bob Knepper went 20-5 for Fresno in 1974. With about seven or eight starts to go this season, it's a tall order for the 2010 24th-round Draft pick.
"I'm really proud to have 13 wins and I'll hopefully keep adding on to that," Bergman said. "That's still possible, so I'll definitely be shooting for [20 wins], but we'll see how it works out."
Josh Mueller fanned three and allowed two hits over the final three innings to record his first save.
Rafael Ortega, the Rockies' No. 19 prospect, doubled twice and drove in three runs and third baseman Jayson Langfels atoned for an early error with a homer and three RBIs. Dallas Tarleton added his second inside-the-park homer of the season and scored twice for the Nuts.
Tate, selected third overall by the Padres in the 2009 Drat, was 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to six games for the Storm.