Pat Doyle's last start came almost a year ago. His next one figures to come a lot sooner.
The Reds farmhand retired 16 straight batters and pitched six one-hit innings Tuesday as the Class A Advanced Bakersfield Blaze beat the Stockton Ports, 6-1, to complete a doubleheader sweep.
Doyle (3-1) allowed only a two-out single in the first inning to Miles Head, who was the last Port to reach against him. He needed only 53 pitches to complete the longest outing of his pro career.
"We were going right at them," Doyle said. "We were going fastball-in all game. It made it easy to set up the off-speed pitches once you establish the fastball. We were able to get some swings and misses on my slider."
Since the Reds selected him in the 24th round of the 2010 Draft, Doyle has appeared in 71 games, 69 out of the bullpen. His only other start was last May 30, when he allowed three runs over four innings in the second game of a twinbill for Class A Dayton. His longest outing this season was 2 2/3 innings.
"I figured they'd try to get at least three [innings] out of me," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "The pitch count was down, so I knew that they would try to save the bullpen and let me go as long I could. I got a lot of early swings -- there are a lot of first-pitch hackers on that team."
Despite Tuesday's success, Doyle doesn't expect to find himself in the rotation anytime soon. And he doesn't have a problem with that.
"I'm sure if there are any more doubleheaders or spot starts, I'll get the call again," the Missouri State University product said. "I started my entire career, but after being a reliever for so long I'd rather stay in the bullpen. I don't know what I'd do with myself having four days off."
Billy Hamilton, the Reds' No. 2 prospect, doubled, tripled and drove in three runs, while Devin Lohman collected two RBIs for the Blaze.
A.J. Kirby-Jones homered in the seventh to avoid the shutout for the Ports, who have lost 16 straight.