Xavier Cedeno has baffled hitters at times this year. On Monday night in a record-setting outing for Double-A Corpus Christi, he was downright dominant.
Cedeno (4-5) struck out a franchise-high 14 batters and allowed a lone sixth-inning single over 6 2/3 shutout innings as the Hooks fell to Frisco, 6-3. He outdueled the RoughRiders' Joe Wieland, who was making his Double-A debut.
"It feels really good. I'm sure I've never had a game like that before. You don't have that many games when you have 14 strikeouts," Cedeno said.
The 24-year-old, who leads the Texas League with 93 strikeouts, fanned the first nine batters he faced -- eight swinging -- and was perfect through 5 2/3 innings of the loss for the Astros' affiliate.
Cedeno topped the modern-day record formerly held by Astros pitcher Jim Deshaies, who struck out the first eight batters of a game against the Dodgers on Sept. 23, 1986, and he fell one short of the Texas League record for consecutive strikeouts set in 1910 by San Antonio pitcher Harry Ables.
After retiring the first 17 in order, the southpaw yielded a single to Frisco's No. 9 hitter Guilder Rodriguez to break up his no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth.
"I knew about it, but I wasn't thinking about it, to be honest," Cedeno added. "That is when you get a little bit too careful and start throwing a lot of pitches. I just wanted to keep my team in the game and make [Frisco] swing the bat. All my teammates said to me was 'Keep doing what you're doing.'"
Cedeno, who got to just one three-ball count, established a franchise single-game record for strikeouts by a starting pitcher. He topped the previous team high of 12, set by Mitch Talbot over seven innings in an 8-2 win against the Arkansas Travelers on June 22, 2006.
A native of Puerto Rico, Cedeno needed 41 pitches to strike out the side three times the first time through the order. He struck out one more hitter in each of the fourth and fifth innings and another two in the sixth.
"Pretty much every pitch was working," he explained. "I hit my spots well and I was attacking hitters. My curveball was pretty good and my slider, change-up and cutter were working too. I trusted all of my pitches and I was mixing them up."
Renny Osuna reached on Jose Altuva's fielding error to lead off the seventh inning when a sharp one-hopper bounced off the second baseman's glove. Van Ostrand made a diving stop to deny Tommy Mendonca of an extra-base hit, but Bianucci was awarded first base on catcher interference and both baserunners advanced on Cedeno's second wild pitch of the evening.
The 6-foot-1 product of Miami Dade Community College struck out Jose Ruiz to keep both runners in scoring position, giving him his 14th strikeout for the night and setting a new game record for strikeouts by the Hooks this season. Arcenio Leon, Jonnathan Aristil and Matt Nevarez combined to strike out 13 against the Midland RockHounds on May 5.
Mike Perconte came in out of the bullpen and struck out Jonathan Greene to close the book on Cedeno's night. It was his third double-digit strikeout game and it lowered his ERA to 3.54, seventh-best in the league. He previously fanned 10 batters over six three-hit innings for the Class A Advanced Modesto Nuts in a 9-0 victory over the High Desert Mavericks on Aug. 24, 2007, and he replicated the feat for the Hooks in a 3-2 loss to the Arkansas Travelers on June 6.
"I respected the decision that the manager made. It was a move he had to make because there was a righty coming up," Cedeno added. "It was late in the game, I had just struck out the left-hander and he wanted to change their mind-set."
Cedeno's outing was reminiscent of his start May 26 in Springfield, a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals. He allowed one hit and struck out eight over 7 2/3 innings, and just like in Monday's game, he knew he had his good stuff early on.
"This was like how I felt in Springfield when I nearly threw a no-hitter," he said. "They were pretty much the same games from the bullpen and warming up. I was trying to get the ball over the plate in both starts and that is what I want to try and do going forward."
The last Hooks pitcher to flirt with perfection was Chase Douglass, who set down the first 17 batters in a 2-1 win over the RockHounds on June 8, 2006. He allowed one run on four hits over eight innings and, like Cedeno, did not factor in the decision.
Starter Wieland didn't have the same pitching line, but he was able to take a lot of positives from his debut with Frisco.
The former Rangers fourth-rounder allowed one run on six hits while striking out five over five innings and he said he benefited from Cedeno's fast pace.
"I felt great out there and it's a confidence booster," he said. "It shows me that I can pitch in this league and that there is nothing to be afraid of. I have a real quick tempo and when I get going I like to keep going, so I actually preferred [Cedeno working fast]. Sometimes a rest or a long inning hurts me."
Wieland was 6-3 with a 2.10 ERA in 14 games -- 13 starts -- with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans before his callup, but he looked comfortable at the new level.
"I had some nerves in the first inning, a few jitters, but I was pretty comfortable because I had played with a lot of the guys last year in Bakersfield. All of my pitches were working and I took a lot of pride in not walking guys."
On Sunday, the RoughRiders' Robbie Erlin fanned a career-high 14 over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-3 loss to the Hooks. It was the first time any player struck out 14 batters at Whataburger Field.