Chiefs' Jenkins goes the distance

Cards prospect fires first career shutout, sets sights on no-no

Tyrell Jenkins had not pitched past the sixth inning in 36 starts as a pro. (Paul R. Gierhart/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | May 5, 2013 3:52 PM ET

After tossing the first complete-game shutout of his professional career Sunday, Tyrell Jenkins already has set an even loftier goal for his next start.

The Cardinals' No. 5 prospect pitched a three-hitter, striking out five and walking one, as the Class A Peoria Chiefs blanked the visiting Fort Wayne TinCaps, 1-0.

"I felt strong toward the end, like I could have gone another three innings," the first-rounder said. "Those are always the best days when you're not thinking, just throwing. Once I got out of the eighth, there was no way they were taking me out. That was my mentality.

"It lets me know that if I pitch within myself, I can do this every game. This is my best start. I'll live it up today, but after that, tomorrow's a new day and it's back to work for my next start. This is just a starting point and I'll try to throw a no-hitter next time out on Friday."

The 20-year-old right-hander worked around back-to-back singles in the first inning, then cruised. He retired 21 of the next 22 batters, including 16 in a row at one point, before Brian Adams reached on third baseman Carson Kelly's throwing error with one out in the eighth.

The only other TinCap to reach base against Jenkins (1-2) was Jeremy Baltz, who singled to left field with two outs in the ninth but was stranded at first base.

"The plan was to come in and establish my fastball early and then throughout the game," said Jenkins, who induced 14 ground-ball outs, five fly balls and a pair of popups. "I threw a few four-seamers up and they got hit. After that, it was all sinkers right down the middle. I was begging them to hit it, beat it into the ground.

"Whenever I'm keeping the ball down, I get a lot of ground balls. I don't consider that a bad thing as long as we're getting outs. [My defense] did great. I had confidence in them from the first inning. I knew anything they hit was going to be an out, that's how the defense has been all year. My outfielders made some big catches, my catcher threw a guy out late in the game and my infielders got a lot of ground ball outs."

The victory was Jenkins' first since Aug. 18 and marked the first time in his four-year career that he pitched past the sixth inning. He entered the weekend with an 0-2 record and 7.71 ERA, and opponents were hitting .333 against him.

Selected 50th overall in the 2010 Draft, the Texas native went 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA in 19 Midwest League starts last year. That prompted some small mechanical tweaks during the offseason.

"When I came set, I would come set straight up and my balance would be off," said Jenkins, who threw 67 of 93 pitches for strikes. "Now it's more with my weight over my toes so my weight is going toward the plate and I'm not off-balance. From the stretch, it's just about staying tall so the ball comes out well and on a nice downward plane.

"Today, I really commanded my fastball and established it. We have been working on some things on my mechanics. [Last week] in Bowling Green, we took two days off throwing completely because of the rainouts, so I got off my schedule. This week, I had a full week of preparation."

The Chiefs scored the game's only run in the fifth as Michael Swinson doubled with one out, took third on a ground ball and came home on Casey Rasmus' bloop single to right field.

Fort Wayne starter Ruben Mejia fell to 1-3 after giving up one run on four hits over five innings. He walked one batter and struck out one.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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