For a player as hot as Tony Cingrani and a team that's been as scorching as Bakersfield, the name "Blaze" is certainly appropriate.
The Reds' No. 14 prospect surrendered just one hit over six shutout innings as the Class A Advanced Bakersfield Blaze defeated the Stockton Ports, 8-1, for their 10th consecutive win.
"It's been the whole team [contributing]," Cingrani said."It's different guys every time. It's fun."
The outing marked the third time in four starts that Cingrani has held his opponent without a run, giving him a California League-leading 0.39 ERA. In his one loss, he yielded two runs -- one earned -- in four innings to the San Jose Giants.
"I'm just throwing the fastball in spots," Cingrani said. "It's my favorite pitch to throw. Luckily, I've had some good defense behind me and I'm striking out a bunch of people. I'm just trying to keep them off base. Luckily, there hasn't been a wind-blown home run yet."
Cingrani had little trouble from the start of Thursday's contest, working around a two-out walk in the first to retire eight of the first nine batters he faced. The only hit he gave up came with two outs in the third, when Myrio Richard doubled to center field, but the 22-year-old left-hander got out of the frame by inducing a flyout off the bat of Ryan Pineda.
"I threw a fastball I think he took for a strike and a fastball he swung at, might've been a foul tip, for a strike," Cingrani said. "I tried to elevate it, but I put it right in his wheelhouse and he hit it right in the gap for a double."
The Rice University product was nearly perfect after that. The only runner to reach base over the final three innings was Pineda, who got on board with two outs in the sixth on a fielding error by shortstop Billy Hamilton.
Overall, Cingrani fanned at least one batter in five of his six innings, including three frames in which he struck out two. He ended the game with eight punchouts, bringing his season total to 28 in 23 innings.
Donald Lutz enjoyed a strong offensive performance for the Blaze, collecting a homer, a triple and two RBIs. Hamilton, the Reds' No. 2 prospect, went 3-for-4 with four steals, two runs scored and an RBI out of the leadoff spot. After swiping 103 bases last year, he already leads the league by 11 with 23 steals this season.
"He got to first in the first inning, stole second, stole third and scored on a dropped third strike," Cingrani said. "He creates things in a baseball game I've never seen before. He's a couple levels above people. I've never seen someone like that before."
The Blaze will look to keep their streak going in Modesto, where they will take on the division-rival Nuts for the first time this season. Modesto currently owns a 9-12 record, 4.5 games behind Bakersfield in the California League North Division.
"Everybody's got to keep working hard," Cingrani said. "Just keep going out every day and having fun. Not get too high, not get too low. Keep going out, putting up the numbers that we're putting up, and we'll be good."