The book on Tony Cingrani's season already was a great read, but he added another chapter Saturday night.
The Reds' No. 10 prospect scattered two hits and three walks over six scoreless innings to lead the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos past the Mobile BayBears, 8-2.
The outing extended Cingrani's shutout streak to 20 2/3 innings and marks the second time this season he's gone three straight starts without allowing a run. He also achieved the feat from April 20-May 2 with Class A Advanced Bakersfield.
"It's done a lot for my confidence," Cingrani said of his recent run. "I'm always going to be confident out there, no matter what, though. If they hit the ball, hopefully, I can keep from letting them hit it too hard. That's always been my job and it's something I'm always working on."
The left-hander, who turned 23 on Thursday, ran into some trouble against Mobile. In the third, he walked Evan Frey with one out and gave up a single to Chris Owings. Owings was nailed on the back end of a double-steal, but Matt Davidson also walked to put runners on the corners. Blue Wahoos catcher Mark Fleury again came to Cingrani's aid, throwing out Davidson on another steal attempt.
That sequence served as a wake-up call.
"There was a little spark of excitement there in the third," Cingrani said. "So all I wanted to do from there on out was throw harder. I was rushing a little bit, too. So I tried sitting back on my leg a little longer, and that helped me stay back and throw more pitches in the zone."
The strategy worked.
The former closer at Rice University retired the final nine batters he faced, three on strikeouts after he failed to fan a single batter over the first three frames.
However, Cingrani noted he still longs to twirl a game like the one on June 27 that started his shutout streak.
"That 15-K game was the best one I've had here so far," he said. "My off-speed [stuff] was really working in that game, I think. I'm always trying to repeat things I did then, but all I can do is go out there and compete like I always do."
Cingrani's 1.28 ERA between Bakersfield (10 starts) and Pensacola (seven) leads all full-season Minor Leaguers. He also ranks second in the Minors with 121 strikeouts, sixth with a 0.94 WHIP and seventh with a .186 opponents' batting average.
As gaudy as those numbers may appear, Cingrani knows the streak will come to an end. And he acknowledges that he still has work to do on his changeup and slider.
"If it happens, it happens," he said. "I've been happy with my performances. As long as I don't go out there and give up, say, seven runs or something, I'll be happy with where I'm at."
Beau Mills homered, doubled and drove in four runs for the Blue Wahoos. Bryson Smith added two RBIs, while Reds No. 4 prospect Didi Gregorius was 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored.
Ed Easley went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs for the BayBears.