One hundred is a nice round number and Robbie Erlin will take it. He would have liked a win, too.
The Rangers prospect fanned a career-high 14 -- running his season total to triple digits -- over 6 2/3 innings on Sunday, but the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders dropped a 4-3 decision to the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Erlin struck out the side three times and bested his previous single-game high in strikeouts by four. He fanned 10 in a seven-inning start for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach on April 25.
"I just tried to work ahead and made it a plan to work ahead in the zone," said Erlin, who had a 15-strikeout no-hitter for Scotts Valley High School in California before the Rangers made him their third-round pick in the 2009 Draft. "That is definitely what added to being in two-strike counts and being able to throw that third strike."
Erlin fanned 125 over 114 2/3 innings last year in his first full pro season at Class A Hickory. He followed that by going 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts for Myrtle Beach this spring before his promotion to the Texas League. The 20-year-old left-hander was seeking his fifth consecutive win for the RoughRiders, despite taking a 5.28 ERA into Sunday's start.
No one pitch was responsible for his run of Ks against Corpus Christi, although Erlin said he worked on throwing his changeup "firm" -- keeping it down in the strike zone -- after allowing at least four runs for the third straight outing on Monday against Midland. An improved curveball also helped.
When he did encounter late trouble, his fastball was to blame. After falling behind Jon Gaston, 2-0, leading off the seventh, Erlin served up a blast over the right-center field fence. He threw two strikes to Jake Goebbert, who sent the next pitch over the left-field wall. Both homers came on heaters that hovered over too much of the plate, Erlin said.
Erlin struck out T.J. Steele on 12 pitches, running his total for the game to 105. In addition to missed location, he cited another reason for the sour end to his start.
"I was fatigued, I'm not going to lie," he said. "Their hitters did a good job of hitting mistakes. At this level, if you leave a mistake over the plate, it's going to get hit."
Erlin hasn't gone past seven innings in any start during his brief career and has had occasional trouble ending his nights with a clean seventh.
"I don't think it's something I have done a whole lot of, so, definitely, throwing to hitters the third and fourth time is a lot different than the first time," he said. "It's something to keep in my mind for next time and pay attention to how I pitched them earlier in the game."
After fanning Steele, Erlin gave the ball to reliever Justin Miller, who protected Frisco's 3-2 lead in the seventh and eighth. But the Hooks rallied in the ninth against Fabio Castillo (1-4), with Steele drilling a two-run walk-off homer.