Brandon Woodruff cut off the opposition Wednesday like it was his old mustache.
The right-handed Milwaukee prospect matched a career high with 10 strikeouts over seven innings as Double-A Biloxi beat Pensacola, 1-0. Woodruff surrendered three hits while walking one.
The 23-year-old threw 67 of his 99 pitches for strikes while tying a season high for innings pitched.
"First and foremost is getting ahead with the fastball," said Woodruff, who also fanned 10 on May 14 for Class A Advanced Brevard County. "That's what sets up my whole game. If I'm getting ahead with the fastball and pounding the strike zone, I tend to get some early outs. It was a fastball up. That's been the pitch. When things are going good, it's a fastball right around the belt and up. Tonight, when I needed a strikeout, that's what I went to."
Over his last three starts, Woodruff (4-6) has allowed just one earned run while giving up 13 hits over 17 2/3 innings. The Mississippi native has recorded 23 strikeouts over that time and has lowered his ERA to 4.04 in 11 Southern League starts.
"I just try to get ahead and have quick innings and let the defense work," Woodruff said. "To get deep into games you need a lower pitch count, so I try to pitch to contact. I let my defense work for me. That's been the biggest thing for me the last few outings, attacking the zone and making guys hit my pitches.
"This is by far the most well-rounded start. I had some K's, I got some quick outs, I would say this was my best start."
Perhaps the secret to the 2014 11th-round pick's success can be tracked back to his grooming habits. He ditched his mustache two weeks ago.
"Before I got called up to Double-A, I was shaving and my clippers broke and the mustache was what was left," Woodruff said. "I had a few good outings in Brevard [County] and got called up, so I stuck with the mustache. Then, I had a few outings here where things weren't working out for me, so I had to do away with it and start a new streak."
Overall, Woodruff is 8-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 19 starts between the Manatees and the Blue Wahoos.
The game remained scoreless through seven innings as Reds' No. 9 prospect Nick Travieso matched Woodruff's efforts.
"It's so fun because when it's a pitchers' duel, you're going back out there and you don't have much time to sit in the dugout," Woodruff said. "That's my kind of game. I'm the type of guy that can't sit still in the dugout. So whenever I get to get out there real quick, it keeps you in a good rhythm."
The Shuckers broke through in the top of the eighth when Javier Betancourt singled home Brewers' No. 10 prospect Jacob Nottingham.
Tristan Archer gave up a hit and struck out two in the eighth while Stephen Kohlscheen fanned two in a perfect ninth en route to his ninth save.
Travieso fell to 4-5 after giving up a run on four hits while striking out six over 7 1/3 innings.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.