Blaze quintet carves through Rawhide
In Class A Advanced Bakersfield pitching coach Ethan Katz's opinion, one was greater than 18 on Wednesday night.
"Strikeouts are great, but you can have 18 strikeouts and give up seven runs," he said. "When you throw a combined one-hitter though, usually the score is going to be pretty low."
Tyler Pike, Art Warren, Joe Pistorese, Darin Gillies and Thyago Vieira combined on the gem Wednesday night as the Blaze blanked Visalia, 1-0, at Recreation Park. The quintet combined to strike out 18 batters, with each tallying at least two punchouts while pitching no more than two innings.
"We've had a lot of tough games against this team," Katz said. "But the guys all did a great job and made quality pitches the whole night. It was very interesting to see the next guy step up and see them pass the torch like that."
The five-man effort was unconventional, but Katz said it was planned that way, considering the circumstances surrounding the pitchers.
"Our starter, Pike, was coming back from a little injury so he was only limited to two innings," the pitching coach explained. "The next guy, Warren, is a starter as well, but he was on innings limit so he was only scheduled to go two innings as well. The rest of the guys were our bullpen and we were just trying to keep them lmited and keep them fresh so we can have them come back."
After Pike and Katz got through the first four frames, Pistorese -- a 23-year-old southpaw -- made his California League debut by striking out the side over the next two innings around a single by D-backs No. 21 prospect Victor Reyes in the sixth.
"I was really impressed with [Pistorese]," Katz said. "He showed a great three-pitch mix, kept hitters off-balance and located the fastball in and out. And he really located his secondary stuff; he couldn't have located them any better. It was a great first outing and a great start for him in the Cal League."
Gillies fanned four in the seventh and eighth before Vieira struck out two in the ninth for his fourth save.
"A lot of this has to do with our catcher, Tyler Marlette," Katz said. "He did a great job back there with the game-calling and game-planning. We made little adjustments that we saw from previous outings that we can do better to possibly change the game. Marlette stuck to the plan and was locked in for every pitch and every hitter."
Navigating a Visalia lineup that led the league with a .275 average was no easy task, but Katz said the mix of pitchers helped keep the Rawhide on their toes.
"I think giving them different looks, going left-right-left-right, definitely made things a little bit off-balance for them," he said. "Because they have a bunch of switch-hitters in their lineup, to kind of keep them going back and forth was kind of the plan to make them a little uncomfortable. And the guys executed that perfectly."
Fifth-ranked D-backs prospect Alex Young (2-4) took the loss, despite yielding an unearned run on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts over six frames. He has not given up an earned run over 21 innings in his last three starts, lowering his ERA from 5.79 to 3.31.
Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng