Matt Peacock was spinning a gem and flirting with history for Double-A Jackson, but it wasn't really until he was standing on second base in the fifth inning when Mississippi's middle infielders reminded him just how frustrating he was on the hill.
"They were like, 'Hey, bro, stop throwing sinkers,'" the hurler said with a laugh. "I said, 'Uh, that's really all I know how to throw.'"
Keeping the ball low with his sharp sinker, the D-backs' No. 29 prospect carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning and tossed a one-hitter for his second straight complete game as the Generals blanked Mississippi, 2-0, in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday. He struck out six and walked two in his first scoreless outing since June 13.
Video: Jackson's Peacock finishes shutout
Peacock (7-3), who lowered his ERA to 2.48, had allowed five runs over 19 innings in his first three outings this month. With seven zeros against the M-Braves, he dropped his July ERA to 1.38 and WHIP to 0.77.
All of the success in July comes after a tough ending in June, which coincidentally came against the same Braves lineup. In that game, Peacock was touched for seven runs on 10 hits and four walks in 5 2/3 frames. What stood out to the Alabama native was that after the first time through the lineup in that game, Mississippi forced him to pitch up in the zone after laying off his sinkers.
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This time around, he wasn't going to acquiesce. He said he tries to "flush things pretty quickly," so moving past the poor outing at the end of June and getting back to business proved to be the right move.
"Last time I faced them, they got me pretty good," Peacock said. "I wasn't going to let them get that chance -- I learned a lot that game. ... This game, I stuck with not going up in the zone and tried to establish that sinker down as a strike. Worked in a few sliders in good counts and the defense work behind me. That's usually my bread and butter, let the defense show off their skills."
Throwing 47 of 80 pitches for strikes and facing two batters over the minimum, the right-hander went toe-to-toe with No. 10 Braves prospect Kyle Muller, who also was working on a no-no in the fifth.
The 2017 23rd-round pick knew Muller was throwing well -- especially after striking out against him in the third inning -- but wasn't going to dwell on how the opposing starter was doing. Though, admittedly, Peacock said it wasn't the most fun experience facing the southpaw's 60-grade fastball.
"All these guys in this league, I give them the same respect because they're here for a reason," he said. "I didn't realize he was the No. 10 prospect for the Braves. I don't pay attention to what they're doing. That's just one less thing I've gotta worry about, thinking about how good he's doing, and I've gotta go out there and do the same thing. ... But when I'm in that box -- he throws hard."
Peacock was perfect the first time through the lineup before walking Braves No. 25 prospect Ray-Patrick Didder to lead off the fourth. The 25-year-old worked around his first baserunner by getting Cristian Pache -- MLB.com's No. 13 overall prospect -- to bounce into a double play and striking out 43rd-ranked Drew Waters.
Ryan Casteel got Mississippi into the hit column with a leadoff double in the fifth and Braves No. 12 prospect Greyson Jenista drew a four-pitch walk to put the Generals starter in some trouble. But with right-handers coming up, Peacock wasn't worried and kept the game scoreless by fanning Carlos Martinez and inducing Alejandro Salazar to hit into double play.
"[Jenista] getting to first actually helped me out a lot," the 6-foot-1 hurler said. "[Martinez] came up next and tried to bunt, but guys don't have a lot of success bunting off me because of that sink. He just kinda kept fouling it off, which was another big break. Next guy came up, got the double play, so that was nice."
Jackson gave the University of South Alabama product all the support he needed with two runs in the bottom of the inning, and Peacock set down six of his last eight batters, working around a pair of errors.
The outing matched the longest of Peacock's career, something he's accomplished four times this season. July has proven to be his best month of the season. If he had enough innings to qualify, he'd be sixth on the circuit in ERA. Now past some early-season blister issues, Peacock is thriving but not trying to dwell on his recent strong stretch.
"The seven innings is nice and all but just not giving up many hits and learning -- getting to 0-2 and not giving up those hits all the time," he said. "Just learning from previous outings and getting to the next outing. If you start living on one good outing baseball will humble you pretty quick."
Muller (6-6) also went the distance, allowing a pair of unearned runs on three hits and three walks with six strikeouts in his second complete game of the year. Both runs scored when the left-hander fielded Peacock's comebacker but made an errant throw to first.
2019 MiLB include
Hustling to first on the play, Peacock said he might have been going just fast enough to cause a disruption on the decisive play. Especially after failing in a bunt attempt his first time up, getting just enough to "nick it" felt almost as good as pitching the shutout.
"It was cool going seven, and basically getting the runners across myself felt really good, even if it was an error," he said. "I put the ball in play and we didn't have to go to extras, so that was nice.
"Second time up, I put two really good swings on a fastball and figured he'd come in with the breaking ball. I ran as hard as I could. It might not have been really fast, but it was as fast as I could to maybe rush a throw and that's what happened. So it was a good break for the Generals."