It was Friday the 13th, but by the time Brad Peacock was finished, 14 was the real unlucky number for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Peacock enjoyed one of his most dominant starts of an already impressive season, recording a career-high 14 strikeouts over seven innings as the Double-A Harrisburg Senators beat Richmond, 5-2.
"It felt great, I've never done that before," Peacock said of his strikeout total. "I'm glad I could do it at this level. I felt great out there."
The Miami native fanned one in the first, two each in the second and third, then struck out the side in the fourth. He rang up another victim in the fifth, two more in the sixth and struck out the side again -- all swinging -- in the seventh.
Until the seventh, however, Peacock wasn't even aware of his strikeout total. Once he realized, he amped it up a little more for what he figured would be his final frame.
"I didn't even notice, to tell you the truth, until the last inning when I came out. I sorta wondered how many I had," he said. "I knew I was coming out for my last inning, so I kinda sucked it up."
His only other double-digit strikeout performance came on April 20, 2010 when he fanned 10 over five innings for Class A Advanced Potomac. In fact, Peacock said he wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher until last year.
"Last year and this year," he laughed. "It's just been working well."
Peacock shares the Eastern League lead with 56 strikeouts over 42 1/3 innings. He posted consecutive nine-strikeout efforts on April 17-22 and totaled 14 over his two previous starts.
What's been the key pitch?
"My curveball was working great and I was definitely able to locate my fastball well, but the curve was my strikeout pitch tonight," said Peacock, who also worked in some changeups to set up the fastball. "They were swinging at them in the dirt, so they were helping me."
Peacock also got some help from Stephen King, who had an RBI single in the second and delivered a two-out two-run single that snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth. Derek Norris, the Nationals' top catching prospect, slugged his second homer of the season in the eighth before Jonathan Tucker scored from second on an infield hit in the ninth.
The 23-year-old Peacock was Washington's 41st-round pick in the 2006 Draft. He said he was drafted so late, he didn't even become aware until later on. The Nats followed him through junior college and he eventually joined the organization a year later in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Through seven games, including six starts, in his fifth pro season, Peacock is 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA that ranks fifth in the league.
"I definitely have a lot of confidence now," he said. "Everything is working well."