Cardinals' Pearce goes the distance again

Springfield righty has six complete games since start of '16

Matt Pearce is 5-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 28 strikeouts in his last five starts. (Shane Roper/

By Michael Avallone / | May 27, 2017 1:14 AM

All pitchers strive to pitch as deep as possible into games, but few do so with any regularity, particularly in this age of pitch counts and specialty relievers.

Cardinals prospect Matt Pearce is a rare breed among his fellow hurlers.

The 23-year-old tossed his second straight complete game and second career shutout in Double-A Springfield's 4-0 win over San Antonio on Friday night at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium.

Gameday box score

It was Pearce's sixth career complete game and fourth of nine innings. He had four such outings last season with Class A Advanced Palm Beach, including his first shutout on May 17, 2016.

Friday's effort was Springfield's first complete-game shutout since Corey Baker blanked Tulsa on Aug. 31, 2015.

"Pitching as far as I can is something I try to do," Pearce said. "In the past, I've been pretty good at going deep into games, and I take pride in that. I try and go as far as I can, which every starter should strive for.

"I try to do the same thing every night I'm out there: Stay in line with my catcher, work the corners of the plate, keep guys off-balance and try and throw everything for a strike while letting my defense make plays. Having the confidence in them that I do makes it much easier to do that." 

Pearce (5-2) relied on his fielders, inducing 11 groundouts and five flyouts. The Florida native struck out six and didn't walk anyone while tossing 76 of a season-high 107 pitches for strikes. He faced three over the minimum and went to a three-ball count on two batters.

Video: Pearce finishes off complete-game for Springfield

"I just think I do a good job of keeping hitters guessing and being unpredictable," said Pearce, who is holding opponents to a .208 average. "I don't have an overpowering fastball or that typical strikeout stuff. I just try and throw everything for a strike and keep guys uncomfortable in the box. It's something I've done for years and have gotten better and better at.

"You want that power stuff, obviously. But when you're keeping guys off-balance and being unpredictable, you can still throw your fastball by guys. It doesn't need to be 100 mph."

Other than a two-out double by Nick Schulz in the first, San Antonio did not put a runner into scoring position until Alberth Martinez and Stephen McGee had consecutive singles with two outs in the eighth. Pearce protected a 2-0 lead by retiring pinch-hitter Franmil Reyes on a flyout to right.

He set the Missions down in order in the ninth to notch his fifth consecutive victory and his second straight without needing the bullpen.

"[The relievers] have been joking a little bit with me, but I'll definitely need their help," the Polk State College product said. "They've been grinding the last few days so it was good to give them a break. They've picked me up before so it's nice to return the favor."

The 2014 13th-round pick has surrendered five runs in 45 innings over his last six starts, and his 2.08 ERA is the third-lowest in the Texas League. Pearce's scoreless outing followed up his first complete game of the season on Sunday, which earned him Texas League Pitcher of the Week honors for May 15-21.

Oscar Mercado, Casey Grayson and Jesse Jenner each collected two hits and an RBI for the Cardinals. 

Padres No. 15 prospect Enyel De Los Santos (2-3) lasted a season-high eight innings. He gave up two runs, six hits, struck out seven and walked one for San Antonio. 

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Followhim on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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