According to Donn Roach, it was simply a slight tweak made a couple weeks back that was primarily responsible for his role in one of the Texas League's better pitching duels of the season Thursday.
San Diego's No. 14 prospect took the hill for Double-A San Antonio opposite Midland's Drew Granier, ranked No. 18 in Oakland's system.
They almost matched one another pitch for pitch.
Roach gave up a single to the first batter of the game, Conner Crumbliss, and was pretty much untouchable from there. He went six innings with one walk and four strikeouts as the Missions eventually emerged victorious in 10 innings, 1-0.
"That's one of the best things about the game. Except for that I blew the no-hitter to the first batter, I was very happy with the way it went. Probably the best I've had this year," he said. "My sinker was working pretty good. Able to throw my curveball for strikes and I threw a lot more four-seam fastballs than normal. It helped a lot, giving the hitters a different look at my fastball rather than just throwing that sinker all the time."
The 2010 third-rounder is in his first full season at Double-A. He had seen mixed results after he notched a 1.88 ERA in 105 1/3 innings last year, mostly between Class A Advanced Inland Empire and then Lake Elsinore following a trade to the Padres.
During San Antonio's last homestead toward the end of June, though, San Diego's roving Minor League pitching coordinator, Mike Cather, found a way to correct some of the flaws in Roach's mechanics.
"He took some video, actually of the first inning of the game and showed me what I was doing. That's when it really clicked, like, 'Man, I need to use this back side,'" Roach said. "It was a physical adjustment, using my back side more, I've made that I think has helped tremendously. I get better extension, a lot better life on my fastball and everything is down. It's helped everything pretty much."
In his next start at Tulsa on July 4, he went 5 1/3 frames, allowing just a run on two hits and a walk. And then came Thursday's gem.
"I had some success early and then kind of dipped down, had some struggles here in the middle of the season. I think it's helped me a lot to have those struggles, to learn how to make the adjustments. I'm finally starting to figure out how to get back to where I was," he said. "I mean I wish I could have made them a little faster, but I'm definitely happy with where I am right now."
Roach sports a 6-8 record with a 3.93 ERA in 18 starts. He has 57 strikeouts and 34 walks in 94 frames.
Granier, for his part, scattered two hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander has been one of the top strikeout pitchers in the Minors this year with 113 in 107 1/3 innings total.
With Class A Advanced Stockton, he posted a 3.25 ERA with 97 strikeouts and 40 walks in 83 innings. In 24 1/3 frames with Midland since his promotion, he's notched a 1.48 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 13 walks.
San Antonio took home the win in the 10th on a bases-loaded single by Yeison Asencio that scored Cory Spangenberg.