Joe Wieland looks like he's starting to get the hang of the California League.
Wieland recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts and allowed four hits over seven innings Tuesday night as the Bakersfield Blaze blanked the Visalia Rawhide, 5-0.
The Rangers' fourth-round pick in the 2008 Draft retired 13 consecutive batters after Dan Kaczowski led off the bottom of the first with a single. Wieland (3-2) surrendered back-to-back singles with one out in the fifth but got Rossmel Perez to foul out and struck out Gerson Montilla to avoid damage.
"I was able to keep the ball low and hit my spots," said Wieland, whose previous best was 10 strikeouts against Visalia on July 17. "Getting ahead let me set up late in the count, and that's what happens when you throw strikes."
The Nevada native finished strongly, fanning four of his final five batters, with Kyle Green's one-out double in the seventh the only blemish. He exited after tossing 103 pitches.
Wieland was promoted to Bakersfield last month after going 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA and two complete games in 15 starts for Class A Hickory. The 20-year-old right-hander had struggled in the hitter-friendly Cal League, posting a 1-2 record and 9.35 ERA in his first five starts. But he's 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last two outings.
"My first couple of starts, I thought I could attack the hitters, but they are much better and you have to go to your off-speed [stuff] early in the game," Wieland said. "I got beat with two strikes because I tried to go after them with fastballs. Last two starts, I've been showing them my curveball and changeup early in the count and the game."
Cory Young struck out one over 1 1/3 hitless innings before Fabio Castillo recorded the final two outs for Bakersfield.
Wieland was supported by Mike Bianucci, who homered and drove in four runs. He hit a three-run shot, his 15th, in the fourth and had an RBI groundout in the sixth.
"I was just seeing the ball well," Bianucci said. "(Visalia starter Ryan Cook) elevated the one pitch that I hit out and I was fortunate to get it out of there."
Bianucci has four homers in his last three games and is batting .349 (15-for-43) during a 10-game hitting streak.
"I had some bad games, but I try not to focus on bad results. That's been the biggest change the last 15 games," he said.
Cook (4-7) opened the game with three perfect innings but came apart in the fourth. He ended up allowing five runs on five hits with nine strikeouts over seven frames.