Jake Woodford's inconsistent start to the season in Double-A has given way to a complete 180-degree turn in the Pacific Coast League.The No. 19 Cardinals prospect allowed three hits and struck out six over six innings to help Triple-A Memphis blank Sacramento, 4-0, on Thursday night at AutoZone Park.
Jake Woodford's inconsistent start to the season in Double-A has given way to a complete 180-degree turn in the Pacific Coast League.
The No. 19 Cardinals prospect allowed three hits and struck out six over six innings to help Triple-A Memphis blank Sacramento, 4-0, on Thursday night at AutoZone Park.
Woodford (3-2) walked one, hit a batter and tossed 57 of his 85 pitches for strikes.
"I was getting ahead of guys tonight, which always puts the advantage in your favor," the 21-year-old said. "I wasn't trying to do too much. I was looking to be aggressive in the strike zone, stay within myself and execute. If you can do that, you'll see success. It also helps playing with a team like this and having trust in them. This club is incredible."
Woodford worked around a leadoff walk to Grégor Blanco in the first inning and a two-out single by Trevor Brown in the second.
Gameday box score
The right-hander enjoyed his only clean frame in the third, notching a groundout and a pair of strikeouts. He plunked Ryder Jones in the fourth, allowed an infield single to Giants' 26th-ranked prospect Tyler Herb in the fifth and surrendered a base knock to No. 5 Chris Shaw in the sixth. Woodford retired Jerry Sands and Jones on a pair of flyouts to end his second scoreless outing of the season and first since he tossed eight zeros for Double-A Springfield on May 24.
The Florida native has surrendered two runs on 11 hits while striking out 15 in 17 2/3 innings during a three-game winning streak. Woodford's ERA in six starts with Memphis stands at 2.73 after 5.22 mark he accumulated in Springfield.
Woodford was assigned to the Texas League to begin this season after going 7-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 23 appearances (21 starts) in the Florida State League in 2017. The 21-year-old sported a 6.17 ERA in April before rebounding to a 3.41 mark in May. Despite yielding 15 runs in four June starts, he was promoted to Memphis on June 24 and allowed four runs in five innings in his PCL debut the following night.
"There's going to be ups and downs throughout the season," Woodford said. "I just try and focus on what comes up next and put the past behind me, including a good start like tonight. I have another one in five days and you need a short memory in this game."
He returned to Springfield on July 12, but was brought back to Memphis eight days later. He once again finds himself a single step away from the Majors.
"We're all trying to get better -- that's why we're here. At end of the day, that's the goal." Woodford explained. " I like to keep my focus on pitching. Whether I'm out on the mound or prepping in between starts, it's my job to learn, go out and compete. This is a very humbling game, so you can't look too far ahead. If you put your head down, do the work you need to do, the rest will take care of itself."
Matt Bowman and Tommy Layne combined to retire all nine batters they faced in relief, four via the strikeout, to complete Memphis' league-leading ninth shutout.
Patrick Wisdom homered and Adolis García added two doubles and two RBIs. The 25-year-old Garcia is batting .451 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs in his last 11 games, which included a three-homer, eight-RBI performance last Thursday against Salt Lake.
"Incredible, he can't get out," Woodford said of Garcia. "It feels like every time he gets a hit, it's for extra bases and it's driving in runs. He's an incredibly talented player, a great guy and a great teammate. I'm not surprised at all to see this from him. He works his butt off."
Herb (1-4) surrendered two runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four in six innings for Sacramento.
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.