Jesus Luzardo entered Wednesday's start against the D-backs determined to prove that what he's shown through his professional career to this point is just the tip of the iceberg -- that he's got another gear he can tap.
MLB Pipeline's No. 13 overall prospect showcased exactly that as he worked around four hits and a pair of walks while fanning a career-best seven over 6 1/3 scoreless frames, pitching the A's to a 4-1 win at the Oakland Coliseum.
The outing was the longest of Luzardo's pro career, eclipsing his previous highwater mark of six innings, which he did twice: on July 9, 2018 with Double-A Midland and last Aug. 30 with Triple-A Las Vegas.
"I feel like everyone has that mentality that I can only go five and dive," Luzardo told reporters after the game. "I want to show I can go longer than that. My arm feels good. I'm ready to show people what I can do."
Against the D-backs, the 22-year-old was efficient as he coasted through six frames. Luzardo (2-0) needed only seven pitches to get through the first, 48 to make it through four and was at 64 after striking out the side in the fifth. The top A's prospect faced two over the minimum through 4 2/3 innings and ended up throwing 58 of 92 pitches for strikes -- including first-pitch strikes to 12 of the 24 batters he faced.
"I thought my changeup was the best it’s been all year. But also with my breaking ball finally back, we worked on it and kind of threw it back in the mix,” Luzardo said. “I was able to throw it for a strike. I had late bite on it, so I was glad to have it back again.
“I think that’s what really helped me today, just being able to have a three-pitch mix. In the past starts, especially in my last one, I was fastball-changeup. So being able to show all three and show that I could throw all three in any count definitely helped my case.”
The first hard-hit ball against Luzardo came with two outs in the sixth when Christian Walker sent a laser to center field that was tracked down by Ramón Laureano. The left-hander yielded six baserunners all night and was aided by a pair of double plays from his defense: an around-the-horn gem that ended the first and a gem started by third baseman Matt Chapman that extinguished Arizona's best threat in the sixth. Both were grounded into by the hot-hitting Starling Marte who Luzardo also whiffed in the fourth.
“It was huge,” Luzardo said. “I think I let him know a hundred times that he’s the man. It saved me a lot of pitches, obviously, let me go back out there for the next inning, getting out of that jam and getting two big defensive plays from Chappy and Oly [Matt Olson]."
After coaxing Eduardo Escobar to fly to center for the first out in the seventh, Luzardo gave up a bloop single to left to Kole Calhoun. Yusmeiro Petit came on and kept the shutout intact.
"I would've liked to have let him try to finish the seventh, but they had hit a couple balls in the sixth; in the seventh, 95 [pitches] is about where I wanted to go," A's skipper Bob Melvin said. "So if he got into a pitch count battle with the next guy, it would've been more than I would've been comfortable with."
Luzardo earned his second win of the year and lowered his ERA to 3.67. In six appearances, including four starts, the southpaw has 27 punchouts while walking 11 over 27 frames. His performance against Arizona comes on the heels of his worst career outing when he allowed six runs on nine hits and a pair of walks over 3 1/3 innings against the Giants.
"I wanted to get the ball the next day, but having to sit back and see what I did and know what my plan had to be moving forward in my next step, bouncing back from the last one, I feel like I had a plan and I worked with it well,” he said. “Now I definitely know what I need to do.”
Second-ranked A's prospect Sean Murphy doubled in the fourth and worked a walk.
In other action:
White Sox 5, Tigers 3
Eighth-ranked White Sox prospect Dane Dunning and Tigers No. 2 prospect Casey Mize made history. They became the first pair of pitchers since at least 1901 to make their Major League debuts in the same game and record at least seven punchouts. Dunning yielded three runs on five hits and a walk over 4 1/3 innings, while Mize gave up three runs on seven hits over the same stretch. MLB.com’s No. 8 overall prospect became the first hurler in Tigers history to notch seven punchouts without issuing a walk in his big league debut and the first to do it in the Majors since the Nationas' Stephen Strasburg on June 8, 2010. No. 19 White Sox prospect Danny Mendick went hitless in three at-bats and righty Matt Foster -- who relieved Dunning -- worked around a walk and fanned a pair over 1 2/3 hitless frames. Chicago’s 28th-ranked prospect has not allowed a run in eight appearances this season while limiting opponents to a .079 average. Tigers No. 6 prospect Isaac Paredes worked a four-pitch walk off Dunning in the fifth and came around to score two pitches later on a homer by Jeimer Candelario. Tigers No. 18 prospect Bryan Garcia struck out one in a perfect seventh. Box score
Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2
Jays No. 23 prospect Santiago Espinal notched his second straight multi-hit performance with a double in the second inning and a single in the fifth. The 25-year-old is batting .500 in August. No. 22 prospect Anthony Alford was hitless in two trips to the plate, but right-hander Thomas Hatch retired all five batters he faced out of the bullpen. The 25th-ranked Toronto prospect has a 0.86 WHIP and .128 opponents' batting average in six appearances this season. Box score
Brewers 9, Twins 3
Tenth-ranked Milwaukee prospect Drew Rasmussen made his big league debut and worked around a pair of hits over two innings of scoreless relief, punching out three. Box score
Cardinals 9, Cubs 3 (1st game)
Top Cardinals prospect Dylan Carlson reached on an infield single leading off the sixth, stole his first bag and scored on a knock by Tommy Edman. It was the only hit in four at-bats for MLB.com’s No. 18 overall prospect. Top Cubs prospect Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch and went hitless in two at-bats. Box score
Cubs 4, Cardinals 2 (2nd game)
Adbert Alzolay’s first start of the season was reminiscent of his Major League debut. The seventh-ranked Cubs prospect yielded an unearned run on two hits and a walk with six punchouts over five innings. Alzolay retired nine consecutive Cardinals between the second and fourth innings. Last June 20, the right-hander walked off to a standing ovation after allowing one run over 4 2/3 innings of relief against the Mets at Wrigley Field in his first MLB game. Hoerner is batting .204/.286/.245 after singling as a pinch-hitter. Cardinals No. 13 prospect Johan Oviedo made his MLB debut and allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in five innings. The 22-year-old righty had his reflexes tested when he gloved Kyle Schwarber’s 108.7-mph liner to start the fourth. Carlson was hitless in two at-bats but walked and scored a run. Cards No. 11 prospect Genesis Cabrera struck out a pair in a perfect sixth, his first clean inning in three appearances this season. Box score
Royals 4, Reds
Reds No. 24 prospect Tejay Antone navigated around a pair of hits and a walk over 2 2/3 scoreless frames out of the bullpen. The righty struck out five and has given up three earned runs on six hits while fanning 18 over 13 1/3 innings in four appearances. Box score
Red Sox 6, Phillies 3
Top Phillies prospect Alec Bohm walked and reached on a throwing error. He put together an eight-pitch at-bat against Matt Barnes in the eighth, but hit into some hard luck, smashing a 105.2-mph grounder to shortstop for an inning-ending double play. MLB.com’s No. 31 overall prospect is batting .300/.417/.400 with two doubles, two RBIs and four walks in 20 at-bats since his promotion on Aug. 13. Box score
Astros 13, Rockies 6
Abraham Toro entered as a pinch-runner after Alex Bregman injured his hamstring in the fourth inning. The third-ranked Astros prospect contributed two hits, an RBI and a run scored. It the first multi-hit effort in seven games for the Toro, who's batting .162. Playing in his first game since July 26, Astros No. 25 prospect Taylor Jones recorded his first two Major League hits with RBI singles in the fifth and sixth innings. Top Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers was recalled from the club’s alternate training site before the game and delivered a two-run single in the ninth. Rockies No. 12 prospect Sam Hilliard struck out in his lone plate appearance, while 18th-ranked Ryan Castellani surrendered five runs on eight hits and a walk with one strikeout in 5 2/3 innings. Rockies No. 30 prospect Ashton Goudeau allowed a run on four hits over 1 2/3 innings in his big league debut. Box score
Padres 6, Rangers 3
Padres No. 19 prospect Jake Cronenworth recorded his second consecutive multi-hit game. The 26-year-old infielder is 6-for-15 (.400) with three extra-base hits in the past four contests to get his slash line up to .321/.387/.607. Rangers No. 26 prospect Jonathan Hernandez worked a 1-2-3 eighth, beginning his outing with a three-pitch strikeout of Manny Machado. He has a 1.84 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 14 2/3 innings this season. Box score
Mariners 6, Dodgers 4
Fifth-ranked M's prospect Evan White fouled a ball of his left knee in the third inning and had to be helped off the field. X-rays on the knee were negative. No. 19 prospect Braden Bishop went hitless in three trips to the plate. Third-ranked Dodgers prospect Keibert Ruiz singled in the second, while No. 17 Dennis Santana was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on three hits and a pair of walks while retiring two batters. Lefty Victor Gonzalez, ranked 23rd in the L.A. system, worked two hitless frames. Box score
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.