It's almost getting cliché at this point to write about another fine outing by a Diamondbacks pitching prospect, but then David Holmberg is making a run at some serious history. The 19-year-old lefthander threw seven shutout innings for low Class A South Bend last night, striking out seven West Michigan hitters and allowing just two baserunners on a single in the third inning and an error in the fourth. He retired the final 10 hitters he faced.
"(Holmberg) got a lot of early outs," West Michigan manager Ernie Young told The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press. "A bunch of one-pitch outs, a bunch of two-pitch outs. When you don't go up there and battle on a day like this, that's what's going to happen, you're going to make a lot of early outs.
"In back-to-back innings, we probably only saw maybe a total of 15 pitches or less. That right there makes it tough."
However, Holmberg's performance in this one outing only scratches the surface how dominant he's been. His seven shutout innings last night extended a shutout streak he's been carrying since May 29 to 34 innings, spanning five starts. The 34-inning streak is eight away from the Midwest League record of 42, which has been held by Mark Grant since 1982.
Since starting the year 0-3, 4.67 through his first five starts, Holmberg has won eight straight decisions, running his record to 8-3, 2.39 in 83 innings. The 34 innings without giving up a run are ridiculous enough, but all of Holmberg's numbers during the streak are downright video game-esque. His strikeout-to-walk ratio during the streak is 31-to-1. He's allowed all of 10 hits during the 34 innings, holding opposing batters to a miniscule .089 average. He hasn't allowed an extra-base hit in 22 innings since Quad Cities' Greg Garcia doubled against him in the seventh inning on June 3, a game in which Holmberg threw a complete game shutout.
AROUND THE MINORS
• The first three hitters to face Tigers lefty Drew Smyly connected for hits to start his outing yesterday with high Class A Lakeland, but he settled down quickly. Smyly gave up a run in the first but escaped further damage thanks to a key double play, and he allowed just two more hits the rest of the afternoon, going six innings and striking out eight. He picked up the win to improve to 4-2, 2.77 in 55 innings for the year. Smyly has found a groove since coming off the disabled list in late May after missing a month with a sore arm. He's gone 4-1, 2.15 while posting a 34-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 innings since coming back, and he's only allowed one home run all season.
• Royals righthander Tim Melville bottomed out on June 5 when he gave up five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings with high Class A Wilmington, dropping his record to 5-6, 5.17, but he's actually strung together his best four-start stretch of the season since then. The 21-year-old worked 6 2/3 innings last night, his second longest outing of the year, allowing one run on seven hits. He struck out six and walked one. Over his last four outings, Melville is 2-0, 1.96, having allowed five earned runs in 23 innings. His strikeout rate still hasn't been spectacular, with 19 during that stretch, but any signs of progress are welcome at this point. Melville's stuff is still solid, he boasts a fastball that will hit 94-95 mph regularly, so there's still hope, especially now that he's starting to show signs of success.
• Twins third baseman Miguel Sano went 5-for-26 in his first six games with Rookie-level Elizabethton, but he's busted out of that slump by going 6-for-8 the last two days. Sano, 18, had the first four-hit game of his pro career last night when he went 4-for-5 and finished a triple short of the cycle, connecting for a homer and two doubles. It was also his second night in a row with a homer, and his line stands at .324/.351/.559 (11-for-34) through eight games.
• While he's watched Triple-A Columbus infieldmates Lonnie Chisenhall and Cord Phelps get summoned to the majors, all Jason Kipnis can do is keep hitting. The Indians second baseman belted two home runs last night against Toledo, bringing his season total to 11. Kipnis finished the night 2-for-4, his third straight multi-hit game, and he upped his slash line to .295/.377/.523 in 281 at-bats. Kipnis' two homers came against both a righthander (L.J. Gagnier) and a lefty (Adam Wilk), and the lefty hitting Kipnis has continued to be adept at handling southpaws all year, hitting .303/.382/.573 against them compared to .292/.374/.500 against righthanders.
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