Kane County's Justin Trapp puts a tag on Wisconsin's Mike Garza during Thursday's game at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 28, 2012 6:20AM
Kyle Zimmer was impressive in his Kane County Cougars debut against Wisconsin at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, but he wasn’t the best pitcher on the field Thursday night.
That honor belonged to Timber Rattlers right-hander Chad Pierce, who rose to the occasion and handcuffed the Cougars for seven innings en route to a 4-0 win. That gives the Timber Rattlers the first two games of the series, with the finale at 6:30 Friday.
Zimmer, the Kansas City Royals first round pick (fifth overall) in the June draft, took the mound for the Cougars for the first time after making three appearances for the Surprise Royals of the Arizona Rookie League, where he went 1-0 with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings of work.
Hitting the mid-90s with his fastball, the 20-year-old right-hander allowed a fourth-inning run on five hits while striking out five in a 57-pitch (42 strikes, 15 balls) effort. Zimmer, who still hasn’t allowed a walk in his pro career, put runners on base in every inning and took the loss when he surrendered an RBI single to Ben McMahan.
“I felt like I rushed on a few pitches here and there, but it felt good to get the first one out if the way,” Zimmer said. “It was fun to get out there in front of the fans and to get the music going, it was a great environment. I’m excited to pitch out there again in the future.”
Zimmer’s next start should be Tuesday in Beloit as he takes his regular place in the rotation.
“He has good stuff, the ball comes out of his hand nice,” Cougars manager Buck Buchanan said. “His command was good but he left a few pitches up. For his first start in front of some fans I thought he did well.”
Pierce (4-3), who won a road game for the first time this season, gave up just three hits while striking out eight. The Cougars had some chances late, putting runners in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth against relief pitcher Michael Strong, but couldn’t come through with a run and finished with only six hits.
The Cougars (16-16) have scored three runs in their last three games — all losses — and were shut out for the second time in their last eight games. They are 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position in this series.
“They pitched well,” Buchanan said. “We went through (an offensive lull) earlier, but that’s how baseball is sometimes. Hitting is contagious but when you aren’t hitting well it’s contagious too.”
Bryan Brickhouse (2-2, 6.52 ERA) will take the mound to try and salvage a win in the series for the Cougars.