Midwest League: Aaron Brooks’ complete game a rarity
By Mike Knapp For Sun-Times Media July 31, 2012 6:04PM
Cougars right-hander Aaron Brooks recently became the first Kane County pitcher to toss a complete game since 2007. | Katherine Peters~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 2, 2012 6:19AM
In another era of baseball, a starting pitcher tossing a complete game was a common occurrence. In fact, it was expected.
Now it’s a rare thing, and in the low minors it almost never happens. When Kane County Cougars right-hander Aaron Brooks took it the distance in a 5-1 win over Quad Cities Sunday, it was the first time in five years and almost 700 games that a Cougar had thrown a nine-inning complete game.
James Heuser, who is currently pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, turned the trick on July 31, 2007. The last complete-game shutout goes even further, to August 31, 2004, when Travis Peterson blanked South Bend.
With pitch counts being hard numbers and not just suggestions — not to mention player development being the focal point — pitchers at the Class A level rarely get a chance to get deep into games. Just 20 complete games have been thrown in the Midwest League this season (some of the seven-inning variety), and six teams have yet to have a complete game on their ledger.
Brooks, who is on a 100-pitch limit, went over that by three pitches, but his sparkling pitching line showed just an unearned run on six hits and no walks.
“It’s tough in the minor leagues with pitch counts and stuff,” Cougars manager Buck Buchanan said. “It just showed how well he pitched. He’s been pitching that well for the last month.”
Brooks needed just 62 pitches to cruise through the first six innings and when he reached the ninth he ran into his first big jam of the day. After retiring the first hitter of the inning, he allowed back-to-back singles. A forceout put runners on first and third with two outs.
With Andrew Triggs getting warm in the bullpen, Brooks walked around the mound and peered into the dugout — then went to the mound to face Jeremy Patton, who win, lose or draw would be his final hitter of the game.
Brooks ran the count full, but on his final pitch of the night, he threw a 94 mph fastball that Patton lofted to Alex Llanos in center to end the game.
“I wasn’t worrying about striking guys out,” said Brooks, who gave much of the credit to his defense. “Not trying to put guys away so much (via strikeouts) lets you get deeper into games.”
Brooks won all five of his starts in July and posted a 1.75 ERA while averaging 7‰ innings per outing…Through Monday, Tim Ferguson is hitting .358 (24-for-67) in July after posting a .359 average in May…After hitting .306 in the first half, Jorge Bonifacio is batting .206 in the second half, while Danny Mateo has seen his average drop 26 points to .276 after hitting .220 in the second half.