And so, with two outs and the bases loaded of a scoreless game between the league's top two teams, Scott Barnes knew exactly what he'd throw: a full-count slider on the outside edge to Brandon Belt, a Giants prospect coming off a 112-RBI season.
"I had an idea he wasn't thinking about me throwing him anything off-speed," said Barnes. "I have confidence in that pitch. It's one I picked up this season, and I've thrown some good strikes with it."
Belt, who worked the count full on a 95-mph outside heater, was rung up, ending the inning and preserving Peoria's eventual shutout as the Javelinas nipped the Scorpions, 1-0, in a scheduled seven-inning game Thursday afternoon.
"I just try to throw the slider for strikes," said Barnes, an Indians prospect who spent the 2010 season at Double-A Akron. "I felt good when I was throwing during the game, I had command of all three pitches, and I just got one good inning after another. I knew I only had two or three innings to work with so we could get all our guys in, but I'm just trying to have one last good outing and end the year on a good note."
Nate Tenbrink (Padres) helped the good vibes hold up when he scored the game's only run on an error in a preview of Saturday's Arizona Fall League Championship Game.
Barnes held the Scorpions to a pair of hits and a walk while striking out four on 48 pitches to improve to 4-1 in his seventh start. The southpaw ended the season atop the leaderboard in victories with Travis Banwart (A's), Josh Collmenter (Diamondbacks), Marc Rzepczynski (Blue Jays) and Ryan Verdugo (Giants).
The start marked the final outing for Barnes, but both teams will have tomorrow off before meeting again Saturday in the nationally televised Arizona Fall League championship game on MLB Network. The Phoenix Desert Dogs had won the title five straight years until Peoria claimed it in '09.
"I've just been trying to throw strikes. I know I wasn't going to get a lot of innings down here, so I just wanted to attack hitters and make them hit my stuff."
Tenbrink put Peoria ahead in the third when he lined a leadoff double, advanced to third on a pop-up and scored when Cord Phelps (Indians) reached on a fielding error by second baseman Steve Lombardozzi (Nationals).
Barnes, a St. John's (N.Y.) product, was originally drafted by San Francisco in 2008. He went 6-11 with a 5.22 ERA in 26 starts at Double-A Akron in the regular season before joining Peoria on Oct. 12. He allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his seven starts in Arizona.
He also made some lasting friendships.
"I met my long-lost brother, Brandon Barnes, so it was cool to be on the same team," he joked of the Astros outfielder. "It's been really cool playing with guys from different organizations. We gelled really fast together. We've all made some good friends."
He also said the stint in Arizona allowed him the opportunity to pitch without worrying about his record or opponents.
"I'm definitely satisfied with how the whole Fall League went," he said. "I just tried to get good inning after good inning. I didn't think about who I was facing. I'd just go out and pitch to my strengths."
Greg Reynolds (Rockies) started for Scottsdale and was charged with an unearned run on two hits and a walk over three frames.
Seattle's Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 Draft, will lead Peoria against a Scottsdale team that will likely play it's most well-known member, No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper, the Nationals outfielder who has played sporadically this fall as part of the team's taxi squad.
"I think it's going to be a great game," Barnes said. "Hopefully we prevail, and it's the same outcome as today."
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.