As much as it meant for Modesto Nuts righty Daniel Winkler to have his most impressive outing of the young season on Saturday night, it meant more to do it in a pink jersey.
Amidst the Nuts' 3-2 victory over Bakersfield at John Thurman Field was the annual Breast Cancer Awareness night festivities, during which fans got to bid on the pink uniform tops worn by the players.
A continent away in Florida, Winkler's wife of three months, Camille, was bidding by phone in an attempt to land her husband's No. 19 jersey with an incentive larger than most.
"I love the pink uniform," Winkler said. "My wife's grandmother passed away from breast cancer, so this means a lot to me. Right after I got drafted (June, 2011) I had to fly back for the funeral."
His outing also meant a lot to the Nuts, who now have won back-to-back games for the first time since April 18-19.
Winkler (3-1) faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings, taking a no-hitter into the sixth. He allowed a run in the sixth after allowing his first hit, and left in the seventh when the Blaze put two aboard on an infield error and a hit-and-run single.
Leuris Gomez and Scott Oberg finished up from there, cleaning up the win in front of 4,021 fans Modesto's sixth sellout crowd in 13 home games this season.
Winkler leads the Nuts in wins and his 2.57 ERA ranks seventh in the California League. If it's not too early to assign ace status to someone in the Modesto rotation, Winkler is it.
There's no secret as to the way he's getting the job done. He works fast and throws a lot of strikes, and through this latest outing has 34 strikeouts against only eight walks in 35 innings of work.
"I just try to attack the zone and get first-pitch strikes, get ahead and pound away one pitch at a time," Winkler said. "I try not to look at the scoreboard, but stick to my approach the whole game to make the other team beat me with hits and not walks."
He was staked to a 1-0 lead in the first in singles by Sam Mende and Brian Humphries, with Mende eventually scoring on a balk charged to Blaze starter Carlos Contreras (1-3.)
"Getting that run in the first inning, I'm not going to lie, does make it easier to breath and easier for me to attack the zone," Winkler said..
The lead grew to 3-0 in the fourth when Taylor Featherston walked and strolled home on Tyler Massey's soaring home run down the line in right.
But by that time players and fans alike were starting to peek toward the scoreboard, where that zero remained in the Bakersfield hits column.
"This is the farthest I've ever taken one," Winkler said. "I had a couple in high school (in Illinois) but those don't count. In college (Central Florida) or pro I never had one go this far."
The Nuts needed every one of those shutdown innings. After Massey's home run Modesto would manage only two more baserunners both on walks.
"Winkler had a good game, but we needed it," said Nuts manager Lenn Sakata. "Thank God for good pitching, because that's how you win anyway."
And back in Florida, another victory was celebrated. Camille Winkler had the winning bid on her husband's jersey.
Two wins for grandma.
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek
The addition of a third catcher should ease pressure on the Nuts' lineup. Read Brian VanderBeek's blog at modbee.com/blogs.