Triple-A Omaha began their series in El Paso with a 7-6 victory.
Storm Chasers starter Eric Skoglund pitched into the 8th inning, but was pulled after allowing a two-run home run two batters into the inning. In came Kyle Zimmer, who retired the final six batters of the game.
Ryan O’Hearn went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Frank Schwindel went 2-for-5 with a three-run home run. Jorge Soler and Dean Anna also had two hits in the win.
Cheslor Cuthbert played all nine innings for the second straight game. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
*In roster news, Yender Caramo was placed on the DL. Pedro Fernandez was promoted from Double-A.
Triple-A Omaha won their series finale against Colorado Springs, 6-4. The Sky Sox tied the game in the top of the eighth, but this time, the Storm Chasers came right back.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, Jorge Soler hit the second of his home runs to give Omaha back the lead (he drove in three runs). Cam Gallagher drove in the insurance run with a single after Ryan O’Hearn doubled (both had two hits).
For the first time during his rehab assignment, Cheslor Cuthbert played all nine innings. He went 2-for-3 and hit a solo home run.
Miguel Almonte got the start and allowed two hits and two walks over 2.1 scoreless innings. Onelki Garcia picked up the win, though he allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks over 5.2 innings. He struck out ten. Three hits and a walk came in the Sky Sox two-run top of the eighth.
Triple-A Omaha lost in 12 innings to Colorado Springs, 8-4.
The Storm Chasers must be short on relievers, as backup catcher Brayan Pena once again found himself pitching, for the second time in three days. Pena could not shut the door, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks, so infielder Dean Anna came off the bench to record the final two outs in the 12th inning.
The Storm Chasers blew a two-run lead in the top of the ninth as lefty Sam Selman allowed a two-run home run. That came after starter Luke Farrell allowed two runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. Both runs came via solo homers.
Frank Schwindel went 3-for-5 with a solo home run. Ryan O’Hearn and Corey Toups each had two hits in the loss. O’Hearn tripled, while Toups doubled.
*Rehabbing third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert went 1-for-4 with a two out RBI triple.
With a little more than a month left in the minor league baseball season, High-A Wilmington finds themselves just two games back of first place in the Carolina League Northern Division. For the Blue Rocks to find themselves in the postseason, they will need offensive consistency from second baseman DJ Burt.
Blue Rocks second baseman DJ Burt at the plate on July 16, 2017 (Jen Nevius).
After the promotion of Nicky Lopez to Double-A on June 26th, Burt has been the Blue Rocks primary leadoff hitter (he was the two-hole hitter for the entire first half).
Back on July 1st, Burt went 3-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs. I asked Blue Rocks manager Jamie Quirk about Burt’s performance and what he needed to do to build off a game like that (he was hitting .214 prior to that game).
“He needs to buy into what we’re working on. Like today [July 1st], we had him out early. He had a good session of early hitting. He felt good and got him doing some things. Then he goes into the game and performs. DJ has had a problem of just sticking with what we’re trying to get him to do. He’ll do it for a couple of days and all of a sudden it’s like he just wanders off. That’s what this game is about: it’s consistency. He’s got to find a way to keep that consistency. Talk to any manager and coaching staff and the worst thing is the cycles [the ups and downs], that drives you crazy. Find a plateau and try to maintain that as long as you can. That’s kind of been the one thing that he hasn’t been able to do. He gets there and you think he’s got it and than all of a sudden, he drops back again. Hopefully he finds that consistency.”
Triple-A Omaha beat Colorado Springs, 9-7. The Sky Sox made it interesting with a six-run top of the seventh.
A Ryan O’Hearn swing off Rangers ace Cole Hamels during spring training 2016 (Jen Nevius).
For the second straight day, Logan Moon hit a home run. This time it was a two-run shot. Ryan O’Hearn fell a triple short of a cycle, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth.
Yender Caramo earned the victory, as he was charged with allowing a run on four hits over six-plus innings. He struck out two.
Caramo was pulled after allowing a leadoff double in the seventh. Then things fell apart for Christian Binford and Seth Maness, as the Sky Sox sent 11 men to the plate. The scoring started after a double play and a runner on third base.
On Monday night, the High-A Wilmington game plan was to throw fastballs against the visiting Potomac Nationals. That game plan paid off, as the Blue Rocks won 6-4 and moved to within 1.5 games of first place in the Carolina League Northern Division.
Blue Rocks starter Andres Machado on July 17, 2017 (Jen Nevius)
Blue Rocks starter Andres Machado, who struggled in his last start due to the heat/humidity and not controlling his pitch count, was dominant with his fastball. He touched 97mph and was still pumping 95mph in the 7th inning.
“Andres Machado throws hard and we all know that,” catcher Nate Esposito said after the win. “We tried to get it down in the zone. The offspeed was honestly not an issue. I wasn’t worried about him not spotting up his slider or changeup. I just really wanted to get ahead and dominate with the fastball as best we can. He did and all that secondary stuff we started to use at the end of his outing and it worked out really well for him.”
Triple-A Omaha lost their opener to Colorado Springs, 8-4 in 12 innings. The Sky Sox scored five runs in the top of the twelfth.
It got so bad in the 12th inning that Brayan Pena was once again called on to pitch. He allowed a hit, but induced a ground out to mercifully end the inning.
The Storm Chasers hit three solo home runs. Logan Moon (2-for-4) hit one in the third that gave them the lead. Frank Schwindel added one in the seventh with two outs that gave them a 2-1 lead. Cam Gallagher hit one in the bottom of the 12th (2-for-5).
Dean Anna went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored.
Starter Jake Junis took the no decision, as he pitched six scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and walked one, while striking out six.
*In roster news, infielder Jack Lopez made his Triple-A debut, playing shortstop and batting ninth. He went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts and he committed an error that cost Omaha some runs in the 12th. Lopez also stole a base.
**Cheslor Cuthbert began his rehab assignment as the third baseman. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.