The second half has not been kind to the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, especially of late. They dropped their 8th straight game in a 6-0 loss to visiting Carolina. Obviously, the Blue Rocks lost the three-game series and they head out on the road tomorrow morning (spending their off-day on a bus to Myrtle Beach).
I was anticipating the High-A debut of South Atlantic League All-Star Pedro Fernandez, but his first start was a dud.
Fernandez did get off to a good start, striking out two of the first three batters he faced in the first. Then the Mudcats starting sitting on his fastball and hitting it HARD everywhere.
The Blue Rocks got bullpen action in the third, though Fernandez lasted four innings. He allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk. He struck out four, throwing 49 of his 73 pitches for strikes.
“He wasn’t real good,” manager Brian Buchanan said after the game. “He’s got a good arm, but the location wasn’t his best. His off-speed, he couldn’t throw it for strikes. When he did throw his fastball for strikes they hit it. I had him last year, he’s got a real good arm. It could have been from nerves.”
Hopefully it was just nerves because the Blue Rocks really could use the Fernandez that was pitching in Lexington.
Thankfully, the Blue Rocks bullpen held the Mudcats in check the rest of the way (except for Robinson Yambati, who allowed a run on one hit and a hit batter in the ninth). Birthday boy Evan Beal threw three scoreless innings (2H, 2BB, K), while Andrew Edwards was perfect in the eighth (14 pitches, eight strikes).
The offense has been pretty nonexistent over this eight-game losing streak and it was most apparent this afternoon. After Carlos Garcia led off the bottom of the first with a double, Mudcats starter Andrew Thurman retired 21 in a row.
Thurman went to his curveball alot and the Blue Rocks hitters were just waving at it and missing. He ended up striking out seven. At this point in the season, I would rarely throw the Blue Rocks lineup a fastball until they can prove they can hit the offspeed pitches.
The Blue Rocks ended up with three total hits, two by Garcia. He was really the only player to adjust to the curveball the entire game.
“The pitching has been keeping us in games,” Buchanan said. “Offensively, we’re kind of running through a stretch where we’re not getting any hits or scoring runs. We’ve just got to put together some at-bats and some back-to-back hits and get some hits with guys in scoring position to break us out of it.”
Hopefully, the Blue Rocks can end the losing skid on the road, as they are 6.5 games back in the Carolina League Northern Division (last place at 14-23). After the Pelicans, they do play at first place Lynchburg for the final three times during the regular season.
*I hope to have videos up later tonight and pictures up sometime on Monday.