After Saturday night’s game was rained/snowed out, the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks hosted Potomac and were blasted this afternoon, 9-4. The P-Nats earned the series sweep. The offense struck out 11 more times against the P-Nats, giving them 38 K’s on the year.
Blue Rocks pitching once again served up the long ball, despite the cold temperatures (which did not rise over 45 degrees). On Opening Night, the P-Nats hit two home runs. Today, they hit three more to give them a Carolina League leading five. Remember, you cannot hit home runs at Frawley Stadium.
P-Nats third baseman Drew Ward hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot over the right-center field wall off Blue Rocks starter Matt Tenuta to give them the 1-0 lead.
Tenuta had command issues, as he left after recording two outs in the fourth. Despite allowing just three hits, he did walk four. However, two of the three hits left the yard. Tenuta helped himself, by picking off two base runners (one to end the third and one to end the fourth). Another was caught stealing in the first.
It didn’t get any easier for the Blue Rocks bullpen. It started with lefty Mark McCoy, who struck out the final batter in the fifth. However, he walked the first two he faced in the sixth and after a fielder’s choice/error that allowed a run to score, he hit a batter. McCoy then allowed a two-run double.
This was the turning point in the game, according to Blue Rocks manager Jamie Quirk. The Blue Rocks had just tied the game (for the second time) in the bottom of the fifth and were in need of a shut down inning.
Next out of the Blue Rocks bullpen was fellow lefty Tim Hill, making his second appearance of the season. He struck out the first batter he faced and got a ground out (on a nice play by Wander Franco at third base). The P-Nats nine-hole hitter singled in a run, but it was knocked down by Humberto Arteaga to save another run from scoring.
Hill got out of the sixth, but allowed a leadoff home run in the seventh. Evan Beal pitched the final two innings, though he allowed a run on two hits (he did pitch a perfect ninth).
The Blue Rocks offense out-hit the P-Nats, 12-9. However, only one hit went for extra bases (their first of the season). First baseman Ryan O’Hearn had the team’s first extra base hit, an RBI double to the left-center field gap in the fifth. They also only went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
“We got a lot of hits, but we just didn’t do it with runners in scoring position and we had a chance to kind of break it open there a couple of times,” said Blue Rocks manager Jamie Quirk following the loss. “The good side is we started to hit the ball, but we just couldn’t get the big hit.”
Their 2-3-4 (Arteaga, O’Hearn, and Elier Hernandez) hitters went a combined 9-for-15 with three RBIs.
“It’s huge to see the middle of the lineup guys get going. It’s extremely nice because those are the guys you count on as the season goes on and they’re starting to get a feel for it. Ryan [O’Hearn] and Hernandez and Escalera all swung the bat well today. But scoring runs and driving in runs, those are the big ones and we’re getting them on, but we just couldn’t get them in today.”
A key offensive point in the game was in the sixth when they had the bases loaded, no outs, and Arteaga at the plate. On a wild pitch, Chad Johnson tried to score. He did not break right away and was thrown out by a few feet. “He just reacted too late and by that time you just got to stop,” Quirk said. “He was there. It was kind of like he processed it, “go,” but it was too late. When you’re down and you’ve got bases loaded there, you’re just better off holding off. If you’re reading it right away and if he broke right away he was probably going to be safe.”
So the Blue Rocks are 0-3 and now welcome Carolina to town for three games beginning tomorrow night. But what about the rest of the KC Royals minor league system?
Triple-A Omaha lost to New Orleans, 7-4, splitting the four-game series. Two Storm Chaser errors cost them three runs.
Jonathan Dziedzic took the loss, despite a solid start. He allowed two unearned runs on two hits (a two out, two-run home run) and a walk over five innings. He struck out eight.
On offense, Brett Eibner went 2-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI. Travis Snider and Tony Cruz also had two hits in the loss.
Jarrod Dyson continued his rehab assignment and went 0-for-2 with a walk. He started in center field.
Double-A NW Arkansas won their first game, 16-2 in their opener against Midland. With 22 mph winds, the Naturals hit six home runs.
The Naturals put together back-to-back five run innings. Bubba Starling collected his first hit of the season, a two out two-run home run in the fifth (he would hit another one later). In that inning, Hunter Dozier followed with a homer (and hit another later in the game).
Raul Mondesi went 3-for-4 with a home run, a walk, three runs scored, and two RBIs. He also committed his second error at shortstop. Mauricio Ramos also collected three hits, including his first Double-A homer. Orlando Calixte went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, three runs scored, and three RBIs.
Jake Junis struggled unusually with his command, walking three over 4.1 innings. He allowed just one run on five hits while striking out five. Junis was constantly escaping jams. Yender Caramo earned the victory in relief, allowing an unearned run on two hits over 3.2 innings. He struck out three and induced six ground outs.
Low-A Lexington lost their first game, losing the finale to Lakewood, 10-9 in ten innings. The Blue Claws scored a run in the ninth to tie the game and a run in the tenth (with two errors mixed in).
The Legends only scored in two innings, including a six-run sixth. Their 3-4-5 hitters (Samir Duenez, Chase Vallot, and Amalani Fukofuka) each collected two hits in the loss. Duenez and Vallot each doubled.
2015 draft pick Nolan Watson had a rough full season debut. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits (a home run) and two walks over three+ innings. Watson struck out four. Though Kyle Kubat allowed an inherited run to score, he allowed just one hit over three innings of relief. He induced five ground outs and struck out one.
Torey Deshazier took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks over 3.1 innings. He did strike out six.