High-A Wilmington lost their 12th straight, getting swept by visiting Frederick 6-4. They are now just 1-13 at home as they welcome Myrtle Beach to town for four games over the weekend.
It was another three-plus hour affair and walks (and high pitch counts) were the story right out of the gate.
Blue Rocks starter Josh Staumont needed 37 pitches to record three outs in the first (one that took 20 minutes to play). Though he did strike out the side, he also walked two. He allowed a leadoff infield single to start the game, with a throwing error moving the runner to second base. After a stolen base, that runner scored on a passed ball (he would allow another infield single).
In the second, Staumont walked three in a row with one out to force in a run. It was a string of four of five three-ball counts. He would allow two more runs before he was pulled in favor of lefty Colin Rodgers, who before tonight was in the starting rotation. Rodgers needed just two pitches to get the final out of the 2nd inning.
While Rodgers did allow two runs in the fifth and took the loss, he gave the Blue Rocks much needed 5.1 innings of relief. “I thought it was huge,” manager Jamie Quirk said following the game (and after a 20 minute team meeting). “He really saved us. He’s been pitching well.”
Why did Rodgers take the loss? Well, for the second straight night, the Blue Rocks fought back to tie the game. They tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back two out doubles from Corey Toups (2-for-3, a triple, a walk, and was hit by a pitch) and Alfredo Escalera (2-for-3, two walks).
Both Toups and Escalera seem to be finding a groove in the top two spots in the order. “Toups has been on a triples roll…He’s been swinging the bat good. Escalera got three [hits] yesterday and two more today…I just wanted to change things up. Give guys a different look. I put him [Escalera] in the two-hole and he’s responded.”
Unfortunately, the Blue Rocks went just 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Quirk had high praise for right-handed reliever Evan Beal, who despite walking two and hitting a batter, threw two scoreless innings of relief. He would like to use Beal late in games that the Blue Rocks are winning, but there haven’t been a lot of those lately. Beal lowered his ERA to 1.23 (just two earned runs this season in 14.2 innings).
*In roster news, lefty reliever Brennan Henry was placed on the DL.
It wasn’t just the Blue Rocks that lost on Wednesday, all four KC Royals minor league affiliates lost (as did the Royals).
Triple-A Omaha lost to Memphis, 8-6. The two teams finish up the series on Thursday.
It was a rough start for lefty Jonathan Dziedzic, as he allowed six runs (three earned, though he had the error) on four hits and five walks over just 3.1 innings. Malcom Culver entered in the fourth with two men on and one scored. Over 2.2 innings, Culver allowed two runs on three hits and two walks. Lefty Scott Alexander walked one in two scoreless innings of relief.
The Storm Chasers offense out-hit Memphis, 10-7, but they hit into two double plays and went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Whit Merrifield and Brett Eibner each hit solo home runs.
Cheslor Cuthbert went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Catcher Tony Cruz went 2-for-4 before being taken out.
Double-A NW Arkansas lost their day game to Springfield, 10-6. The Naturals scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Naturals sent nine men to the plate and collected six of their 13 hits. Ryan O’Hearn, just promoted to Double-A, collected his first hit, a two-run homer.
Starter Eric Skoglund took the loss, as he allowed four runs on five hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out seven. He actually retired eight straight before a leadoff hit batter in the fifth. Skoglund then allowed back-to-back two out doubles and a two-run homer.
Things were worse for lefty reliever Estarlin Cordero, who fell behind hitters in his first inning of work (which started with an error). Cordero walked the second batter he faced before allowing four straight hits (three runs). It could have been worse, but Orlando Calixte threw out a runner at the plate. Cordero then allowed three more runs in the seventh, two scoring on a homer.
April Pitcher of the Month Andrew Edwards pitched two scoreless innings of relief. He struck out two.
*Catcher Zane Evans was placed on the DL to make room for O’Hearn. The Naturals have another roster move coming, as outfielder Terrance Gore was optioned from the big leagues to NWA.
Low-A Lexington lost their day game opener to Delmarva, 7-4.
Scott Blewett took his third loss, as he allowed three runs on five hits and four walks over five innings. He struck out five. After Jacob Bodner allowed three runs on four hits over two innings of relief, Kyle Kubat allowed an unearned run on two hits over two innings. He struck out three.
The Legends hit three solo home runs: one by Mike Hill in the fourth, the first for Travis Maezes to lead off the eighth, and one by Ben Johnson in the ninth (2-for-4).
Samir Duenez hit his sixth double (2-for-4) and stole his eighth base in the loss.