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, 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.”
Machado threw 20 first pitch strikes over 6.2 innings. Sixty of his 92 pitches were strikes. He did allow four runs on seven hits and two walks, but struck out seven. Machado picked off P-Nats prospect Victor Robles in the third, an inning that the P-Nats had a leadoff triple and did not score.
“He stayed aggressive,” manager Jamie Quirk said after the game in regards to Machado. “He didn’t mess around. He didn’t try to trick anybody. He just said ‘here is my stuff’. His fastball was very good and he kept attacking. That’s what we have talked about. His good games are like that. He pitches great out of the windup.”
Three of Machado’s last four starts have been dominant (he reached at least the seventh in all three) and Nate Esposito was behind the plate for two of them.
“I like to call fastballs and he likes to throw them,” Esposito said after the win. “We can get down in the zone. I know I keep saying that, but that is so important. I can tell you what’s coming and if it’s down in the zone, you aren’t going to hit it, more times that not. He likes to throw his fastball and when we get it down and on certain sides of the plate, he’s happy, I’m happy, and it works out.”
Esposito also helped out on the offensive side, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.