Charlie Manuel and Dallas Green were in the stands when JP Crawford made his long awaited debut with the Clearwater Threshers Thursday evening in Dunedin. It was not a performance he, or they, will want to remember. JP went 0 for 4 with 3 strike outs. He also commited 2 fielding errors.
Crawford’s first chance came in the second inning when he was the pivot for a 4-6-3 double play. His next 2 chances came with 2 outs in the third inning. Dwight Smith Jr., rolled a ground ball slowly toward short. Crafword charged to get the speedy Smith, but didn’t get his glove down and the ball rolled under it. The next batter popped up to left toward the line. The left fielder, Brian Short, should have taken charge. Instead, he let Crawford attempt the catch. Looking back into the sun with his body contorted Crawford saw the ball pop out of his glove for his second error.
Crawford’s next chance didn’t occur until the eighth inning. With one out and a runner on first, he bobbled a double play ball but recovered to get the force at second. His last chance came in the ninth inning with the score tied, one out, and a runner on first. The runner broke for second and the batter hit a ball to second baseman KC Serna. He fielded the ball and threw to Crawford at the second base bag. Crawford, the runner, and the ball all arrived at the same time. Crawford accepted the toss and completed the throw to first to get the batter. This play had the potential to be a train wreck. That the base ump ruled the runner safe at second shows how close they came to a collision. But Crawford hung in there to make the catch and relay the throw to first. A single to shallow center by the next batter ended the game.
Roman Quinn had a good defensive game. In the first inning, he covered a lot of ground into left center to take a fly ball away from Short. The next batter tripled on the same trajectory but much deeper. Quinn closed ground again but pulled up to field the carom off the wall when he realized he wouldn’t get to the ball. He made a strong throw in to the cut off man, on the fly, no bounce. His second chance was a routine fly ball in the fifth inning. His next chance came in the eighth inning on a drive to deep right center field. Quinn ran it down on the warning track as he approached the wall. In the ninth he fielded the game winning single and attempted to throw home. The runner had too good a jump and scored standing up. Quinn’s throw was late, but that didn’t matter. What I did notice was that it was considerably off line. I think he was just trying to put extra on a throw that had no chance of getting the runner.
Matt Boyd pitched for the Jays. He owned the Threshers earlier this year. In two starts, he shut them out over 15 innings allowing 7 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 17. After his 8 inning, 2-hit, 12 K effort against the Threshers on April 25th, Boyd was called up to AA. So, he’s back in the FSL and starting the second half. Tonight, the Threshers hit him pretty good. He was pulled after facing 2 batters in the 5th inning. He had allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, while striking out six.
Most of the offense came from the bottom of the order. Harold Martinez went 3-4 with 2 runs scored. Gabriel Lino went 2-4. Brian Pointer went 4-4 with a double, 2 RBIs, and a run scored. Quinn went 2-3 from the leadoff spot and went 2-3 with a walk and an RBI. He had an infield single and a ground ball up the middle that tied the game.
Miguel Nunez started and pitched well for 6 innings allowing 3 hits and a walk. He came undone in the 7th inning. He left with a 3-2 lead and 2 runners on base. Ramon Oviedo came in and retired 2 conscutive batters to end the inning – but not until after a sac bunt, intentional walk (after he threw 3 consecutive balls), infield single, and single allowed the 2 inherited runners to score.
When are these kids going to learn not to walk batters. Nunez started the 7th with a walk. Dan Child, who started the 9th inning, walked his second batter. Both walks scored. I can’t wait to see if Nola’s control carries over from college.
GCL starts tomorrow at noon in Dunedin. Threshers/Jays continue their series in Clearwater Friday night. Hunks of Funk and Black Honkeys in concert after the game.