The Threshers beat the Dunedin Blue Jays 6-5 to even their record at 1-1 in the second half of the FSL North Division. During the game a top prospect reached base for the first time in his FSL career, a refugee rehabber took the mound for the first time in a few weeks, a batter was called out on rare type of interference call on a strike out, and the game ended on a rare double play on a single to the outfield.
Through his first two games, JP Crawford is averaging about 5 pitches per at bat. During an interview, Crawford stated that he likes to attack pitches early in the count. But, he has admitted to having problems picking the ball up coming out of the hands of Dunedin’s lefties Thursday. He also notices the difference in a pitcher’s ability to throw strikes at this level.
With the arrival of Crawford, the Threshers have a glut of middle infielders who have been hitting well. KC Serna and Angelo Mora are likely to platoon at second base, now. Tonight, Serna was the DH to keep his bat in the line up. Serna can also spell Harold Martinez at third, but Mora will likely see most of the time at short going to Crawford. Mora has been taking balls in right field lately before games to give Manager Nelson Prada another option to keep these important bats on the field.
Ethan Stewart started and retired the first 6 batter he faced on 4 pop ups, a strike out, and a groundball. The Jays, normally an aggressive team at the plate, were taking pitches and working deep counts. Still, he got through the first two innings in 29 pitches. In the third, Stewart labored through a 34-pitch inning. He gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, one a towering home run to left center. Stewart rebounded in the 4th and 5th innings, retiring 6 of the 7 batters he faced on 29 pitches. However, he walked the first 2 batters he faced in the 6th inning on 9 pitches, and was removed from the game. He ha thrown 96 pitches. He had a decent 5 to 2 ground ball to fly ball ratio. He struck out 3 and got 5 pop ups. He only walked 2 but they were the last 2 batters he faced.
Jordan Guth came out to finish the 6th inning. He dove to make an athletic catch of an attempted sacrifice bunt to record the first out. After walking the next batter to load the bases and allowing a sacrifice fly to score a run, he struck out the final batter of the inning. The pitch was in the dirt and Gabriel Lino blocked it in front of the plate. As he went to pick up the ball, it bounced off the bat that had been dropped in front of the plate as the batter ran to first. As the ball rolled away from Lino, the umpire ruled the batter out on interference to end the inning.
Miguel Gonzalez was activated and available from the bullpen for the game. He was called on to pitch the 7th inning. The Jays were making hard, but late contact on his fast ball. They peppered the stands with a few fouls balls off his fast balls. Gonzalez induced 2 ground balls to Crawford and got the final batter looking on a 3-2 pitch.
Lee Ridenhour came on to pitch the 6-out save. He induced another ground ball to Crawford and struck out 2 in the 8th inning. He began the 9th inning with a 6-4 lead. The first batter singled on a 1-2 pitch. A tough chopper to Harold Martinez at third yielded the first out but allowed the meaningless 5th run to get to second. The next batter singled the run home, and then the game got interesting. Christian Lopes singled hard to center. Quinn charged the ball and fired to the cut off, Crawford. Gustavo Pierre had rounded second and thought about going to third. Quinn’s throw caught Pierre in no man’s land. Crawford charged and faked a throw that further froze the runner. He was able to apply the tag without a throw. Crawford wheeled and threw to Mora at second to get Lopes. His throw almost decapitated Pierre who had drifted into the line of fire. The umpire very emphatically called out Pierre on the tag and Lopes out on Pierre’s interference with the throw. End of game.
Offensively, the Thresher’s jumped on top early. Quinn opened the bottom of the first with a walk. With one out, Serna doubled to left and Prada held Quinn at third. Brandon short grounded out to short to score Quinn. Art Charles crushed a two-run home run to right. The wind to right played no part in the ball leaving the field, but it may have helped it leave the stadium.
Brian Pointer led off the second with a first pitch bomb to the left center field berm. Lino was hit by a pitch and Mora doubled him to third. Crawford walked to load the bases with one out. It was the first time Crawford reached base since joining the team Thursday. Serna followed with a sacrifice fly.
The Threshers continued to put runners on base without scoring until they loaded the bases in the 6th inning on a Quinn walk and his second stolen base of the game, Crawford’s second walk, and a Serna single. Again, Prada held Quinn at third. Short followed with a sacrifice fly, the first of 9 consecutive Thresher batters retired by the Jays bullpen.
Defensively, Crawford didn’t see a chance until Gonzalez entered the game in the 7th inning. The first of two chances that inning was a chopped ball that Crawford charged, gloved, and threw to first. The second was a hard hit one hopper that took a high hop into his chest that he gloved cleanly and threw to first. The first batter in the 8th inning hit a ball to his left that he had to bend over to scoop and throw. None of these were particularly tough plays, but Crawford looked comfortable making them. Then there was the one-man rundown that recorded 2 outs to end the game.
Quinn saw no action in center until the single and assist on the throw that started the final play of the game.
GCL Phillies in the morning and Threshers in the evening. Still hoping that the Phillies brass is down here to watch Aaron Nola activated for one of those games. But Gonzalez’ activation tonight has sort of deflated those hopes a little bit.