The Threshers broke a modest 2-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Yankees. Brandon Leibrandt picked off half of the 6 runners who reached base during his seven innings with a deceptive slide-step. Edubray Ramos picked up his first save.
The Threshers seemed to draw a break when the Yankees’ starter was recently called-up Chaz Hebert. He had an impressive 2 starts in Charleston, 1 ER in 10.1 IP, 2 BB, 14 K, and a 0.77 WHIP. But this would be his first start at Advanced A.
Tuesday’s line up.
Leibrandt pitched a great game. His fastball started at 89-92 (he hit 91 once and 92 three times in the first inning). He also recorded 2 strikeouts in a perfect first inning while throwing 14 strikes on 18 pitches. He continued pounding the strike zone in the second inning while retiring the Yankees in order.
Leibrandt ran his only 3-ball count to begin the third inning. The batter lined a single to right field. But, Leibrandt began a pattern that would continue through the game when he picked the runner off first base. He recorded another strike out in the inning.
He retired the Yankees in order in the fourth inning while picking up his fourth strike out. After retiring the first two batters in the fifth inning, Leibrandt allowed a ground single to center. An error by Walding on a ground ball presented the only real threat Leibrandt faced. He ended the inning with another strike out.
The Yankees opened the sixth inning with back-to-back singles, an infield base hit followed by a solid line drive back through the box that deflected off Liebrandt’s glove into centerfield. Leibrandt picked off each runner in turn, then recorded his sixth strike out.
At this point, Leibrandt had thrown 79 pitches. After the first inning, his fastball was 88-90. He even dipped to a couple 87s and 86s in the fifth and sixth innings. However, he came out to pitch the seventh inning. He surrendered a leadoff single, but rebounded to retire the next three batters, one on his seventh strike out. He reached 93 on his 85th pitch, his only pitch over 90 after the first inning.
Edubray Ramos pitched the final two innings. He allowed 1 single and struck out 2 batters. He also earned his first save of the season. His fastball was 94-96.
The Yankees’ Hebert stymied the Threshers for a few innings. He recorded 2 strike outs in a 1-2-3 first inning. He gave up a long, ground rule double to left centerfield by Dylan Cozens to lead off the second. The drive was initially ruled a home run but was correctly changed to a double because the ball came down between the padding and the fence on the berm (just to the right of the Carraba’s sign for those familiar with Bright House). After a short delay, Astudillo grounded out to short on the first pitch (not a good at bat, but to be fair a lot of Threshers swing at the first pitch). Brown stroked a fly ball to right that would have scored Cozens if he had been moved to third. Green walked, but Cozens was stranded when Hebert recorded his third of five strike outs.
Lohman reached on an error to start the third inning (it was the Yankees turn to commit 4 fielding errors tonight). Hebert duplicated Leibrandt’s feat in the top of the inning when he picked Lohman off first base.
Cozens lined his second hit of the night to right field with one out in the fourth inning. Then the Yankees’ defense imploded. The scoring for the next 4 batters was – E4F, E6F, K, E3F. And, Cozens was able to amble home with the game’s first run.
The Threshers finally got to the young pitcher in the fifth inning. Brodie Greene reached on a single. Pullin followed with a single of his own. Greg Legg eschewed the bunt and Knapp struck out for his second of three for the night. Astudillo loaded the bases with a bad bounce, infield single that extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Aaron Brown grounded a 2-run single to left field. Astudillo forced a cutoff and stayed in the rundown between second and third long enough for the second run to score.
That was it for the offense. The Yankees’ reliever retired the final nine Threshers’ in order.
Leibrandt was responsible for a really well-pitched game. He has what a lot of analysts call “pitchability”. I know a lot of you are concerned how his velocity will play at higher levels. But, isn’t it possible that he can hit higher numbers on velo but doesn’t because he doesn’t need to, yet? He keeps batters off balance with a wide range of velocities and pitches. He hit 16 different speeds between 76 and 93. It’s early and a small sample, but Leibrandt’s command and control sure look good enough with his current velocity.
The box score for this game is here.