Clearwater lost 8-7 to the Tampa Yankees. The Threshers couldn’t hold an early lead, but came back to tie before falling behind again. Late runs conceded to the Yankees came back to haunt as the Threshers ninth inning rally fell short.
Tuesday’s line up.
Miguel Nunez started and pitched well for a few innings after a shaky start. He only needed 71 pitches to complete 5.0 innings, but threw 47 strikes. Some of his strikes were foul balls that prolonged counts when he couldn’t put batters away. Nunez pitched well when he was ahead in the count, but 3 of the 5 batters whom he fell behind 2-0 reached base and a fourth flied out deep to left on a ball Andrew Pullin caught as he crashed into the wall.
Nunez caught a couple fortunate breaks as he started the game by hitting the leadoff batter on his third pitch. He was erased on a poorly executed sacrifice bunt that Andrew Knapp fielded in front of the plate and fired to Devin Lohman for the force at second. On a Nunez’ pickoff attempt the ball glanced off of Zach Green’s glove and rolled 10 feet toward the Yankees’ dugout. Green’s throw and Lohman’s tag eliminated another runner.
Nunez escaped the first inning having to throw only 7 pitches. He needed only 12 pitches to retire the Yankees in order in the second inning. The second out was an 8-pitch at bat that ended in a strike out. He got the final out with three pitches on a called third strike.
Nunez recorded another 1-2-3 inning in the third. He retired the first and third batters on 5 pitches, but needed 9 pitches to retire the #8 hitter on a ground ball. This was Nunez’ first 2-0 count and came against a batter coming into the game with an .086 average.
Nunez took a 2-0 lead to the mound in the fourth inning. He started out well with a 1-pitch pop up to Angelo Mora at second. Then, he fell behind the next two batters 2-0, and both singled to center on the third pitch each saw. During the next at bat, the runner on second broke for third. Nunez spun and threw to second and was charged with a balk. This was costly since the batter eventually grounded to Lohman. What could have been an inning-ending double play, became a fielder’s choice at third as the runner on second broke foolishly for third base. Meanwhile, the runner on third scored. The next batter forced Nunez to throw 11 pitches before launching a home run to left. This batter fouled off 5 two-strike pitches. Nunez got the final out with his third strike out. The inning required 28 pitches.
Nunez started the fifth inning by falling behind the first batter 2-0. Two pitches later the batter was retired on a long fly that Pullin caught as he crashed into the wall. He followed that up with a 4-pitch walk to the #8 hitter who was now hitting .083. Two pitches later, one a sacrifice, the inning was over.
Reinier Roibal came on and pitched 2.1 innings. He allowed a tie-breaking home run in the seventh inning. He struck out two but was relieved after a leadoff single and sacrifice in the eighth inning. Cody Forsythe came on to induce two ground outs to end the inning.
And then came the fun-filled ninth inning. Now, the Threshers had taken the early lead on their first hit, a 2-run double by Pullin after a pair of two-out walks in the third inning. Later, between the two Yankees’ home runs, Mitchell Walding had hit a game-tying home run of his own. So the Threshers were trailing only 4-3 when they entered the ninth inning.
An infield single and a line drive single put runners on first and second. Exit Cody Forsythe, enter Kevin Walter. He gave up a single to left on a soft fly that almost ended in a force at third as the runner was caught in no man’s land. If Pullin had picked up the ball cleanly, he might have had a shot for a force at third. It didn’t seem to matter when Walter gave up a grand slam to the next batter. With the bases empty, he retired the Yankees on a strike out and two ground balls.
So, game over you might think. Not quite. Tampa brought in their closer to mop up. Mora greeted him with a hard hit line drive to the second baseman. It may have been an out, but it sort of set the stage for what followed. Lohman reached on a hard ground ball that the second baseman was able to knock down, but couldn’t control. Chase Harris followed with a line drive single to center. Pullin reached base with his own line drive single to right. With the bases loaded, Knapp cleared the bases with the fifth hard hit ball of the inning, a line drive toward the line in right. The fielder went for the catch and the ball bounded past him to the wall. An errant throw throw by the relay man allowed Knapp to score. Trailing by one, Dylan Cozens hit a ball hard to third. The third baseman bobbled it and the tying run was on base. After a pitching change and with Willians Astudillo batting, Cozens was caught attempting to steal second. So, of course, Astudillo gets on base. On his first walk of the season. But the rally fell short on a game-ending pop up. Exciting ending to the game.
Harris started for the fourth game in a row. Pullin went 4-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. Knapp went 2-4 with a triple and 3 RBI. And Walding with his first home run of the season, halfway up the berm in right center field.
Pullin’s 2-run double was hit on the first pitch of the at bat. I figure I should point that out since I singled him out as one of a few players who swing at a lot of first pitches. Pullin is now hitting .314/.388/.457/.845. And he’s really hitting balls hard. Maybe when position players start getting promoted, he could be among the first to move up.
The box score for this game is here.