The Threshers played two 7-inning games against the Fort Myers Miracle on Thursday to make up for the game postponed Tuesday night. Mark Leiter pitched game one, and David Whitehead pitched the night cap. The Threshers dropped the opener 2-1. They rallied to win game two, 6-3.
GAME ONE: Mark Leiter has pitched well all season. Well-enough that he was returned to the starting rotation a few weeks ago. Thursday was his 5th start. He had been 2-0 in his previous four starts, and came in with an overall ERA of 1.30. Leiter pitched a complete game but suffered the loss. His line was – 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 3 WP. The 3 wild pitches figured in the scoring of both runs. All 3 came on off-speed pitches (88, 85, 85 mph) that were in the dirt.
Fort Myers struck in the first inning. Leiter got ahead of the leadoff batter but surrendered a line drive single to right. The Miracle played for an early run and sacrificed the runner into scoring position. He advanced to third on a ground out to second, and scored on Leiter’s first wild pitch.
In the fourth inning, the leadoff batter hit the first pitch through the 3/4 hole into right. Leiter struck out the next batter, but during the at bat allowed the runner to move to second when he threw his second wild pitch. Leiter struck out the next batter on his third wild pitch and had runners on the corners with still one out. The Miracle sent the runner from first on a 3-2 pitch and executed a perfect hit-and-run when the batter stroked the ball through the vacated second base position. This go-ahead run became the winning run.
Leiter threw 92 pitches, 67 for strikes. He threw 36 of his fastballs at 90-91 mph. He touched 92 mph 7 times. He faced 26 batters and threw first pitch strikes to all but 4 of them. His off-speed pitches are grouped around 82-84 mph, and only 3 pitches were below 80 mph. But those 3 pitches were slow-curves at 64, 67, and 68 mph. He threw one at 64 mph in the second inning on an 0-1 count. It was in the dirt for a ball. He came back to it in the sixth inning. He was ahead 0-1 again and threw it at 67 mph. The batter swung and missed. He threw it again 2 pitches later at 68 mph for a swinging strikeout. I know it’s not a pitch he can get away with at the next level. But it was interesting to see him get the Miracle’s best hitter out with it.
On offense, Dylan Cozens opened the second with the first of his 2 walks. He broke for second during Aaron Brown’s at bat and Brown stroked a double into the left centerfield gap for a run scoring double. The Threshers threatened to take the lead when Angelo Mora singled and stole second to put 2 runners in scoring position but were unable to capitalize. They got a runner to second with two outs in the fourth and J.P. Crawford doubled off the base of the right field wall with two out in the fifth, but were unable to score. A two-out single in the ninth also went for naught. Crawford’s double was his first XBH since his HR in his first game back from the DL on May 6th. That’s 68 at bats between XBH. But he’s hitting .392 for the season, so there’s that.
GAME TWO: David Whitehead got off to a rough start when the first two batters for Fort Myers grounded extra base hits between first baseman Willians Astudillo and the first base bag. The first bounced off the stands into right field for a double. The second made it into the corner for a triple. Whitehead did well to hold the damage to that single run.
The second inning also started poorly with a walk after he was ahead of the batter 0-2, but a double play erased that mistake. However a double and a single from the bottom of the order pushed the Miracle back in front.
Whitehead settled down until he issued his second and third walks with one out in the fourth. A single, the Miracle’s last hit for the game, would plate their third run. When Whitehead walked the leadoff hitter in the fifth on 4 pitches, he was replaced with Yacksel Rios.
Rios responded with a ground out to second, then sandwiched 2 strike outs around an intentional walk.
Whitehead’s line was – 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 73 pitches/40 strikes. Fifty-four of his pitches were in the 89-92 range.
Rios was dealing. Four of his 14 pitches were part of the IBB. The other 10 were 94-95 with one (his first pitch) at 93 mph.
Edubray Ramos came out for the 6-out save and faced the minimum. His FB was 95-96, T97. He threw one at 93. Must have slipped. (Keep in mind that velo at BH is suspect. It shows an inconsistent variance. Usually 1 mph, sometimes 2 mph, other times 0 mph.)
Crawford got the offense going in the first inning with an infield single. Andrew Knapp brought him in with a double to left field. Things were quiet until the fourth. Knapp walked and Cozens lined a double to the gap in left center. Astudillo grounded into a fielder’s choice, the shortstop threw home to get Knapp. Cozens made it to third and scored on Chace Numata’s fielder’s choice.
The Threshers finally took the lead (for the first time in the series) with a 4-run outburst in the fifth. Mitchell Walding singled to right. Emmanuel Marrero sacrificed him to second. Walding advanced to third on a wild pitch during Crawford’s at bat. Crawford subsequently walked. Andrew Pullin drove in the tying run on a ground out with Crawford running to stay out of the double play. Crawford went to third on an errant pickoff throw by the catcher. More on that below. Knapp walked and Cozens tripled to right. He scored later on a single by Numata.
Crawford went 2-3 with 2 runs scored. Cozens went 2-3 with 2 runs scored, a double, triple, and 2 RBI. Numata went 1-3 with 2 RBI. Knapp went 1-2 with a run scored, double, 2 walks, and an RBI.
The pickoff throw was ill-advised. Crawford was aware of their intention because of all the pre-pitch shuffling toward the bag on previous pitches. On the pickoff throw, Crawford was already headed back to the bag. The throw was on the third base side of the bag and the second baseman wasn’t at the bag yet. Crawford went in standing up and shielded the second baseman from catching the ball. He actually had his arms crossed in front of his hips, like a basketball player bracing for a charge. He immediately broke for third as the ball passed him. This looked like an incredibly smart and intentional play by our future major league shortstop.
The box scores for these games are here.