Tyler Viza made his Clearwater Threshers’ debut a memorable one with a 4-3 victory over the 2015 Florida State League Champion Charlotte Stone Crabs. Viza (pronounced Veye-zah) threw 74 pitches in his 5.2 inning outing. He was lifted in the sixth inning after a lead off single advanced to third on back-to-back ground outs. Viza threw 54 strikes and allowed 4 hits, 3 runs, and 2 unearned runs. He struck out 3 and walked none.
Viza has a 5-pitch mix that includes a FastBall, CUtter, SLider, Change Up, and Curve Ball. He mixed his pitches and velocity well and got a lot of weak and no contact. He got ten called strikes and ten swinging strikes, 3 for strike outs. His strike outs came on pitches of 88, 93, and 83 MPH.
The bulk of Viza’s FB sat 92-93 MPH. He touched 94 three times. Only 2 balls were hit hard, a third inning triple off a 93 MPH FB to right center field that split outfielders Carlos Tocci and Herlis Rodriguez and a fifth inning home run off an 86 MPH off speed pitch. The triple was sandwiched between a ten-pitch K and a 3-pitch K and scored later on a wild pitch. The wild pitch was the third straight 79 MPH CB called by catcher Gabriel Lino (the first two were 79 MPH called strikes) and went thru his 5-hole. The home run interrupted a string of 9 “should-have-been” retired batters by Viza. It, however, was hung and landed in the last row of seats in the left field bleachers.
Defense was a little sloppy all night, but Viza didn’t seem to let that faze him. He pitched around and out of early trouble, and gave the team a chance to get the runs back.
The offense was centered around a couple of long balls and the Stone Crabs own sloppy defensive play. Trailing by one in the bottom of the first, Scott Kingery reached second on a throwing error by the Crabs third baseman. Kyle Martin drove in the first two of three unearned runs with a 2-out, 2-run home run to right. The ball landed over the berm and bounced off the promenade that circles the field and ricocheted off the back fence.
Mitch Walding restored the Threshers’ lead with a lead off home run to open the second inning that landed on the berm in right center field.
The Threshers added another unearned run in the third when Kingery’s single to right was mis-handled and rolled to the wall. Kingery raced to third on the error. He later scored on Carlos Tocci’s fielder’s choice.
The Threshers’ first inning was loosely played. The first batter lifted a shallow fly toward left, kinda close to the line that was up in the air a loooong time, and dropped without being caught. The next batter hit a double play ball to Kingery that he flipped high to Malquin Canelo who couldn’t hold onto the ball, let alone relay to first – E6C. (Could have been E4T, too. Scorer’s decision.) Instead of 1 or 2 out, Viza faces 2 on, no outs. Next batter hits a ball to Walding’s left. He makes a nice diving play and has trouble getting the ball out of his glove but gets a force at second. Gets an out, probably didn’t have a legitimate shot at two. Next batter hits a ball to Martin’s right. Might have a shot at two, but doesn’t field the ball cleanly and barely gets the ball to Viza covering at first, run scores.
Canelo committed another error to lead off the fourth when he overthrew first on a routine ground ball. Fortunately, Martin got a good bounce off the barrier and Mitch Walding was heads up covering second on the play and the batter was erased trying to move up to second on the throw.
Viza was guilty of an error, too. He reached up on a chopper up the middle and stabbed at a ball that probably would have been an infield hit anyway. He lost the ball as he brought his glove down and kicked it while the batter made it to first. Two pitches later, Viza corrected his mistake when he cleanly fielded another come-backer and started a 1-6-3 double play.
The defense settled down the rest of the way.
Alexis Rivero came on in relief and retired the final out of the sixth on a routine fly ball to right. Rivero has a mid-90s FB, CH, and SL and kept the Stone Crabs off balance by only showing and not relying on his FB for the first few batters he faced. With two outs in the seventh, he went to straight heat and to get ahead of the third batter. He bounced the next pitch, the batter struck out, and the ball bounced off either the batter or Lino and bounced up the third base line. Rivero lost the strike zone for a batter and threw another wild pitch before walking the batter. He settled down to retire the third out on his fourth strike out of the inning.
Miguel Nunez came in to finish the two-inning save. His piece of drama was a one-out single down the left field line that bounced out to Cord Sandberg who gunned out the batter out trying to stretch the single into a double. And finally, foul pop to Walding game over.
The box score and recap for the games are here.