It’s Eric Hosmer bobblehead night here in Wilmington (and no that photo is not a picture of the actual bobblehead). Hosmer spent the second half of 2009 as a Blue Rock (and struggled mightily to hit just .206 in 27 games) and the first half of 2012 in Wilmington (where he made adjustments and hit .354 in 87 games).
It’s also a beautiful night for baseball, though pop-up storms are expected to roll through (fingers crossed that they come after the game). Tonight, the Blue Rocks finish their seven-game homestand and four-game series with Carolina, the High-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. So far, the Blue Rocks have won two of the first three games of the series after losing three of four last week in Carolina.
The Mudcats are 27-31 and seven games out of first place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division. The Blue Rocks are 28-30 and just 1.5 games back of Lynchburg for the Northern Division title. Wilmington heads to Winston-Salem to face the Dash on Friday for a short three-game series before returning home to finish the first half against Salem and Winston-Salem (who are battling for the Southern Division title).
On the mound for the Blue Rocks will be hard-throwing right-hander Yordano Ventura. This will be the first time I will be seeing him pitch and I now have seen every Blue Rocks pitcher throw (except the new reliever Nick Graffeo). Ventura is 3-4 with a 2.82 ERA and will be making his 12th start of the season. He has struck out 67 to just 19 walks in 54.1 innings. This will be Ventura’s first start against Carolina.
Getting the ball in the finale for the Mudcats is Michael Goodnight. He is 1-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 11 games (ten starts). Opponents are hitting .298 against him and he has walked 28 to just 38 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. His lone victory came in his first start of the season back on April 14th. He faced the Blue Rocks last week in Carolina (May 28th) and allowed four runs on ten hits over seven innings. He struck out nine in the loss.
For those who follow the Blue Rocks, you will notice a few lineup changes. Merrifield is back in centerfield and batting in the three-spot. Fletcher is in left field with Hernandez moving to right field. There is no Brett Eibner tonight.
I will try to update as the game rolls on, but I will be outside of the pressbox in the early innings taking some photos and video. I will recap the first few innings if anything exciting happens when I get back to my computer.
Alot has happened while I was outside of the pressbox. One, the rain has arrived, though the dark clouds have been hovering.
Two, the ineffectiveness of Ventura. He threw a lot of fastballs, with very few of them in the strikezone. He got through the first inning unscathed, but needed 24 pitches to get past three hitters. Both Holt and Urshela fouled off six pitches and worked ten pitch at-bats. Then the second inning happened. After striking out the first two hitters, he allowed an infield single. Then a walk on five fastball, only one in the strikezone (94-97 range). Ventura then gave up three straight singles.
Then the injury happened. On a ground ball up the middle, Ventura knocked it down, hustled after it, and made a bad throw to first base. The throw carried Graterol (the first baseman) into the baseline, where he both missed the low throw and was crashed into by the runner (Wolters). Both lay on the ground, but Graterol never really got up. He had to be carried off the field without putting any weight on his left leg.
Manager Vance Wilson allowed Ventura to face one more batter, who he walked on four pitches, and his night was over. Just 1.2 innings and he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out just two.
In came Edwin Carl and he currently is in his 3rd inning of work (it’s the top of the 4th inning).
Meanwhile Carolina starter Goodnight has just struck out the side in the bottom of the 3rd inning. He did allow a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.
The rain here in Wilmington continues to fall, as the game has become official. The Mudcats also continue to score. They scored three runs on three hits (two triples) off Carl in the top of the 5th inning. The bottom of the Mudcats order (Cannon and Cid) are 4-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
And the rain has virtually stopped, as Carl had a 1-2-3 top of the 6th inning. He threw just eight pitches.
Goodnight continues to cruise. He retired 11 in a row headed before Beltre’s one out single in the 6th inning. It was just the Blue Rocks second hit of the game. Merrifield followed with a LONG drive but the left fielder caught it in the corner on the warning track. Fletcher struck out to end the inning, with the Blue Rocks down 8-1.
Carl’s night is done with Nick Graffeo set to make his debut. Graffeo was greeted rudely by the Mudcats. He walked the first batter he faced. After recording an out, he gave up a single. With two outs, Cannon followed with a no-doubter into the left field visitor’s bullpen to give the Mudcats an 11-1 lead. Cid followed with a stand up triple, but Graffeo got a fly out to end the top of the 7th inning. Those two are now 6-for-7 with six RBIs and four runs scored.
Goodnight was done after six innings and Jordan Cooper entered in relief. Goodnight allowed just one run on two hits while striking out five. Cooper sent the side down in order with two strikeouts.
Carolina collected another triple (their fourth), with Wolters leading off the 8th inning with one. He scored on a Moncrief ground out. So Carolina now leads 12-1.
Nick Rogers entered in relief for the Blue Rocks in the 9th inning and despite allowing two hits, he did not allow a run. Down 12-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Blue Rocks have the 2-3-4 hitters up to start an epic comeback.
Beltre walked to lead off the inning. With one out, Fletcher crushed a ball into the right center field gap. Problem is, Beltre got thrown out at the plate. Cuthbert struck out to end the game.
12-1 Carolina and the two teams split the series 2-2.
Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Carolina League, Carolina Mudcats, Edwin Carl, Juan Graterol, Kansas City Royals, KC, KC Royals, Michael Goodnight, MiLB, MLB, Nick Graffeo, Royals, Wilmington Blue Rocks, Yordano Ventura