When will Jason Adam win his second game of the 2012 season?
Maybe tonight is the night. Adam and the Wilmington Blue Rocks return home from a long road trip that followed the All-Star break for a short three-game home series against first-place Lynchburg. The Hillcats won the first half Northern Division title.
It has been a struggle for Adam over the last month or so. He has allowed three or more runs in six of his last seven starts. In his first start of the second half, he allowed six runs on eight hits over 5.1 innings in Carolina. His defense failed him, as only one of those runs was earned.
Overall, Adam is 1-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 14 starts.
The Blue Rocks are just 2-5 to start the second half. Their roster is ever-changing, as they have added five players while they were out on the road (pitchers Elisaul Pimentel and Matt Ridings, first baseman Matt Fields, shortstop Orlando Calixte, and outfielder Lane Adams).
Lynchburg hasn’t seen too much movement with their roster. They did lose outfielder Matt Lipka to the DL this week (he was hitting .271). First baseman Chris Garcia (.308 with 34 RBIs), second baseman Tommy La Stella (.267 with 44 RBIs), shortstop Nick Ahmed (.269 with 21 doubles), catcher Braeden Schlehuber (.294), and pitcher JR Graham (8-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 14 starts) all returned to the team following the California-Carolina League All-Star Game. Lynchburg has allowed three runs or less in 16 of their last 21 games.
Pitching for the Hillcats is Aaron Northcraft. He is 7-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 14 starts (two complete games). In 80 innings, Northcraft has allowed 69 hits and 35 walks. He has struck out 78 and has yet to allow a homerun. In his last start (Friday), he threw a no-hitter (which was the first of his career), though it was a seven-inning affair.
Hillcats: Mycal Jones (CF), Nick Ahmed (SS), Bobby Stevens (LF), Adam Milligan (DH), Edward Salcedo (3B), Chris Garcia (1B), Matt Weaver (2B), David Rohm (RF), and Chad Comer (C).
Blue Rocks: Whit Merrfield (LF), Orlando Calixte (SS), Cheslor Cuthbert (3B), Matt Fields (1B), Lane Adams (CF), Roman Hernandez (DH), Kevin David (C), Geulin Beltre (RF), and Angel Franco (2B).
It’s a hot one here tonight in Wilmington and I’ll be out and about during the first few innings getting some photos of some of the new Blue Rocks and trying to get some video. I will update as soon as I get back into the pressbox.
It’s Tubby Raymond bobblehead night and there were quite a few people in line before the gates opened, but I’m not sure they have stuck around for the game. For those who are wondering, Raymond is the longtime football coach for the University of Delaware (plus he’s a Hall of Famer).
The Blue Rocks aren’t going to get no-hit tonight. Whit Merrifield led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, stole second base, and scored on Matt Fields’ RBI bloop single. In the 2nd inning with one out, three straight hits produced another run, with Angel Franco’s double driving in the run. Merrifield followed with a walk to load the bases for Orlando Calixte. He struck out and Cheslor Cuthbert grounded out. That’s three left on in that inning.
There have been a few foul balls off of the feet of Blue Rocks hitters in the 2nd inning. First it was Geulin Beltre, who then singled. Then it was Cheslor Cuthbert, who limped around and then jogged to first base on a ground out. Both stayed in the game.
Meanwhile, Adam has retired the first six batters of the game. He has thrown 26 pitches through two innings, 15 for strikes.
Lynchburg got their first hit, a double leading off the 3rd inning by Matt Weaver, on an 0-2 pitch. The Hillcats got on the board with two outs, as Mycal Jones blooped a single towards the right field line just beyond first base and beyond the dive of second baseman Franco. That also came on an 0-2 pitch (that was flailed at). A nice sliding grab by Merrifield near the left field line ended the top of the 3rd inning.
After Roman Hernandez beat out an infield single fielded by the first baseman with two outs, Lynchburg seemed to think he was suddenly a speedster. Northcraft threw over to first base about four times and then there was a pitch-out before he ended up taking second base on a wild pitch. Kevin David grounded out to end the 3rd inning. The Blue Rocks lead 2-1.
After getting two quick outs on six pitches in the top of the 4th inning, Adam then allowed a solo homerun (a bomb down the LF line that stayed just fair) to Edward Salcedo to tie the game at 2-2. That blast came on a 2-0 pitch.
After getting the best of a ten-pitch at-bat (which resulted in a strikeout of Weaver), Adam needed just three pitches to get through the top of the 5th inning.
Jones led off the top of the 6th inning with a bunt single on the very first pitch. He stole second base on the very next pitch. Ahmed took the 0-2 pitch back up the middle, which got a piece of Adam, but Calixte fielded it and threw to first to get Ahmed out (Jones moved to third base). Adam was okay and with the infield in, got Stevens to ground out. However it was a high chopper and Jones scored to give the Hillcats the lead. Adam struck out Adam Mulligan on three pitched to end the top of the 6th inning. Adam did not throw a ball that inning (all 11 pitches were for strikes).
Another two quick outs for Adam in the top of the 7th inning (six pitches), but the first pitch to Weaver was crushed into the night (left-center field). I honestly lost it and I didn’t hear it hit the double-wall. David Rohm then blooped a double down the right field line and Chad Comer followed with a slow roller to short that Calixte threw away to score another run. A hard hit ball at Cuthbert that he couldn’t handle ended Adam’s night.
Two on and two out for Nick Rogers. He walked the first batter he faced in a nine-pitch AB. He did get out of the inning unscathed. The Hillcats lead 5-2 heading into the bottom of the 7th inning with a new pitcher on the mound. That new pitcher is Cole McCurry. Northcraft struck out four of the final seven batters he faced.
McCurry walked Merrifield with one out and Calixte followed with a single. However McCurry struck out Cuthbert and Matt Fields hit a deep fly ball to the warning track in right field that was caught for the final out.
Rogers got into trouble in the top of the 8th inning, but was bailed out by a double play grounder. He then gave up a double and fell behind Weaver 2-0, which brought out a coaching visit from pitching coach Steve Luebber. Rogers walked Weaver on four pitches. Rohm swung at the first pitch and grounded out to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the 8th, the Blue Rocks put together back-to-back doubles to score a run. That brought out a long coaching visit, but no pitching change (though there was the beginning of bullpen action). A bloop single by Beltre scored Kevin David from second base to cut the deficit to 5-4 and bring the pitching change.
That new pitcher is Chasen Shreve, who inherited a runner on first base with one out. Franco hit a ground ball to third that was booted and then thrown away to put runners at the corners. That brought out a manager visit with Merrifield coming to the plate. A squeeze play got the tying run to score (though it looked like he was out). The throw by the catcher to third base sailed down the LF line as the go ahead run scored. Merrifield was thrown out at the plate on the same play. It was alot of craziness, but the catcher should have held onto the ball because no one was covering third base (he was throwing to a moving target). At the end, the Blue Rocks lead 6-5 heading into the top of the 9th inning.
In for the save was Sam Runion. With one out, Jones blooped the ball down the RF line for a double. That’s his fourth hit of the game. It seems like everyone is blooping hits down the RF line. Ahmed hit a ground ball to short, but Calixte has a strong arm and got him for the second out (he looked safe to me). There was a short argument by the Hillcats manager, but to no avail. Runion got Stevens to ground out to end the game.
Blue Rocks win 6-5.
Topics: Aaron Northcraft, AL Central, Baseball, Carolina League, Jason Adam, Kansas City Royals, KC, KC Royals, Lynchburg Hillcats, Matt Fields, Matt Weaver, MLB, Mycal Jones, Nick Rogers, Royals, Sam Runion, Whit Merrifield, Wilmington Blue Rocks