It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a Wilmington Blue Rocks game, and there have been quite a few changes to the roster since I have last been to Frawley Stadium. Yordano Ventura , Nick Rogers, Sam Runion, and Whit Merrifield have been promoted to Double-A (Rogers has since returned to Wilmington). Edwin Carl and Kevin David have been demoted to Low-A Kane County (but Carl is now back after two outings for the Cougars). Cole White and Roman Hernandez have hit the DL. Murray Watts, Andy Ferguson, Robinson Yambati, Antonio Cruz, and Chris Elder are some new faces.
Oh and Jason Adam finally won his second game (and third).
Leondy Perez has returned from the DL. He will be making his third start for the Blue Rocks tonight since returning from the DL on July 28th. Overall, he is 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 games (seven starts). Since returning from the DL, Perez has struck out ten in nine innings (while allowing four runs on nine hits and two walks). He will be opposed by Winston-Salem’s Stephen McCray (5-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 20 games, 12 starts). The Dash right-hander has been a full-time starter since the June All-Star break.
Tonight’s game is the final game of their three-game series (and the last time the two teams will play barring a matchup in the Carolina League Championship). Heading into the game, the Blue Rocks are tied for first place in the Northern Division with Frederick (and just a ½ game up on the other two teams in the division). The Dash (who are the first half champs) are tied for first place in the Southern Division with Myrtle Beach (four games up on Carolina). When in Winston-Salem last week, the Blue Rocks lost two of three.
Let’s take a look at the first two games of the series.
Wilmington took Game 1 on Tuesday night in dramatic fashion. With two outs and a runner on second base and trailing 1-0, Watts lifted a fly ball to centerfield. Game over right? Wrong. Dash centerfielder Trayce Thompson dropped the ball, allowing the tying run to score. After Elder walked, Angel Franco delivered the game winner, a double to left.
Winston-Salem took Game 2, 8-0. They pounded out 13 hits, to just three for the Blue Rocks (Geulin Beltre had two of the hits). They were shut out for a league-worst 13th time this season.
How will tonight’s game fare? I’ll try to keep you posted.
It was an ugly start for Perez. The Dash had three straight hits and a run in before he recorded an out. After getting two outs, he allowed a two-run single to Earley and an RBI double to Blanke before he got out of the inning. He threw 21 pitches (14 for strikes) as eight men came to the plate.
The Dash tacked on another run in the 2nd inning to take a 5-0 lead.
The Blue Rocks got to McCray in the 3rd inning. With one out and runners at second and third base, Calixte blooped an RBI single to left field. However Adams grounded into the inning ending double play.
Somehow, Perez made it through four innings. He threw no less than 19 pitches in the first four innings. With runners on base, he was extremely slow to the plate. He did not have a clean inning.
The Blue Rocks’ best chance to get back in the game came in the 4th inning with runners at the corners and nobody out. However Beltre grounded into a DP to end the threat (though a run scored). Watts then followed with a single before Graterol grounded out to end the inning.
The new pitcher in the 5th inning for the Blue Rocks is Edwin Carl. His start wasn’t as bad as Perez’, but he allowed two hits to lead off the inning. With one out, Herbek hit a fly ball to left field that Elder caught and made a nice throw home. Problem is, Graterol couldn’t hold on and the Dash increased their lead to 6-2.
Carl blew away the Dash in the 6th inning. He struck out the side, including Thompson on three pitches.
Just as I was about to type that Carl was going to quickly send the Dash down in order, things went wrong. After hitting Hankerd, Earley hit a ground ball up the middle. As Franco was about to back hand it and turn a DP, the ball hit second base and bounced into centerfield. That gave the Dash runners at the corners and just one out. Blanke followed with an RBI single, but Earley was thrown out at third base by Beltre (that would be his 19th outfield assist of the season). Herbek followed with an RBI single to increase the Dash lead to 8-2.
McCray’s night was done after six innings. He allowed two run on six hits and three walks while striking out three. The new Dash pitcher was Kevin Vance, who quickly dispatched the Blue Rocks 1-2-3.
The new pitcher for the Blue Rocks is Robinson Yambati. He allowed a one out triple and an RBI single to finish off the Dash scoring. Nick Rogers entered in the 9th inning and allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning. He then fell behind Herbek 3-0 before striking him out on a 95 mph fastball. He battled to get a ground out before striking out Walker to end the inning. It was a nice battle back by a reliever who has been struggling with his command.
Ryan Buch entered in the bottom of the 9th inning for the Dash. Beltre grounded out for the first out. Watts struck out for the second out. Graterol grounded out to end the game. The Dash won 9–2 and take the series 2-1.