The Brandon Larson Honorary Star of the Weekend
Keury Mella has been absolutely untouchable so far this season, and the powerful right-hander’s start over the weekend for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos fell right in line with that dominance.
Mella allowed just 3 hits in 7 shutout innings against Jacksonville on Friday night, striking out 9 against nary a walk, in the process lowering his season ERA down to a minuscule 1.00. He’s sporting an awesome 5.0 K/BB ratio, has his WHIP at a microscopic 0.89, and at still just 24 years old is beginning to finally look like the prized prospect he was when he came to the Cincinnati Reds from the San Francisco Giants alongside Adam Duvall in the Mike Leake deal.
Friday, April 27th
Nick “No. 2” Senzel had perhaps his best game of the 2018 season on Friday, going 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored, a dinger, 3 ribbies, and a walk, and that’s precisely the kind of performance that’s going to force his way into the Cincinnati lineup at some point quite soon. Phil Ervin brushed off his demotion with a 1 for 2 night that featured a run scored, a double, a ribbie, a walk, and a stolen base, and Brandon Dixon’s hot start to the season continued with a 2 for 5 night that included a double, 2 ribbies, 2 steals, and a run scored.
That was plenty good enough to back Jackson Stephens on the night, as he allowed just a lone earned run in 5.1 IP.
Keury Mella fired yet another gem for the Blue Wahoos on Friday, a 7 IP shutout outing where he struck out 9, walked nobody, and allowed only 3 hits - all singles. Carlos Navas chipped in with a pair of scoreless innings of relief to lock down the save.
On offense, the ‘Hoos smacked 9 hits, and while they only managed a lone run, Mella made sure that held up. Brian O’Grady honked a solo dinger to provide the scoring, Josh “Food Trucks Are Sooooo 2015, Let’s Kickstart a Food” VanMeter singled and walked twice, and Chad “Maels” Tromp smacked a pair of singles.
Fort Myers touched up Joel “Hodgson” Kuhnel for 3 runs in the Bottom of the 8th, and that was enough to turn a would-be victory into a loss for the Tortugas. Prior to that blowup, Tony “Santigold” Santillan flashed the same kind of stuff that he’s becoming known for throwing, firing 5.2 innings of 1 ER ball - which actually raised his season ERA to 0.64.
Both Tyler “Taylor” Stephenson and Taylor “Tyler” Trammell had 2 for 4 evenings (with a double each).
Wendolyn “Steal My Sunshine” Bautista was tagged for 6 ER in his 5 IP, which would be a problem for any team in any situation who was trying to win a game. Ryan “Boring Name” Nutof did a dang fine job of trying to fill the void, however, firing 3 scoreless innings of relief, in which he fanned 3 without walking a single TinCap.
Jeter Downs had a 2 for 5 night while batting leadoff, while Jose Garcia attempted to burst out of his early season slumber with a 3 for 5 night that featured a double, a ribbie, and 3 runs scored. John “Sad Songs Say” Sansone clubbed a 2-run dinger, and Narciso “Raven” Crook had a 3 for 4 night that included 2 doubles and 2 ribbies.
Saturday, April 28th
Senzel’s early exit from this one due to a jammed shoulder sustained while diving for a ball on defense was clearly the biggest takeaway from Saturday’s Bats game. He’s listed as day to day, and while he was initially listed as in the lineup at DH for Sunday’s game, he was later scratched. Drat.
On the field, Jose Lopez got the start an allowed 4 ER in 5 IP, and Domingo Tapia later allowed 2 ER in his IP to be tagged with the loss. Offensively, Tyler “Roger” Goeddel and Steve “Too” Selsky were the lone Bats to reach base more than once, as both went 1 for 3 with a walk.
The score suggests this one was quite the pitcher’s duel, and that’s totally correct. On the Pensacola side, Vlad Gutierrez shined with 6 innings of 2 ER ball, striking out 6 against nary a walk. He did allow a pair of solo dingers, though, which was enough to be saddled with the loss.
Aristides “In the Valley” Aquino provided the lone offense in the team’s 2-hit night, as he bonked a solo dinger.
Daytona had all 7 runs on the board by the end of the 3rd, and they cruised to a Saturday victory afterwards. Scott “Austin” Moss started and was stellar, keeping the Miracle off the board through the first 6 innings before finally being tagged for 3 ER in the 7th before exiting.
Dilson Herrera singled and walked, TJ Friedl bonked a dinger as part of a 2 for 5, 3 ribbie evening, Tyler “Taylor” Stephenson went 2 for 3 with 2 walks and a run scored, and Taylor “Tyler” Trammell went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored.
And heck, even Chris Okey checked in with a dinger, as he’s gradually building his way back into a legitimate prospect after a 2017 season that was lost due to a hamate injury.
Hunter “John Deere” Greene got the start, and only threw 2 innings thanks largely to a combination of his incredibly restrictive innings-monitoring and hittability on the day, I’d wager. He yielded 4 ER in his time, with 6 hits and 2 walks against his 5 Ks.
Sunday, April 29th
“This” Justin Nicolino scrambled to a 5 IP outing, as he managed to allow just 3 ER despite yielding a whopping 11 hits. At least he didn’t walk anyone.
At the plate, only DJ Peterson reached base of his own volition more than once, as he went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles to raise his season average up to a solid .326. Cliff “Why” Pennington - who was a late add to the lineup after Senzel was scratched - had the Bats lone XBH on the day, as he doubled once.
Cody “Apollo” Reed will toe the rubber for Louisville on Monday when they return home to Slugger Field. First pitch against Columbus is scheduled for 6:30 PM ET.
The Blue Wahoos scored twice in the 8th inning in an attempted rally, but that fell just short in their Sunday tussle with the Jumbo Shrimp. Have you ever tussled with jumbo shrimp? I have not, though I was not about to miss the chance to write about a tussle with jumbo shrimp, since minor league baseball is just about the only platform where we can write about such encounters.
Brian O’Grady surely wasn’t at fault, as he belted 2 dingers and drove in all 3 runs as the team’s leadoff hitter for the night. Jesus “Tampa Baye” Reyes was rather solid on the mound, too, allowing just 3 ER in 7 IP as the starter, fanning 5 against a lone walk while allowing just 5 hits.
Wyatt “Earp” Strahan will start for Pensacola on Monday against the big crustaceans, with first pitch set for an early 12:05 AM ET.
Fort Myers 5, Daytona 4 (F/11)
The Tortugas looked like they might cinch a victory when they plated a run in the Top of the 11th, but the danged Fort Myers Miracle scored twice in the Bottom of the 11th to take the W.
TJ Friedl paced the offense with a 3 for 5 night that featured a pair of runs scored, and Mitch “Whip” Nay backed him by going 2 for 4 with a walk, a double, and a pair of ribbies.
On the mound, Ryan Olson was spectacular, really, allowing a lone earned run in 6 IP, striking out 8, walking no one, and scattering 6 hits.
Daytona will play at Jupiter on Monday, with first pitch set for 6:30 PM ET. So far, there’s not yet been a starter named.
Packy “Freakin’ ‘Packy’” Naughton struck out 8 in his 6 IP outing, in which he allowed 3 ER in yet another solid all-around start. John Ghyzel struck out all 3 batters he faced to pick up the save in what amounted to a pretty damn effective outing from the Dragons pitching staff on the day.
Stuart “Morgan” Fairchild tripled as part of his 2 for 3, 2 ribbie, 2 run scored day, and Michael “Touch My Head, I Dare You” Beltre chimed in with a 2 hit day of his own.
The Dragons will head to Burlington next, though they won’t play until Tuesday thanks to an off-day. Tyler “Pizza Hut Lunch” Buffett will take the mound for them then, with first pitch set for 7:30 PM ET.