Bone crusher: Yeah, Zack Collins hit another homer run. (Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)
Trio of doubles powers Dash to victory; everyone else loses bye
Odrisamer Despaigne: 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K (L, 6-5)
Zach Thompson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Nick Madrigal (2B): 1-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
Yoán Moncada (DH): 1-for-5
Luis Robert (CF): 0-for-5, 4 K
Yermín Mercedes (3B): 2-for-4, 2 R
Zack Collins (1B): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI **MVP**
Seby Zavala (C): 1-for-4, 1 K, 1 PO
The math was against the Knights, who gave up five runs but only scored four themselves. Odrisamer Despaigne, who has proven himself to be pretty good at Triple-A ball, allowed all five. Zach Thompson keeps alternating between good and bad outings, adding two scoreless innings today. Thyago Vieira struck out two but allowed two hits in his scoreless ninth inning.
The future top of the order (including a rehabbing Yoán Moncada) went a combined 2-for-15, but the future third baseman went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. That’s right, Yermín Mercedes got his second start at the hot corner on Friday, and handled a flawless nine innings, just as perfect as the first nine. This is obviously the main takeaway from today’s game, not Nick Madrigal hitting an inside-the-park home run in the first Charlotte at-bat of the ballgame (his first at the level!), and not Zack Collins’ 16th dong to score two runs in the eighth. Also, Luis Robert went hitless and struck out four times, so how good can he really be, anyway?
Blake Battenfield: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (L, 5-5) **MVP**
Tyler Johnson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Vince Arobio: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
Luis González (CF): 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
Luis Alexander Basabe (LF): 0-for-3, 1 K
Blake Rutherford (DH): 0-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K
Gavin Sheets (1B): 0-for-4, 1 K
Ti’Quan Forbes (3B): 1-for-4, 1 K
Joel Booker (RF): 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K
Both teams only scrounged up four hits apiece, but the Braves were also able to find two runs while the Barons came up empty-handed, meaning Math Strikes Again and a Sox farm team loses. Starter Blake Battenfield was battenfielded around in his first few starts with the Barons, but with the exception of a six-run event in early August, his second half has been strong (21 earned runs allowed in 49 ⅓ innings for a 3.83 ERA, 13 walks, 30 strikeouts, compared to a 4.88 ERA over 31 ⅓ pre-All-Star innings, 10 walks, 31 strikeouts). More of a contact guy than a strikeout guy, Battenfield is at his best when he’s not allowing two-run home runs, which is what happened here. Of course, two runs in six innings, both of those coming on one pitch, isn’t normally damning, especially when there are only two other baserunners allowed total, but Barons bats have been struggling more than usual lately and they weren’t able to get on the board.
Luis González and Joel Booker both doubled, and Ti’Quan Forbes and Alfredo González both singled. L. González and Blake Rutherford drew walks, and all six baserunners were stranded.
Jonathan Stiever: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (W, 6-3)
Caleb Frare: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K
Steele Walker (CF): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B
Tyler Frost (DH): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K **MVP**
Andrew Vaughn (1B): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jameson Fisher (LF): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
Mitch Roman (3B): 3-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 SB
It was Stiever Day in Winston-Salem, and he did not disappoint. There were two early wobbles, both solo home runs in the first and second inning, respectively, and then he settled in. This is the first time he’s struck out fewer than six batters in any start in which he’s gone five or more innings, and for the fourth time in 10 starts, he did not walk a batter. He scattered baserunners the rest of the game, aided by his defense and a timely lineout double play, and the two dingers remained the only blemishes on his line. José Nin, Caleb Frare, and Wyatt Burns each pitched a scoreless inning.
Three big doubles won this game for the Dash, all coming back-to-back-to-back in the fifth inning. The first was Steele Walker’s, his 32nd of the season, first hitting the outfield grass, then bouncing over the Dash’s absurdly short right field fence for the ground-rule hit. Tyler Frost, 7-for-13 since his return from the Injured List, followed up with his 24th of the year, scoring Walker and Skoug (leadoff walk) to break the tie and put Dash up 4-2. Andrew Vaughn followed it up with his seventh double, scoring Frost and raising his Dash slash to .283/.385/.472 in 15 games played. He has walked nine times and struck out eight.
The other offense in this game was generated by Jameson Fisher, who hit his eighth home run in the second inning, and JJ Muno, who grounded into a force out that scored Vaughn in the fourth inning.
Johan Dominguez: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Devon Perez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Austin Conway: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (L, 1-1)
Ian Dawkins (CF): 2-for-4, 1 SB
Romy González (2B): 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB
Tyler Osik (DH): 1-for-4, 3 K
Corey Zangari (1B): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB **MVP**
Gunnar Troutwine (C): 1-for-4, 2 K
The Intimidators went pretty quietly on Friday, managing only six hits over 10 innings of play, their lone run coming on a Zanger off the bat of Corey Zangari, his 12th dinger of the year. Zangari, who has quite a line of .197/.299/.414 (that’s an OPS of .713 for those interested), did a little bit of everything, walking, stealing a base, and striking out. The I’s actually ran fairly wild on the basepaths, young and free, and ended up with four stolen bases total. They turned two double plays, caught a runner stealing, and Ian Dawkins threw a whole guy out at the plate (with some help from Lenyn Sosa). They also made an error, but let’s focus on the other, more positive intangibles.
Johan Dominguez has returned to the starter role that won him a spot on the South Atlantic League All-Star team, and all he did was allow two hits over five innings, striking out seven and walking two. Devon Perez, who I just found out at this exact moment is from my hometown in Virginia and went to my high school the year after I graduated, pitched three scoreless. Austin Conway, who walks a lot of dudes but generally doesn’t allow them to score, walked two dudes and allowed neither of them to score. He did, however, allow a single that drove in the Auto-Runner from second base in the 10th inning for the losing run.
Great Falls Voyagers/Missoula Osprey – Postponed (field conditions)
Ray Castro: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (L, 5-1)
Yolbert Sánchez (SS): 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 E
Benyamin Bailey (LF): 0-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Johnabiell Laureano (CF): 0-for-2
Roberth Gutierrez (CF): 1-for-2, 1 2B
Ruben Benavides (C): 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SB **MVP**
Juan Mercedes (RF): 1-for-4, 1 2B, 3 K
Alberto Bernal (DH): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Cesar Jiménez (2B): 0-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Yes, the DSL Sox lost by 13 runs, and yes, they walked 16 batters, and yes, they only got six hits of their own, but they also went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Of the 10 walks issued by Sox pitching in the fourth inning alone, four were of the bases-loaded variety. Another three came in the eighth. Despite scoring 17 runs, the DSL Padres only collected eight hits. Of those runs, 10 came on non-hit plays, including walks, but also including a double play, a wild pitch, and an error. All six Sox pitchers gave up at least one earned run (the average pitcher allowed 2.83 runs to score in their appearance). Matthew Mercedes, catcher, pitched the eighth, getting two quick outs, then hitting a batter, walking four straight, and allowing a two-run single.
Rarely, though, are things all bad (unless you’re the White Sox, to be fair!), and there was some good today. Yolbert Sánchez tripled, and Benyamin Bailey’s sacrifice fly brought him in! Catcher Ruben Benavides stole third base and then scored on an error! Bailey reached on an error in the ninth that drove in two runs! Baseball is a magical game, and the DSL is a magical league, and one day, if we’re lucky, there will be video available of all of this.