WILMINGTON, DE – On the back of another strong outing from Cody Reed and an offensive explosion in the middle innings, the Wilmington Blue Rocks took their third straight contest over the second place Frederick Keys by a 9-3 final on Saturday night. Reed worked through six solid innings, allowing just one unearned run as he picked up his fifth win of the season. Reed’s ERA is now down to a stellar 1.29. The Rocks have now opened up their lead in the Carolina League Northern Division to five games over Frederick with the win. Frederick is now under .500 (27-28) for the first time since losing their season-opener against Winston-Salem.
After getting Major League rehabber Kevin Gausman out of the game after three scoreless innings, the Rocks broke onto the scoreboard in a big way. Dariel Delgado was the first man out of the bullpen, and he hit Mauricio Ramos, the first man he faced, to begin the fourth. Two batters later, Frank Schwindel doubled high off the left field wall to put runners on second and third with one out. Jack Lopez then produced an RBI single, and Cam Gallagher walked after that to load the bases. Dexter Kjerstad would follow with a walk of his own to force in the second run of the frame. Logan Moon traded an out for a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 Rocks. Carlos Garcia capped the scoring in the frame with a two-out two-RBI triple that gave the Blue Crew a 5-0 advantage.
Wilmington continued to impose their will offensively the very next inning. The Blue Rocks offense plated four runs in the frame off of Delgado and Jarett Miller, who came in to relieve Delgado after Lopez walked with nobody out and two runs already home in the inning. By the end of the fifth, the Rocks held a 9-0 lead. The big hit in the frame was a two-RBI double off the bat of Schwindel. Moon also added his second RBI of the game on an RBI single. Miller would settle down from that point on, not allowing another run to Wilmington. Miller ended up going four scoreless innings.
The Keys finally cut into the Rocks lead in the top half of the seventh inning after scoring an unearned run off of Reed in the sixth. Adrian Marin reached with his second double of the game in the sixth and then came around to score on an infield single from Drew Dosch and a throwing error by Schwindel. With Nick Green into the game for Wilmington to start the seventh, Jeff Kemp led off the frame with a single. Chance Sisco then delivered a two-run homer over the right field wall to cut the Rocks lead to 9-3. That was Sisco’s first big-fly in Advanced-A.
The Rocks and Keys will finish up their four-game series on Sunday in a matinee ballgame from Frawley Stadium. Wilmington will send Alec Mills to the bump. Mills has been arguably the most solid Rocks’ starter over his last three starts. Mills has gone 2-1 while allowing just four runs in his last 20 innings pitched, which included a seven-inning complete game against Potomac. The Keys will counter with lefty Mitch Horacek. Horacek is currently leading the CL in strikeouts (70). First pitch from Wilmington is scheduled for 1:35 p.m.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
For the second time this season on Saturday, the Blue Rocks had to try their hand at a Major League rehabber. The first time the Rocks faced a big-leaguer was back on May 7 against Potomac when Casey Janssen made the start in game one of a split double-header. Jansssen went just one inning, but got the Rocks to go down in order as he worked a 1-2-3 frame with a strikeout. Last season, the Rocks faced a top tier Major League pitcher when they went up against Gio Gonzalez who was also rehabbing with Potomac. Wilmington got to Gonzalez, scoring eight runs in 3.2 innings. Bubba Starling hit a grand slam off of Gonzalez in a contest the Rocks would end up losing by 11-10 final. Potomac walked-off with a win after rallying for five runs in the bottom of the ninth. The Rocks have now won both games this season in which they have faced a Major Leaguer, but they have still yet to hand a loss to a rehabbing Major League pitcher. Gausman worked through three frames allowing just on hit, a Jack Lopez single, and he recorded four strikeouts.
With a 2-for-5 showing on Saturday night, Cody Stubbs has now hit safely in all nine games he has played with the Blue Rocks this season. That nine-game hitting streak ties Frank Schwindel for the longest streak by a Blue Rock this season. Schwindel’s streak lasted from April 22 to May 1, during which he batted .316 with a home run, five doubles, two RBIs, and seven runs. Stubbs has gone 17-for-34 during his nine-game streak, good for a .500 batting average. He has also collected one homer, six doubles, three RBIs, and six runs scored.
The Rocks defense recorded three double plays on Saturday night, the most they have turned in a single game all season long. Their previous high was two in a contest, which they have done 12 times in 2015. The last time Wilmington turned a pair of twin-killings was on June 2 at Carolina. The Rocks are just glad the tables have turned when it comes to the double play ball. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Blue Crew had hit into a Carolina League leading 52 twin-killings. That number is 10 more than the second-place team in that category, the Frederick Keys.
Frank Schwindel just will not stop hitting doubles this season for the Rocks. Wilmington’s first baseman has been an extra-base hit machine, as his two doubles on Saturday extended his league-lead to 21, five more than the next closest hitter in the lead. Schwindel is the first player in the CL to reach the 20 double mark this year. Hitting for extra-base power is nothing new for Schwindel. Last season, while splitting time between Wilmington and Low-A Lexington, Schwindel hit 32 doubles and 22 homers, including two here in Wilmington. Schwindel is currently leading the Rocks in extra-base hits (25), doubles (21), homeruns (3), and RBIs (28). For the time being, Schwindel has also hit in more consecutive games (nine) than any other Rock until Saturday when Cody Stubbs collected a hit in his ninth straight contest.
THEY SAID IT:
Manager Brian Buchanan
“We played some pretty good defense behind (Cody Reed). We turned those three double plays for him. He threw the ball well, and he made pitches when he needed to. He’s been doing it all year. He threw the ball well.”
“(Jack Lopez) has been working on hitting line drives, staying up the middle and trying to keep the ball out of the air. He’s finally doing that, and it’s finally translating into hits for him.”
“No (this win doesn’t put Frederick away in the first half). We still have got to go out and play. We play these guys five more times, and we’ve got some team coming up that play us tough. We haven’t seen Salem yet, but we’ve got to keep winning. I don’t think winning three games against these guys makes us first half winners. We’ve got to keep playing and keep doing what we do and let the chips fall where they may.”
“No (the message to the team is not different against a major leaguer). He’s still throwing a little white ball, he’s just got a little more experience. He obviously, by the way he was throwing, you can tell, he had his good stuff. He could spot his fastball and his slider, he threw some good changeups. You’ve got to go out there and have your same approach no matter who’s out there.”
Shortstop Jack Lopez
“(I’m) just staying confident. The coaches and (manager Brian Buchanan), they’re always on top of me to stay confident. I’m having good at-bats…Keep up my confidence, and everything is going to be alright at the end of the day. That’s what I’m trying to do. Just go out there, do my job, put up good plate appearances, and everything will be alright at the end of the day.”
“(Kevin Gausman) had impressive stuff. People say it’s not a big difference between minor leagues and big leagues, and there really is. Coming from (Louisiana State University), it’s a big, big college, and then how fast he made it to the bigs…I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s an honor to be on the same field as him, especially a guy that’s been in the bigs. He’s produced at a young age, and to be able to do what he’s doing right now is awesome.”
“(Gausman threw me a) fastball (when I got the hit off him)…I was able to put good contact on it and find a hole.”
“It’s amazing (hitting as well as we did tonight). First of all, we’ve got to tip our cap to Cody Reed. The way he went out there…once you have somebody like that on the mound, you don’t need too many runs. Fortunately for him, we were able to get a lot of runs tonight. We’ve got to tip our caps to all our pitchers. (Jakob) Junis yesterday, everybody, even people coming in from the bullpen, they’re going to do their job, and we’ve just got to get a couple runs, and we’ll be alright at the end of the game.”
“(Making good defensive plays) does (calm me down offensively). I want my pitchers to have confidence in me. Anything that’s hit my way…I’m going to lay everything out every single pitch. If I have to dive, I’m going to dive, no matter if we’re losing by 10 or winning by 10, I’m going to do my job. It’s good to have pitchers (like Cody Reed)…After I made those tough errors, (Reed) was still coming at me, saying ‘I’m going to get you another one’. Fortunately he was able to, and we were (able) to get the win.”
“It would be amazing (to make the playoffs). The last three years, we’ve been close. We’ve been within a few games. Our coaches are well deserved of (a playoff run). They get here every day, they work with us…even our rovers are here every day, and we work hard. Not only for our team, but for the whole organization, it would mean a lot.”