Similar to Wednesday night, mistakes and failure to come up with the big hit did the Marauders in on Friday night’s 4-game series finale.
Three times, the Marauders put runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, but couldn’t get a hit out of the next two batters in each inning. In the 3rd inning, Jarek Cunningham came up in that situation and hit a sacrifice fly then David Rubinstein hit a soft liner to 1B to end the inning. In the 8th inning, Rubinstein hit into an odd fielder’s choice (see next paragraph) to get one run home then Aaron Baker ended the inning. And in the 9th, down by 2, Carlos Paulino and Robbie Grossman hit short fly outs to end the game.
Grossman and Cunningham made baserunning mistakes on consecutive plays in the 8th. With one out and Grossman on first, Cunningham smashed a ball down the left field line. The leftfielder had no chance to catch the ball but for some reason, Grossman didn’t run all out until he saw it hit the wall. Robbie had to stop at 3rd on Jarek’s double, instead of scoring easily had he run right away. Rubinstein then hit a high one-hopper to the third baseman. Grossman and Cunningham broke on contact, with Jarek running right into the tag; the third baseman then threw to first and with a good throw, might have gotten Rubinstein out, which would have negated the run. Fortunately the throw was wide.
Miscues in the field abounded as well. The Yankees’ first run was the result of a double that Rubinstein misplayed into a triple in the left field corner. Grossman had a runner dead to rights at home plate when Paulino dropped the ball. And Nathan Baker made two poor plays, one on a bunt in which he sailed his throw over the other Baker’s head and one in which he couldn’t field a slow roller on the third base line. These mistakes cost three runs, yet none were ruled errors and all the runs were officially scored as earned.
The Marauders even had trouble when they were intentionally trying to make an out. Twice, with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, batters were asked to sacrifice bunt. Grossman fouled off two pitches before finally bunting one right back to the pitcher to successfully move the runners over. Cole White fouled one off in the 9th before bunting a ball fair, but that bunt went high in the air over the charging first baseman’s head. The 1st baseman made a great attempt to catch it, but just missed and threw White out at 1st.
Baker pitched fairly well and kind of reminded me of a Jeff Locke light. Like Locke, Baker doesn’t have overpowering stuff or great action on his pitches. He does throw in the low 90’s and hit 93 several times, but his fastball is fairly straight. He has a good curve, especially to lefties, but it doesn’t have a sharp break. For the most part, he threw strikes to the glove and missed away from the middle of the plate. The Yankees did not hit him hard. During the 3-run inning, Baker walked two, hit one, and had the slow roller play mentioned above. It’s not like he was getting shelled. But he doesn’t have the stuff to give up baserunners who don’t earn their way on.
Duke Welker pitched well again in his first inning. The 3rd batter in particular was fun to watch as he threw a 97 MPH fastball for strike one, a very nice curve for a called strike two, and then a nasty fastball on the low inside corner for strike three. He tired in the 2nd inning (again), started getting a bit wild and gave up an insurance run that hurt the Marauders’ comeback attempt in the 9th. I’m thinking they really need to limit him to one inning if the intent is to actually try to win some of these games.
But, that’s not really the goal in the minors. And that’s another story for another time.