When I arrived at McKechnie Field for the Bradenton Marauders vs. St. Lucie Mets game this evening, I noted this could be a very high scoring game due to the strong wind blowing straight out to center field. I was correct that the game ended up being high scoring, and it was in large part due to several home runs. However, the wind had very little, if anything, to do with those homers.
Tyler Waldron started the game for the Marauders and pitched his second poor game in a row, after having four good starts after his promotion from West Virginia. I must be his bad-luck charm as I saw him struggle through 3 innings of a rain-shortened game last Tuesday as well. At least on Tuesday he was able to pitch out of trouble for the most part. No such luck tonight.
Waldron surrendered a long triple to drive in a run in the 1st inning; 2 home runs to net 3 runs in the 3rd inning; and a 2-run homer in the 5th inning to end his night early. He was unimpressive both Tuesday and tonight for the following reasons:
(1) His fastball is boring — he throws in the high-80′s (hitting 91 once tonight), straight as an arrow and rarely hits the glove. Carlos Paulino always had to move his glove, usually 12 inches or more from the original target. Several times Paulino would be set up on one side of the plate, only to have the pitch thrown to the other side.
(2) He fell behind in the count often. With a fastball as described above, this is deadly, especially with the general low-minors approach of throwing fastballs unless ahead in the count.
(3) His curve ball (which had good movement) generally stayed up so hitters could at least foul it off or started so low that batters didn’t bother swinging at it. Once he threw a good curve on a 2-strike count that started thigh-high, then dropped to the dirt after the batter committed to his swing.
(4) When behind in the count, he “challenged” hitters by throwing right down the middle. Based on the results above, you can tell that he didn’t win many of those challenges tonight.
All in all, this was a case of a pitcher who’s stuff doesn’t look that great missing his spots and getting hit around pretty much all night. His overall numbers on the season seem to indicate he’s better than what he showed me, so hopefully these two starts are just anomalies.
The other pitchers didn’t fare too well either, as Brian Leach gave up the longest home run of the night, which probably travelled 420 feet. And Ryan Beckham (who has been pitching quite well this season) put the game out of reach by giving up a 3-run homer in the 9th to give the Mets an 11-5 lead.
Tonight’s Marauders lineup featured 5 hitters at the top of the lineup who are very interesting and the rest of the lineup who are just filling out roster spots.
Grossman sits at the top of the lineup and did what he usually does — a hit and two walks, resulting in a 1-3 night with 2 runs scored. His hit in the 1st inning was a laser shot to the right field wall that was hit so hard that he could only get a single. Robbie has really arrived and I look forward to seeing what he does as he progresses through the system.
Adalberto Santos hit 2nd tonight and got 2 more hits, both solid opposite field singles to right field. His main weakness is that almost everything I’ve seen him hit all year has gone towards right field and all of his at bats resulted in balls going to the right fielder or 2nd baseman. But there’s no denying his ability to get hits to that side of the field.
The 3rd batter was Elevys Gonzalez who also had 2 hits plus a walk tonight. His hits were solid singles into LF and RF. He has a much better ability to turn on pitch than Santos and looks like a better overall hitter.
Batting cleanup was Evan Chambers who has been vastly improved the 2nd half of the season at the plate and also looks very comfortable in center field. He had 3 RBIs on the night due to a little luck. He was up with the bases loaded in the 1st inning and blooped a pitch over the 2nd baseman’s head for a 2-RBI single. In the 5th inning, he was up with runners on the corners and one out when he lifted what looked a routine fly ball to right field. The RF went back on the ball then had to run and leap to make the catch as the ball got caught in the wind. Grossman scored easily from 3B on the sacrifice fly, but the amazing thing about the play was that Santos tagged up from 1B and went all the way to 3B due to the RF falling down after making the catch.
The last interesting hitter was Carlos Paulino who hit an RBI single after the above play. Paulino looks like he’s about 5′ 8″ and weighs 130 pounds. I know he’s listed at 4 inches and 40 pounds more than that, but he’s not that big. He keeps hitting though, and plays good defense. The Mets stole 3 bases tonight but Paulino only really had a shot at one of the runners. He picked up a throwing error on a play he shouldn’t have even thrown the ball due to the huge jump the runner had. He also picked a runner off 1B. I’m not sure what will become of this guy, but he sure has been a pleasant surprise this year!
With seven games left in the season, the Marauders have a 3.5 game lead over Palm Beach, whom they visit for a 2-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully the Marauders can hold onto that lead to become the 3rd Pirates affiliate to reach the playoffs this year, and the only full season team to do so.