The West Virginia Power lost game two of their three game series with the Lakewood Blueclaws by a 2-0 score, one day after throwing their own shutout. Zack Von Rosenberg pitched the first six innings, giving up one run and taking the tough loss. He was followed by Ryan Hafner and Porfirio Lopez for one inning apiece. As usual with the West Virginia game reports, I’ll concentrate on the big four in the lineup and then add some game notes at the end. First to Zack Von Rosenberg and his deceiving numbers tonight.
Zack Von Rosenberg
Last year I saw Von Rosenberg pitch at Lakewood with very similar results, throwing five innings that night, with one run allowed. I was impressed by that start. This start was not impressive, despite adding another scoreless inning to his totals over the other game. First I’ll point out the good — he threw strikes, 60 out of 90 pitches to be exact. He also got his share of swing and misses, 13 in all, which is a high total compared to other pitchers I’ve tracked pitch-by-pitch. The other good would be the one run in six innings, the sixth time in a row he has allowed two or fewer runs, with five of those starts coming on the road. The numbers don’t lie, he’s been doing something good for over a month now.
As I said, I was not impressed with this outing, simply said, for giving up one run in six innings, he got hit hard. There were loud outs all over the place, the hits were all well hit and there were hard foul balls too. Almost everything the Blueclaws hit, they hit hard and they hit it in the air. If he was in a smaller ballpark, one that isn’t a pitcher’s park like Lakewood, his line would be much different. For someone who worked on keeping the ball down in Extended Spring Training, he certainly didn’t do it tonight. His fastball was just a tick better than last time, hitting 88-90, touching 91, up one MPH on all three numbers. He threw a lot of off-speed pitches, getting the first two batters of the game to strike out swinging on his curveball, but he didn’t have much success with that pitch or his change-up after that.
He had just two groundball outs all game, with ten air outs and four strikeouts. The first ground out was a sharply hit ball up the middle that hit off his foot and went towards first base. He chased it down and made a great play to retire the batter. The other ground out was just a sacrifice bunt. Last time I saw him pitch, the outs were soft, the ball was on the ground, the results were the same but it was a much more impressive game. It’s hard to imagine coming away from a game unimpressed, where a guy goes six innings, gives up one run, throws strikes and gets a lot of swing and misses, but it happened tonight.
I was looking forward to seeing Hanson play shortstop tonight, the first time he has played the field since Monday. I came away with absolutely nothing, unless you count him dropping one of the warm-up grounders. He had no plays in the field except catching a throw down to second base on a steal attempt. At the plate, he showed a lack of patience I haven’t seen from him prior. His first at-bat was a pop up to shortstop on the first pitch. Next time up, a two pitch broken bat grounder to third base. Skipping to his fourth at-bat, he switched over to the left side and lined the first pitch he saw to first base for an out. As mentioned with Von Rosenberg, Lakewood is a big stadium, that plays big and the ball was traveling even less than usual tonight. In Hanson’s third at-bat, he hit a first pitch triple off the top of the left field wall. It was likely a home run most days here and in most other parks. He hit the ball hard twice, had one hit to show for it and saw five pitches all night.
Osuna was switched to third in the batting order, changing places with Gregory Polanco. His first three at-bats in the new spot were bad, the first one consisting of three pitches, with three swing and misses. The next two times up, he popped out to the second baseman. Osuna saved his night in his last time up by hitting a groundball single up the middle for his only hit. He got the rare chance to show off his arm at first base, making a strong throw across the diamond to cut down a runner. With a man on second, Lakewood’s Brian Pointer hit a hard grounder down the third base line that Chris Lashmet made a diving stop on. The throw to first was late, and on the throw, the runner took off for third, but Osuna’s great throw nailed him for the out.
Polanco, who bats left-handed, had his first two at-bats tonight against a lefty. The first time up he swung and missed on two pitches, but was able to work a walk. The next time up, he hit a 3-1 pitch hard up the middle for a single, then stole second base. Switching over to a righty pitcher for his third at-bat in the sixth inning, Polanco smoked a grounder down the line that the first baseman made a diving catch on, with his glove landing on the bag in the process for the out. Defensively it was a close second for the play of the game, which was made by Polanco himself. In his fourth at-bat, Polanco struck out swinging against Kenny Giles, a flame throwing righty, who got the last pitch up to 98 mph to get the left-handed hitter. Giles would strike out Eric Avila in the ninth with a 99 mph pitch.
Polanco reached base twice, stole a base and hit the ball hard his third time up, but it was his defense on this night that was more impressive. The first inning ended with a leaping catch by Polanco against the wall in straight away center field. In the sixth inning, the lead-off batter hit a hard liner into the right-center gap and Polanco just outran the ball, making the catch on a full sprint, of a ball that looked like a sure double. He also ranged far into left-center to make another catch near the wall, showing great range both ways and over his head.
Garcia showed off his strong arm twice, but once was due to him misplaying a ball from a single into a double. At the plate, he had a forgettable night. His first at-bat started off 3-0, then he swung at ball four near his eyes. He ended up striking out, again swinging at ball four. In his next at-bat, he grounded out to shortstop. Garcia had some hard foul balls in his third at-bat, but it ended with his second strikeout. His last time up was a fly out to center field on the first pitch. Not a good night for Garcia. I’ll keep reminding myself he is still just 19 in full-season ball with plenty of tools.
*Ryan Hafner made his second relief appearance since his last start six days ago. He was a little wild, got two groundouts to third base, followed by a walk, followed by a caught stealing. He was throwing 91-93 mph.
*Porfirio Lopez pitched the eighth and gave up the second run of the game. He was throwing 90-91 and getting some good results with his off-speed stuff.
* The Power had six hits all night, Hanson’s triple was the only extra base hit.
* Nick Kingham will pitch the last game of the series tomorrow night.