West Virginia came into Sunday’s game against the Lakewood BlueClaws with a 20-3 record in the season series. They also took the first three games of the current series and went with reliever-turned-starter, Kyle Haynes for the last game. Haynes had shut down Lakewood over four innings on August 1st and in his four starts coming into tonight, he had a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings, with 23 strikeouts. He pitched well tonight, going a career high 6.2 innings, but took the loss after giving up a seventh inning run that gave Lakewood a 2-1 lead. The BlueClaws eventually went on to win 3-1, scoring another run in the ninth. The Power bats didn’t wake up until the fifth inning when they collected their first hit. They were able to scratch out just three hits on the night and Josh Bell drove home the only run. Despite the loss, West Virginia still has a 2.5 game lead in their division for the second half title.
Below you will find a recap of the game by Kyle Haynes, Josh Bell, Dilson Herrera, Chris Diaz and Cesar Lopez, along with some game notes. Tomorrow I will have a series and season recap for the twelve games I’ve seen the Power play in Lakewood this year.
Shortstops Max Moroff and Chris Diaz split this series, playing two games each and both batted lead-off. Today was the second game for Diaz, who drew a walk to start the game. In the third inning, Diaz came up as the only Power to reach base the first time through the order. He fouled off to the catcher to end the inning. He led off the top of the sixth with a hard line drive right through the box into center field. Diaz walked again in the eighth inning, giving him one hit and two walks in the game. Overall, I like the little I’ve seen from Diaz. He was injured during each of the first two times West Virginia came to Lakewood, so I didn’t get to see much. He looked good at shortstop both days and had some nice at-bats in which he worked the count well.
Dilson Herrera was in his familiar spot, second in the order and at second base. He had a rough end to yesterday’s game and today started off bad too, as he went down swinging on a shoulder high fastball. Herrera went down swinging in his second at-bat as well. It’s hard to blame his game so far on one pitch, but prior to getting called out on strikes on a ball outside yesterday, Herrera had five straight at-bats in which he really hit the ball well. Since that at-bat, he expanded his strike zone and has been chasing some bad pitches. In his third time up, this time against a new pitcher, Herrera crushed a line drive right at the center fielder for a tough out. He walked in his fourth plate appearance after fouling off some good pitches.
Josh Bell started his game off with an out, but it was a nice line drive to deep center field that was tracked down. Watching him in batting practice yesterday, he hit a lot of ball similar to that, not much loft to his swing, but he was making solid contact. Bell walked in his second plate appearance, just the second Power runner to reach base. His came up in the sixth inning facing a lefty reliever. Earlier in the series, it was the first time I saw him bat righty this season and he did not look good. That was shared by others in the press box and a scout I talked to the next day. Bell had another awkward looking swing today from the right side, grounding out to third base for the 5-4-3 double play.
Back to the left side for his final at-bat, Bell had runners on second and third base with one out. He went the other way, putting a grounder between shortstop and third base for an RBI. Unfortunately, Bell made a bad decision, trying to go to second base on the play and was thrown out. It was a poor base running decision on his part that may have cost West Virginia a chance at tying the game.
Kyle Haynes had been a reliever all season, but they recently switched him to starting, going with a six man rotation in West Virginia to limit innings for the starters like Tyler Glasnow, Clay Holmes and John Kuchno. Haynes has pitched well so far and he had a real easy first inning, retiring the side in order. He was sitting 90-92 MPH, throwing mostly fastballs.
Haynes gave up a lead-off double in the second. He got a ground out from the second hitter that got the runner to third base. The third batter popped out weakly to third base. He couldn’t get out of the inning without damage though, as Carlos Tocci singled through the middle to make it 1-0 Lakewood. Before throwing another pitch, Haynes picked Tocci off first base,
In the third inning, the first batter hit a bloop single to left field, but he rounded the bag too far and was eventually tagged out in a rundown. Haynes’ second out was a line drive right at the center fielder. He struck out the final batter swinging on an 82 MPH curve, his first strikeout of the game.
The fourth inning was very quick, two groundouts and a strikeout swinging to the clean-up hitter. Haynes was holding his velocity, hitting 91-92 MPH this inning. As a reliever, I had him 93-94 MPH earlier in the season and he has touched 96 in the past. The fifth inning was even quicker, with three straight groundouts.
Haynes came out for the sixth and gave up a lead-off double, but in reality it was just a ground ball down the first base line that took a tough hop over the glove of Jordan Steranka. It wasn’t hit particularly hard. The next batter successfully sacrificed the runner to third base. Haynes got the second out and kept the runner at third with a soft tapper right back to him. Two pitches later, he jammed the fourth batter, getting a weak pop up to first base.
Despite his limited pitch count, Haynes came out for the seventh inning and was still throwing low-90’s. He walked the first batter, which got action up in the bullpen. That action sped up after he gave up a double off the center field wall. On the next pitch, he got a fly ball to shallow center field. Haynes struck out the next hitter, ending his game at 6.2 innings. He gave up five hits, a walk and he struck out three batters. Bryton Trepagnier came on to get the final out with runners on second and third, but he gave up a hard hit single to left field on the first pitch he threw. Trepagnier stranded the second runner, leaving Haynes with two runs allowed on the day.
It was an impressive outing for Haynes, with lots of weak contact and also the fact he has gone five innings just once before, in his last start. He was very efficient with his pitches, pounding the strike zone, keeping the ball down and getting quick outs. He definitely doesn’t have the best stuff among starters here, not with Tyler Glasnow, Clay Holmes and Luis Heredia around. Saying that though, he did a great job of pitching tonight and that is something you don’t always see from the other three younger pitchers. The few times he got into trouble, he worked his way out and by throwing lots of strikes, he extended his outing. Overall, a strong performance from an unlikely source.
*Kawika Emsley-Pai had the first Power hit of the game with two outs in the fifth inning, a double over the head of the center fielder.
* Cesar Lopez came out for the ninth and allowed an infield hit on a high hopper that no one could get to. He then got a soft grounder to first base for the first out and then a grounder to shortstop that took a tough hop on Chris Diaz. It wasn’t hit hard and because of the tough bounce, it was scored a hit, but after three balls that didn’t leave the infield, Lopez had runners on the corners. The next batter lined into right field for a single to make it 3-1 Lakewood. Lopez struck out two more batters to end the inning, hitting 93 MPH numerous times. This was the first time I’ve seen the high-priced pitcher from Cuba and he looked pretty good despite the line.