Sunday, July 15, 2012

Game 24: Bluefield Blue Jays at Elizabethton Twins

Listen live right here and check out the @BluefieldJays Twitter page for mid-game updates

UPDATE 6:37: Tonight's game has been postponed due to rain. We will have two seven-inning games tomorrow night at 6:00.

BLUE JAYS (9-14)

1 Dwight Smith Jr. CF
2 Matt Dean 3B
3 Christian Lopes 2B
4 Art Charles 1B
5 Seth Conner C
6 Dickie Joe Thon SS
7 Jacob Anderson DH
8 Alex Azor LF
9 Nico Taylor RF

RHP Tucker Jensen (1-0, 1.72)

TWINS (17-8)

1 Candido Pimentel 2B
2 Niko Goodrum SS
3 Max Kepler DH
4 Rory Rhodes 1B
5 Adam Walker RF
6 Travis Harrison 3B
7 Kelvin Mention LF
8 Michael Quesada C
9 Romy Jimenez CF

RHP Hudson Boyd (2-3, 1.44)


BROADCAST INFO: Listen live right here for Blue Jays pregame at 6:50. The games are also carried on local radio on WKEZ 1240 AM The Rooster Classic Country

WEATHER: 77 rained earlier and we might have one system come through around 7:45.

UMPIRES: PLATE Nick Garvey  FIELD Troy Hodack

ABOUT LAST NIGHT...: The Blue Jays hung tough with the Appy League’s best team for a while, but still fell short. Three Elizabethton Twins combined for a two-hit shutout and two Bluefield errors keyed a 4-0 Twins victory at Joe O’Brien Field on Friday. Jeremy Gabryszwski reached season highs in both innings pitched (five) and strikeouts (four) in taking a shutout through the fifth. The righty held the Twins to four hits and lowered his ERA to 1.89. He was matched zero for zero by Elizabethton southpaw Taylor Rogers. He turned in six shutout innings of two-hit ball for the home team, striking out seven and walking only one. The Jays threatened in the first inning with runners at second and third and one out, but Rogers struck out Art Charles and Christian Lopes to strand two in scoring position. The two whiffs started a string of 13 in a row retired by Rogers. The fifth inning ended on a spectacular play. With two outs and Travis Harrison on first, Romy Jimenez lifted a double to left center field off the glove of Dwight Smith Jr. The center fielder threw it in to shortstop Dickie Joe Thon, who fired a perfect relay to catcher Santiago Nessy. Harrison, trying to score from first, barreled into Nessy, but the Bluefield catcher held on to secure the out on the play at the plate and keep the game scoreless. Griffin Murphy replaced Gabryszwski in the sixth and allowed an unearned run that broke the 0-0 deadlock. Jorge Polanco hit a one-out double and two batters later, Rory Rhodes hit a grounder to third that would have ended the inning, but third baseman Matt Dean fired a low throw to first for a two-base error that plated Polanco with the run. Murphy worked a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts but still took the tough-luck loss. Elizabethton broke it open with three runs in the eighth against Justin James. After a walk and a single to open the frame, Polanco laid down a sacrifice bunt that Nessy threw away, bringing in a run. Max Kepler followed with a two-run triple to put the game away. J.T. Chargois walked the leadoff man in the seventh and eighth, but still faced the minimum three in each inning for the Twins. Mason Melotakis pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts to close it out.

VS. THE TWINS: The Blue Jays beat the Twins two games to one to win the first round of last year’s postseason and advance to the League Championship Series. In the regular season, they won the first two meetings in 2011, but the Twins won four straight to finish the regular season. The Jays won at Elizabethton on Opening Night in 13 innings on Art Charles’ game-winning double. Bluefield missed a chance at a road sweep when the Twins rallied for three runs in the ninth to win 6-5. They didn’t meet again until the final week of the season when the Twins swept three games at Bowen Field to almost ruin the Jays’ division-title hopes. Charles hit .360 with six RBIs in six games against the Twins in 2011.

JENSEN: Right-hander Tucker Jensen makes his fourth start of the season tonight.Last Sunday in Burlington, he allowed three unearned runs in three innings of a no decision. The Ormond Beach, FL native has a 1.72 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, both are ninth among Appy League pitchers with at least 15 IP. Last year, he allowed 14 earned runs in 11.1 innings in four starts for Bluefield. He excelled in eight Gulf Coast League starts to begin his career, pitching to a 1.77 ERA with an 8.9 K/9 rate to earn a one-game call-up to low-A Lansing. Between three levels he struck out 56 batters in 57 innings of work. A decorated hurler at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, Tucker was named Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2011, also earning NAIA Second-Team All-America honors. The 22-year-old is the grandson of 1958 American League MVP Jackie Jensen.

BOYD: 2011 first-round pick Hudson Boyd starts for the Twins against his fellow right-hander and Floridian. The Twins chose the 19-year-old 55th overall in the supplemental round, two picks after the Blue Jays took Bluefield CF Dwight Smith Jr. and two picks before the Jays Bluefield RHP Kevin Comer. Minnesota had the pick as compensation for Jesse Crain signing with the White Sox. Hailing from Fort Myers, Boyd won a Florida state high school championship as a senior at Bishop Verot High School and had committed to the University of Florida before turning pro. He signed for $1 million, well over slot ($653,400) and is armed with a mid-90s fastball and a power curve that Baseball America tabbed as the best in the Twins system. With his 6-2, 264-pound frame, he has been compared to Jonathan Broxton. In a win at Johnson City on Monday, he shut out the Cards for six innings, allowing only two hits. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 16.2 innings.

GIFT OF GAB: Right-hander Jeremy Gabryszwski had another terrific outing last night. With five shutout innings, he lowered his ERA to 1.89 (sixth-lowest in the Appy League) and his WHIP sank to 0.89 (fifth-best in the circuit). He’s achieved this success despite a strikeout rate of 4.26 per nine innings, the second-lowest among league qualifiers.

MOUNDS OF SUCCESS: Expect two more low-scoring games in this series. Elizabethton and Bluefield have the two lowest team ERA’s in the league. The Blue Jays are second in the loop at 3.32, but they are more than a full run behind the league-leading Twins, who are at 2.29.

STRUGGLING IN THE FIELD...: Through the first ten games of the season, the Blue Jays were the best defensive team in the league and were the last to reach double-digits in errors. Over the last 13 games, however, they have made 28 errors to sink to ninth in the ten-team league. The 35 unearned runs scored against Bluefield are the most against any Appy League club.

...AND AT THE PLATE: The Blue Jays have the second-lowest team batting average in the league. Their .230 mark as a team is two points higher than Pulaski’s. Second baseman Christian Lopes is the Jays’ leading hitter at .253 which is exactly the league average. There are 71 qualified hitters in the circuit, Bluefield has four of the nine lowest batting averages. On the bright side for the Jays, they have outperformed their batting average, ranking sixth in both on base percentage (.330) and slugging percentage (.373).

Bluefield Blue Jays Game Notes 7-15

Check out the @BluefieldJays Twitter page for mid-game updates

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