After a couple relatively quieter days, the minor league bats broke out on Sunday in a big way. Dunedin plated 16 runs on 22 hits, with the middle of the order leading the way. Cavan Biggio had a couple doubles late after starting slowly, Max Pentecost added three singles and a home run, and Danny Jansen added four hits capped off by home runs...in the 3rd inning. He also added a double.
Lansing pounded out 9 runs, with the top of the order doing most of the damage. Bo Bichette whacked a pair of doubles and walked, while Bradley Jones had a triple, double and pair of walks. J.B. Woodman and Joshua Palacios both added a pair of hard hits. Vladdy Jr drew a walk to extend his on-base streak, though was otherwise shutdown (he had a double lined to the gap Saturday).
Conner Greene had another stellar outing Saturday, almost throwing a 7-inning complete game shutout. Taking a one hitter into the 7th, he fell just shy going 6.2 innings, and giving up 2 runs as Anthony Alford suffered a leg injury tracking down a single with a runner on, the ball got by him and the hitter ended up circling the bases. He allowed 4 hits, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.
That pitching line disguising how dominating Greene was. Early, he was throwing in the upper 90s and touched triple digits, falling to more the mid-90s later in the outing. He used his curveball for swings and misses early, mixing in his changeup for a different look later. But he simply dominated contact, keeping 17 of 22 balls on the ground (77%) with a popup, and not allowing a hit between the 1st and 7th inning. He lost the zone for a couple batters in the 3rd, issuing the pair of walks, but then recovered and got the next 9 batters to ground out.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Chris Rowley turned in a solid 4 shutout innings, allowing just 2 singles and striking out 4. It's too bad he couldn't do a little deeper, since a trio of relievers were either wild or shelled or both in a messy loss.
That momentum on the mound failed to carry over Sunday, as Francisco Rios simply didn't have it. He struggled to find the zone early but managed to mostly walk the tightrope for three innings, but started to get hard the second time through and got shelled the third through culminating in a grand slam in the 5th. His final line was 4.1 innings, 8 runs on 7 hits and 6 walks, with just one strikeout. Only 46 of 86 pitches found the zone.
Down in Dunedin, T.J. Zeuch turned in an okay start, allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits and 3 free passes (1 walk, 2 HBP) against 3 strikeouts in 6 innings. His velocity was a little down, just 91-92 early, but used a lot of offspeed to keep Bradenton off balance. He wasn't missing bats (3 whiffs on 36 swings), but managed contact reasonably (55% ground balls). A more workman like effort, but good to see he ca be effective without his best.
Sunday, Ryan Borucki turned in a second straight 45 pitch outing, allowing 2 runs over 2.2 innings, 3 hits (two doubles) and a walk against 3 strikeouts. It`s not clear why he's on such a limited pitch count, he was pitching at 94-95 yesterday and was electric the previous time out so the stuff seems fine, but with his injury history one has to wonder if something's up. He gave up a quite a bit of hard contact.
For Lansing, Patrick Murphy turned his longest start of the year, Allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings, with 4 walks against just one strikeout. For him too, the final line too is deceiving in terms of the quality. He did struggle to find the zone (six batters started 2-0), and lost the zone at times, but the story here is contact management. 16 of 22 balls in play were kept on the ground, including a run of 10 straight in the middle innings and the only extra base hit was a double down the line. Ironically, four of five hits were on ground balls and most of the few better stuck balls found gloves in the outfield.