Coming off a home series win against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore), and with the Northern Division leading Lynchburg Hillcats in the middle of an eventual 8 game losing streak, the Rocks were poised to get over .500 and possibly take the division lead. However after winning the 1st two games against Carolina, the team ended up splitting that series and now are struggling to get a win on the road against the Winston Salem Dash
(I know how much Travis likes bobbleheads) and it was rain shortened game with the Rocks winning 2-0 in 5 innings. But the win came a huge price as Blue Rocks starter Santiago Garrido was injured making a throw to 2nd trying to start a double play. RHP Nick Graffeo was called up from Kane County to fill his roster spot while Santiago is on the disable list. Nick was probably looking at possibly being selected to to the MidWest League All Star Game but now has to come up and help the next team on the ladder up through this injury. Gotta love life in the minors and I’m sure Nick really doesn’t mind as much as maybe a fan would.
Tuesday night saw the Blue Rocks with a rare offensive explosion, scoring more than 3 runs in a 5-2 victory over the Mudcats. One of the team’s biggest problems this year is with its offense, scoring 3 runs are fewer for 16 of the last 18 games so getting a few more runs is a welcomed sight to Blue Rocks manager Vance Wilson and the pitching staff. Sugar Ray Marimon was the winning pitcher and he has been a Rocks’ good luck charm with the team having a 6-2 record when he starts (Today’s game included).
At this point the Rocks were only one game under .500 and 1/2 game out of 1st when the wheels fell off and the team started to spiral in the wrong direction.
Wednesday night started off promising with a 2 run double by Juan Graterol as the Rocks took a 2-1 lead heading into the 3rd but that was all the runs the Rocks would get. Mudcats 2nd baseman Tony Wolters would provide much of their team’s offense with key RBI hits 5th, 7th, and 9th innings to lead the Mudcats to victory.
The Rocks had a chance to get back into the game in the 7th with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out but Mudcats’ 3rd baseman Giovanny Urshela made maybe one of the best defensive plays in all of baseball this year. Luis Piterson hits a bullet down towards 3rd and Urshela has to twist his body going into foul territory to get ball and he ends up on the seat of his pants in foul territory. He then throws the ball to 1st, getting Piterson by a step and a half and while this was going on no runners were able to advance. Geulin Beltre then stuck out to end the inning, defusing the Rocks really last scoring opportunity.
After the game Blue Rocks manager Vance Wilson talked about the emergence of Juan Graterol as a clutch hitter and seeing his team only 1/2 game out after all the struggles they’ve been through in the 1st half. Lynchburg won their game that night vs Myrtle Beach, breaking their 8 game losing streak, putting the Rocks 1.5 games out of 1st in the division. But where one losing streak came to an end, unbeknownst to the Rocks another one was about to start for them.
The getaway game of the 4 game set turned out to be a blow out for the Rocks, losing 12-1. A Mudcat lead of 4-1 at the end of the 2nd compounded with 3 run innings in the 5th and 7th put the game out of reach for the Rocks. The series with the Mudcats ended up being a split and off to Winston Salem to play the 1st place Southern Division Dash.
The series with the Dash was a lost cause. Friday the Rocks were swept in a doubleheader, Saturday another blowout loss and Sunday ending up on the wrong end of a 2-0 shutout. It would be easy to go over all the high and lowlights of the series but it was one of the pitchers that reminded of Cliff Lee.
Jason Adam started out this season with 4 good starts and being named Blue Rocks pitcher of the month for April by the Royals. But Saturday might of been his worst start if the season. He gave up 3 homeruns and while managing to make 6 innings, he at times scuffled. But he reminds me sook much of Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies cause he is 0-3 but still competes. But with Cliff you almost expect him to have one bad inning and get almost zero run support. And while Adam still has good stats, on has to think how the losing might be taking its toll. He leads all of baseball with 9 losses and maybe some times you might need to take a step back and make sure he has the right approach and teams aren’t trying to figure out his approach towards hitters.
As a result of being swept the Blue Rocks are now 5.5 games behind Lynchburg and even if they win the 7 remaining games they will not finish over .500 and have a losing record for the 1st half. Yet still the Carolina League is know for weird things happening so these last 7 home games will be important for the team to build some momentum going into 2nd half.
I saw Reggy perform Wednesday and I thought he was very good so I wanted to put this video up I hope the ump made to the majors if for only being a good sport