Friday, May 31 - RiverDogs 2, GreenJackets 1
The matchup of strikeout leaders did a pretty solid job of living up to its billing.
Charleston starter Rafael De Paula looked excellent over five innings, allowing just one hit with no runs, no walks and three strikeouts. The strikeout total is a season low for him, but he pitched more economically, attacking the zone and limiting hard contact. He induced six swinging strikes and was neutral between ground balls and fly balls.
De Paula worked mid-90s with a fastball that sank and cut. RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique said De Paula's fastball is a four-seamer that moves late on the plate. He commanded it very well in this start. Reports give De Paula's curveball plus potential, and he flashed several plus offerings. The one thing holding it back right now is command, but that comes with repetition. I can almost guarantee it will become a plus pitch.
The right-hander's changeup isn't that far behind, either. He's not confident in throwing it at important spots, but it's better than reports indicate and will surprise some people once he's able to let it fly more often.
De Paula's delivery has a good pace to the plate with very little pause. He stays upright/balanced and finishes fairly well. It's a pretty clean motion overall.
Augusta starter Martin Agosta worked the whiffs more effectively, recording 11 of them while striking out six. He still went to full counts a little more often than one would like, but he was efficient for the number of strikeouts. The one mistake came on a fat 0-2 offering to Peter O'Brien in the sixth, who blasted it over the fence in left field for the deciding home run. Agosta allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings.
Agosta worked low-90s and ramped it up to 94 on two-strike counts once or twice. He lost a little command when reaching back for extra, but he had solid command otherwise. His slider was solid and recorded some of the swinging strikes, while his changeup showed decent separation and movement.
The GreenJackets are changing their approaches with runners on. It has become obvious over the past couple games. Bunt attempts with a runner on second after said runner just reached that base from a sac bunt, swinging breaking ball first pitch and taking a fat fastball second pitch with a runner on third, and taking quite a few fastballs on the outer half.
Much of approach is a hitter's ability, but much is mental. Knowing what to look for after an at-bat that caused a runner to reach scoring position is part of the game. It comes with time for young hitters.
Notable Augusta lines:
Martin Agosta: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 11 swinging strikes
Stephen Johnson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Joe Rapp: 1-4, 2B, RBI
Shayne Houck: 1-4, 2B
Notable Charleston lines:
Rafael De Paula: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 6 swinging strikes
Peter O'Brien: 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
Greg Bird: 2-4