Thursday, August 15 - Augusta 3, Greenville 2 (12 innings)
Thursday was a crazy game, so I'll spare the details of how it happened other than to say the Augusta GreenJackets got some outstanding baserunning late in the game, and that was the main reason they pulled it out. It should be expected from professional players, but that doesn't mean one can't appreciate intelligent and instinctful baserunning. It was fun to watch.
GreenJackets starter Chris Stratton pitched a very efficient seven innings against the Greenville Drive, allowing two runs on eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts. The first-rounder gave up seven singles and one double, and most of the contact was weak, inducing a greater amount of ground balls than fly balls. He also induced nine swinging strikes.
Stratton drew praise from manager Mike Goff for pitching more efficiently, and for how he's doing it. Stratton has leaned heavily on the fastball the past few times out, and he's turning to a two-seamer more lately. This is a reason for any slight drop in velocity one may see during his starts, as he's simply working with it more and getting weaker contact with it. It's a huge reason for his efficiency, because he's pounding the zone with it and working both sides of the plate, including at least three broken bats from left-handed batters in Thursday's game.
That last part is key, because Stratton has been leaning to the outer half a lot this season, and seeing him go inside to batters on both sides is very encouraging. It shows he has confidence in the two-seamer, and for good reason; the pitch has solid movement.
Stratton still mixed in the occasional slider during Thursday's start, and it still showed plus at times. He stayed away from the curveball and changeup for the most part, but it's still there in the average category. Also still there is the 93-94 four-seamer when he needs it; he flashed it a few times in this outing with two strikes.
So if you read a report on Stratton over the past few starts, or going forward this season, that speaks on a dip in velocity or lack of secondary stuff, this is the likely reason. His stuff hasn't gone anywhere. He's simply working on his craft, and that's what an assignment in Class A is about.
Notable Augusta lines:
Chris Stratton: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 9 swinging strikes, 13 ground balls, 9 fly balls
Alberto Robles: 1-4, RBI
Joey Rapp: 1-4, 2B
Notable Greenville lines:
Justin Haley: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 5 swinging strikes, 5 ground balls, 8 fly balls, 1 line drive
Boss Moanaroa: 2-4, 2B, RBI
Dreily Guerrero: 2-6, RBI
Kendrick Perkins: 2-3, BB
Kevin Heller: 2-5
Jayson Hernandez: 2-5