Tuesday, August 27 - Augusta 6, Lexington 2
The Augusta GreenJackets now lead the Lexington Legends by 5.5 games with six remaining. The magic number is two, meaning one more win in the series clinches the second-half title for Augusta.
GreenJackets starter Martin Agosta didn't have his best stuff and struggled with control, but he did enough to get through five innings and give his team a chance to win.
Agosta allowed two runs on four hits in five innings, walking three and striking out six. He induced nine swinging strikes and only one line drive, avoiding hard contact and keeping more balls on the ground than in the air.
It seems like a solid-average outing for the right-hander, but Agosta did struggle getting a feel for his pitches and labored throughout. He was off considerably to both sides at times, throwing his slider into the left-handed batter's box more than once and spinning it early and inside to right-handed batters. The fastball was also not commanded that well, but it was enough to avoid hard contact.
Agosta is still getting a feel for his stuff after an extended layoff from blister issues. The good news is he is healthy and has the stuff to get through five solid innings even when he struggles.
"I’m proud of him for battling through five innings without his best stuff," manager Mike Goff said. "That’s a good sign for a pitcher when he doesn’t have his best stuff and battles."
The GreenJackets were notably aggressive at the plate. Considering they've been on a tear for more than a couple weeks, I'm sure it didn't just start in this game, but it's the first game I've noticed a real difference in the team's overall approach in the box. They're swinging more, and although they're missing more, it proved important in situational hitting when they took balls the other way to advance runners, laid down bunts and sacrificed runs home.
Shawn Payne was a big part of it from the leadoff spot, going 3 for 4 with two runs scored. One of his runs was the result of a Joey Rapp double, and the other was manufactured by a single, walk and wild pitch.
The GreenJackets had two innings with three hits each, scoring five runs in those two frames. It's a big turnaround offensively from where they were earlier in the season, and it's something they must have to succeed in the playoffs.