Posted July 17, 2014 05:01 pm

GreenJackets Gameday: Kannapolis' Thad Lowry vs. Augusta's Luis Ysla

Thursday, July 17 - 7 p.m.


Kannapolis Intimidators (43-51)

RHP Thad Lowry (2014 A: 49.1 IP, 4.56 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 10.3 K%, 7.5 BB%, .314 BABIP)


Augusta GreenJackets (47-48)

LHP Luis Ysla (2014 A: 78 IP, 2.54 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 23.7 K%, 10 BB%, .280 BABIP)


After losing three straight to end a tough four-game series against Greenville, Augusta has won two consecutive games against Kannapolis to start a three-game set. Both wins came on eighth-inning rallies. The GreenJackets are going for their third series sweep this season and a return to .500 for the first time in a week.


Augusta previously swept Charleston four straight April 10-13, and swept Greenville three straight July 4-6.


If not for two late comebacks, the GreenJackets wouldn't be in the position for a third sweep. They rallied from six runs down over the seventh and eighth Tuesday, sparked by a game-tying grand slam from Rafael Rodriguez. On Wednesday, they scored two in the eighth on a single and wild pitch. Both wins were by one run.


Augusta will send Luis Ysla to the mound in the series finale. The left-hander sports the best ERA among current rotation members who have been on the roster all year. He went on a stretch of 10 starts and 11 total appearances in the middle of the season where he allowed nine earned runs in 60 innings, including 62 strikeouts. That's good for a 1.35 ERA.


Most recently, Ysla has gone four and five innings his past two starts, allowing six earned runs in nine innings. Both starts were against Greenville, which seemed to have Ysla's number. The Drive worked counts and forced Ysla to stay on the mound for extended periods of time in both outings, which prevented his usual solid performances.


Kannapolis starter Thad Lowry was a fifth-round pick in 2013 out of a Texas high school. The school, Spring High School in Spring, Texas, also produced Josh Beckett.


Lowry is a big Texan, standing 6-foot-4, 215 pounds at 19 years old. He made Kannapolis history earlier in the season by throwing a complete-game no-hitter in a rain-shortened, five-inning start at West Virginia. Lowry has had ups and downs in his first full season, ranging from that historical outing to giving up six runs in two separate starts. One of those was last time out at Greensboro in 4.2 innings.


Augusta seems to struggle with pitchability and sequencing from good fastball command more than velocity, so facing Lowry might be in its favor. If Lowry comes out throwing heavy fastball at-bats, the GreenJackets could become more aggressive and jump early instead of waiting for poor counts like Wednesday night.


After leaving countless runners on base at Greenville, the GreenJackets have been more efficient at driving in runners in this series. It helps when the team wins two one-run games on consecutive nights.


Game notes:

***Ysla's ERA is the second lowest in the South Atlantic League among qualified starting pitchers. The third lowest was James Dykstra, who was assigned to Advanced-A Winston-Salem from Kannapolis prior to Wednesday's game, which he was scheduled to start.


***Lowry's strikeout percentage is the lowest among SAL pitchers with at least 40 innings thrown.


***Augusta's Carlos Alvarado has allowed two earned runs in his past 40.1 innings spanning 20 appearances out of the bullpen. That's good for a 0.45 ERA. He has 35 strikeouts to nine walks over that span.


***Augusta's Chris Lofton drove in the winning run on a fielder's choice in the 12th inning Tuesday, then drove in the tying run on an infield single in the eighth inning Wednesday. Both were to shortstop. Lofton has six hits and three walks in his past seven games.


Augusta lineup:

Chris Lofton, cf

Ryder Jones, 3b

Ty Ross, c

Tyler Horan, rf

Rafael Rodriguez, lf

Jeremy Sy, 2b

Eric Sim, dh

Gabriel Cornier, 1b

Rando Moreno, ss

Luis Ysla, sp


Kannapolis lineup:

Adam Engel, cf

Christian Stringer, 2b

Trey Michalczewski, 3b

Danny Hayes, 1b

Jacob Morris, rf

Brett Austin, c

Carl Thomore, lf

T.J. Williams, dh

Ryan Leonards, ss

Thad Lowry, sp