Two Out Hits Doom Blue Rocks in Series Finale
Wilmington, DE – The Wilmington Blue Rocks (64-59/25-28) could not keep the Frederick Keys (57/64-26-26) off the scoreboard in a 9-2 loss Thursday night at Frawley Stadium. Frederick plated eight of its nine runs with two outs and forced a split in the pivotal four-game series. Chris DeVito paced the offense with three hits, including a double. Despite the loss, the Rocks did not lose ground to the leading Salem Red Sox in the Northern Division Wild Card race and remain 2.5 games back after Salem fell to Potomac Thursday night as well.
Frederick struck first with a Yermin Mercedes RBI single to give the Rocks a 1-0 deficit. In the second, the Keys sent nine men to the plate and scored four unearned runs on four hits and capitalized on a throwing error by Blue Rocks’ third baseman Wander Franco. Ademar Rifaela, Glynn Davis and Mercedes strung together three straight two-out, run-scoring hits to make it a 5-0 ballgame.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Keys scored three more runs, highlighted by an RBI double from Mercedes and a Randolph Gassaway single that brought in a run to make it an 8-0 game. Frederick added another run in the top of the ninth to take a 9-0 lead.
The Rocks got the offense going in their last at-bats. DeVito laced his third hit of the ball game with one out and moved up to second on defensive indifference. Franco delivered with his eighth triple of the season and plated DeVito to avoid the shutout. Travis Maezes followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Franco to give the game its final score, 9-2.
DeVito paced the offense with three hits while Maezes picked up a mult-hit game in the losing effort. On the mound righty Jose Veras tossed four scoreless innings, scattered six hits and struck out four batters. The four innings of work set a season-high for Veras as a Blue Rock.
Wilmington will welcome in the Myrtle Beach Pelicans for the first and only time in 2017 on Friday, August 17. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with LHP Cristian Castillo (6-10, 3.92 ERA) taking the mound for the Blue Rocks while RHP Kyle Miller (4-3, 4.38 ERA) starts for the Pelicans. Fans can listen to the game at Matt Janus, Cory Nidoh and Jack Keffer will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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Chris DeVito picked up three hits in Thursday’s loss and busted out of a 7-for-74 slump with the multi-hit effort. It was also his 19th multiple hit effort of the season since joining the Blue Rocks this year. The three-hit game on Thursday marked just the second multi-hit game since August 8 at Down East for the first baseman when he went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. His last three-hit game as a Blue Rock came back on July 18 against the Potomac Nationals. Overall this season, DeVito has nine three-hit games between Low-A Lexington and Wilmington. Prior to his promotion to Wilmington, DeVito hit an impressive .347 and led the South Atlantic League with 11 home runs, 38 RBIs and 42 hits before his departure from the Legends.
Jose Veras worked four scoreless innings of relief and also got out of some jams during that span on Thursday night. For Veras, it was the first time he threw four innings in relief since joining Wilmington on August 3. Prior to joining the Blue Crew, Veras worked four or more innings three different times with Low-A Lexington, including a season-high 4.1 innings on July 3rd. Since joining Wilmington, Veras is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four appearances. During the four games, Veras has worked 10 innings, and has allowed nine hits and just two earned runs while striking out eight batters and walking just two.
Wander Franco continued his hot streak in August, tallying an RBI triple in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game. It is the fourth RBI for Franco in the last two days and his 44th of the season, trailing only Roman Collins who has 49. The three-bagger marks the team-leading eighth triple of the season for Franco, and also moves him to second in the Carolina League. Franco’s 120 hits currently rank third among hit leaders in the Carolina League. The third baseman has had a scorching month of August, hitting .333 with four triples and 11 RBIs during the last full month of the season.
Thursday’s loss to Frederick is just the third time this season the Rocks have lost to the Keys in Wilmington. It also marks the final game played between the two teams in the friendly confines of Frawley Stadium. Overall, the Rocks went 8-3 against the Keys at home, while they have struggled in Frederick, going just 4-8 at Nymeo Field. The Rocks and Keys will play a final three-game set next week starting on August 22. Wilmington will welcome in Myrtle Beach on Friday for a three-game series, the first time the Pelicans will visit Frawley Stadium. The last time the two teams faced each other was way back in April, when the Rocks visited Myrtle Beach on April 25-27.
THEY SAID IT, JAMIE QUIRK
“Jared Ruxer wasn’t on (Thursday). He couldn’t make his pitches. I thought he stayed away too much, (Frederick) was shooting the ball the other way on him. He didn’t make an adjustment going in and getting them. A pitcher has to have one side of the plate or the other and they were taking away the side of the plate he wanted. You have to make an adjustment to get them off it but we didn’t make an adjustment. We just stayed with our program and they kept shooting balls the other way. Next thing you know they have five runs in two innings and Ruxer is gone. It was a matter of his stubbornness in the way he was throwing. They didn’t counter back to what (Frederick) was doing and it got us in trouble early.
“Yeah, eight RBIs with two-outs (for Frederick) kills you. You are almost out of the inning and thinking let’s get back in the dugout but you don’t finish it off. Two-out RBIs are a great thing when you are on offense and are killer when you are on defense.
“(Jose Veras) helped us out big time going four innings. We wanted to get more out of Franco Terrero, but he wasn’t very sharp. That being said, Veras was outstanding giving us four scoreless innings. We needed it after Ruxer. When your starting pitcher goes one and two-thirds, you know it’s going to be a long night from the bullpen. Somebody has to go long, and Veras did a very nice job.
“That’s the key (for Chris DeVito), he hit everything hard. You never know when it is going to happen (breaking out of a slump). As a hitter, you are battling yourself, you are battling everything, you think you stink, all those things. (Thursday) he hit the ball hard (collected three hits). Hopefully it carries over and he finishes good because we need him. (The three hits) were a good sign (Thursday).
“Cristian Castillo has been struggling (starter for Friday’s game). He is the guy we don’t get many runs for. Hopefully we can get him some runs and get him settled in. He has been struggling lately. Castillo is a guy who is going to give up hits, going to get some scary innings. In the first three-four months of the season he would get out of it, that is just the way he pitches. He is one of those guys you have to bear with and hopefully he makes his pitches when he needs to. You know there is going to be traffic, he is not a guy who limits the opposing team to a few hits. Hopefully he is on track tomorrow, I feel very good when he is on the mound but I just hope we can get some runs for him early. He has been that guy that feels like he has to throw zeroes up all the time. If we can get him a lead we will see what happens. I think he could be really good.”