By Jeff Moeller
JACKSONVILLE (Florida Sports Wire) – Good pitching, good decisions, good hitting.
They’re two essential building blocks for any team at any level. Sounds simple, right? Having some luck along the way helps, too.
Sunday afternoon, the Jumbo Shrimp were ready to close out their series against the Worcester Red Sox when the darkening clouds that encircled 121 Financial Ballpark shared some rain with their patrons.
As a result, the scheduled 3:05 p.m. start was pushed back to 4:10. Sometimes, rain delays can bring struggling teams some good luck.
After the first inning, it looked like the Shrimp received some positive vibes.
Despite allowing two runs to Worcester to lead off the game, Jacksonville responded with a three-spot in the bottom half highlighted by Jacob Amaya’s two-run shot for a 3-2 lead. The Shrimp were hitting the ball hard, and salvage the final game of the three-game series.
That was a short-lived thought.
Worcester took advantage of Shrimp starter Chi Chi Gonzalez’s ineffectiveness and jumped on the 31-year-old righthander for four runs in top of the second. However, there was more.
Shrimp catcher Santiago Chavez made an ill-advised choice of throwing down to second on a double-steal attempt from third and first that allowed a run to easily cross, and first baseman Jerar Encarnacion uncorked a high throw to third trying to nail a runner that allowed another run to cross
Good pitching and good decisions. That’s the mark of a good team. Gonzalez lasted just 2.2 innings and his ERA ballooned to 7.00 with his 4-7 record. Yikes.
The Shrimp did battle back and lost a 9-8 decision. There isn’t any quit in this team, and they have shown that more than a few times this season.
Jake Magnum jacked his third homer of the season late in the game, and the ex-Met top prospect raised his average to .293. Xavier Edwards is among the league leaders with his .355 average.
However, the Shrimp are hitting a mediocre . 253, placing them 17th among the 20 teams in the International League. They have a 5.31 ERA, good for 11th in the league. Their 462 runs scored is 16th in the league. Their 109 homers are 14th in the league.
At the Double-AA level, Pensacola is in first place with a .247 team average and a 4.38 team ERA. Patrick Monteverde had a 8-1 mark with a 1.91 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 80 innings as of Tuesday morning. You may be seeing him at the ballpark soon.
They entered Tuesday’s day at Nashville with an overall 40-49 record, 17.5 games behind and 8-7 in the second half of the league.
Overall, the numbers aren’t good. Yet, there is hope with this team. The Shrimp can grind it out on any given night. The postseason is a longshot at best, as they would have to play .700 or better baseball down the stretch.
It is about timely pitching, hitting, and decisions. And as the song goes, if the Shrimp can get two of three in any given game, it ain’t bad.
(SportsDay columnist Jeff Moeller writes for the Florida Sports Wire)
(File photo by Jim Brady/SportsDay Images)