By Steve Kolbe
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos used strong starting pitching from Tim Crabbe, and a three-run home run from Yordanys Perez to top the Jacksonville Suns 4-1 on Monday afternoon at the Baseball Grounds.
Omar Poveda kept the Pensacola bats silent until the sixth, when he lost his control and walked center fielder Ryan LaMarre on four pitches to lead off the inning. LaMarre’s 12 stolen bases are third-most in the league, and with Poveda trying to limit his lead from first base, he threw the ball away allowing LaMarre to advance to second on the throwing error. On the next pitch, Didi Gregorius drove in the first run of the day with a single up the middle, with LaMarre scoring from second base to give Pensacola a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Wahoos increased their lead in the eighth inning against Suns reliever Corey Madden. With one out, Brodie Green and Joel Guzman each singled. They weren’t on base for long, when Yordanys Perez turned on an 0-2 pitch and hit his second home run of the season to increase Pensacola’s lead to 4-0. Guzman hit safely in every game in the series going 8-for-21 with 6 RBI.
Perez finished the day 3-for-4 with two singles and the three-run home run. He tied his career highs for hits and RBI in a single game. Pensacola has smashed 15 home runs in the month of May, after hitting just 11 in the first month of the season.
Suns second baseman Jeff Dominguez hit a solo home run to right field off of reliever Justin Freeman to account for Jacksonville’s only run. It was his second homer of the season, and first since the opening series of the year, when he hit a three-run home run against Huntsville. The Suns have now hit a home run in seven of the last nine games.
The win gave the Blue Wahoos their first road series victory of the season, while the Suns have now lost their last three series. Pensacola is one game below .500 with a record of 22-23 and have moved past the Suns in the standings, with Jacksonville falling to 21-24. The Suns are 9-16 at the Baseball Grounds, and haven’t won more than two straight home games this season.
Omar Poveda suffered the loss even though he allowed just three hits and only one run in six innings of work. Poveda is now 3-2 on the season. He struck out six and walked three batters. Zach Neal and A.J. Ramos each pitched an inning of scoreless ball. Corey Madden allowed three hits and three runs in the Pensacola half of the eighth.
Tim Crabbe pitched six scoreless innings and gave up just two hits to even his record at 2-2, with both of his wins this season coming on the road. The only hits he allowed in the game were singles by Ryan Patterson and Donnie Webb. In his last three starts, Crabbe has allowed just ten hits and one earned run over 18 innings. He earned his first win in nearly a month, with his last victory on April 23rd at Montgomery. Last season leadoff hitters batted just .167 against Crabbe, and the Suns had their leadoff hitter reach base only once in the game against him.
The Blue Wahoos once again relied on the bullpen, using four relievers on Monday. Curtis Partch, Justin Freeman, and Donnie Joseph each pitched an inning and held the Suns to just one run. Donnie Joseph tossed the ninth inning to record his Southern League leading tenth save of the season. Joseph earned a save in all three of the Blue Wahoos wins in the series.
The Suns dropped to 4-22 when allowing their opponent to score the first run. The first run has been a key for the Wahoos as well, with 19 of their 22 wins coming when they cross the plate first. In the final three games of the series, the Blue Wahoos built leads of 6-0, 3-0, and 4-0. In the last four games of the series, the Suns had just six hits combined in the first five innings of play, and scored a total of three runs against Blue Wahoos starters.
The Suns travel to Chattanooga to open up a five-game set with the Lookouts on Wednesday. In a match up of southpaws, LHP Jose Alvarez (1-1, 4.23) is set to start his eighth game of the season for the Suns in game one. LHP Aaron Miller (2-4, 5.65) will start his ninth game of the season for Chattanooga. The Lookouts outscored the Suns 28-18 and took four-of-five at the Baseball Grounds in April.