By Steve Kolbe
By Steve Kolbe
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns used the combination of dominant pitching by Jose Alvarez, and the long ball, to blank the Tennessee Smokies 2-0 Friday night at the Baseball Grounds.
With eight shutouts already this season, the Suns have one more than their total from the 2011 campaign. Each of the last three home victories for the Suns have been by shutout (7-0 and 9-0 over the Jackson Generals; 2-0 over the Tennessee Smokies). Seven different pitchers have been on the mound for Jacksonville shutout wins this season, with Graham Taylor involved in two.
The Suns jumped out to an early lead in the first inning against Smokies starter Dae-Eun Rhee. On the second pitch that he saw, Suns leadoff man Donnie Webb hit his fourth home run of the season to give Jacksonville a 1-0 edge. Webb’s blast landed in the last row of seats in right field, and nearly cleared the stands. It was the second straight night that the Suns have hit a home run in the first inning. Webb has now smashed three home runs in his last 11 games in the starting lineup.
A day after Chris Gutierrez had his 16-game hit streak end, he found his power swing in the fifth inning on Friday night. His solo home run to left field increased the Suns lead to 2-0. Gutierrez has hit both of his round trippers in front of the home fans this season.
The two-run advantage was more than enough for Suns starter Jose Alvarez, who rebounded from his shortest outing of the season June 14th at Mississippi (3.1 IP, six runs on eight hits). The last time that Alvarez pitched at the Baseball Grounds on June 8th, he tossed a season-high eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits and deserved a better fate. The Suns were shutout 1-0 by Jackson Generals starter Danny Hultzen on that night.
Alvarez was rewarded for his efforts on Friday against Tennessee, winning for the first time since May 1st to improve to 2-4 on the season. He allowed just two singles over eight innings, walked only one and struck out five. From the fourth inning to the eighth inning, Alvarez retired 14 straight batters. In his last three starts at the Baseball Grounds, Alvarez has surrendered only three runs on 10 hits in 21 innings of work. With Alvarez at the 99 pitch mark (61 for strikes), the Suns summoned A.J. Ramos to pitch the ninth inning, and he slammed the door on the Smokies to ear his fifth save of the season.
Pitching on eight days rest, Tennessee starter Dae-Eun Rhee suffered the loss to drop to 4-3 on the season. He tossed seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. Rhee has allowed the second-most runs (55) of any pitcher in the Southern League.
The Suns improved to 27-8 when scoring the first run of the game. Jacksonville has scored at least one run in the first inning 20 times this season, with a record of 16-4 when they cross the plate in the first.
Game three of the series in Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. RHP Bryan Evans (2-4, 2.90 ERA) will start his 14th game of the season for the Suns. Evans is third in the Southern League with his 2.90 ERA. For the Smokies, RHP Dallas Beeler (2-5, 4.32 ERA) gets the nod for his 15th start of the season.
By Steve Kolbe
The pitchers stole the spotlight at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Friday night, with Generals starter Danny Hultzen and a reliever combining on a two-hitter against the Suns in a 1-0 win. The loss dropped the Suns record on Friday nights this season to 1-9.
The Generals scored the only run of the game in the first inning against Jose Alvarez. Nick Franklin singled and scored when Denny Almonte doubled down the left field line to put Jackson in front 1-0. Three of the Generals five hits in the game were in first innng by the first four hitter of the night. The Generals have seven shutouts this season, with five of them on the road.
For the Generals, First Round draft pick Danny Hultzen entered the game with the lowest ERA in the Southern League. He won his fifth straight game to improve to 7-3 on the season, and increased his scoreless inning streak to 22.2 innings. An All-Star selection for the North team, Hultzen pitched eight innings for the first time this season, allowing just two singles and three base runners total. For the Suns, Jose Alvarez had his best start of the season pitching eight innings and allowing just one run. Alvarez gave up just one hit after the first inning, but suffered the loss and dropped to 1-3 on the season.
The Suns have been shutout five times this season, with four of them coming at home. The Generals earned their seventh shutout of the year, and just their second on the road.
Chris Gutierrez and Paul Gran had the only hits for the Suns in the game, and Kyle Skipworth drew a walk. This season, 25 of Jacksonville’s 62 games have decided by one run with the Suns 13-13 in those contests.
With just five wins in their last 17 home games, the Suns dropped to 12-20 at the Baseball Grounds in the first half of the season with three games left to play. During the 2011 campaign, Jacksonville finished with an 18-17 record at home in the first half.
Game three of the series is Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05PM at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The Suns will send LHP Graham Taylor (3-5, 4.93) to the mound for his 13th start of the season. For the Generals, RHP Taylor Stanton (1-1, 7.56) will take the hill for his 3rd time this season.
By Steve Kolbe
By Steve Kolbe
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns used the long ball to defeat the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the first game of their series 8-5 at the Baseball Grounds on Thursday night.
After a 44 minute rain delay, the Suns jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Pensacola starter J.C. Sulbaran, when Jeff Dominguez singled and scored on a Kyle Skipworth grounder that went under the glove of Blue Wahoos second baseman Brodie Greene. The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning 12 times in 41 games this season, and have a record of 10-2 when they cross the plate in the first inning.
Jacksonville increased the lead to 2-0 in the second, when Kyle Jensen led off with a walk and scored on a one-out double by Chris Gutierrez. It was the first of two doubles and two runs batted in for Gutierrez, who now has eight doubles this season.
The Blue Wahoos figured out starter Jose Alvarez in the third inning, collecting four hits and scoring two runs to tie the game 2-2. With one out, Didi Gregorius doubled and Brodie Greene singled to put runners on first and third. Joel Guzman and Koyie Hill each drove in a run with and RBI single.
Pensacola added two more runs in the fourth against Alvarez when P.J. Phillips led off the inning with a single, and Andrew Means then doubled to center with Phillips motoring around to increase the Blue Wahoos lead to 3-2. Means would later score on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan LaMarre, and Pensacola had a 4-2 advantage.
For the second straight game the Suns would rally from two runs down for a win. In the bottom of the fourth, Kyle Jensen doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gutierrez to trim the Blue Wahoos lead to 4-3.
In the fifth inning, Jacksonville took the lead back when Jeff Dominguez and Jake Smolinski walked to start the inning. Kyle Skipworth drove in Dominguez with a ground out, and Ryan Patterson plated Smolinski with a double down the right field line and the Suns were ahead 5-4.
The score stayed that way until the ninth, with Evan Reed trying to preserve the win. With one out, Didi Gregorius singled and stole second base. Reed retired Brodie Greene on a fly out to center, but with two outs Joel Guzman jumped on a 2-0 pitch and doubled to left to drive in Gregorius and tie the game 5-5.
The Blue Wahoos turned the game over to Curtis Partch for the bottom of the ninth. Jake Smolinski led off with a double, and then Skipworth was walked intentionally. Shawn Bowman ended the game with a walk-off three-run home run that sailed into the flag court in left field to give the Suns an 8-5 win. The Suns have now hit a home run in five of the last six games.
The win snapped the Suns five game home losing streak. Jacksonville was outscored 25-3 in a five game sweep by the Mobile BayBears last week.
Chris Gutierrez finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs batted in. It was his fifth multi-hit game of the year. Kyle Skipworth drove in two runs to increase his RBI total to 17. The Suns finished with 10 hits in the game, reaching double-digits in hits for the first time in 13 games. Seven of the 10 hits were for extra bases, with six doubles and a home run.
Suns starter Jose Alvarez pitched six innings in his seventh start of the season. He allowed seven hits and four runs, while striking out five and walking just one. Blue Wahoos starter J.C. Sulbaran pitched four innings and allowed four hits and five runs. Evan Reed pitched two innings for the Suns earning the win and is now 2-1 this season. He allowed three hits, struck out three, and gave up the game tying run in the ninth. Curtis Partch didn’t record an out in the ninth and fell to 2-3 on the season.
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns fell to the Montgomery Biscuits 1-0 in the first game of their five game series at Riverwalk Stadium on Friday night. The Suns have now been shutout three times during their season-high six game losing streak.
The Suns were hitless against Montgomery starting pitcher Matt Buschmann until the sixth inning, when Taylor Krick hit a line drive single to left. Jacksonville starter Jose Alvarez was also impressive, allowing just five hits on the night. Both starters didn’t figure in the decision, and handed the game over to their bullpen after pitching six and two-thirds innings each.
The Biscuits broke through in the bottom of the eighth inning against reliever Garrett Parcell. With one out, Mark Thomas doubled to left for his first hit of the game. Top prospect Hak-Ju Lee followed by jumping on the first pitch he saw from Parcell and sending a line drive down the right field line for a double, with Thomas crossing the plate to give the Biscuits a 1-0 lead. It was Lee’s 12th run batted in this season. Thomas entered the game batting just .163 in his first 24 games of the season, but his double in the eighth started the rally.
The win snapped a five game home losing streak for Montgomery. The Biscuits were outscored 39-17 by Birmingham in the Barons sweep of a five game series at Riverwalk Stadium. The Suns have lost six straight games and have been outscored 26-3 in those games. Jacksonville has been shutout four times this season, and three times during the losing streak.
Runs have been scarce for Jacksonville. Since scoring all of their runs in the first four innings of an 11-7 win at Birmingham May 5th, the Suns have scored only three times in the last 59 innings. In the last six games, the Suns have been outhit 51-28 and outscored 26-3. Only three of the Suns 28 hits in that time have been for extra bases, with two doubles by Ryan Patterson and one by Kyle Jensen.
The Suns and Biscuits are now tied for second place in the South Division with a record of 17-19 and both teams are six games behind the first place Mobile BayBears. Three pitchers combined to three-hit the Suns in the win for Montgomery. Jacksonville was also on the wrong side of a 1-0 one-hitter tossed by the Chattanooga Lookouts on April 12th at the Baseball Grounds.
Matt Buschmann started the game for Montgomery and pitched six and two-thirds innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out 12 of the 21 Suns batters that he faced in the no decision. Frank De Los Santos pitched and inning and a third to earn his second win of the season for the Biscuits.
Montgomery closer Adam Liberatore had to wiggle his way out of a jam in the ninth. After Paul Gran singled and Jake Smolinski reached on an error to give the Suns runners on second and third with no outs, Liberatore found a way to escape. He retired Kyle Skipworth and Curt Smith on ground outs, and Kyle Jensen on a fly ball to left to end the game and record his fourth save of the season.
It’s a matchup of right-handers looking for their first win of the season on Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery. The Suns will send Bryan Evans (0-2, 4.70) to the mound. Evans allowed just one run over five innings in his last start. The Biscuits counter with RHP Jake Thompson (0-3, 6.83).
By Steve Kolbe
When the night began, the Jacksonville Suns and Mobile BayBears were tied for the top spot in the South Division with identical 17-13 records. By the end of the night, the BayBears had hit their way to an 11-0 win and handed the Suns their worst loss of the season. The game was called in the eighth inning due to heavy rain and lightning.
A day after scoring 11 runs on 11 hits in the series finale in Birmingham, the Suns managed only one hit off of Mobile starter Trevor Bauer. Jake Smolinski’s leadoff single in the first inning was the only hit surrendered by Bauer in the game.
Mobile took the lead for good in the fourth inning when Matt Davidson doubled for the first hit against Suns starter Jose Alvarez. After a Brent Clevlen walk the stage was set for Marc Krauss. He jumped on the first pitch that he saw from Alvarez and hit a three-run home run into the right field stands to put the BayBears in front 3-0. Krauss now has five home runs and 22 runs batted in this season. He has collected 14 hits in his last 11 games. Mobile improved to 16-5 when scoring the game’s first run, while the Suns dropped to 3-13 when they allow their opponent to strike first.
In the sixth, Matt Davidson led off the inning with a walk and Clevlen followed with a single to put two on with no outs. Marc Krauss drove in Davidson with a single, and Clevlen scored on a fielder’s choice to increase the BayBears lead to 5-0.
Mobile sent 10 men to the plate in the seventh inning against Suns reliever Wade Korpi. Three straight singles by Archie Gilbert, David Nick, and Matt Davidson started the rally with Gilbert scoring the first run of the inning to push the lead to 6-0. After scoring two runs earlier in the game, Clevlen drove in Mobile’s seventh run with a sacrifice fly to left and it was 7-0. Later in the inning, Ed Easley drove in Davidson with a single to center and the lead was 8-0. The BayBears scored three more runs in the inning when Yazy Arbelo doubled to drive in a pair, and Wladimir Sutel singled to drive in Arbelo to make it 11-0. The BayBears scored six runs on six hits in the inning. It was the second time this season that the Suns allowed six runs in an inning, with the last coming in a 10-5 loss at home to Chattagnooga April 11th.
Trevor Bauer, the Arizona Diamondbacks first round pick in 2011, one-hit the Suns over his seven innings of work to improve his record to 6-1. He leads the league in wins and is among the leaders in earned run average. In his two starts against the Suns this season, Bauer has allowed only 5 hits in 14 innings. Jose Alvarez pitched five and a-third innings allowing five runs on five hits and falls to 1-1 on the season. Wade Korpi pitched one and a-third innings, giving up six runs on six hits. Chris Squires also pitched and inning and a-third allowing one hit before the game was stopped.
Game two of the series is Monday morning at 11:00AM at the Baseball Grounds with the Suns looking to even the series. Bryan Evans (0-2, 5.26) will take the mound for Jacksonville against Mobile’s Tyler Skaggs (0-2, 3.91).
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns improved to 8-3 on the road this season with a 4-3 win over Birmingham at Regions Park on Monday night.
The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the third when Jose Duarte led off the inning by walking on four pitches, and Jake Smolinski tripled to center to drive him in. The Suns now have seven triples this season. In the home half of the inning, Jared Mitchell and Damaso Espino both walked to start the inning against Jacksonville starter Jose Alvarez. That set the table for Drew Garcia, who drove in two runs with a double down the left field line to put the Barons in front 2-1.
Birmingham increased the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Justin Greene singled and later scored of a sacrifice fly by Garcia, who drove in all three runs for the Barons in the game to increase his RBI total to 20 for the year.
The Suns tied the game in the sixth when Paul Gran doubled and Shawn Bowman singled before there was an out in the inning. Russel Mitchell then singled up the middle to drive in Gran and cut the Barons lead to 3-2. Later in the sixth, Curt Smith’s sacrifice fly tied the game 3-3. Mitchell now has five runs batted in with the Suns, and Smith has driven in four runs in the last two games. With Birmingham a Chicago White Sox affiliate, Monday’s game was the first of the season for Jacksonville with the designated hitter and Smith came through.
In the seventh inning, the Suns completed the comeback when Smolinski hit his second triple of the night and came in to score on a Shawn Bowman sacrifice fly to give Jacksonville a 4-3 lead. Bowman leads the team with 14 runs batted in. Smolinski is now five-for-eight in his last two games since returning from an injury.
Jose Alvarez pitched six innings allowing seven hits and three runs to earn his first win of the season. Once again the Suns bullpen was flawless, tossing three innings without allowing a hit. Garrett Parcell pitched the seventh, Josh Schmidt the eighth, and Evan Reed locked down his seventh save by retiring the Barons in order in the ninth. Reed leads the Southern League in saves. Barons starter Jose Quintana pitched six innings and allowed five hits and three runs and didn’t figure in the decision. The losing pitcher was Santos Rodriguez. He dropped to 0-1 as the Barons five game winning streak came to an end.
The Suns improved to 14-1 when they score the first run. It was also the fifth come-from-behind win for Jacksonville this season.
Game two of the series is Tuesday morning at 11:00AM with Bryan Evans (0-2, 5.75) scheduled to make the start for the Suns. Nestor Molina (3-1, 3.56) will take the mound for Birmingham.