The most important news from last night’s game is concerning, so we’ll start there:
Joey Bart leaves the game tonight after getting hit by a pitch. Looked to hit him on hand/wrist area. Umpire ruled it a foul ball. It’s a cold, damp night here in San Jose. Bart was in obvious pain.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) April 16, 2019
And now we wait and hope. A break would set Bart’s season back significantly and eliminate a huge amount of our collective excitement for this spring. #NOBREAKSPLEASE!
HIGHLIGHTS: Chris Shaw went 3 for 3 with BB, 3b, HR; Brandon Beachy won his first game since 2015; Heliot Ramos homered and walked;
Sacramento’s final game of their road trip was rained out
Let us set the scene appropriately.
Entering yesterday, @GoSquirrels were one of four teams in @MiLB without a home run. Since then, Jalen Miller (1), Chris Shaw (2), and Ryan Howard (1) have combined to go deep four times over the last two games for the Flying Squirrels.— Jake Eisenberg (@JakeEisenberg_) April 16, 2019
To be fair, Richmond spent their first week playing in one of the more HR suppressing parks in the country and has now moved on to the two most offensive parks in the Eastern League. Still, nobody would suggest the Squirrels boast a power-laden lineup in the early going.
But yesterday Chris Shaw and Ryan Howard each went deep, helping to power the team to the win. The pair displayed decidedly different aesthetic sensibilities with their longballs. Shaw favored the majestic arc...
While Howard went for the “over and done” laser beam approach:
— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 16, 2019
Ryan Howard scorches a solo homer, his first of the year
We're up 3-0 in the 6th pic.twitter.com/Xhx9nfh8Ry
Shaw had a perfect night at the plate going 3 for 3 with a walk and came around to score three times. Beside the home run, Shaw had another deep drive that went for a triple.
On another night that ball probably would have been tracked down, but this windy evening in Hartford was making everything in the air an adventure.
Had it all the way. pic.twitter.com/5w28gQ2ibm— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 15, 2019
The steady offensive output helped give Brandon Beachy his first Win in a pro game since 2015! Man, it seems just yesterday that he was the most sensational UDFA pitching prospect anybody could remember. Where has the time gone? Beachy hasn’t won a major league game since 2013. Crazy.
Brandon, I suspect last night had to feel pretty, pretty good for you. Just imagine how much work and dedication had to happen to lead him back to this moment. A huge Minor Lines congratulations to you!
The start of San Jose’s game last night was weather-delayed by an hour. By the time the night was over I’m sure many in the organization wish it had been rained out entirely.
[Insert teeth chattering emoji]
Aside from the Bart news, it was another silent night for the San Jose bats. Giants fans anticipated a powerful San Jose team, but so far outside of Bart and Heliot Ramos it’s been a slump-ridden group up and down the lineup. After winning four in a row, the Giants have now dropped four in a row and they’ve scored just 5 total runs in that streak. The team has managed just five hits in their past two games. That’s not gonna get it done, boys!
The one bright light last night was Ramos, who went ahead and drove himself in with his 4th bomb of the season.
Heliot Ramos showing some very impressive power for teenager. Ramos now has 4 HRs and also 10 BB to just 11 K on year. Showing real improvements. pic.twitter.com/fVu64r8eoK— Roger Munter (@rog61) April 16, 2019
As the smart tweeter notes, that is some incredibly impressive power for a teenager! Heliot also drew another walk and now has 10 BBs to 11 Ks on the season — he’s displaying by far the best strike zone control of his young career. Last year in Augusta, the then 18 year old struck out 136 times to just 35 walks. With an OBP near .400 and a SLG near .600, Ramos is showing a very encouraging improvement in approach in the early going of this year. Now he just needs a few hits to fall in inside the field of play and pretty up that .216 batting average a bit. Keep it going, Heliot!
But that was it for the night — Ramos’ bomb broke a streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings for a San Jose team that is having a rough time finding its footing early on. And an absence of Bart isn’t going to help that any.
Augusta finally got to play in front of the home crowd and they gave the boosters a thrill with a come-from-behind Opening Night victory. Augusta used a balanced attack — only Ismael Munguia recorded two hits, but eight of the nine starters reached base at least once and they were able to keep the line moving enough to sneak out the win. Greensboro helped with some of that line, as they pushed in the winning run with a walk to Frankie Tostado that followed a Diego Rincones HBP to load the bases.
The crucial play in Augusta’s winning rally came on a weird cueball shot from Aaron Bond that appeared to be a harmless foul ground ball before it suddenly shot back into fair territory and escaped the 1b altogether.
All of that helped take starter Sean Hjelle off the hook. Hjelle was once again somewhat inconsistent, picking up 4 Ks to just 1 BB but giving up some loud contact, including a big 3-run homer. To the field correspondant!
3 hits, ER for Hjelle in the 1st, sitting 92-93 with his fastball. GreenJackets trail 1-0.— Will Cheney (@CheneyAUG) April 15, 2019
Hjelle gets out of a jam, thanks in part to the arm of Jeffry Parra. Augusta leads 2-1 in bottom 2nd.— Will Cheney (@CheneyAUG) April 15, 2019
Hjelle has settled down, retired the last seven he’s faced. Augusta keeps a 2-1 lead in the middle of the 4th.— Will Cheney (@CheneyAUG) April 16, 2019
Jonah Davis his a 3-run homer to center off Hjelle, Greensboro takes a 4-2 lead with two down in the top of the 5th.— Will Cheney (@CheneyAUG) April 16, 2019
Hjelle wasn’t helped much by his defense, particularly 3b Jacob Gonzalez who had a simply brutal night in front of the home crowd. Gonzalez was the only Augusta batter who failed to reach base, striking out twice, to drop his average to .161. And his night in the field was even worse — he committed three errors, giving him six already for the year. The 20 year old returnee has to going through some tough times right about now as he tries to find something that will get his game headed in the right direction. Might be time to talk to Dad. You also have to wonder if moving him off 3b sooner than later will help him focus on his offensive potential. Nate Schierholtz was relieved of that pressure before his first full season was over and I think that did help him focus on the things he could do well.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Tyler Beede) vs. Las Vegas (Jake Buchanan)
Richmond (Alfred Gutierrez) @ Hartford (Brandon Gold)
San Jose (Caleb Baragar) vs. Stockton (TBD)
Augusta (Blake Rivera) vs. Greensboro (TBD)
How about some sunshine and good weather for everybody tonight — both literally and metaphorically!
Before we leave, since Kevin mentioned this in the Prospect Roundup, let’s go out with a quick callback to Sunday night and the defensive stylings of Bryce Johnson: