5/3/16

AM I THE ONLY ONE EXCITED? WEEKLY MINORS RECAP: Tom Brennan

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AM I THE ONLY ONE EXCITED? WEEKLY MINORS RECAP: Tom Brennan

Sometimes there are ups and downs in life.  
Mets' minors lads, though, have their downs and ups.
In other words, previous week crappy, this past week much improved.
AAA Las Vegas and AA Binghamton both rebounded with very solid weeks, including a Bingo 6 game win streak; and St Lucie and Columbia combined to win half their games last week. All told, the 4 teams are a combined 7 over .500, with the Lucites leading the foursome at 14-10.  So how are some guys doing?  Let's lift the hood and look at last week's Monday thru Sunday fun and games.
STARS OF THE WEEK: 
WUILMER BECERRA: Willie B hit over .400 for the week to climb to .371.  What is most exciting to me about the 21 year old St Lucie OF is who he is doing all that hitting against.  How does a batting average of .396 against RIGHTIES for the righty hitter strike you?  Nothing short of amazing to me. Consider also that he tore up lefties last year...exciting to ponde ra guy who may be ready to explode. (Monday nite update: Becerra added 3 more hits - against eighties - and is now hitting .421 against them!)

T J Rivera: 12 hits, 2 homers, and 7 RBIs last week.  Only 8 whiffs in 18 games. Hitting .338.  Nice.  Real nice. 
Let me add this: some guys hit the famed Mack AA Wall: T J got to AA in mid 2014 and has since put in about the equivalent of a 162 game stretch of # 2 hitter time, and what has he done?  Busted the wall: .336, 669 ABs, 105 R, 225 H, 47 2B, 10 HR, 91 RBIs.  Amazing, really. (2 more hits Monday night)
AAA LAS VEGAS 51'S:  
Vegas hit squad started firing on all cylinders last week, rapidly climbing to finish the week at .275.  
OF Ty Kelly still has a .483 OBP (2nd in PCL) despite getting on just twice in his last 13 plate appearances to end the week.  Amazing.
IF TJ Rivera - a Star of the Week...see above.
OF Travis Taijeron sitting at .296/.407/.521; encouragingly, he is hitting a whopping .364 against righties so far....his numbers are usually propped up by utterly destroying lefties, so he may be on the cusp of a big year if the righty trend continues.
IF Matt Reynolds (.284) had a 10 game hit streak snapped Sunday,
Struggling mighty in a limited role?  Danny Muno, 1 for 23 with 3 errors.
  
Pitching?  The Sean and Gabe Show continues, as both Sean Gilmartin and Gabe Ynoa have ERAs well below 2 after 4 starts each.  Gabe's lone concern to me is his continued low K rate (12 in 24 IP), but a 1.48 ERA indicates it is working for him.  It worked for guys like Whitey Ford too. (Monday nite, Ynoa added a solid winning start, pitching into the 7th)
Chase Bradford sports a spiffy 0.73 ERA after 9 relief outings.  Chase those bums outa the box! 

Rafael Montero 
had 1 so-so outing this week, 9 H, 3 R in 5 IP. 18 H in 14 IP.

Seth Lugo's fourth start was not good - but an improvement.  It did, however, bring his ERA down to 9.68.  May he be pitcher of the month in May. He certainly hasn't been pitcher of the year so far.

Paul Sewald – always doing well. He may have the best long term minor league stats of anyone not yet in the majors - anywhere in baseball.  His career #'s are beyond sterling: 204 IP, nearly 250 K's, 1.89 ERA, very few walks and only 7 homers allowed.  And a 13-6 record with 49 of 52 saves.  
Those #'s say one thing to me: Queens can't be too far away. (Add a perfect inning Mon. nite save)

Dario Alvarez - a bad outing Sunday marred an uptrend for Dario, who has K'd 17 in 8.1 IP.  Don't forget flame throwing Josh Smoker (4.15, 15 K in 8.2 IP).

LAST WEEK, THEY WERE THE LOWLY THE.196 BOYS:
 This was, however, a very different week for 1st rounders Gavin Cecchini and Brandon Nimmo. Still only 1 HR between them, but progress is progress, with BOTH climbing over 60 points this week. (Cecchini added 2 for 3 Monday nite, climbing to .282, 100 points higher than 8 days earlier)

Nimmo had that one game where he went 0-4, with 4 Ks.  Otherwise?  In his last 6 games, including that stinker, he had 9 hits and 2 walks and sits at .260.  Whew!  
Cecchini sputtered through mid-week, sliding to .182.  But those last 4 games, oh baby: he had 8 hits (including a tater) and 2 walks to climb to .261. Time to stay on a tear, Gavin.

AA BINGHAMTON METS:
A bounce back week for the B Mets but most of the hitters are parked between .233 and .278, so someone needs to get hot, pronto.

Jeff McNeil is still out after the first 3 games (this is my get well card, Jeff),
Dominic Smith has crept up to .259, with a .412 OBP.  He does have a team-leading 16 RBIs in 21 games, so once he really gets started, maybe we’ll get a 100 RBI season from Smitty.
Phil Evans is doing his Danny Muno imitation at 4 for 28.  He sits at .232 after about 1500 career plate appearances, in case you were wondering. 
The outfield is still struggling – Cruzado and Sabol are a combined 15 for 91. Jared King is the lone bright OF bat, with 7 hits in the past 4 games, but just 26 at bats so far this season for King.
Pitching-wise, Rob "the Giz" Gsellman lost Sunday despite allowing no earned runs.  sits at 1-0, 1.45 after 3 very fine starts.  
Tyler Pill?  2 terrible starts, then 2 great ones, with 14 IP and 2 earned runs.

The Pen:
mostly unimpressive so far.  Let’s leave it at that.
A - ST LUCIE METS:  
The SLM's are 14-10 in 2016.  HR hitting has not gotten them where they are, as they have managed a mere 8 HRs in 24 games. 
SS Amed Rosario continues a fine campaign with 11 extra base hits in 23 games and a .305/.340/.537 stat line.  Almost time for Met fans to start drooling?  Patience, rabid fans...he won't be 21 until Thanksgiving.

Luis Guillorme is heating up a bit, and is up to .247.  Amazingly, the slick glove man, in over 1,000 career at bats, has ZERO triples and homers.  By comparison, the patron saint of slap hitters, Bud Harrelson, was like Giancarlo Stanton, with 45 triples & 7 dingers in 5,516 plate appearances. I await your first triple, Luis.
OF Wuilmer Becerra - see above. My co-star of the week.
C Tomas Nido is hitting nicely at .313 (just 6 Ks in 67 ABs).
Pitchers?  Glad you asked.
Casey Delgado moved up to 4-0, 2.67 with his 4th solid start to the season. Undefeated is a nice place to be.  Ricky Knapp slipped to 3-1 with a solid, 6 IP, 3 R loss, and a nifty ERA of 2.38.
Corey Oswalt followed 2 fine starts with a bad fourth start - he allows too many hits, (294 in 263 career) and needs to put that on a diet. 
TURNAROUND TOSSERS:
1) Chris Flexen was 0-3, 4.82, but then tossed a gem for his first win this week, dropping his ERA to 3.76.  I bet he takes off from here. 
2) Scarlyn Reyes: a decent start after 3 ghastly outings, but all it got him was a 4th straight loss, with an ERA that descended from the stratosphere to 9.18.

Remaining really impressive out of the St Lucie pen are Tim PetersonKevin McGowan, Al Baldonado, and Ben Griset (combined 46 IP, 0.97 ERA, 59 Ks).  Some other good ones, too.
A - COLUMBIA FIREFLIES: 

Two hitting stars thru my prior update remain at the top of the Fireflies’ list:
IF Vinny Siena: Vinny (“you can call-a me Vincenzo, capisce?”) has still been on base almost 50% (26 hits and 19 walks in 23 games), not to mention 21 runs scored.  Some guys just don’t like to sit down.
 
3B David Thompson, hitting a solid .287 with 12 extra base hits and a terrific 27 RBIs (7 games out of the last 10 with 2 or more RBIs) – some of those RBIs no doubt due to Siena being on base constantly in front of him.  Both need to cut down on the Ks (a combined 45 times in 47 games).  

1B Dash Winningham; Dash has an absolutely amazing low K rate (7 in 85 plate appearances, one in his last 9 games) for a young future slugger, and a .372 OBP in 21 games.  Consider that he struck out 102 times in about 475 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015 and the improvement is astonishing in that regard.
OF Ivan Wilson - his strikeouts year to date are improved and he clocked his 3rd homer in an 8 game span on Saturday nite.  Ivan, do what Dash does and keep those K’s dropping.
SS Milton Ramos (a sluggish .200 through 19 games)
3B J.C. Rodriguez - .140 on April 23 but a 7 game hit streak since (8 hits, and 4 walks).  Very nice bounce back week, JC.
The Fire Flies' hurlers doing well this week include born-in-Belfast–Ireland’s   PJ Conlon (3-0, 1.14, 1 walk in 23.2 IP).  The Lefty Leprechaun is sitting at an amazing 0.66 after 21 career outings and 40.2 IP.  
Joe Shaw and Chase Ingram stay solid - both are 2-1, with ERA’s in the 2’s, with a combined 52 Ks and 7 BB’s in 43 IP.   In the pen, Alex Palsha sits at 4.22, but has K’d 19 in 10.2 innings.
Lots of great stories. Some less great.  
Everyone has their downs and ups.  Ups are better.
I was excited this week. I suspect I'll be excited next week too. 
What say you, reader?


 


 



 



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Mack’s Morning Report – 5-3-16 – Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, Amed Rosario, Bartolo Colon

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Good morning.


John Harper wrote a good story on the problems Noah Syndergaard is having with base runners stealing on him –

Surely not; if anything, the Mets are better off downplaying the stolen bases and encouraging their 6-foot-6 righthander to embrace his Thor mentality, which was on such ferocious display in his first three starts of the season.

As it is, Syndergaard may already be concerning himself too much with that part of the game. He made a point of seeking out Jacob deGrom for advice on holding runners, after studying how deGrom froze runners in Saturday’s game in part by varying how quickly — or not — he delivered to the plate.

Mack – Sure, there is a problem here and Syndergaard’s delivery is much slower than most other pitchers in baseball… remember all the time everyone spent blaming Travis d’Arnaud on this issue first?... but the main issue should be reminding this guy how special he is and the rare ability he has to keep runner off base in the first place.

Get this kid to concentrate on his pitching, not what’s going on around him. It really doesn’t matter who gets to second if the next batters facing Thor strike out.


Well, the secret is out. Michael Conforto got his own article on Fangraphs Fangraphs -

A casual stroll down the stacks of the FanGraphs hitting leaderboards for outfielders yields many interesting takeaways, but perhaps none more interesting than this: among the top 10 outfielders by wRC+, there’s a 23-year-old who played only 45 games above High-A before being called up to the majors last year. He came into this season with the expectation of being a left-handed platoon bat, and now he’s leading the majors in hard-hit rate and hitting third every day in the sixth-best offensive lineup in baseball. A year can change a lot of things, and it has changed more for Michael Conforto than for just about anyone else in baseball.

Mack – This is a good, deep article and should be read by all Mets fans. It ends with –

Right now, there’s a good way to get Michael Conforto out: put a left-hander on the mound. Short of that, take your best guess, because the book is already outdated.

I disagree. The more you play Conforto against a left-hander, the quicker he will become a well rounded all-star in this game.


I feel sorry for Juan Lagares.  NJ.com does point out that Lagares is making the best out a limited situation, but this guy definitely deserves more than this. –

The 27-year-old right-hander started in right field for only the 10th time in his career and batted leadoff, as the Mets opted to sit Curtis Granderson but kept Michael Conforto in the lineup against tough left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

Lagares converted an eight-pitch at-bat against Bumgarner into a leadoff single in the first and later scored the Mets' lone run of the game on David Wright's RBI single in the seventh. Despite starting only seven games this year, Lagares is now batting .306 (11-for-36) with two doubles, a triple and two RBI in 2016.

Mack – I was wrong about Lagares. I believe he’s a starter in this game and a definite CF gold glover. It’s simply a shame there’s no place in the lineup for him.


Keith Law on SS Amed Rosario

I think he stays at shortstop. He's got crazy bat speed, too, and you can't teach a kid that kind of skill. You can improve his plate discipline, you can improve his approach, but one thing you can't improve is the physical tools and he's got tools across the board that I think are going to make him a future All Star.

Mack – We’ve talked about a lot of ‘prospects’ that could someday wind up the long term Mets shortstop… Cecchini, Reynolds, Carpio, and the five guys still coming out of the DSL teams.

My money remains on Rosario, the 20-year old that should be heading soon to Binghamton. He’s batting .305 for St. Lucie and tied for 5th with 16-RBIs (in 23-G). He’s also 3rd in slugging percentage (.537) which comes from three home runs and five triples.

Did I say he is 20 years old?


Boy, I can’t wait until 2018 when he’s on short with Dilson Herrera on second.


And lastly...

I had written a whole segment on how I feel that the Mets might be missing an opportunity here in not making Logan Verrett the SP5 until Zack Wheeler can prove he's ready to come back. I suggested that Bartolo Colon be moved to the pen which I'm sure, as a team player, he would go along with.

Then he pitched last night against the Braves...

Err... never mind.
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Bradenton 11 - St. Lucie 6

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The Bradenton Marauders pounded out 14 hits and took advantage of three errors on their way to beating the St. Lucie Mets 11-6 on Monday at McKechnie Field.

The Mets jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning but it was all Marauders after that. They scored in every inning except for the first. They tied the game 3-3 in the fourth and scored three in the fifth to go up 6-3. Jeff Roy, Pablo Reyes and Chase Simpson each collected a RBI in the inning.

The Mets scored two in the sixth to get within 6-5, but Kevin Kramer clubbed a three-run homer off of Jimmy Duff in seventh to put Bradenton up 10-5. The home run came after the previous two batters reached on a strikeout wild pitch and an error.

Josh Prevost took the loss. He was tagged with seven earned runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings. Jimmy Duff surrendered four runs, three earned, on four hits over the final 2.2 innings.

The shaky pitching and poor defense spoiled a good night for the Mets offense. Eight of the nine players in the lineup registered hits. Wuilmer Becerra went 3 for 4 for the second straight day and increased his league-leading batting average to .394.

Amed Rosario, John Mora and Jonathan Johnson had two hits apiece.

The Mets (14-11) are now in a three-way tie for first in the FSL South with Fort Myers and Palm Beach. Charlotte is one game back while Bradenton and Jupiter are only three out.. Team press release
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Kannapolis 5 - Columbia 0

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 J.C. Rodriguez singled and extended his hit streak to eight games on Monday night, but Columbia couldn’t muster up much more offense, dropping the series finale to Kannapolis, 5-0, at Spirit Communications Park. The Fireflies infielder has raised his batting average 71 points during the streak. 

Rodriguez’s single came in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Fireflies’ only other hit was in the first frame when Vinny Sienadeposited a fastball into centerfield. The two teams dealt with a 65-minute weather delay on Monday as well. At the end of two innings, the rain came down above the diamond and the tarp was rolled out over the field.

The Intimidators scored three runs in the top of the second inning even despite only one hit leaving the infield. Chase Ingram(L, 2-2) allowed a leadoff base hit to Seby Zavala. A botched double play enabled Zavala to head to third base and the batter, Cody Daily, to reach second. One run came in when Micker Adolfo grounded out, and another scored on an error. Zach Fish drove in the third run of the frame. 

Triples helped Kannapolis (11-14) scratch out runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Both Cleuluis Rondon and Daily roped three-baggers in consecutive frames before Tyler Sullivan and Bradley Strong drove them in respectively. Intimidators reliever Drew Hasler (W, 1-2) picked up his first win. 
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5/2/16

B-METS GAME NOTES: Game #22 - B-Mets (11-10) at Sea Dogs (8-16) - 6:00 PM

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BINGHAMTON METS
(11-10), 4th EL Eastern, 6.5 GB
(New York Mets)
PORTLAND SEA DOGS
(8-16), 6th EL Eastern, 11.0 GB
(Boston Red Sox)

Monday, May 2, 2016  6:00 PM
Hadlock Field  Portland, ME
LHP Andrew Barbosa (0-0, 3.65) vs. RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (0-0, 1.13)
WNBF 1290 AM


LAST TIME OUT: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats scored three unearned runs in the first inning and the B-Mets fell 3-1 in the finale of the three-game series in Manchester, snapping their season-long six-game winning streak. Robert Gsellman struck out five with four hits against over five innings but took his first loss of the season. Jared King went 2-for-3 to lead the Binghamton offense.

BINGHAMTON STARTERLHP Andew Barbosa will try to carry the momentum from his last start, a ten strikeout performance against Portland on Tuesday at NYSEG Stadium. Barbosa took a no-decision in Binghamton’s 3-2 win. He allowed two runs on three hits in 7.1 innings.. His ten strikeouts were the most he had totaled since 7/10/15 vs. Chattanooga while pitching with Mississippi (ATL: AA). That was his first start back in affiliated ball after ten starts with the Long Island Ducks (IND).

PORTLAND STARTER: RHP Teddy Stankiewicz makes his second consecutive start against the B-Mets and he took a no-decision on Tuesday at NYSEG Stadium. Stankiewicz allowed two runs, one earned on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts. He has not received a decision in four starts this season and his 1.13 ERA is the fourth lowest mark in the Eastern League.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The B-Mets have enjoyed their recent visits to Maine, as Binghamton has won its last 12 matchups a tHadlock Field. A 10-0 record in Portland in 2015 was preceded by two wins to close out the Eastern Division Championship Series in 2014. Binghamton’s last loss at Hadlock Field was Game 3 of that series, 9/5/14, 7-0. The last regular season loss was 7/22/14, 4-3. Binghamton has won 11 straight regular season games in Portland.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER: For the fifth-straight game, the bullpen did not allow a run Monday at New Hampshire. It combined for four no-hit, shutout innings. It was the third time in the past five games that the bullpen had not allowed a hit. Since the bullpen ERA hit a season-high of 4.82 on 4/22, B-Mets relievers have allowed only one earned run in 23 innings for a 0.39 ERA.

CUT EM DOWN LIKE (SEA) DOGS: In the three-game series sweep at NYSEG Stadium from 4/25-4/27, B-Mets pitchers allowed only six runs, held the Sea Dogs to a .143 (13-91) batting average and totaled 30 strikeouts.

NO WALKING: For the first time this season, Binghamton batters failed to work a single walk during Sunday’s 3-1 loss to New Hampshire. The last time the B-Mets did not have a walk in a game was 8/31/15 at Reading, a 6-2 loss.

RETURN OF THE KING: After going 0-for-11 to start his season, Jared King has hit in four straight and has multiple hits in back-to-back games.
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Mack’s Morning Report – 5-2-16 – Dee Gordon, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Casey Delgado, Robert Gsellman, Enmanuel Zabala

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Good morning.


Continuing an annoying subject of mine, Fangraphs  Fangraphs comments on Dee Gordon

That $50 million contract bought out Gordon’s final three years of arbitration plus two years of free agency and a potential third as a team option. It came with a signing bonus of $1.5 million and a salary of $3 million this season, which means Gordon will lose $1.3 million as a result of his suspension. And when he returns, the Marlins will still owe roughly $45 million to Gordon. That extension money is where the current controversy lies.

Earlier this week, Ken Rosenthal talked with multiple players about the current system for suspending PED users, covering a wide range of issues: the efficacy of the system (in light of players who’d been caught outside of testing), the penalty and whether it was too lax, and the possibility of tiering suspensions if a player knowingly took a banned substance. These are thorny issues.

Mack – what you doubters here have to realize that Gordon’s extension easily could have been negotiated while he was under the influence of performance enhancing drugs. And you think that extension shouldn’t be taken away from him?



Yusuf : Hey Jeff, Michael Conforto is off to a great start–tops the league in exit velocity, getting on base, etc. After roughly a half-season of major league plate appearances who would you say is an accurate comp for him?        

Jeff Sullivan: This one took me a few minutes because my mind went blank but then it kept trying to say Alex Gordon? It’s not a perfect comp, because Gordon has better defense and Conforto might have more power, but that seems like the right general area

Mack – Wow. Conforto and Gordon in the same sentence. I don’t want to jinx the kid. I hope the press leaves him alone and lets him build on the beginning of a great season.


Here’s the latest spin by the Mets on them not caring whether Dominic Smith develops power right now 


Mets minor-league hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson: - “The focus is just being consistent. You’ve got to have a consistent approach and a consistent swing. As he matures everything is going to get better for him. Right now, we just want him to be consistent with everything he does because he’s got a nice swing. And when they start talking about power, he hits 30-something doubles per year. That’s pretty productive, I think, when you talk about power numbers. Home runs, that’s something that’s going to happen way down the road for him.”

          Mack – My question… how long is this road?



St. Lucie 5  - Palm Beach 4 - The St. Lucie Mets avoided a sweep by clipping the Palm Beach Cardinals 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Tradition Field.

The game was exciting with the Mets jumping out to a four-run lead in the sixth then having to hang on for the victory.

Former Independent Baseball players Casey Delgado and Kevin Taylor played huge roles in the victory. Delgado improved to 4-0 in his fourth start. He allowed three runs in six innings. Taylor went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBI.

Taylor served a two-out, two-run single to right filed off of Jack Flaherty in the third that put the Mets up 2-1. Taylor’s second homer of the year, a solo shot in the sixth, made it 3-1 and chased Flaherty from the game.
Later in the sixth Jhoan Urena drove in Wuilmer Becerra with a base hit. Jonathan Johnson’s two out single to center moved John Mora to third base and Mora scored on an errant throw home by center field Blake Drake. The Mets left the sixth with a 5-1 lead.
The Cardinals roared back with three runs in the seventh. Robby Coles threw a wild pitch that let in a run to make it 5-4 and moved the tying run to third base. Coles recovered by striking out Brian O’Keefe.
In the eighth the Cardinals got back-to-back two out hits but Coles coaxed a ground out to short to keep the Mets on top.
Tim Peterson struck out two in the ninth and worked around a two-out single to notch his first save.
Becerra went 3 for 4 and raised his average to .371. Mora was 2 for 4.
 The Mets snapped their three-game losing streak and moved back into a first place tie with Palm Beach at 14-10.

New Hampshire 3  -  Binghamton 1  -  The New Hampshire Fisher Cats scored three times in the first inning and defeated the Binghamton Mets, 3-1, on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The B-Mets were limited to four hits and watched their season-best six-game winning streak come to an end.

Shortstop Phillip Evans’ fielding error to start the first opened the door for the Fisher Cats. Rowdy Tellez skipped an RBI single up the middle and Matt Dean followed by lacing a run-producing double into the right-field alley. Jorge Saez ripped an RBI single into left to cap the big frame. Gsellman faced eight batters and needed 35 pitches to survive the first.

Gsellman settled down after the rocky start and answered back with four scoreless innings. After the Fisher Cats opened the game 4-for-8 at the plate, Gsellman held them hitless in their next 11 at-bats. The righty set down the final 10 batters he faced as he battled through the fifth inning.
Fisher Cat starter Luis Santos held the B-Mets to one run over six innings in his fourth career Double-A start. The righty put down six straight before Xorge Carrillo started the third with a double to the left-field gap. Jared King put the B-Mets on the board, and earned his first RBI of the season, by slicing a double down the left-field line. Santos capped his day, and preserved the New Hampshire lead, by setting down 12 of the final 14 batters he faced.

Danny Barnes mowed down all six B-Mets he faced after taking over in the seventh. Wil Browning worked a perfect ninth to earn his second save. The Fisher Cats pitching staff retired the final 12 B-Met batters in order and prevented any runner from getting past first base after the third inning.

Gsellman (1-1) allowed three runs, all unearned, on four hits over five innings in his first loss of the season. Santos (2-0) struck out seven and issued no walks to pick up the win.
The B-Mets (11-10) continue their road trip and start a four-game series against the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday night at 6:00 PM. LHP Andrew Barbosa takes the mound against RHP Teddy Stankiewicz. 

POSTGAME NOTES: The B-Mets took two of three from the Fisher Cats during the weekend series and earned their third series win…Jared King went 2-for-3 and registered his second consecutive multiple-hit game…Binghamton’s two through six hitters combined to go 0-for-18

Kannapolis 5  -  Columbia 4 - The Fireflies endured their first rain-shortened game at Spirit Communications Park and fell to the Intimidators Sunday afternoon, 5-4. The rain delay lasted 35 minutes and the game was called after seven innings. In his Fireflies debut, outfielder Enmanuel Zabala scorched two doubles and scored a pair of runs.

The two teams traded runs during the game's early stages. Columbia (13-11) got on the board first when David Thompson's ground ball brought J.C. Rodriguez home. Kannapolis (10-14) knotted the score up at 1-1 in the third. Dante Flores grounded a single off the first-base bag that allowed Tyler Sullivan to score from second base.

The home team turned to the newest addition to its roster in the bottom of the third. Zabala stroked a double down the left-field line off of lefty Tanner Banks (W, 5-0). Fellow Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, native Rodriguez followed suit by ripping a two-bagger to right field that scored Zabala and gave the Fireflies a 2-1 advantage.

The Intimidators wasted no time to even the score again. In the top of the fourth, Daniel Gonzalez plated Brad Strong. It was the only earned run Columbia's Joe Shaw allowed in his five innings of work.

With the game tied, 2-2, going into the sixth, Johnny Magliozzi (L, 1-1) replaced Shaw. After Magliozzi allowed consecutive hits to the visitors, the right-hander then let up a three-run home run to Micker Adolfo.


The Fireflies rallied for a run in the sixth and seventh innings to pull within one score. That included Dash Winningham driving in his 11th run of the season with a single.
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