The Staten Island Yankees (2-6) had their offensive woes continue on Friday night at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George as they lost 2-0 to the Aberdeen Ironbirds (4-4). It is the fourth time this season that the Baby Bombers have been held to two runs or fewer and the second time they have been shut out.
In addition to being shutout, the offense was held to three hits, no baserunner got past second base, and they combined to strike out 14 times. They have 82 strikeouts as a team in the first eight games.
“They could pitch behind the count with offspeed and then come back with the fastball,” Staten Island Yankees manager Lino Diaz said about Aberdeen’s pitchers on Friday night. “We are having a tough time with that right now. That is something that we have to work on.”
Despite the lack of hits, they had several loud outs and were the fortune of some bad luck in this game. For example, in the bottom of the third, Charles Vazquez crushed a ball into the gap in left-center and was robbed of a hit by the center fielder, Doran Turchin.
Meanwhile, on the mound, Alex Mauricio (0-1) put together a quality start. The 21-year-old right-hander went six innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, struck out four, and walked one on 85 pitches (54 strikes) in the loss.
Aberdeen got on the board right out of the gate in the first inning. After a leadoff single by Adam Hall, Mauricio made an error on a pickoff throw that allowed Hall to go to second. Later in the inning, JC Escarra singled past the shift and into right field to give the Ironbirds a 1-0 lead.
One inning later, the lead became 2-0 quickly. After Robbie Thorburn was hit by a pitch on a 0-2 count, Alexis Torres hit a ball over Canaan Smith‘s head in left for an RBI double. That would be the last hit Mauricio would allow until the top of the sixth. He got some help from his defense when Junior Soto threw out Torres at the plate on a good throw from right field to end the second.
Soto had one of the team’s three hits with his single in the bottom of the fourth. The other two base hits came from Eduardo Torrealba (1-for-4) and Jerry Seitz (1-for-2, hit-by-pitch). The Yankees’ right fielder is currently on a four-game hit streak and has made good defensive plays the last couple of days.
“Junior is a guy that has excellent tools,” Diaz said about the right-fielder. “He can pretty much do all five things. He just has to put them into play. He’s working hard and continues to try to improve. Right now, he’s been aggressive and putting the bat on the ball. We just have to continue to work with him, so the tools come out.”
The key for Mauricio in this game was getting the Ironbirds to hit the ball on the ground. In total, Mauricio was able to get the Ironbirds to hit 12 groundball outs, which was impressive when you consider there were no double plays hit by Aberdeen. His four-seam fastball sat 93-95 miles-per-hour (touched 96), and his two-seamer was around 89-90 mph. He was able to keep Aberdeen off the fastball with a strong changeup
“Attack, attack, attack. He was in attack mode, throwing strikes,” said Diaz. “I thought he did a good job. He was aggressive and mixed his pitches well especially past the 2nd inning. He started working pretty good, and it was a good tempo too. I think he’s a guy that needs to have a good tempo, good rhythm to his pitches. He was excellent.”
In the top of the seventh, Chase Hodson came in out of the bullpen for Mauricio and was able to keep the Ironbirds off balance. In the two hitless innings that he pitched, he struck out five of the six batters that he faced.
Brooks Kriske continued the strikeout theme in the top of the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single to Escarra, but the right-hander would strike out the next three batters (all swinging).
Star(s) Of The Game
Tonight’s stars of the game go to Hodson and Kriske out of the bullpen as they combined to strike out eight of the ten batters they faced. Hodson has eight strikeouts in the three games he has pitched for Staten Island this season. That equals the eight K’s he had for SIngle-A Advanced Tampa in five outings earlier this season. As for Kriske, he has seven strikeouts in his first two outings (four against Lowell on June 18).
Draftees Make Their Debuts
There were two 2018 draft picks that made their professional debuts for the Staten Island Yankees. Second baseman Kyle Gray (14th Rounder out of West Virginia) went 0-for-3 while center fielder Alex Junior (18th Round out of Tennessee Tech) went 0-for-2 with two walks.
Despite neither of them recording a hit, the two of them combined to see 40 pitches and Junior had two at-bats of six pitches each.
“He’s got a pretty good idea of the strike zone,” said Diaz about Junior’s plate discipline. “I like what both of them did today. Kyle didn’t square the ball per se, but he seems like a guy that will be a tough out down the road. It was a pretty good first day for both of them I think.”
Later on, I asked hitting coach Ken Joyce about what stood out to him about Gray and Junior:
“The fact that they were both here two hours before anyone else in the clubhouse wanting to get ready,” said Joyce. “They got the first-night jitters out of the way, the first game of pro ball. They were both excited and anxious but I thought they did a great job of seeing a lot of pitches and getting deep into counts giving themselves an opportunity to succeed. That’s all we can ask them to do.”
The Staten Island Yankees will look to avoid the sweep Saturday night when they host the Ironbirds. It will be a 7:05 p.m ET first pitch. Shawn Semple is going to take the ball for the Yankees in this game. He came out of the bullpen against the Brooklyn Cyclones on June 17. He went three innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out five batters, and walked one.