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 Pensacola Blue Wahoos

"Doc" Johnson Just What Blue Wahoos Ordered in 2-0 Win

June 20, 2024 - Southern League (SL)
Pensacola Blue Wahoos News Release


Pensacola Blue Wahoos' M.D. Johnson in action
Pensacola Blue Wahoos' M.D. Johnson in action
(Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

Pensacola, Fla. - The Blue Wahoos resummoned their winning formula on Thursday night.

It was enough to keep them in a divisional playoff race.

As he's so often done at home this year, righthander M.D. Johnson gave his teammates a big lift with five shutout innings prior to a brief rain delay, then the bullpen took over on Mullet Thursday for Pensacola's 2-0 win against the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Taking on their alternate identity as the Mullets, the Blue Wahoos rebounded from two series-opening losses, including a 9-1 setback Wednesday at Blue Wahoos Stadium, to stay in contention in the Southern League South Division first half chase.

The win was vital, considering the Montgomery Biscuits won their second game this week against the Birmingham Barons - the North Division leader - to maintain a 1.5 game lead with three weekend games remaining.

"(Thursday) we played more like Blue Wahoos baseball," said Johnson, who improved to 3-4 on the season and lowered his earned run average to 3.11. "We weren't super tight. We weren't trying to do everything so perfectly, because of what's at stake. We just played the game that we're all here trying to play.

"I think that, going forward, is what we need to carry on doing."

All three of Johnson's wins have come at home. He carried a mindset of blocking any thoughts of needing to carry the team in a must-win type of scenario.

"I didn't think of it along the lines of that," said Johnson, who allowed just three hits - matching his fewest this season - along with two walks and four strikeouts.

""Because as soon as you try to add that little bit of extra pressure, then you are going to try and nitpick things," he said. "I went more along the lines of... we lost the first two games of the series, and it's opening weekend. We are trying to get a win here to jump start the week, versus, 'Oh we have to try and stay in the hunt.' I don't have to think about that.

"(Playoffs) will take of itself with us winning baseball games. I treated it like a normal start. We just lost two, I need to come in here and set the tone for the week. And I think I accomplished that."

The Blue Wahoos scored both runs on home runs.

Catcher Joe Mack did it again, leading off the fourth inning with a solo shot over the right center berm. It was his team-high 11th homer of the season, his ninth in the past 20 games.

Cody Morissette followed a 21-minute rain delay in the bottom of the fifth inning by connecting on a 1-1 pitch for his fifth homer this season.

Those two swings became enough. The Blue Wahoos had just four hits. Mack had one of those with a first-inning single and Zach Zubia had the other.

That was enough offense for the Blue Wahoos bullpen to take over. Austin Roberts, the team's saves leader, who was used Thursday as a middle reliever, worked the sixth and seventh in flawless fashion with four strikeouts to get his first hold of the season.

Raffi Vizcaíno earned his seventh save by working two scoreless innings. When he recorded his fourth strikeout to end the game, Vizcaíno leaped off the mound and showed joyous emotion after sealing a much needed win.

The Lookouts (19-47), who have the fewest wins in all levels of Minor League Baseball, have played solid baseball so far this week against the Blue Wahoos.

"The bullpen has been nails all year," Johnson said. "They have been fantastic. If I can give us five to six innings... not just myself but the whole starting staff... if we can give them the lead after five to six innings of good quality baseball, it's lights out."

The series will continue on Friday with Cade Gibson making his first home start for the Blue Wahoos against Rhett Lowder, the Cincinnati Reds' No. 1 prospect, who will entered with a 0-3 record Friday but is coming off a scoreless five innings in his last start.

GAME NOTABLES

--- The rain delay began at 7:20 p.m. after the umpires called for the tarp to be put on the field. It was the first time in the Blue Wahoos' 36 home games that weather has affected a game.

--- The University of West Florida had a group outing on the Winn-Dixie party deck with 200-plus guests.

--- The win pushed the team's record to 5-2 wearing the Mullet uniforms and 27-1 when leading after seven innings.

WANT TO GO?

WHO: Chattanooga Lookouts vs. Blue Wahoos

WHEN: Friday, 6:05 p.m.

WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium

PROMOTIONS: Giveaway Friday: The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a replica Blue Wahoos home jersey provided by sponsor Pepsi. The jersey is similar to the one the players wear for selected home games.

TICKETS: Reserved seats for games available through www.bluewahoos.com/tix.

AUDIO BROADCAST: Available on www.bluewahoos.com/radio with Blue Wahoos broadcasters Erik Bremer and Carter Bainbridge. The broadcast is also available on the MiLB App.

LIVE TV: The game will be available on a video stream through Bally Live and MLB.TV (subscription required). The broadcast will air in local television markets on Blab TV.





Images from this story

Pensacola Blue Wahoos' M.D. Johnson in action
Pensacola Blue Wahoos' M.D. Johnson in action

  

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Southern League Stories from June 20, 2024


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