Myrtle Beach Pelicans: Game Notes, April 17 at Buies Creek
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans play the middle game of a three-game set with Tuesday's 7 p.m. contest at Buies Creek. RHP Keegan Thompson (0-2, 8.68 ERA) gets the start for the Birds against Astros RHP Hector Perez (0-0, 5.14 ERA). Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on MyrtleBeachPelicans.com/Broadcast, the MiLB First Pitch app and TuneIn.
MYRTLE BEACH ONE-HIT IN 3-0 LOSS AT ASTROS
Pelicans starter Matt Swarmer whiffed eight batters over five innings, but Myrtle Beach mustered just one hit offensively in Monday's 1-0 loss at Buies Creek. The Buies Creek (7-5) tandem of Abdiel Saldana and Jorge Alcala was dominant, holding the Pelicans (3-9) hitless until Kevonte Mitchell stroked a one-out single in the eighth. Saldana walked two and struck out two in five innings to earn the win. Alcala came on and punched out seven over four frames to pick up his first save. The Astros plated a run in the first on Josh Rojas' RBI double, and two more in the eighth, when Abraham Toro notched an RBI double before Chas McCormick laced an RBI single to make it 3-0.
ALL OR NOTHING
Myrtle Beach entered Monday's series opener at Buies Creek coming off arguably their best offensive set in club history. The Birds compiled 41 runs over their four-game set at Down East, the club's most tallies in a single series in recorded club history (since the 2005 season). However, against a vaunted Buies Creek squad that has not given up a run in 28 consecutive frames, Myrtle Beach registered just one hit, and it didn't come until there was one out in the eighth inning. Thus, 12 games into the season, while the Pelicans do rank in the top half of the league in several offensive categories, they have been held hitless into at least the sixth inning in three contests. The Birds have also been shut out three times, tied for the most in the league.
THAT'S OUR BUDDY
The 2018 campaign is manager Buddy Bailey 30th season as a minor league manager, including his 13th with the Cubs' organization and third at the helm of Myrtle Beach. A native of Madison Heights, Va., Bailey is the 11th manager in Minor League Baseball history to accumulate at least 2,000 career victories. According to Baseball Reference, Bailey's 2,009-1,853 (.521) record means he is just one win away from passing Andy Gilbert, who skippered in the New York and San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves organizations from 1950-82, for sole possession of 10th place in MiLB history. Stan Wasiak, who managed in the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers' organization, along with the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox's systems, respectively, is the minors' all-time wins leader at 2,530-2,314 (.522).
DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS
Myrtle Beach began the 2018 season by making at least one error in each of the campaign's first eight games. That figure already has already surpassed their long streak of seven from the 2017 campaign. However, beginning with Friday's contest at Down East, the club's defense has improved considerably. After their fourth straight miscue-free game in Monday's series opener at Buies Creek, the Pelicans have now gone 35 innings in a row without committing an error.
MAN OR MACHIN?
Pelicans infielder Vimael Machin got off to slow start on the season, posting just one hit in his first six games (1-for-23, .043). However, the San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico native has now reached base in five consecutive games, with multiple trips on the base paths in four of those contests. Machin is for 7-for-his-last-16 (.438) with three doubles, six RBIs and eight walks for a whopping .625 on-base percentage. In Myrtle Beach's series at Down East, Machin twice tied a career-high with three walks and also matched career-bests in hits (four) and runs scored (three) against the Woodies.
Myrtle Beach's bullpen combined for a 1.35 ERA in their first series of the season, surrendering just two runs on eight hits (5.4 H/9) in 13.1 innings against Frederick. However, in the eight games since then, Pelicans relievers have been lit up for 33 runs, 30 earned, on 38 hits (9.9 H/9) in 34.2 frames, resulting in a 7.79 ERA. There could also be an interesting trend to explain the sudden struggles. So far, the Birds' bullpen has accounted for 47.5 percent of the club's innings. In comparison, the 2016 and 2017 Pelicans, also managed by Buddy Bailey, accounted for 38.0 and 44.2 percent of the club's frames, respectively. Sure enough, in their set against Frederick, the 2018 Myrtle Beach bullpen walked just two batters in 13.1 frames (1.4 BB/9). Since then, Birds relievers issued 24 free passes in 34.2 innings (6.2 BB/9).
Myrtle Beach's 3-0 loss Monday means the Birds are 1-6 in games decided by three runs or less. The Pelicans went 46-40 (.535) in those narrow contests last season... One more loss to Buies Creek would seal the Birds' third series defeat in fouur tries to start the season.
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