Myrtle Beach Pelicans Game Notes: April 20 at Lynchburg
Following Friday's rainout, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans will play a doubleheader with the Lynchburg Hillcats (a Cleveland Indians affiliate) with first pitch for game one at 4:00 p.m. In the first contest, RHP Paul Richan (1-0, 1.04 ERA) makes his third start for the Birds against RHP Justin Garza (1-2, 8.10 ERA). In game two, which will be begin approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of game one, RHP Javier Assad (0-2, 3.00) takes the hill for Myrtle Beach against RHP Nick Gallagher (1-0, 2.79). Coverage begins at 3:45 p.m. on MyrtleBeachPelicans.com/Broadcast, TuneIn and the MiLB First Pitch app.
BIRDS BATS, ARMS BASH HILLCATS IN 9-0 WIN
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans scored a season-best nine runs and recorded their second shutout win of the season in a 9-0 thumping of the Lynchburg Hillcats from Calvin Falwell Field at City Stadium on Thursday. The Birds jumped out in front early with five runs in the first, highlighted by a Kevonte Mitchell three-run homer. Carlos Sepulveda knocked in Zach Davis in the second to make it 6-0 while Tyler Payne and Cam Balego hit their first homers of the season in the fifth and seven innings, respectively. Sepulveda singled home another run in the eighth to make it 9-0. Oscar De La Cruz notched five scoreless innings and Tyler Peyton and Ben Hecht combined for four shutout frames out of the bullpen in the victory.
BEST BACKSTOPS IN BASEBALL?
Both Miguel Amaya and Tyler Payne have controlled the running game brilliantly to start 2019. Among MiLB and MLB teams with at least 22 stolen bases attempted against them, the Pelicans rank first with a 47.8 percent caught-stealing percentage (11-for-23). Amaya has gunned down 8-of-15 potential base stealers (tied for the most CS in High-A) while Payne has pegged out 3-of-7. In 2018, the Pelicans (behind catchers Jhonny Pereda, P.J. Higgins, Tyler Alamo, Michael Cruz and Tyler Pearson) finished first in the Carolina League in caught stealings (67) and fifth in caught-stealing percentage (36.0 percent). The league-average for caught-stealing percentage in 2018 was 34.2 percent.
RUN, PELICANS, RUN
After a season-best six steals in Wednesday's game against Frederick and another stolen base in the series-opening game against Lynchburg, the Pelicans now lead the Carolina League with 21 stolen bases on the year. The last time the Birds led the league in steals was their last season as a Ranger affiliate in 2014. That year, they swiped 154 bags. At the current pace, while unlikely, the Pelicans are projected to steal 196 bases. That would be the most in the league since Salem nabbed 241 in 2016.
THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER, BUT SO IS FIVE
Going five innings seems to be the key for Pelicans starters in the beginning of the season. In the first 15 games, the Birds starter has finished the fifth inning eight times. In those starts, they own a 3.12 ERA (14 ER over 40.1 IP). In the other six starts that have not reached the end of the fifth, the Birds' ERA is 11.19 (29 ER over 23.1 IP). Paul Richan (1), Bryan Hudson (3), Luis Lugo (2), Javier Assad (1) and Oscar De La Cruz (1) have made the eight five-inning starts.
AS RICHAN AS HE COULD BE
Paul Richan takes the mound for the Pelicans today in the second game of the four-game set. The righty from Southern California has only allowed one run in 8.2 innings of work over two starts. Richan has relied on the ground ball in his first two outings, rolling the ball 42.9 percent of the time, which is fourth among starters on the Birds.
MITCHELL IS THE MAN
Kevonte Mitchell has been on fire lately for the Pelicans. Having hit safely in three-straight games (4-for-12 with 2 HR, 4 RBIs and 2 RS), Mitchell is now hitting .220/.250/.400, raising his average 30 points in the last three contests.
The Pelicans second baseman, Carlos Sepulveda, is on a tear over his last 10G. In that span, he is hitting .314/.405/.314 with six RBIs, 6 BB, a SB and 4 RS. He tied a career high with a three-hit game on Thursday. Before missing the entire 2018 season with an injury, Sepulveda played in 28 games with the Birds in 2017.
BRINGING UP THE BACK END
In the Pelicans' four wins this season, the Birds' bullpen has been the key. In wins, the bullpen has a 0.53 ERA (1 ER is 17.0). On the other hand, in losses, the Pelicans' bullpen owns a 6.10 ERA (35 ER over 51.2 IP).
BATS WARMING UP
Through the first 13 games of the season, the Pelicans scored a league-worst 39 runs (3.0/game). Over the last two games, the offense has been brilliant. Combined between a 5-3 win over Frederick and a 9-0 thumping of Lynchburg, the Pelicans have scored 14 runs on 22 hits. Out of those 22 knocks, 11 have been for extra bases. In the last two games combined, the Birds team slash line has risen from .183/.285/.264 to .203/.300/.312.
The Pelicans have a few streaks going. Jimmy Herron is on a 13G on-base streak, Tyler Payne is on a 5G hitting streak and Luke Reynolds is also on a 5G hitting streak...The Pelicans have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and the first time since they did so August 19 and August 21, 2018 against Buies Creek and Winston-Salem... The 9-0 win over Lynchburg marked the second time the Pelicans have blanked the Hillcats this season. Combined, the Pelicans have allowed 21 hits between the two games.
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