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Myrtle Beach Pelicans: Game Notes, April 25 at Carolina

April 25, 2018 - Carolina League (CarL) - Myrtle Beach Pelicans News Release

Following Tuesday's postponement, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin a three-game series with the Carolina Mudcats at 11 a.m. on Wednesday from Five County Stadium. RHP Keegan Thompson (0-2, 5.65 ERA) pitches for the Birds against Muddies LHP Nathan Kirby (0-1, 6.43 ERA). Coverage begins at 10:45 a.m. on, the MiLB First Pitch app and TuneIn.


The Pelicans jumped out to an early lead Sunday to back six dominant innings from Matt Swarmer in an 8-3 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks. Myrtle Beach plated four runs in the first, three more in the second and another in the third to go up 8-0. From there, Swarmer was outstanding, scattering four hits in his six scoreless frames. The right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out seven. Down East finally got on the board with two tallies in the seventh and the Wood Ducks also added one in the ninth, but it wasn't enough to stop the Birds from taking the series. Jordan Minch set a career-high with five strikeouts and Jhonny Pereda matched a career-best with three RBIs.


Myrtle Beach had lost nine of 11 going into its Friday contest against Down East. Suddenly, heading into their series opener with Carolina on Tuesday, the Pelicans find themselves coming off their first set victory of the season, and the Birds are currently on their first three-game winning streak of the campaign. Perhaps the biggest change for the club has been their starters pitching deeper into games. Myrtle Beach starters have pitched at least five innings in seven straight games, yielding 21 runs, 17 earned, on 39 hits in a total of 38.0 frames for a 4.03 ERA (9.2 H/9, 9 BB, 2.1 BB/9, 42 K, 9.9 K/9). In comparison, over the season's first 11 contests, Pelican starting pitchers recorded five innings in a start just five times. Over that span, they surrendered 42 runs, 31 earned, on 60 hits in 48.0 frames for a 5.81 ERA (10.4 H/9, 18 BB, 3.4 BB/9, 46 K, 8.6 K/9).


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 reached base in each of his 10 games since, including seven contests with multiple trips on the basepaths. Over this 10-game stretch Machin is for 10-for-30 with four doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and 15 walks, slashing .333/.556/.667 (1.275 OPS). Against Down East so far this season, Machin is a blistering 10-for-21, posting a line of .476/.676/.952 (1.629 OPS) in seven games so far. He has notched four doubles, two homers, eight RBIs and 12 walks against Wood Ducks pitching.


Over an eight-game stretch from April 9-18, the Myrtle Beach bullpen struggled, yielding at least one run in each contest. All told, Pelicans relievers were taxed for 39 runs, 36 earned, on 44 hits (10.5 H/9) in 37.2 innings for an 8.60 ERA. Plenty of the damage was self-inflicted, as the Birds' bullpen walked 28 batters, a rate of 6.7 per nine innings. However, in the five games since, Myrtle Beach is witnessing a huge turnaround. The club's relievers put together a 13-inning scoreless streak at one point, and have ceded just three runs, two earned, over the past 16.0 frames for a 1.13 ERA. Over this span, the Pelicans' bullpen has more than halved their walk rate at 2.8 per nine innings, registering five free passes over those 16.0 frames.


Myrtle Beach's 5-4 Saturday win over Down East marked their first win of the season in a game decided by one run. Still, the Pelicans are a woeful 2-7 (.222) in games decided by three runs or fewer, easily the worst such mark in the Carolina League. That being said, records that tend to go haywire in either a positive or negative direction in these narrowly-decided contests can often be misleading, as most clubs tend to finish with a record near .500 in games decided by three runs or less. Sure enough, the 2017 Pelicans went 46-40 (.535) in such contests.


The weekend saw two former Pelicans make their major league debuts. David Bote launched a double to begin his big league career Saturday with the Chicago Cubs. He was the Mills Cup Playoffs MVP in 2016, and batted .337/.410/.518 with 26 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 41 RBIs in 72 games over the regular year. Gleyber Torres made his MLB debut Sunday for the New York Yankees, notching his first hit in The Show on Monday. Torres, who was also a member of the Myrtle Beach's 2016 championship squad, hit .275/.359/.433 with 23 doubles, three triples, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 94 games in 2016 before being traded to New York... The Pelicans start a three-game set at Carolina on Tuesday. The Birds set a franchise-record for most wins against an opponent with a 20-6 record against the Mudcats in 2016, but they went just 8-13 against the Muddies last season.

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