West Virginia Power: Game Notes (July 31)
Winners of three of their last four games, West Virginia continues its three-game series in Columbia, S.C., with the middle match against the Fireflies tonight at Spirit Communications Park. RHP Hunter Stratton (4-4, 5.05 ERA) is on the mound for the Power, and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
EARLY OFFENSE BACKS ROBLES IN 6-1 WIN: Domingo Robles dominated the Columbia Fireflies over seven innings and received plenty of run support over the first four frames as the Power snagged a 6-1 victory over Columbia in the series opener Monday evening at Spirit Communications Park. Robles allowed just one run on four hits over his seven innings of work while striking out two. West Virginia gave Robles a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound, as Oneil Cruz led off the game with a single and Calvin Mitchell walked two batters later to set the stage for Raul Hernandez. The Power catcher smacked a two-run double to left that scored Cruz and Mitchell to make it 2-0 before Robbie Glendinning followed that up with a run-scoring single to cap the frame. Robles ceded his only run in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly from Scott Manea. Cruz secured that run right back, however, as he stroked a solo home run to the opposite field in the second that pushed West Virginia's edge to 4-1. Hernandez continued his hot night in the third with his first home run of the season, also a solo shot to left, before Lolo Sanchez provided the final tally in the fourth on a sacrifice fly. Joel Cesar tossed the final two innings for the Power and did not allow a base runner.
ROLLING ROBLES: Robles turned in his team-leading 11th quality start of the season Monday night and tied his career high in innings pitched (7.0) for the sixth time this season. The Power is 4-2 when Robles has worked seven innings in a start, and 6-3 overall when starters go 7 IP. Robles has tossed back-to-back seven-inning quality starts for the second time this season, allowing just two runs over his last 14 innings pitched, good for a 1.29 ERA. Robles leads the Power in games started (20), quality starts, wins (8), innings pitched (110.0), ERA (3.11) and strikeouts (85). His ERA also ranks second in the Pirates' system (J.T. Brubaker, 3.04, IND), while his eight wins are tied for sixth-highest.
MITCHELL AND CRUZ RETURNING TO FORM: After slumping for a majority of July, Mitchell has started to find his stroke again. The Pirates' 10th-best prospect per MLB.com has reached safely in each of his last 12 games, while recording a hit in seven of his last nine. Over those last 12 games, Mitchell is averaging .316 (12-for-38) with three RBI. Meanwhile, Cruz registered his 29th multi-hit game yesterday with a 2-for-5 effort, his fourth multi-hit contest in his last seven starts. Cruz also homered in consecutive games for the second time this season (May 19 and 20 against Lexington). Cruz's 13 homers and 58 RBI are both second-best to Will Craig (Double-A Altoona) in PIT's system.
HAMMERING HERNANDEZ: Hernandez's solo home run in the third inning Monday was his first home run since August 3, 2016, when he was with the GCL Pirates. Hernandez's blast was his fourth career MiLB home run. With Hernandez going deep, that leaves only Fabricio Macias, Raul Siri and Jhoan Herrera (who has not made his Power debut yet) as the only active batters with West Virginia who have not hit a home run this season with the Power.
CRIKEY, THAT'S GOOD STUFF MATE: Glendinning has been a very solid addition since joining the Power July 19 from the West Virginia Black Bears. In the nine games since his promotion, the Australian native is averaging .345 (10-for-29) with a home run and four RBI, as well as three multi-hit games over his last four starts. In those last four contests, Glendinning is boasting a ridiculous .417 (8-for-17) stroke with a home run, four RBI and a pair of runs scored.
GETTING BACK "INTO THE GROOVE": West Virginia's bullpen has had some rough times in the second half, holding a 4.37 ERA (56 ER/115.1 IP). However, these last four games have been a fantastic showing for the Power's relief corps. On Friday night, the bullpen was unhittable through four innings, which is a great sign, especially for Beau Sulser, who rebounded nicely from a tough outing in Kannapolis where he did not record an out and faced only four batters. Matt Seelinger has also recovered, tossing two scoreless innings over his last two appearances after taking eight days between outings. Saturday, Oddy Nunez and Drew Fischer combined for four shutout frames, while Elvis Escobar spun three scoreless innings Sunday, sealing a run-free homestand for West Virginia's relievers. Cesar kept the good times rolling for the Power pen Monday, firing two perfect frames on 24 pitches (15 for strikes).
DON'T STOP BELIEVING: Despite the Power's 9-18 mark in July, history gives this team plenty of optimism. A year ago, West Virginia went 13-15 in July and still kept themselves in postseason contention by claiming 22 of their final 34 games, which included a 19-10 record in August. The Power currently have 33 games left in the 2018 regular season.
POWER POINTS: West Virginia went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position Monday, leaving eight men on base... Kyle Watson recorded his 10th stolen base of the season, extending his season-high from last season (5 with Bristol)... The Power's five run margin of victory Monday marked the largest win margin of their season series with Columbia.
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