Don’t look now, but Potomac is starting to play some pretty good baseball.
Of course, now, I may have just guaranteed a beatdown for tonight, and maybe it’s just two games against a lesser team, but things seem better.
Start with Paul Demny, who went seven full innings for the second time this season, didn’t walk a batter (also second time) and struck out a season-high eight batters. The first two innings were a high-wire act — an error, a hit batsman in the first, a two-out double by Austin Yount (son of Larry, not Robin) in the second. That’s nine batters faced, and a conservative estimate of at least 40 pitches.
But reading over the scorebook — no secret: that’s my Calgon — Demny both settled down and settled in. He retired the leadoff batter in four of the next five innings. Yes, he gave up two more doubles, but followed each with strikeout, and then retired the last nine in a row.
Much like Cameron Selik has been having success with an inside slider underneath the right-handed batter’s hands, Demny has begun to master the backdoor breaking ball to lefties. These are the little adjustments that make following the minors so much fun.
Flipping over the book, we’re seeing the offense hit double digits in the hit column for the fourth straight game. They’ve won three of those games. For this team, scoring first is a good sign. A better sign: putting up a goose egg in the top half of the next inning. Wednesday night, they failed twice to do that. Last night, they failed just once.
Two-out scoring is also nice, and two of the four runs came with two outs: Justin Bloxom’s RBI single in the first. Francisco Soriano’s RBI single in the 6th. But there’s still room for improvement, with a 3-for-13 night with RISP and nine runners left on.
Steve Souza led the attack with a 2-for-3 night, including a long double in the 6th that might have been out of some parks (but not Yellowstone), while J.P. Ramirez was close behind with a 2-for-4 effort, driving in Souza with an opposite-field double, as was Soriano (2-for-4, RBI).
Josh Smoker was greeted with a home run to start the eighth, but struck out the next two batters before issuing a walk that ended his night. Hector Nelo got out of the eighth with a groundout and nailed down the win with three outs in the ninth for his sixth save.
Selik is on the bump tonight as the P-Nats go for their second sweep of the season, opposed by the Dash lefty Joe Serafin. Tomorrow night, Chien-Mien Wang makes his second rehab start, with Danny Rosenbaum the first man out of the ‘pen.