It took nearly five hours to play 13 innings of baseball, but the folks that endured the Potomac bullpen woes were rewarded with a pair of one-run victories — 8-7 in the opener, 4-3 in the nightcap as the P-Nats won their ninth and tenth consecutive games.
Ross Detwiler took the hill on a rehab start in Game One and went four innings. Shaking off the rust is the point, of course, and the southpaw scattered seven hits (all singles) over three and 2/3rds innings. Thirty-eight of sixty pitches went for strikes, as the 27-year-old struck out four but walked none.
The offense, which has shown a proclivity for the big inning, got started early with a four-spot in the 1st, highlighted by a triple-double-single sequence from the 4-5-6 batters Jason Martinson, Adrian Nieto, and Kevin Keyes.
Brian Dupra followed Detwiler out of the ‘pen, but was lit up for multiple runs for the third time in his last four appearances as Frederick rallied for two in the 5th and two in the 6th to tie the game at five.
Since this unbeaten streak has begun, the dirty little secret is that Potomac has been able to hit their way out of any pitching mistakes. In 11 games, they’ve scored 74 runs (that’s counting the five scored in the suspended game on Thursday), an average of 6.72 runs per game.
That trend continued as the P-Nats rallied for three in the last of the 6th, as Adrian Sanchez singled, took third on an errant pickoff and trotted home on a Billy Burns triple. Michael Taylor sent in Burns with his big fly that went deep into the woods beyond left field to put up Potomac, 8-5.
The rally helped make a winner out of Richie Mirowski, who had blown the save (his 5th) by letting in two runners he had inherited from Greg Holt, though he served up a two-run homer following an error to make things close, 8-7.
Having used three relievers in seven-inning game, the P-Nats needed strong start from A.J. Cole in the second game of the doubleheader… and got one. The 21-year-old put on a show, striking out 11 over six innings with just two walks allowed. He allowed just three hits, but one of them left the yard for a solo shot that gave Frederick a 1-0 lead in the 3rd.
Frederick’s Trent Howard, who’s mostly been used as a reliever, kept the Potomac bats quiet for four innings before turning over the ball to Matt Price in the 5th. Price let up a double and a walk in the 5th, then walked Martinson to lead off the 6th.
As is so often in single-A ball, one mistake can turn an ordinary inning into something special (or awful, depending on your point of view). A grounder to third that looked like a 5-4-3 DP with the lumbering Keyes was dropped at second. Instead of two out and nobody on, it was two on and nobody out.
The Keys called on David Walters to clean up the mess, but the 25-year-old veteran only made things worse. He got Sanchez out on a tapper to the mound that was hit too slowly for a twin-killing, but then had trouble hitting the backstop (well, the one with the glove) as he let in Martinson with the first of four wild pitches, then gave up an RBI triple to Justin Miller, an RBI double to Cole Leonida.
After Oduber flied out to right for the inning’s second out, the second wild pitch moved up Leonida. Billy Burns broke his bat and rolled one to short that never saw the infield dirt, as Burns easily beat it out to cap the four-run binge.
Up 4-1, Derek Self was given the ball in the 7th and struck out the first batter. Then, like last call at a singles bar, things got ugly fast. Self walked three of the next four batters, with a single interrupting the string while throwing a wild pitch. (If you’ve lost count, that was the seventh of the game between the two teams).
Rob Wort was summoned with the bases loaded and a 4-2 lead and promptly issued the fourth bases on balls to cut the lead to one at 4-3. He narrowly avoided the fifth walk with a strikeout on a full count then got the grounder to short that Martinson gunned across to end it.
With the doubleheader sweep, and a split between Lynchburg and Salem, Potomac’s magic number is now six with nine games to play in the first half. Taylor Hill (4-2, 3.78) has the dial and will try to set the amp for 11 with Frederick’s Tim Berry (3-3, 4.63) opposing him in the series finale.