The light of day didn’t change the horror of the night before as the Potomac bullpen imploded again for an 11-6 loss to Lynchburg.
Seven unanswered runs — three in the 8th, four in the 9th — was the black mark on the report card and the scorebook, with Derek Self bearing the brunt of the beating with four runs charged on three hits, including a home run in the ninth sandwiched between two walks. Greg Holt was also victimized by the big fly in the final frame after striking out the first batter he faced.
To make matters worse, the Hillcats pitchers weren’t much better. They walked eleven batters, doing their part
for the concession sales to stretch this game to 3 hours and 36 minutes.
The difference was that they were able to get the double play ball (three of ‘em) and work around their mistakes as the Potomac hitters were held to a 2-for-15 mark with RISP. Keeping the ball in the yard — one vs. three — also made a wee bit of difference.
Billy Burns and Jason Martinson continue to wreak havoc from the leadoff and No. 3 spots in the lineup, with Burns reaching base four times out of five plate appearances and Martinson going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, and also drew a walk and stole a base. Conversely, Michael Taylor and Kevin Keyes — the No. 2 and No. 4 batters — have struggled mightily, a 3-for-26 combined with nine strikeouts over the first three games.
It’s early, of course, but that kind of uneven production in top half of the lineup will become much more noticeable once the P-Nats face better pitching.
Uneven is also the word to describe the season debut of A.J. Cole. The lean righthander struck out the side in the first but then was ambushed for no-doubt-about-it blast to center on a first-pitch fastball by Lynchburg cleanup man Robby Hefflinger. Cole then went away from the heat and walked the next batter then stumbled to give up two more runs in the second frame.
Cole righted himself with three strong innings in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th but a third look by the middle-of-the-order Hillcats produced a pair of doubles and another run. He was lifted with one out in the 6th after surrendering the inning’s third hit. His final line: 5⅓ innings, seven hits, four runs (all earned), one walk, seven strikeouts.
With the loss, Potomac falls to 1-2 on the season with the Salem Red Sox coming to town for the next three. Kylin Turnbull is slated to pitch tonight, but there’s a little intrigue as the tall southpaw is the only pitcher on the active roster that hasn’t pitched yet, perhaps indicating that a roster move (or two) will make way for tomorrow night’s starter.