Winning three of their last four games, the Richmond Flying Squirrels have rode a hot bullpen in doing so. A combination of a number of talented pitchers, namely Ray Black, received a boost with right-hander Jake Smith returning to the bullpen after missing the first six games of the year. Smith struck out 118 in just over 81 innings last season in San Jose and was added to the 40-man roster as a result. Smith made his first appearance of 2016 and threw a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts before Eliezer Zambrano singled in a run to walk off with a 3-2 victory.
The Squirrels' pen has gone 11.1 straight innings without allowing a run, beginning with Dan Slania's 1-2-3 inning at the end of Wednesday's 4-6 loss to Reading in the series finale. Black, Tyler Rogers, Jose Casilla, and Mike Kickham have kept two stellar starts (Adalberto Mejia and Chase Johnson) in the win column.
Johnson was perfect through three before Harold Ramirez opened the fourth with a single. He ended the night with a solid line, striking out five in four innings and only allowing four baserunners.
In Augusta, outfielder Dylan Davis reportedly made a few swing adjustments in batting practice and noticed the tweaks paying off almost immediately.
Dylan Davis said he made an adjustment during BP to work up the middle better instead of pulling off. Paid off with two hard shots.— David Lee (@David11Lee) April 16, 2016
He went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run as the GreenJackets won 8-7 over Charleston. His double was almost out of the park, too, hitting off the 400-foot sign while his actual home run was called a "towering shot" by Augusta Chronicle reporter David Lee. Davis and Dillon Dobson make up two players with considerable raw power in the heart of that lineup.
— Andrew Suarez made his second start of the year and, though his command looked just as sharp as it usually does, a hungry Inland Empire team (looking for their first win of the season) fouled off a remarkable number of pitches and worked Suarez hard. Suarez's night ended after he finished the fourth, having already thrown 80 pitches. He took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. The four-seam fastball looked like a confident pitch, topping out at 94 mph while hovering mostly around 90-92 throughout the night. The mid-80s slider was its usual self, finding the lower half of the zone and keeping hitters off balance. Even the curveball looked promising — a 78-82 offering with which he stole strike one on occasion. Here are highlights from what I saw:
— A stiff wind of at least 25-35 mph was hammered fly balls hit toward left and center field throughout the night in San Bernardino. It came into play on a Chris Shaw double in the sixth that should have been a monstrous home run over the center field wall. You could actually see the ball dropping almost straight down while 66ers' center fielder Ayendy Perez scrambled to catch it.
TOP-30 PROSPECT ROUNDUP
- Christian Arroyo: 0-for-0, RBI
- Tyler Beede: DNP
- Phil Bickford: DNP
- Lucius Fox: DNP
- Chris Shaw: 1-for-4, R, 2B, SO
- Sam Coonrod: DNP
- Mac Williamson: DNP
- Aramis Garcia: 0-for-4, RBI, 2 SO
- Andrew Suarez: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
- Adalberto Mejia: DNP
- Clayton Blackburn: DNP
- Jalen Miller: DNP
- Ray Black: DNP
- Chase Johnson: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Steven Okert: DNP
- Kyle Crick: DNP
- Jarrett Parker: 0-for-4, 2 SO
- Hunter Cole: 1-for-3
- Austin Slater: 0-for-0, BB
- Joan Gregorio: DNP
- Michael Santos: DNP
- Ty Blach: DNP
- Mac Marshall: DNP
- Ronnie Jebavy: 0-for-4, 2 SO
- Derek Law: DNP
- Chris Stratton: DNP
- Ian Gardeck: DNP
- Jake Smith: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
- Dylan Davis: 2-for-4, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, SO