DUNEDIN (August 29, 2013) - A grand slam by Michael Crouse broke the game open in the seventh inning, and the Clearwater Threshers' bats could not overcome the powerful right arm of Aaron Sanchez in an 8-0 loss at Dunedin on Thursday night.
Clearwater (66-66, 31-33) has now been shutout for 25 consecutive innings, while Dunedin (61-67, 24-38) snapped a five-game losing streak with the series-opening victory at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Jon Berti put the Blue Jays on the board quickly in the first, turning on a 2-0 pitch from Hoby Milner (12-7) and sending it into the trees beyond the wall in left to lead off the game. That snapped a string of 18 consecutive scoreless innings for the Threshers left-hander.
With one out, Crouse drove a double to deep center, and scored on Marcus Knecht's single up the middle to put Dunedin up 2-0. After a four-pitch walk to K.C. Hobson, Gustavo Pierre lined a single to left to plate Knecht with the Blue Jays' third run.
The Blue Jays busted the game open in the seventh inning.
Following a perfect sixth inning of work, Jordan Guth issued three straight walks to load the bases in the seventh. After Guth gave way to righty Lee Ridenhour, Crouse launched a 2-1 offering to left for a grand slam, putting Dunedin comfortably ahead, 7-0.
The Blue Jays tacked on another with two outs, as Pierre pushed a single through the left side and Oliver Dominguez followed by belting an RBI double to center to push the Dunedin advantage to 8-0.
The Threshers offense meanwhile struggled to solve Sanchez (4-5), who dealt his best outing of the season. The top Blue Jays prospect held Clearwater scoreless for seven innings, scattering four hits and a walk.
After permitting three runs in the first, Milner settled in to hold Dunedin scoreless through his final four innings of work. All told, Milner allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk across five frames, striking out five in the loss.
The Threshers and Blue Jays will square off for game two of the four-game set on Friday, as Clearwater will send Nic Hanson (0-1) to the hill against Blue Jays lefty John Anderson (5-3). First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.