The Dunedin Blue Jays and Clearwater Threshers locked in a pitching duel on Sunday evening at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium with the Blue Jays coming out on top by a 2-1 score thanks to a bases loaded, ninth inning error committed by the Threshers.
RHP Josh DeGraaf started on the mound for Dunedin riding a recent hot streak (2-0 with a 2.49 ERA over his last six appearances entering today) and provided the Blue Jays with 7.0 strong innings. The very first batter of the ballgame tripled off DeGraaf and came around to score in the first inning. After that, however, DeGraaf was lights out for the rest of the contest.
DeGraaf finished the night having thrown seven innings complete, allowing just the first inning run on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. It was the longest outing for DeGraaf this season, both in terms of innings pitched and pitches thrown (97) and his six strikeouts bested his previous high of five. Degraaf now has a 2.20 ERA in 28.2 innings since returning to Dunedin from AA-New Hampshire on June 9th.
The Threshers carried their first inning lead into the fourth inning when Blue Jays catcher Mike Reeves launced a solo home run to tie the game off Clearwater starter Jose Taveras. Taveras, like DeGraaf, allowed just one run over 7.0 innings.
The Blue Jays bullpen continued their July dominance in relief of DeGraaf. RHP Philip Walby threw a scoreless eighth inning and RHP Jackson McClelland tossed a shutout ninth inning. With the two scoreless innings tonight, the Blue Jays bullpen now has a 0.96 ERA in the month of July in 28.0 innings of relief.
The Blue Jays put runners on base in both the seventh and eighth innings, but were unable to push across the go-ahead run. Their persistance paid off in the bottom of the ninth. Mike Reeves singled to lead off the inning, his second hit on the night. CF Jake Thomas laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Reeves over, reaching base himself when Threshers reliever Harold Arauz made an unsuccesful late throw to try to get the lead runner at second base. With two runners on and no outs, JC Cardenas laid down a bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Arauz struck out the next batter and then intentionally walked 2B Cavan Biggio to load the bases with two outs. Blue Jays DH Max Pentecost stepped to the plate and hit a slow-rolling ground ball to short that Threshers SS Emmanuel Marrero bobbled, allowing the winning run to score for Dunedin.
With the Blue Jays win tonight, Dunedin and Clearwater swap places once again in the Florida State League standings, with Dunedin (9-8) moving into second place and Clearwater (8-8) dropping to third. The two teams will head to Clearwater tomorrow evening for one game with RHP Conor Fisk (4-9, 4.40 ERA) on the mound for Dunedin squaring off against LHP Ranger Suarez making his first FSL start.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.