After last night's back-and-forth high scoring extra innings battle, the Dunedin Blue Jays and Charlotte Stone Crabs found themselves in a tight pitching duel on Tuesday night at Dunedin Stadium. Tied at 1-1 from the fifth inning on, it took until the bottom of the ninth for the Blue Jays to break the stalemate and capture a walk-off win.
RHP Patrick Murphy took the mound for the Blue Jays looking to build off a pair of scoreless starts in his last two outings and turned in another strong performance. Although he allowed ten hits in the ball game, he held the Stone Crabs to just one run and struck out seven batters, running his fastball up to 98 miles per hour.
"It's a credit to Murph. They sprayed a few hits around, but he made pitches when it counted," SS Kevin Smith said after the game about Murphy's performance. "A lot of credit to him for keeping his composure and making pitches when he needed to."
The Blue Jays took the game's first lead in the second inning. 3B Nash Knight opened the frame by working a walk. With one out, C Alberto Mineo doubled to the wall in straightaway centerfield, scoring Knight from first and putting Dunedin up 1-0.
It was the only run the Blue Jays would get against Charlotte starter RHP Benton Moss. On a rehab start from AA-Montgomery, the only baserunners he allowed were the walk to Knight and the double by Mineo. Over four innings, Moss struck out eight, twice striking out the side in order and K'ing at least one in every inning.
While Murphy and the Charlotte pitching staff traded zeroes, both defenses turned in a number of fine plays in the field. 2B Ivan Castillo repeatedly ranged up the middle to take hits away from the Stone Crabs, doing so three times in the third inning. CF Josh Palacios helped Dunedin escape a sixth inning jam by gunning out a runner attempting to go first-to-third on a single. For Charlotte, CF Jake Fraley turned in a trio of diving and sliding catches to rob Dunedin hitters from centerfield that were impressive enough to draw rehabbing Gold Glove outfielder Kevin Kiermaier (who DH'd tonight, going 2-for-4) out of the Stone Crabs dugout to congratulate him following his third web gem of the game in the eighth.
After Murphy's seven strong inning, RHP Connor Eller threw a scoreless eighth out of the Dunedin bullpen. RHP Ty Tice followed with a scoreless ninth, setting up a walk-off opportunity for the Dunedin offense.
The Blue Jays wasted little time in the bottom of the ninth. After being shut out for three innings by Charlotte reliever Spencer Jones, they broke through and quickly loaded the bases. Smith led off the inning with a single up the middle, his second of the day, giving him six straight multi-hit games. After a strikeout for the first out, Knight dropped a single into shallow left. DH Kacy Clemens worked a walk to load the bases, and C Alberto Mineo delivered a line drive single to right to give Dunedin the 2-1 win.
Mineo drove in both of Dunedin's runs in the game, going 2-3 with a double and a walk. He also threw out a runner stealing while lowering his catcher ERA (the ERA of the team's pitchers while he is behind the plate) to 2.64.
Smith's sixth straight multi-hit game raised his Dunedin batting average to .358. After a 4-for-25 start in a Blue Jays uniform following his promotion from Lansing, the shortstop has 15 hits in his last 30 at-bats (.500). He spoke after the game about his hot streak.
"I haven't been doing anything different. I've been trying to keep it the same. Up in Lansing, I worked a lot with [Hitting Coach] Matty Young on trying to stay consistent and get routines down. It works. Coming up here, I was a little anxious and going after some bad pitches. So, it was more just settling in and getting my pitch and feeling comfortable."
The win improves Dunedin's record to 27-35 on the season and gives them six wins in their last 10 games. Charlotte falls to 29-32 with the loss, eliminating them from first-half contention in the South Division. The two teams will continue their four-game set at Dunedin Stadium tomorrow at 6:30 PM. RHP Marcus Stroman is scheduled to make a rehab start for the Blue Jays against Charlotte's Blake Bivens (2-0, 1.35 ERA).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.