On a night highlighted by the debut of one of Oakland's top prospects, the RockHounds defeated the Corpus Christi Hooks, 3-2, squaring their series Whataburger Field in Corpus at one game apiece.
While he did not figure in the decision, Jesus Luzardo was outstanding in his Double-A debut, overcoming a rocky start (a two-run first inning) to go five string innings (see below.)
Video: Luzardo strikes out the side for Midland
Three of the game's five runs were scored in the first inning. J.P. Sportman's line drive single to left on the game's first pitch turned in the first run when Sean Murphy ripped a double to left. Manager Scott Steinmann waved Eli White (who reached on a line drive fielder's choice) home, and the relay throw sailed wide.
The Hooks took a 2-1 lead in the home half of the first on back-to-back doubles by Miles Straw and Carmen Benedetti (the latter scoring on Taylor Jones' sac fly), but Luzardo settled in and allowed virtually nothing the rest of the way (again, see below).
The RockHounds loaded the bases in the second and third, but scored only once, tying the game on Richie Martin's bases-loaded walk in the third.
Tyler Ramirez' two-out double in the seventh turned into the game-winning run on a throwing error by Hooks third baseman Randy Cesar and the 'Hounds denied a Corpus rally in the last of the eighth. Straw led off the inning with a double off reliever J.B. Wendelken and Benedetti walked. The runners moved up on Murphy's passed ball (and apparent miscommunication between pitcher and catcher), putting runners at second and third with no outs. Wendelken came back to strike out the Hooks' # 3 and # 4 hitters … Yordan Alvarez and Jones … followed by an intentional walk to Nick Tanielu and a deep fly ball out to center off the bat of Cesar to end the threat.
Jake Sanchez retired the side in order in the ninth for his fourth save in as many appearances with the 'Hounds.
Sean Murphy went 2-for-5 with an RBI double (his league-leading 11th). The RockHounds catcher is now 18-for-39 (.362) in his last nine games, with nine runs, seven doubles, two home runs and a dozen RBI.
J.P. Sportman went 2-for-5 (his first-inning single turned into the game's first run), extending his hit streak to six games. In the six-gamer, he is 10-for-25 (.400) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, four RBI and two steals.
Brett Vertigan (and apologies, Brett, for the "useless stat," below) went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. After a slow start, the versatile 5-9 left-handed hitter (he played first base for the second time this season Tuesday night) is 6-for-14 (.375) with three walks (.529 OBP).
Jesus Luzardo, called up from (Advanced-A) Stockton, made his Double-A debut Tuesday night and was outstanding:
- He went five innings, allowing two runs (earned) on three hits, walking one and striking out five
- The first two batters he faced doubled (one flair and one line drive) with two runs scoring (the second on a sac fly)
- After the first two batters, Jesus allowed one walk and one hit through the remainder of his five innings, throwing in the mid 90's
- The outstanding performance came in the 20-year-old's sixteenth minor league game
Luzardo was acquired by Oakland (with pitcher Blake Treinen and Sheldon Neuse for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson) via trade with Washington on July 16, 2017 (both Doolittle and Neuse are former RockHounds). Originally selected in the third round of the 2016 draft the Nationals, the left-hander is rated Oakland's # 5 prospect by Baseball America and # 2 by MLB.com.
In three starts with Stockton, Jesus was 2-1, with a 1.23 ERA. In 14.2 innings, he allowed just six hits and five walks, striking out 25 batters (a 0.75 WHIP and a .120 opponent average).
Additional Personnel Note
Outfielder Skye Bolt has been re-assigned to Stockton. The 24-year-old was hitting .133 (6-for-45) in 11 games with the RockHounds.
Completely Useless but Kinda Cool Stat(s)
In his first two seasons (a season-and-a-half due to injury), Brett Vertigan was caught trying to steal a base just three times (21-for-24). The caught stealing Tuesday was his third … this month. Baseball is goofy.
Wednesday, April 25 vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
Whataburger Field Corpus Christi, Texas
First pitch 7:05 p.m.
Radio: NewsTalk 550 with Bob Hards ... airtime 7:00 p.m.
Third of a four-game series at Corpus Christi and of an eight-game road trip
(April 25-26 at Corpus; April 27-30 at San Antonio)
CC: Brock Dykxhoorn (RH, 1-0, 2.13)
RH: Ben Bracewell (RH, 1-2, 3.95)
Next at Security Bank Ballpark
May 1-4 (Tuesday-Friday) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
Includes Kids Day (May 2, 11 a.m.) … Thirsty Thursday (May 3) … Fireworks (May 4)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.