Wahoos Win Sixth Straight Series To Open Season

Sano and Davis homers help lead Pensacola over Biloxi

Miguel Sano watches his towering first inning home run leave the park. (Daniel Venn)

By Bill Vilona, Senior Writer / Pensacola Blue Wahoos | May 5, 2019 8:13 PM

The Blue Wahoos encountered their only, early-season bump, to start a weekend homestand.

But they finished it with exclamation. Did they ever.

The Blue Wahoos answered a three-game losing streak, including two at home, by powering home 30 runs in three days, highlighted by Sunday's 9-2 win against the Biloxi Shuckers that kept an unbeaten series streak intact.

"Those last couple days were really fun watching these guys play," said Blue Wahoos manager Ramon Borrego.

It was a sentiment that could be found across Blue Wahoos Stadium, after a crowd of 3,998 on Cinco de Mayo Day watched the Wahoos (20-10) become the second-Double-A team in minor league baseball to reach 20 wins.

"I just think it shows this team and the fight we have," said outfielder Jaylin Davis, who helped ignite Sunday's run barrage with a first-inning homer and raised his batting average to .307.

The Sunday funday included an pregame autograph session with players where early-arriving fans were given a team photo they could get signed by each player on the stadium concourse. After the game, kids were able to run the bases and play catch in the outfield in a sponsorship with WKRG-TV.

In winning all six series to start this season - the most recent one after being down 0-2 - the Blue Wahoos hit the road with good vibes. They exited their clubhouse late Sunday afternoon to board a charter bus to begin a 10-day road swing.

First up, was a 247-mile trip Sunday night to Pearl, Miss., where they begin a five-game series Monday against the Mississippi Braves, the Atlanta Braves-owned, Double-A affiliate. The M-Braves trail the Blue Wahoos by four games in the Southern League's South Division.

Following that series, the Blue Wahoos head to Chattanooga, Tenn. to face the Chattanooga Lookouts, which is managed as a Cincinnati Reds affiliate by former Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly. The Lookouts were the Twins affiliate for the past four seasons.

"It is a good start," said Borrego, describing the team's best start in Blue Wahoos franchise history. "It's not done yet. This is the beginning. We have to think game by game every time.

"Every day it's about today. What are we doing today? We do that, and we are going to be strong."

In terms of strength, the fans Sunday saw it right away from Miguel Sano, the 2017 American League All-Star, playing his second game for the Blue Wahoos on an injury rehab assignment in hopes of rejoining the Minnesota Twins.

After Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff opened the first inning with singles, the massive Sano blasted a 1-1 pitch over left field and toward Pensacola Bay. With one out, Davis followed with a solo homer.

Just like that, it was 4-0.

"Everybody loves Miggy," said Borrego, who first met Sano 10 years ago when managing in the Dominican Republic. "He is a big league guy with experience and one of the things for him was just trying to help everybody (here).

"That was a towering homer. It is great for fans to see a guy like him playing for us."

The plan is for Sano to continue playing for Pensacolaat Mississippi, then advance to Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings before returning to the Twins.

The early lead was kept by Blue Wahoos starter Griffin Jax (2-0), who produced his longest start of the season in working 6.2 innings. He gave up two unearned runs and five hits to lower his Southern League best ERA to 0.53.

Jax, the Air Force Academy graduate, has allowed just two earned runs in six starts.

"I've been feeling solid since spring training, so I am trying to keep the train moving forward," said Jax, who has risen among the Twins' top 25 overall prospects by MLB Pipeline. "We are having a lot of fun out there.

"It's a good group of guys and we have been playing together for awhile. We don't let what happened in the past affect us too much."

With the game still uncertain at 4-2 after six innings, the Blue Wahoos got a pair of runs in the seventh, then three more in the eighth. Ryan Mason smoothly recorded his fifth save.

Jordan Gore and Arraez connected on back to back doubles in the seventh to drive in the two runs. In the eighth, Caleb Hamilton's double with the bases loaded became three RBI.

The Blue Wahoos finished with nine hits, led by Davis and Arraez with two each. The 30 runs scored from Friday-Sunday followed a 1-0 loss Thursday and five runs scored in three losses.

"I had a little meeting with those guys, after we lost those 2 games and everything came together, offense, defense, pitching.. That's what you are looking for to win the games," Borrego said.

 

BALLPARK MEMORIES

  • An area folklorico group performed during the game and got people in the spirit on Cinco de Mayo Day. The concession stands, led by Casa de Kazoo, the Spanish theme storefront, offered drink and taco specials.
  • The Blue Wahoos players spent 20-plus minutes less than an hour before Sunday's game signing autographs for fans and taking photos. Players also signed in their clubhouse entrance ramp before and after the game.
  • It was also Bingo Sunday where fans can play a baseball bingo version game, sponsored by Hill Kelly Dodge.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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