Note: The Sky Sox and Nashville Sounds had their series finale postponed last night. The game recap is from Sunday’s 5-1 win…The preview of tonight’s pitching matchup is below. – Thanks for reading!
The Sox keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ in the Volunteer State, so much so they may never want to leave! Easter Sunday saw the Sox pull out a 5-1 win over the Sounds, extending their win streak to a season-high four games. The win clinched not only a winning series over Nashville, but a winning road trip as they have taken four of the six games played in Tennessee. The Sky Sox record now sits at 7-3 for just the third time in franchise history, 1992 and 2009 being the other two instances. They have never started a season 8-3.
Sunday afternoon’s contest began as a pitcher’s duel between lefty Josh Hader and veteran righty Chris Smith of the Sounds. The Sky Sox picked up a couple of extra-base hits in the first two innings, but Smith bounced back and turned in four scoreless frames to open the game, while Hader didn’t allow a hit until the fourth and went the first six innings in shutout fashion.
It seems to be the case that you can only hold the Sox offense down for so long before they make you pay and that time came in the fifth inning. Lewis Brinson hit a one-out single and moved to second on a throwing error, Eric Sogard walked, and two out singles by Garrett Cooper and Brett Phillips put the Sox up 2-0. Nashville scored its lone run on a walk and two singles in the 7th, but Tyler Cravy entered the game and got out of the bases loaded, two out jam with a fly out to center.
Over the four-win stretch, the Sox have seemingly magnified every miscue the opposition makes and that was no different Sunday. Kyle Wren hit an RBI single that pushed Phillps home and Nate Orf to third. On the next pitch Wren broke for second and got into a rundown while Orf scooted in the backdoor with an almost uncontested steal of home. 4-1 Sox. The fifth run came in the top of the ninth without the benefit of a hit. Sogard drew a leadoff walk, moved 180 feet on two ground outs and scored on a wild pitch that didn’t bounce too far off of Ryan Lavarnway’s gear, he just got a great read. 5-1 Sox.
Hitting Notes –
Colorado Springs picked up the five runs on nine hits. They have now outscored and outhit their opponents 22-5 and 39-16, respectively.
Garrett Cooper extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single. His average sits at .349 and he now has 11 tallies in the RBI column. His streak is tied for the longest in the PCL as Tyler Smith of Fresno also has hit safely in 10 games this season.
Brett Phillips had his biggest night, hit-wise, on the season with a 3-for-5 showing. He drove in and scored a run as well. His average is up to .278 after going 5-for-8 in his last two games. It was his third multi-hit game of the year.
Lewi Brinson picked up the other multi-hit game and went 2-for-5 with a double and run scored. Since his return to the lineup the centerfielder has led off the game with a hit.
Nate Orf went 1-for-3 with a hit, walk and run scored.
Kyle Wren drove in a run with a single in the eighth for his lone knock.
Yadiel Rivera’s second-inning triple was his only hit of the night.
Pitching Notes –
Josh Hader limited the opposition to one hit for the second time this season. He finished allowing one run on one hit in six-plus innings (he faced a batter in the seventh). He walked four and struck out five on 89 pitches, 52 of which were marked as strikes. In total, through three starts he is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA allowing 4 runs on 7 hits in 14 innings. Opponents are hitting .159 against him.
Stephen Kohlscheen was the first out of the pen and allowed an inherited runner to score from first over his two-out outing. He gave up two hits and walked one.
Tyler Cravy recorded four scoreless outs and Rob Scahill went a perfect ninth.
Play of the Game –
There wasn’t much in the way of big time offense so we’ll give it to Josh Hader and his fifth strikeout of the game:
Pregame Interview –
Part two of Dan Karcher’s conversation with Sky Sox Hitting Coach Al LeBoeuf:
The Sky Sox and Sounds lost the road trip finale to Mother Nature and will make up the postponed contest on Sunday, May 28 as part of a double dip in Music City…Now that the road trip is OVAAAA it’s time to get back to business as Security Service Field. The Sox have returned home and get ready for the first of four against the Memphis Redbirds, and first of an eight-game homestand tonight at the corner of Tutt and Barnes.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (7-3) vs. Memphis Redbirds (7-5) – 6:40 p.m. MST
Transaction Alert: The Colorado Springs Sky Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers have announced that INF Nick Noonan has been placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 16th. In a corresponding move, INF Gabriel Noriega has been transferred from Rookie Helena to Colorado Springs. Roster at 25.
Sky Sox Starter: Paolo Espino will make his third start of the season and second of his career (and in a row) against the Redbirds. He has been consistent across the two outings allowing five runs on 14 hits, walking one and striking out 13. He has a very similar pitching style to fellow right-hander Hiram Burgos, who hasn’t pitched in over a week and may be called upon in relief tonight.
Espino was signed by the Brewers as a free agent in November, marking the fourth franchise he has been with. He was originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 10th round of the 2010 draft and spent the first seven years of his career there before joining the Cubs’ franchise late 2013. He was released by Chicago prior to the 2014 season and signed with the Nationals as a free agent where he pitched 2014-16. He has yet to crack the big leagues. Last season saw the 30-year old righty go 8-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 26 Triple-A starts. Espino is 73-63 with a 3.73 ERA in 286 MiLB appearances, 186 of which have been starts.
Last time out – April 13 – W at Memphis
The righty recorded his first win and quality start of 2017 in the Sox 8-2 drubbing of Chris Ellis and the Memphis Redbirds. Espino gave up two runs on five hits, walked one and struck out six across six innings in his third start of the year. The walk was the first he issued this season. The only real blemish on his line was the two-run homer he allowed to catcher Carson Kelly in the bottom of the fifth inning. The righty threw 83 pitches, 49 of which went for strikes.
Redbirds Starting Arm: RHP Chris Ellis gets the call for the Redbirds in the opener of the four game series tonight in the Springs. Ellis was dealt the loss by Colorado Springs in an 8-2 affair on April 13. He faced the Baby Cakes on April 8 and gave up a pair of runs on three hits, walked two and struck out one. All told he is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in two starts, allowing five runs on seven hits in nine innings. He’s walked four and struck out four. PCL opponents are hitting .206 against him.
Ellis was originally drafted by the Angels in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Mississippi then traded to the Braves in the Adrelton Simmons exchange before the Cardinals collected him in a deal that sent Jaime Garcia to the Braves in December 2016. Being traded for two bona fide big leaguers must mean this kid is pretty good. According to Brooks Baseball, Ellis features a low-90s fastball, slider, curve and change.
Last Time Out – April 13 – L vs. Colorado Springs
Ellis was roughed in four innings of work his last time out against the Sky Sox. He lasted four innings and allowed three runs on four hits, two of which were homers; he walked a pair and struck out three. The home runs were hit by Lewis Brinson to begin the game and Garrett Cooper in the fourth inning. The righty threw 79 pitches, 48 went for strikes.
Dan Karcher (@SkySoxKarch) continues his 28th season behind the mic for Sky Sox games, he and I will have the call of tonight’s game from Security Service Field in Colorado Springs at 6:40 p.m. Sky Sox Warmup gets going at 6:00 p.m. MDT on XTRA Sports 1300.
Thanks for reading – See you on the radio,