This Week in P-Nats Baseball 4–24–17
Take a look inside all Potomac Nationals action over the past week
Good afternoon P-Nats fans! Andrew Grella with you behind the keyboard to recap this past week in Potomac Baseball. It’s been a busy week for the P-Nats as the team earned their first off day of the season on Monday afternoon after playing 16 consecutive games to open the season (minus a few rainouts, but we don’t count those as days off!). After faltering a little at home last week in their first home series against Wilmington, the P-Nats really picked it up in the final series of the home stand against Down East. Then, the team went on the road and took two games out of three from the Lynchburg Hillcats in a rain-shortened three-game series this past weekend against their Northern Division Rival. After a 4–2 week record wise, the P-Nats are now at 9–7 on the season and sit in second place, one game behind the Salem Red Sox. Check out what happened this past week on this week’s edition of This Week in P-Nats Baseball!
4/17–4/19 vs Down East
The first of two rain outs this week happened on Monday evening. The Wood Ducks were set to make their debut against the P-Nats at The Pfitz, but mother nature had other plans. It rained really hard during the early part of the day which forced the front office staff to begrudgingly put the tarp on the field. However, once the tarp was removed it revealed a weak spot in the dirt by second base. Our grounds crew worked tirelessly on the spot for around four hours, however the safety of our players is the most important thing when it comes to decisions like this. So, the umpires and our GMs Bryan Holland and Aaron Johnson made the tough decision to call the game due to wet grounds.
That set into motion a crazy two days of baseball at The Pfitz. Since the Wood Ducks only come into town one other time this season, we made up Monday’s game the following day with a twin-bill. Game One started at 4 pm while Game Two began at 7 pm. We turned around very quickly after the doubleheader and played the final game of the three-game set on Wednesday morning at 10:35 am. So, if you do the math, that is 23 innings of baseball in less than 24 hours. A crazy, yet fun-filled series. What made it all worth it was a series win for our P-Nats!
Game One: Down East 3, Potomac 0 F/7
The P-Nats weren’t able to get anything going against LHP Joe Palumbo during the first game of the series. Palumbo, who struck out a career-best 10 batters in his previous start looked untouchable through 4.2 innings of shutout baseball. But then, disaster struck for Palumbo, Down East, and the entire Rangers organization. After delivering a strike to Dale Carey, Palumbo immediately shot up in pain and grabbed his left pitching arm. The 22-year old left the game immediately. It was announced yesterday that Palumbo tore his UCL in his elbow and will undergo Tommy John Surgery and miss the rest of the season. As a baseball fan you hate to watch any player get hurt and Palumbo was no exception. You feel for him as he was pitching better than he ever had in his career and in one instance, he is sidelined for the next nine months. From all of us at the Potomac Nationals, we wish Joe a full and speedy recovery and we look forward to our next meeting in the future!
The Wood Ducks rallied around their teammate and shut out the P-Nats the rest of the way. RHP Luis Reyes had a decent outing in his third start of the year but came up short with his second loss of the season. He lasted five innings and allowed three runs on nine hits and two walks. Despite working into trouble in most innings, Reyes was able to bounce back and keep his team in the game. For not having his best stuff, Reyes put in a valiant effort, but the offense could not pick him up. They would wait until Game two to strike early and often.
Game Two: Potomac 6, Down East 0 F/7
The P-Nats got their revenge in the second game of the doubleheader to split the games on the day. C Jake Lowery was behind the dish for the night cap and impacted the game almost immediately behind the plate and in the batters box. Lowery called a LHP Matthew Crownover and RHP Ronald Pena combined shutout and hit a three-run bomb over the right-center field fence to give Potomac a 3–0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. The great thing about this P-Nats team is that every player in the lineup has contributed this season and has helped in all nine wins this season. It has not been the individual play of any player, it has been a culmination of the hard work of every player on the team.
OF Telmito Agustin drove in the fourth run of the game in the fourth on a bunt single down the third-base line and Austin Davidson put the nail in the Wood Ducks coffin with two insurance runs on a two-out bases-loaded single in the bottom of the sixth.
Game Three: Potomac 6, Down East 2
Wednesday morning, we hosted over 2,500 middle schoolers from around Prince William County Schools on Middle School Day at Pfitzner Stadium. It was the first sell out of the year at The Pfitz as we continued to enrich the lives of children in our community teaching them about careers throughout the game. Even better, Potomac gave the kids something to scream about, coming away with a 6–2 victory and the series win.
The big blow came off the bat of SS Edwin Lora, who finds himself in the top 10 in batting average in the Carolina League. Lora blasted a three-run shot over the left-field fence to give the P-Nats a three-run lead in the fourth. It was the first three runs of the four Lora drove in on Wednesday against the Wood Ducks. Potomac wouldn’t look back. They’d score three more times over the next three innings to win the game.
LHP Hector Silvestre is in a critical year in his career. After returning from injuries in 2016 and getting a good footing on the mound, 2017 is a tell-tale year for the Nationals left-hander on whether he can be a successful professional pitcher. He dazzled on Wednesday putting in his best start of the early campaign. He threw six innings of scoreless baseball scattering five hits and a walk while striking out five. It was certainly a step in the right direction for Silvestre.
4/20–4/23 at Lynchburg
We got bad news before the series against Lynchburg. Victor Robles, who had been battling some leg stiffness after leaving the home opener in the fourth inning, was placed on the 10-day DL. He made only one appearance since 4/13 in the first game of the Down East double-dip. Robles went 0–2 and was lifted from the game early and has yet to return to action.
Game One: Potomac 8, Lynchburg 2
Potomac hit the road for the second time this season and took on Northern Division Rival Lynchburg in what was supposed to be the beginning of a four-game series (more on that later). The P-Nats were riding a confidence boost after taking the series from Down East and came into Lynchburg swinging some hot bats.
No one was hotter than DH/INF Austin Davidson who extended his hit streak to eight games in the victory. But, that wasn’t the biggest stat the left handed hitter put up at the plate. Davidson drove in five runs for the P-Nats. He cleared the bases with a three-RBI double in the top of the third and drove in two more with a single in the ninth. Davidson provided the spark that the P-Nats leaded to take the first game of the series. Telmito Agustin drove in the other three as he continues to produce out of the ninth spot in the Potomac order.
RHP Jefry Rodriguez threw his best game of the season, striking out eight over six innings of work. He improves to 1–1 on the season.
Game Two: Lynchburg 4, Potomac 2
Potomac couldn’t get much going against Hillcats pitching during game two of the series. OF Rhett Wiseman provided the only offense for the P-Nats with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh.
RHP Shao-Ching Chiang was impressive for Lynchburg. He threw seven innings and allowed only three hits, one being the home run to Wiseman. On the other side, RHP Joan Baez continued to struggle to find the strike zone. With five walks in the start, Baez now has 12 over his past 7.2 innings of work. He will look to right the ship in his next start. No time to panic yet. Baez is only in his third Carolina League start and when he can find the strike zone he has been very impressive. The 22-year old is averaging just two hits per game against over three starts.
Game Three: PPD (Rain)
We were washed out due to heavy rain in the area on Saturday. The game was called relatively early and we were able to enjoy a little breather after a long week of baseball. The game was not made up during this series and will most likely be part of a double header when Potomac returns to Lynchburg from 5/19–5/22.
Game Four: Potomac 4, Lynchburg 3
Despite the rain throughout the game, Potomac finished up the road series against Lynchburg with it’s largest come-from-behind victory of the season. The P-Nats fell behind 3–0 after four innings, but began to chip away in the top of the fifth. The biggest deficit The Red, White, and Blue overcame this year was two against Frederick.
SS David Masters drove in a run in the fifth, 1B Ian Sagdal hit a home run in the sixth, Wiseman tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth and the go-ahead run was scored in the ninth after a costly Lynchburg error that would have ended the inning. Matthew Crowover continues to shut down Carolina League hitters as he earned his third win of the season. He threw 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball and gave the P-Nats a chance to win the game. Crownover has now thrown 10.1 innings of scoreless baseball in a row stretching over three appearances.
Look Ahead: vs. Frederick Keys (4/26–4/27), at Salem Red Sox (4/28–4/30)
The P-Nats return home against the Frederick Keys for a three-game series at the Pfitz. Here’s how the pitchers lineup over the next three games
Game One: Potomac RHP Luis Reyes (1–2, 3.94) vs. Frederick RHP Brian Gonzalez (0–2, 5.65)
Game Two: Potomac LHP Hector Silvestre (2–0, 3.94) vs. Frederick RHP Cristian Alvarado (1–2, 10.80)
After the rain out last night, Game One and Two will be played as a Doubleheader on 4/26. Game One begins at 4:30 pm here at Pfitzner Stadium.
Game Three: Potomac RHP Jefry Rodriguez (1–1, 5.63) vs. Frederick RHP Ofelky Peralta ( 0–0, 4.38)
The first time these two teams met from 4/10–4/12, Potomac took the series on the road two games to one. The P-Nats put together their best offensive output of the season against Frederick scoring 13 runs in a 13–4 win in the first game of the series. However, Potomac surrendered the most runs it has all seasons in the following game. The P-Nats staff gave up 16 runs in a 16–6 loss to the Keys in the second game of the series. Potomac would take the series with a 5–3 win in the rubber match. The Keys and P-Nats will meet 19 more times this year after this series.
After the home series, The Red, White, and Blue hit the road for a three-game series against the first place Salem Red Sox. 2017 marks the first time the Sox enter the Northern Division. With the addition of Buies Creek and Down East in 2017, Salem moved to the North to balance out each division. So far the Sox are pacing the division, just as they did last season, with a record of 11–7 through the first 18 games. The P-Nats only trail the Red Sox by two wins and sit one-game back of Salem in the standings at 9–7.