With there backs up against the wall following a game one loss at Batavia, the Lowell Spinners returned home to try and keep their season alive. They handed the ball to Jay Groome who was making his second start for the Spinners. The former top pick of the Red Sox is coming off Tommy John surgery following the 2017 season. He was being opposed by Julio Frias for the Muckdogs who was making his 14th start of the season. Frias came into the outing with more strikeouts (73) than innings pitched (70.0).
Groome was not expected to go far in the ballgame, but what the Spinners got from him (3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 SO, BB) was a positive step for him going forward. The earned run Groome gave up occurred in the third inning. It was a leadoff double down the right-field line by Batavia’s number nine hitter Nasim Nunez. He was advanced to third base on a sac bunt by leadoff man J.D. Orr. Nunez scored the game’s first run on a ground out against a drawn-in Spinners infield by Dalvy Rosario. The ground out was to shortstop Matthew Lugo who made a nice diving play to his right. But the Spinners had to settle for the out at first. It was 1-0 Batavia after three.
Meanwhile, Frias was in a pretty good grove. The Spinners did mount a threat in the third as the inning started with a walk to Lugo. He would move to third on the first Lowell hit of the night from Gilberto Jimenez, a single on a line to left. Jimenez would move up to second on a passed ball and it set up a second and third chance for Lowell. However, Frias escaped by getting back to back strikeouts on Wil Dalton and Cameron Cannon.
In the fourth, Frias did not get away with it again as Roldani Baldwin took a fastball and drove it 409 ft. over the wall in left to tie the game at 1-1. The HR went 106 MPH off Baldwin’s bat. Frias’ night would end with two outs in the fifth with the pitch to Baldwin being his only mistake of the night. (4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 5 SO, 3 BB).
The Spinners went to their bullpen and brought on Yusniel Padron-Artilles. He fanned the first nine Muckdogs batters he faced through his first three innings out of the pen. Out of the Batavia pen came Bryan Hoeing who took to the hill after the Baldwin home run. He punched out three of the first four hitters he faced to begin his outing (3.1 IP, 1 H, 7 SO, 0 R). The strikeout numbers for both relief pitches increased as they went along. Both guys became the show of this game. For Padron-Artilles, the 12 strikeouts in a row set a major and minor league record for consecutive strikeouts in an outing. The major league record was ten set by Tom Seaver.
The zeros continued on both sides into the latter stages of the game. Pardon-Artilles was dealing and as he said after the game “I knew this was a very important game.” When asked how he felt coming in from the bullpen to start the fourth, his answer was “I felt 100 percent.” His manager Luke Montz said he had never seen anything like that pointing out “he got us to game three.” Pardon-Artilles final line was 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 SO. He threw 90 pitches, 61 for strikes. His record is now 8-1.
He would not be the only Spinners hero on this night. In the bottom of the ninth, with the game still tied at 1, Joe Davis stepped to the plate with one down. He was facing the third Muckdog pitcher of the night, Joey Steele (2-1). He connected on what he called an “elevated fastball” and drove it over the wall in left-center field for his first post-season HR. The Spinners won in walk-off style 2-1 and set up a win or go home Game 3 on Friday night.
After the game, Davis said, “that was what playoff baseball is about.” His manager said his team needs to be able to “locate pitches in the zone better and to not be afraid of taking ball four”. Montz also said he hopes Davis’ HR may loosen the team up as they get ready for Game 3. Friday night will be interesting with the first pitch set for 7 PM.
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