Ozzie Abreu and Jimmy Cordero put April struggles behind them in 2-1 win
After Neftali Soto doubled to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning, Raudy Read and Alec Keller failed to advance him any further as both batters flew out to Hartford left fielder Dillon Thomas. That brought up Harrisburg shortstop Ozzie Abreu looking to deliver a hit that would break the 1-1 tie between the Senators and Hartford Yard Goats.
Mired below the Mendoza line for much of the season, Abreu might be one of the last batters you wanted up in that situation. But the shortstop is hitting .375 over the last week and has started putting quality at-bats together on a consistent basis.
On the first pitch he saw from Hartford starter Sam Howard, Abreu slashed a single right back up the middle that scored Soto and gave the Senators a 2-1 lead they would preserve for the victory.
“He’s gotten a lot softer, he’s not swinging as hard. Hitting balls up the middle and the other way,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “That’s kind of his bread and butter when he’s doing well.”
“(Hitting coach Brian) Rupp has helped him out a lot and he’s making some big strides.”
Abreu had looked overmatched most days and as if the game was moving a tick too fast for the 22-year-old in the batter’s box. He was striking out at a rate of once every three times he came to the plate. But the issues were more mental than physical according to Rupp.
“A lot of it has really been just talking and helping him understand that he didn’t have to do too much,” Rupp said. “I think he was pressing a little bit when he got here wanted to prove to people that he belonged here.”
“It was just getting him to relax a little bit and slow some things down. We’ve done a few drills that have helped, but it was more the mindset.”
The results speak for themselves. Abreu hasn’t struck out in his last 13 plate appearances, has recorded multi-hit games three times in the last week, and even drew a walk, only his second of the season, on Thursday night.
“One thing I’m proud of is that his defense hasn’t changed. Frustrations come with not hitting and it’s easy to take it out to the field,” LeCroy said. “He’s actually stayed with what he’s trying to do.”
To say it has been a rough first month to the season for Jimmy Cordero would be an understatement. The flamethrowing reliever has been touched for runs in six of his nine appearances and sports a 17.65 ERA over 8.2 innings. Because of the extreme amount of runs, hits, and walks the 25-year-old has allowed, it’s going to take a while to see improvements in his numbers. But Cordero may have indeed turned the corner if his last two outings are any indication.
Monday evening in Trenton Cordero tossed two scoreless innings in what his manager said was the best he has looked so far this season. For an encore, Cordero was called upon to get out of a base loaded jam on Friday with the game on the line.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the eighth inning, Senators’ reliever Braulio Lara issued three consecutive walks to start the frame. LeCroy wasted very little time in bringing Cordero into the game. The Dominican induced a comebacker that forced the first out at home and then got Ryan McMahon to ground into the rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.
“He did a really good job in one of the toughest spots you could possibly be in, and he put up a zero,” LeCroy said. “We need some more guys to finish ballgames especially with that kind of stuff.”
“You saw the fastball tonight. It had angle, it had life.”
Jaron Long would probably love nothing more than to face Hartford every time he takes the mound. With the victory on Friday night, the 25-year-old starter evened his record to 3-3 on the season with all three wins coming against the Yard Goats. Long has allowed just two runs and 12 hits in 20 innings against the Colorado Rockies’ affiliate thus far in 2017.
On Friday at FNB Field, the Ohio State product surrendered only one run on three hits, all off the bat of Drew Weeks including a home run, as he outdueled Hartford starter Sam Howard. Long pitches to the game plan, but also does a tremendous job reading swings and adjusting within an at-bat.
“He just keeps doing it,” LeCroy said. “Every time out he mixes it up. His changeup has been his best go-to pitch to keep them off balance.”
ICYMI: Mario Lisson put the first run on the board for Harrisburg with his second homer of the season…Working back to back nights, Wander Suero picked up his third save of the season with a dominating 1-2-3 inning where he struck out two…the 2-1 victory sent Hartford to their seventh straight defeat and kept them in the basement of the Eastern division of the Eastern League.