The Senators continue their road trip with a three game series against the Portland Sea Dogs. After the series, the Senators will have played every team in the Eastern League at least once this season. The Senators are coming off a series win over New Hampshire, following their 10-1 win in the rubber match Thursday night. The Sea Dogs also won two out of three in their prior series against Erie. The two teams play seven games total this season, three in Portland and four at FNB field.
The 10 runs scored by the Senators in the series finale against New Hampshire was the most scored by the club in exactly one month when they scored 14 runs against versus Erie on May 22. Eight of the nine Senators batters recorded at least a hit and the club recorded five doubles, one shy of their season high in a game.
The Senators send Kyle McGowin to the mound in the series opener at Portland. The right-hander took the loss in his first start for the Senators on June 18 against Richmond, allowing five runs in five innings. McGowin spent the first portion of the season with Triple-A Syracuse where he went 1-6 with a 6.31 ERA in nine starts. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Angels on December 10, 2016 in exchange for Danny Espinosa.
Kevin McAvoy takes the bump for the Sea Dogs opposite McGowin. The right-hander is 1-5 with a 5.95 ERA across 11 starts this season. McAvoy took the loss in his most recent start against Akron on June 17 after surrendering six runs in four innings. The 23-year-old is in his second season with the Sea Dogs as he spent all of the 2016 campaign with Portland. McAvoy was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft from Bryant University.
The following transactions have taken place today affecting the roster of the Harrisburg Senators:
Neftali Soto was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse. The 28-year-old was batting .329, second in the entire Eastern League, with 10 home runs, 19 doubles, 44 runs driven in.
The corresponding move was activating Isaac Ballou off the disabled list. Ballou is hitting .232 in 36 games with the Senators in 2017.
The Senators and Fisher Cats play the rubber match of the three game series Thursday night at FNB Field. The Senators evened the series with their 2-1 game two victory, back of six strong innings from starter Wirkin Estevez. The Senators look to win their second series in a row after capturing their last set against Richmond. The Fisher Cats took two out of three, including sweeping a doubleheader against the Senators on the only other series of the season between the two from May 31 to June 1.
The Senators bullpen has not allowed an earned run over its last 13.1 innings pitched dating back to the ninth inning of the June 16 game against Richmond. Reliever Phillips Valdez has not allowed a run over his past eight appearances, limiting opponents to just five hits and four walks while striking out six.
Alec Keller went 2-4 in game two against New Hampshire, his fourth multi-hit night over his past seven games. Since June 3, the 25-year-old is hitting .355 with five three-hit games,.
John Simms starts game three of the series for the Senators. The right-hander is 2-4 with a 3.68 ERA over 13 starts this season. Simms is the only pitcher remaining from the original starting rotation that started the season. Simms took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his last start against Richmond on June 17, and became the second Senators starting pitcher this year to throw a one-hitter through at least five innings pitched.
The Fisher Cats counter with starter Shane Dawson. The left-hander is 1-6 with a 5.43 ERA over 12 games and 11 starts. Dawson allowed four runs in five innings in his last start on June 16 at Bowie. The 23-year-old took the loss in his previous start against the Senators on June 1, despite allowing just one run and two hits across five innings. Dawson was originally drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 draft out of Lethridge College in Alberta, Canada.
The Senators travel to the northeast for a six game road trip beginning with a three game series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. New Hampshire captured game one of the series by scoring six of their runs in the first three inning en route to the 6-3 victory. The Fisher Cats took two out of three, including sweeping a doubleheader against the Senators on the only other series of the season between the two from May 31 to June 1.
KELLER FOR THREE
Alec Keller went 3-4 in the series opener against New Hampshire, his third three-hit night over his past six games. Since June 3, the 25-year-old is hitting .345 with five three-hit games,.
NEFTALI STREAKING AGAIN
Neftali Soto finished 2-5 Tuesday night to extend his hitting streak to ten games, the longest such streak on the Senators team. The streak is Soto’s third hitting streak this year of 10 games or more, including his Eastern League high 16-game streak from May 10 to May 29. Soto has now reached safely on either a hit or a walk in 61 of the 65 games he’s played this season and leads the team with 22 multi-hit games this season.
Wirken Estevez starts game two of the series of the Senators. The right-hander is making his second start of the season for the Senators after earning the win his double-A debut against Richmond on June 16. Estevez spent the first part of the season with high-A Potomac, going 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA across 11 starts. The 25-year-old was originally signed by the Nationals as a non-drafted free agent on May 14, 2010.
The Fisher Cats counter with starter Francisco Rios. The right-hander is 3-4 with a 3.80 ERA over nine starts this season. Rios allowed two runs in three innings in his last start on June 15 against Richmond. The 22-year-old is making just his third start since spending over three weeks on the disabled list from May 13 to June 8. Rios threw three innings in both of his starts since being activated. The Mexico native is the 18th rated prospect in the Blue Jays organization according to MLB.com.
The Senators travel to the northeast for a six game road trip beginning with a three game series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Senators took two out of three from Richmond on the prior series, their first series win in just under a month. New Hampshire dropped the final two games of a three game series to Bowie before coming back home. The Fisher Cats took two out of three, including sweeping a doubleheader against the Senators on the only other series of the season between the two from May 31 to June 1.
Beginning Tuesday night, the Senators enter a stretch where their next 15 games are against Eastern League Eastern Division teams. 10 of the 15 games are on the road, and the Senators will play their twelfth Eastern League team when they play a three game series with Portland June 23 to June 25.
Matthew Crownover takes the bump in game two of the series. The left-hander is 0-1 with a 5.65 ERA over three starts with the Senators this season. Crownover has allowed exactly three runs in each of his first three starts with the club. The 24-year-old spent the first part of the season with high-A Potomac where he had a 2.82 ERA across 13 games and nine starts before being promoted to the Senators.
The Fisher Cats counter with starter Connor Greene. The right-hander is 3-5 with a 3.47 ERA across 12 starts this season. Greene earned the win in his last start against the Senators on May 31 in game one of a doubleheader, falling one out shy of a seven inning complete game with three runs allowed through six and two-thirds innings.
Some mountains are too tall to climb. A Richmond three-run third inning put the Flying Squirrels on a 5-1 peak the Harrisburg Senators could never reach on Sunday afternoon at FNB Field.
Making his first start as a Senator, Kyle McGowin allowed a single run in each of the first two innings before the Flying Squirrels struck for the deciding runs in the third frame. Two singles and a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out for Tyler Horan. On a 2-2 pitch, the Richmond rightfielder drilled a double down the first base line that cleared the bases and gave the Flying Squirrels a lead they would never relinquish.
Harrisburg had multiple opportunities late but couldn’t come through with the equalizer.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Senators rallied against Richmond starter Jose Flores and two relievers as they pushed a run across on a passed ball with the bases full. After a walk to Khayyan Norfork reloaded the bases, pinch-hitter Mario Lisson battled in a 10-pitch at-bat but grounded out to end the threat.
“We had the right guy up at the right time,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “I didn’t think that guy (Richmond reliever Jarret Martin) could throw him four fastballs for strikes in that 3-2 count but he did. Mario just missed it.”
An inning later, speedster Darian Sandford led off the frame with a walk but was thrown out at home on an Isaac Ballou double into the gap. The Senators would get another one back though when Ballou scored easily on a wild pitch.
In the eighth and ninth innings, Harrisburg would at least bring the tying run up to the plate but that was as close as they would get.
Sunday was another example of the Senators being offensively dormant for much of the game until the late innings when they grinded at-bats and put pressure on the Richmond bullpen each inning.
“I like what we did at the end from the sixth through the ninth,” LeCroy said. “I think we can build off what we’re doing later. We just have to try and do that earlier.”
In some cases, you have to credit the opposing starter. Flores previously had a five-inning, one-hit outing against the Senators this season, so it was no surprise to see him in control for most of the game. But there’s no doubt the Harrisburg batters can improve their approaches at the plate from the first pitch on.
“We need to realize we have to make guys work, make them throw strikes,“ LeCroy said. “When you put pressure on them, bottom line is you make them throw more pitches. With runners on, it makes the game a lot different. The really good teams that win championships that’s what they do to their opponents. They wear them down.”
R.C. Orlan, Jimmy Cordero, and Ryan Brinley combined for four scoreless innings of relief…Neftali Soto went 3-for-4 with a walk to raise his batting average to .326, tied for third best in the Eastern League…Sandford stole another base, his third in as many games, but was also caught stealing on the very next pitch when he tried to swipe third base…the Senators now head out on the road for their annual six-game road trip to New Hampshire and Portland.
The Senators try for their first series sweep of the season as they finish out the three game set against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The Senators won their second straight against the Squirrels on a walk-off single by Darian Sandford in the bottom of the tenth inning. The Senators won their first home series since they took two out of three from Bowie April 21 to April 23. Richmond has lost six consecutive games after they were swept in three games on the prior series against New Hampshire.
Darian Sandford knocked the second walk-off hit of the year for the Senators with his 10th inning RBI single, in just his second game of the season. Sandford is 3-8 in his first two games with two steals after he played the first part of the year with the Lancaster Barnstormers.
ONE HIT WONDERS
In game two of the series the Senators set a new season-high by limiting the Flying Squirrels to one hit in ten innings. CJ Hinijosa hit a groundball into left field with two outs in the sixth inning to record the lone Squirrels hit of the games. John Simms joined Derek Eitel as the only two Senators pitchers to throw one-hitters through at least five innings this year.
Kyle McGowin makes his Senators debut in the series finale. The right-hander went 1-6 with a 6.31 ERA over nine starts with Triple-A Syracuse before being added to the Senators. McGowin was acquired along with Austin Adams from the Angels as part of the Danny Espinosa trade. The 25-year-old was originally drafted by the Angels in the 5th round of the 2013 draft from Savannah State.
The Squirrels counter with starter Jose Flores. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA across 16 games and four starts on the season. Flores shutout the Senators through five one hit innings in his last start against the club on May 29. The 28-year-old was signed by the Giants as a minor league free agent on December 9, 2016.
As Saturday night’s game between the Harrisburg Senators and Richmond Flying Squirrels headed into extra innings, both teams were struggling to find any kind of offense. The Flying Squirrels had been held to one hit all night, a single in the sixth inning, and the Senators had gone five-plus innings since their last base hit.
But moments after Isaac Ballou corralled a deep fly ball as he crashed into the wall in the right-centerfield gap, the outfielder led off the bottom half of the inning by drawing a walk. Manager Matt LeCroy pulled the levers and had Osvaldo Abreu lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance Ballou into scoring position.
After Stephen Perez flew out, Darian Sandford stepped to the plate and delivered a single to center that Ballou scored easily on when Richmond centerfielder Slade Heathcott’s throw airmailed the catcher.
The win was Harrisburg’s second in a row and third in last four games.
When LeCroy removed Harrisburg starter John Simms from the game with two outs in the seventh inning, it wasn’t because the skipper needed a reliever to get out of a jam or that Simms had reached his pitch count limit.
In fact, the complete opposite on both counts. Simms allowed one hit, a single by C.J. Hinojosa singled past the outstretched glove of shortstop Osvaldo Abreu, in the game and the only other baserunners the Flying Squirrels had against the right-hander were from an error or being hit by a pitch (of which there were three of each).
Simms had been in control most of the night and had just delivered his 100th pitch on the second out of the frame. LeCroy could have pushed his starter for another batter or two, but he needed to get R.C. Orlan in the game and it was the best time to match up the southpaw versus the left-handed batting Slade Heathcott.
“That was his best one of the year for me,” LeCroy said of Simms’ outing. “His change-up was real good. He mixed in the off-speed and threw it for strikes. I was pleased with how he responded to the errors. It could have went south for him, but I thought he did a nice job of not letting that bother him.”
Simms had already faced the Flying Squirrels twice this season on back-to-back starts in late May, but none compared to the performance he gave on Saturday night at FNB Field.
“We made a change two bullpens ago with my glove side,” the 25-year-old right-hander said. “It just makes all my pitches sharper with the better angle downhill. Tonight I felt like I could throw all three of my pitches whenever in whatever count.”
“It was just one of those nights.”
Simms became the 13th Senators pitcher in the modern era to hit three batters in a game, the last time was Richard Bleier on July 11, 2015…the right sde of the infield had a rough night as first baseman Jose Marmolejos misplayed a grounder and second baseman Neftali Soto had trouble gloving two balls in back-to-back innings…prior to the game, the Senators activated Drew Ward off the disabled list, although the third baseman didn’t see action in the contest.
The Senators try for the series win against the Richmond Flying Squirrels in game two of the series Saturday night. The Senators won the series opener 9-6, highlighted by three Senators home runs. Richmond has lost five consecutive games after they were swept in three games on the prior series against New Hampshire. The Senators have not won a home series since they took two out of three from Bowie April 21 to April 23.
The Senators made numerous changes to the roster over the past two days. First, starter Wirkin Estevez was added to the roster on Thursday. The right-hander earned the win in his first Senators start on Friday. Starting pitcher Jaron Long was promoted to triple-A Syracuse and Kyle McGowin was added to the Senators roster from Syracuse. McGowin is scheduled to start the series finale on Sunday. Finally, Braulio Lara was placed on the 7-day disabled list and Senators signed outfielder Darian Sandford from the Lancaster Barnstormers.
John Simms gets the call in game two of the series for the Senators. The right-hander is the lone remaining starting pitcher from the Senators opening day rotation. Simms is 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA across 12 starts this season. The 25-year-old has held the opposition to three runs or less in ten of his 12 starts this year.
The Squirrels counter with starter Dan Slania, who was just added to the roster on June 13. The right-hander made one start with Richmond to start the year before starting 12 games with triple-A Sacramento. Between the two levels, Slania is 1-8 with a 7.25 ERA over 13 starts. The 25-year-old is in his third season with Richmond after spending parts of both 2014 and 2016 with the club.
Newcomers Wirkin Estevez and Darian Sandford, both making their Double-A debut, set the tone early while home runs from Osvaldo Abreu, Jose Marmolejos, and Raudy Read paced the Senators to a 9-6 victory over Richmond at FNB Field on Friday night.
Estevez earned the win over the Flying Squirrels allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out two over 5.1 innings. The 6’1” right-hander, who looks more imposing on the mound than that, overcame a case of adrenaline and nerves in the early going to settle down.
“I think he was a little amped up which is okay. I expected that,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He survived those first three innings up, but he made some adjustments.”
The other first-timer in the lineup, Sandford, wasted little time showing what he brings to the table as a centerfielder and leadoff hitter. In the first inning he tracked down a ball easily in the left-centerfield gap and then gave the Senators a 1-0 lead in their first at-bats. The 30-year-old reached first on an infield single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a RBI groundout.
“I think this will be a good thing for everybody,” LeCroy said about the addition of Sandford. “He can be a spark at the top and a guy that can make things happen. I think it turned [Richmond starter Jordan Johnson’s] outing around in the first inning.”
Harrisburg then proceeded to put up five runs in the next two innings all off the long ball as Marmolejos hit a solo shot and Abreu and Read each jacked two-run homers.
“We were able to come out and score after they scored, which I thought kept that momentum our way,” LeCroy said knowing all too well how that affects the team psyche. “If you don’t get that shutdown inning, it can be debilitating.”
The Senators did it again in the sixth. After Richmond plated a run, Harrisburg put up a three spot as they got RBI hits from Abreu, Stephen Perez, and Neftali Soto to go up 9-3 on their way to the victory.
After losing Zach Collier to injury on May 12, the Senators turned to Alec Keller to fill that role both in centerfield and from the leadoff position. It was a job that Keller filled admirably, but neither was a natural fit for him as he navigated the ups and downs of his first season at Double-A.
“You’re asking a kid that can play center, but on an everyday basis is a tough job,” LeCroy said. “It’s like a second baseman having to play shortstop every day. Over time it wears on you with the responsibilities you have. He can handle all that, but he’s not used to it.”
After batting .300 and getting on base at a .333 clip in April, Keller saw those numbers go down since he had to take on the new role. The 25-year-old has hit only .246 since the Collier injury. The addition of Sandford to the roster, will ease Keller back to a corner outfield position and a spot farther down in the batting order.
“He did a good job but I think it’s time to take a little heat off of him,” LeCroy said. “He has that grinder mentality and he loves to play.”
Corban Joseph left the game after taking a grounder off his throwing hand. LeCroy said: “It took a hop on him, he tried to catch it, and hit him on the fingers. Hopefully, he won’t be as bad as it looked.”…Perez was the lone Senator to reach base three times as the third baseman singled and walked twice…Phillips Valdez was the only Harrisburg reliever credited with a scoreless outing, but he did allow one of two inherited runners from Estevez to score.