Game #65 Preview – Dash at Wilmington

Game #65 – Away Game #34
Winston-Salem Dash (25-39) at Wilmington Blue Rocks (22-39)
Tuesday, June 14 – 6:35 p.m. 
Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Del.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Wilmington’s duo of Josh Staumont and Jake Newberry struck out 16 in the Blue Rocks’ 3-1 victory in Monday’s series opener at Frawley Stadium.  The Dash try to snap a four-game skid in Tuesday’s middle match at Wilmington.

STARTING LINEUP:

Dopico640_0503_3

Dash reliever Danny Dopico threw two perfect innings on Monday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Mason Robbins – LF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Toby Thomas – 2B
Michael Suiter – RF
Brett Austin – C
Zach Fish – DH
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Thad Lowry – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Right-hander Matt Cooper kept Winston-Salem in the game by giving up three runs in five innings, but Cooper suffered the loss and posted a season-low three strikeouts. Still, Cooper is the top strikeout pitcher in all of Minor League Baseball with 95, five more than Blake Snell of Durham (Triple-A, Tampa Bay). Only five other Minor Leaguers have logged more than 80 whiffs thus far this season. Cooper still enjoys a 23-strikeout lead in the Carolina League, with Staumont surging into second with 72 after his 12-strikeout gem on Monday.
  • Normally, when Cooper takes the mound, the Dash’s opponent endures a rough night in the strikeout department. However, Winston-Salem’s offense stumbled to a 16-strikeout showing on Monday night. The Dash had not racked up 16 offensive strikeouts since May 6, 2015, in a 7-6, 10-inning loss at Frederick. This marked the club’s worst strikeout performance in a nine-inning game a shutout loss at Kinston on July 17, 2011, that featured 17 Dash strikeouts. Basto was the only Dash starter who did not go down on strikes in the entire contest.
  • For the 28th time this season, Winston-Salem scored three runs or less in a game. The Dash are 2-26 in those games, while they own a 23-13 record when plating four or more runs. Winston is seventh in the CL in runs per game (3.97).
  • Winston-Salem is in danger of suffering its fourth losing streak of five or more games. The Dash have followed up a season-long four-game win streak with four consecutive losses since Friday. The Dash have not dropped more than five in a row since a seven-game slide from August 21-27 of 2014. Since becoming the Dash in 2009, Winston-Salem has never recorded more than three skids of five-plus games, something that happened in both 2011 and 2014.
  • After giving up two or more earned runs in each of his first 12 efforts at the High-A level, Tuesday starter Thad Lowry had permitted exactly one earned run in each of his last two outings, both of which came against Carolina. In these 13 innings, Lowry has scattered nine hits and struck out eight. The Dash have a better record with Lowry on the bump (6-5) than any other hurler this year. Tuesday marks Lowry’s first duel with the Blue Rocks.
  • Outfielder Hunter Jones is one of two men in the Carolina League who has played all of his team’s games, joining Myrtle Beach’s Yasiel Balaguert. Jones paces the CL in games (64) and at-bats (251), while he stands tied for first in triples (7), third in hits (73), fourth in runs (46), fourth in stolen bases (26) and seventh in batting average (.291). Jones is one of two Dash players heading to next week’s All-Star Game in Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Cooper).
  • After posting six straight multi-hit games from May 30 to June 6, Mason Robbins has been mired in a 2-for-20 funk in his last four games. Robbins still stands fifth in the Carolina League in batting average (.292), though he was atop the circuit in average before this recent slide.
  • Michael Suiter set a new career-high with four strikeouts in Monday’s loss.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:20 p.m., with the first pitch set for 6:35 p.m.

-Joe

Game #64 Preview – Dash at Wilmington

Game #64 – Away Game #33
Winston-Salem Dash (25-38) at Wilmington Blue Rocks (21-39)
Monday, June 13 – 6:35 p.m. 
Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Del.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Winston-Salem tied the game with four in the top of the ninth, but Carolina walked off with a 9-8 win in the bottom half of the inning of Sunday’s duel at Five County Stadium. The Dash begin the second leg of their week-long road trip with the first of three at Wilmington on Monday.

STARTING LINEUP:

Thomas640_0524_2

Toby Thomas drove in a season-high three RBIs on Sunday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Mason Robbins – LF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Toby Thomas – 2B
Chris O’Dowd – C
Michael Suiter – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Matt Cooper – RHP

  • The Dash will turn to right-hander Matt Cooper in an attempt to snap a three-game skid. Cooper paces the Minor Leagues with 92 strikeouts, two more than Blake Snell of Durham (Triple-A, Tampa Bay) for the top spot. Cooper has logged his 92 punchouts in just 72.2 innings, amounting to a ratio of 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings. The former University of Hawaii star has amassed at least five strikeouts in all 12 outings. 
  • Cooper will try to get the Dash’s starting staff back in the swing of things. Winston-Salem’s rotation has given up 12 runs in the last two games spanning 11.2 innings (9.26 ERA). In the previous 10 contests, the Dash’s staff submitted a 1.71 ERA (15 ER in 79.0 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start. While in the midst of that torrid stretch, Winston-Salem posted a quality start in eight games.
  • Toby Thomas went 3-for-4 with a season-high three RBIs in Sunday’s loss, capping a strong weekend for Winston-Salem’s primary second baseman. Thomas went 6-for-11 in the final three games of the series in Zebulon. This followed an 18-game stretch during which Thomas went just 9-for-66 (.136). Overall this season, the former 21st-round pick is tied for third on the Dash with 23 RBIs, while his 16 doubles pace the squad.
  • The second leg of this week-long road trip starts on Monday night in Wilmington with the first of a three-game set. The Dash rallied for a series win over the Blue Rocks from June 4-7 at BB&T Ballpark. Over the last two seasons, Winston-Salem has gone 9-11 (.450) at pitcher-friendly Frawley Stadium after posting a 15-5 (.750) mark on the Riverfront from 2012-13. This is the first of two trips for the Dash to Delaware this year, with the other marking the final regular season meetings from June 30 to July 3.
  • Since his 16-game hitting streak came to an end on Friday night, Marcus Davis has recorded consecutive multi-hit games. During that hit streak, the sixth-longest by a Winston-Salem hitter during the Dash era (2009-present), Davis only recorded two multi-hit games. Sunday marked Davis’ second multi-RBI game since May 8 after accomplishing the feat seven times during the season’s first month. Davis’ 30 RBIs are second-most on the club.
  • Outfielder Hunter Jones is one of three men in the Carolina League who has played all of his team’s games, joining Myrtle Beach’s Yasiel Balaguert and Ian Happ. Jones paces the CL in games (63) and at-bats (247), while he stands tied for first in triples (7), second in hits (72), fourth in runs (46), fourth in stolen bases and eighth in batting average (.291). Jones is one of two Dash players heading to next week’s All-Star Game in Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Cooper).
  • After posting six straight multi-hit games from May 30 to June 6, Mason Robbins has been mired in a 1-for-16 funk in his last four games… Robbins still stands sixth in the Carolina League in batting average (.293), though he was atop the circuit in average before this recent slide… Cooper is second to teammate Spencer Adams in innings pitched in the CL (79.2 to 72.2).

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Monday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:20 p.m., with the first pitch set for 6:35 p.m.

-Joe

Game #63 Preview – Dash at Carolina

Game #63 – Away Game #32
Winston-Salem Dash (25-37) at Carolina Mudcats (25-34)
Sunday, June 12 – 2:00 p.m. 
Five County Stadium (Zebulon, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Despite a strong performance from the offense, Winston-Salem fell 7-4 against the Carolina Mudcats on Saturday night at Five County Stadium. The Dash smashed 10 hits in the contest, but went just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Trailing 2-1 in the third, the Mudcats plated three to take the lead for good. Joey Meneses led the way by going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Carolina would add three more in the sixth off Winston-Salem starter Spencer Adams. The right-hander allowed a career-high seven earned runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings. The Dash go for a series-splitting on Sunday against the Muddies.

STARTING LINEUP:

Austin640_0426_3_hqale5bz_y6a7hb31

Brett Austin smacked a two-run homer in the Dash’s 7-4 loss on Saturday night (Jody Stewart/ W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Chris O’Dowd – 3B
Mason Robbins – LF
Nick Basto – DH
Marcus Davis – 1B
Toby Thomas – 2B
Brett Austin – C
Michael Suiter – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Tanner Banks – LHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Adams’ rough outing ended what was an extremely impressive run for the Dash rotation. Over the previous 10 games, Winston-Salem’s rotation had submitted a 1.71 ERA (15 ER in 79.0 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start. Before this surge, the rotation’s ERA stood at 4.60. In the midst of that stretch, Winston-Salem had posted a quality start in nine games after doing so only 16 times in the season’s first 51 affairs.
  • Nick Basto continued his hot hitting at the High-A level on Saturday, going 3-for-5 with an RBI double. This comes after the 22-year old stroked a solo home run on Friday, his first game back with Winston-Salem since May 8. With the Dash, Basto is hitting .354 with six homers and 20 RBIs. The Florida native began the year with Winston-Salem and got off to a scorching start. He was named the CL Player of the Month for April, after leading the Minors with 39 hits and posting a .433 batting average. A fifth-round pick in 2012, Basto was called up to Double-A on May 9. With the Barons, he posted a batting line of .188/.253/.238 with zero homers and eight RBIs in 22 games
  • Southpaw Tanner Banks makes his High-A debut on Sunday for Winston-Salem. The University of Utah product, who was called up to the Dash on Wednesday, went 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 11 starts with Low-A Kannapolis this season.
  • Saturday’s loss dropped the Dash to 15-16 on the road this season. With four games left away from BB&T Ballpark, Winston-Salem will try to avoid having a losing record at home (10-21) and on the road in the first half for the third straight season. Last season, the Dash were 17-18 in the Triad and 13-22 elsewhere. Prior to the All-Star Break in 2014, Winston-Salem went 16-18 at BB&T Ballpark and 14-21 on the road.
  • Dash outfielders Hunter Jones and Mason Robbins rank in the top 10 in batting average within the Carolina League. Robbins entered Thursday with the league’s top average, but he has fallen to fifth among qualifiers (.296) after going a combined 0-for-11 in the last three games. Prior to the current road trip, Robbins logged six straight multi-hit games. Jones, meanwhile, is ninth in the circuit with a .292 mark. The former Cleveland farmhand is also second in the league with 71 hits, while he stands fourth in runs (45) and stolen bases (26).
  • Dash C/INF Chris O’Dowd went 1-for-5 on Saturday, upping his High-A hitting streak to seven games. The 25-year old also started at third base for the second straight night. Prior to this road trip, O’Dowd had not played the position in his pro career.
  • Manny Martinez threw 1.1 scoreless frames on Saturday. The right-hander now has a 1.23 ERA on the road, but a 13.85 mark at BB&T Ballpark.
  • The Dash have not won a road series since April 29-May 1, when they took two out of three against Frederick at NYMEO Field.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 1:45 p.m., with the first pitch set for 2:00 p.m.

-Joe

Game #62 Preview – Dash at Carolina

Game #62 – Away Game #31
Winston-Salem Dash (25-36) at Carolina Mudcats (24-34)
Saturday, June 11 – 6:00 p.m. 
Five County Stadium (Zebulon, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Outside of a solo home run from Nick Basto, Winston-Salem’s offense was silenced in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Mudcats on Friday night at Five County Stadium. The Dash look to get back on the winning track against the Mudcats on Saturday.

STARTING LINEUP:

Basto640_0426_2

In his first game with the Dash since May 8, Nick Basto hit a solo homer in Friday’s contest against Carolina (Jody Stewart/ W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Chris O’Dowd – 3B
Mason Robbins – LF
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Toby Thomas – 2B
Brett Austin – C
Louie Lechich – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Spencer Adams – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • It didn’t take long for Basto to start his second High-A stint in 2016 with a bang. After being sent to the Dash on Friday from Double-A Birmingham, Basto led off the fourth with a solo blast to left field. The 22-year-old is now hitting .344 with six homers and 19 RBIs at the High-A level this season. The Florida native began the year with Winston-Salem and got off to a scorching start. He was named the Carolina League Player of the Month for April, after leading the Minors with 39 hits and posting a .433 batting average. A fifth-round selection by the White Sox in 2012, Basto was called up to Double-A on May 9. With the Barons, he posted a batting line of .188/.253/.238 with zero homers and eight RBIs in 22 games.
  • Jordan Stephens continued the recent dominance for the Dash’s starting rotation. Over the last 10 games, Winston-Salem’s rotation has submitted a 1.71 ERA (15 ER in 79.0 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start. Before this surge, the rotation’s ERA stood at 4.60. While in the midst of this stretch, Winston-Salem has posted a quality start in nine games after doing so only 16 times in the season’s first 51 affairs.
  • Marcus Davis’ 16-game hitting streak came to a halt on Friday. The Dash slugger went 0-for-4, ending a run that began on May 21. During this stretch, the former Padres farmhand hit .277 (18-for-65) with six RBIs and six runs.
  • In the span of a week, three alumni earned their first career promotions to the White Sox. Shortstop Tim Anderson made the jump on Friday, while right-hander Tyler Danish received the call on Thursday. Both Danish and Anderson were on the Dash in 2014, with Danish posting a 2.65 ERA and Anderson hitting .297 en route to an All-Star nod. Outfielder Jason Coats, who was initially promoted last Saturday (and recalled on Friday), also played on that 2014 Dash squad. In total, 345 Winston-Salem alumni have reached the Majors, including 37 during the Dash era.
  • Anderson did not disappoint in his first game with the White Sox. The 17th overall pick in 2013 started at shortstop and smashed a double in his first at-bat. He finished the night 2-for-3 with a run scored, helping Chicago pull out a 7-5 win over Kansas City at U.S. Cellular Field.
  • On Friday, Chris O’Dowd made his first start at third base in his Minor League career. Before this road trip, the 25-year-old had only played catcher and right field in his pro career.
  • With a 2-for-4 performance on Friday, Toby Thomas registered his first multi-hit game since May 18.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 5:45 p.m., with the first pitch set for 6:00 p.m.

-Joe

Game #61 Preview – Dash at Carolina

Game #61 – Away Game #30
Winston-Salem Dash (25-35) at Carolina Mudcats (23-34)
Friday, June 10 – 7:00 p.m. 
Five County Stadium (Zebulon, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Starter Thad Lowry limited Carolina to one run over seven strong innings, and Gerson Montilla clubbed a home run in Winston-Salem’s 3-2 win, its fourth straight, in the first of four on Thursday at Five County Stadium. The Dash look to push their season-high winning streak to five games on Friday against the Mudcats.

STARTING LINEUP:

160508-0632-JS

Left-hander Andre Wheeler (above) and first baseman Keon Barnum were promoted to Double-A Birmingham on Friday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Michael Suiter – RF
Mason Robbins – LF
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Toby Thomas – 2B
Chris O’Dowd – 3B
Brett Austin – C
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Jordan Stephens – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Winston-Salem has rattled off four straight wins for the first time since September 1-4 of last season. The Dash have also ripped off eight victories in their last 10 games dating back to May 29, something the club had not done since the final 10 games of last year. Before this surge, Winston-Salem was a season-worst 16 games below the .500 mark (17-33). Thanks to this push, the Dash have climbed out of the basement in the Southern Division for the first time since April 24, 42 games ago.
  • Lowry continued the recent dominance for the Dash’s starting rotation. Over the last nine games, the Dash’s rotation has submitted a 1.48 ERA (12 ER in 73.0 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start. Before this surge, the rotation’s ERA stood at 4.60. While in the midst of this stretch, Winston-Salem has posted a quality start in eight games after doing so only 16 times in the season’s first 51 affairs.
  • With his solo shot in Thursday’s first inning, Montilla pushed his team-leading home run and RBI totals to eight and 41, respectively. Montilla possesses a share of fifth place on the circuit in homers, while his 41 RBIs are good for a share of third place. Montilla has clubbed 78 homers in his nine-season Minor League career.
  • Since the Dash’s last game, two alumni have earned their first career promotions to the White Sox. Right-hander Tyler Danish made the jump on Thursday, while shortstop Tim Anderson received the call on Friday. Both Danish and Anderson were on the Dash in 2014, with Danish posting a 2.65 ERA and Anderson hitting .297 en route to an All-Star nod. Thus, 345 Winston-Salem alumni have reached the Majors, including 37 during the Dash era.
  • Marcus Davis waited until the ninth inning, but he did extend his hitting streak to 16 games with a single to center. The former Padres farmhand is hitting .277 (18-for-65) with six RBIs and six runs during the streak. Davis’ 16-game run is the longest active streak in the Carolina League.
  • Outfielders Hunter Jones and Mason Robbins saw their eight-game hitting streaks come to an end on Thursday. Jones remains second on the circuit with 69 hits, while he stands fourth in runs (44), fourth in stolen bases (25) and seventh in average (.294). Robbins entered Thursday with the league’s top average, but he fell to fifth among qualifiers (.307) after an 0-for-4 effort. Robbins had logged six straight multi-hit games.
  • Both infielder Keon Barnum (.256, 1HR, 9RBI) and left-handed reliever Andre Wheeler (2-1, 2.20 ERA) have earned their first promotions to Double-A Birmingham.
  • The Dash also received slugger Nick Basto, who was the CL’s Player of the Month for April, from Birmingham.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Friday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch set for 7:00 p.m.

-Joe

Game #60 Preview – Dash at Carolina

Game #60 – Away Game #29
Winston-Salem Dash (24-35) at Carolina Mudcats (23-33)
Thursday, June 9 – 7:00 p.m. 
Five County Stadium (Zebulon, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Winston-Salem watched a four-run lead dwindle down to one, but the Dash held off Wilmington 5-4 in Tuesday’s homestand finale at BB&T Ballpark. After a league-wide day off on Wednesday, Winston-Salem now begins a four-game set against the Carolina Mudcats on Thursday at Five County Stadium.

STARTING LINEUP:

Lowry640_0414_2_zepx4u6n_fbwh6hrc

Thad Lowry goes for his fourth win in five decisions on Thursday night against the Mudcats (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Mason Robbins – LF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Toby Thomas – 2B
Brett Austin– C
Michael Suiter – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Thad Lowry – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Tuesday’s victory clinched a 5-2 homestand for the Dash, who entered the week-long stay at BB&T Ballpark with the worst home mark in the Minor Leagues (5-19). Winston-Salem won both series of the homestand (two of three from Carolina and three of four from Wilmington). The Dash’s rotation logged three nine-inning complete game shutouts after Winston-Salem pitchers had only accomplished this five other times in the Dash era (2009-present).
  • Righty Brandon Brennan, who was responsible for two of those complete game shutouts, earned a promotion to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday. He became the first Minor League pitcher to string together back-to-back nine-inning complete games since Dillon Gee did it on July 28 and August 3 of 2015 while with Las Vegas (Triple-A, Mets). In a corresponding move, lefty Tanner Banks, a South Atlantic League All-Star, has joined the Dash from Low-A Kannapolis.
  • Over the last eight games, the Dash’s rotation has submitted a 1.50 ERA (11 ER in 66.0 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start. Before this surge, the rotation’s ERA stood at 4.60. On Tuesday, Matt Cooper fell one out shy of recording the Dash’s seventh quality start in as many tries on the homestand.
  • Cooper struck out six Blue Rocks during his 5.2-inning outing on Tuesday, which pushed his 2016 strikeout total to 92. The former University of Hawaii star stands atop the Minor Leagues in strikeouts by 13 over second-place Jacob Faria of Montgomery (Double-A, Tampa Bay). In his first professional season as a starter, Cooper has struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings, and he has whiffed at least five in all 12 starts.
  • Thanks to his RBI single in the first inning of Tuesday’s win, infielder Marcus Davis pushed his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest streak by a Dash hitter in 2016. Davis is hitting .279 (17-for-61) with six RBIs and six runs during the streak. Not only is this the longest active run in the Carolina League, but it is the fourth-longest current streak in the Minors. This is the best hit streak by a Dash hitter since current Oakland Athletic Marcus Semien strung together an 18-game surge from April 23 to May 12 of 2012.
  • Dash outfielder Mason Robbins has ripped off six consecutive multi-hit games dating back to May 30. During this run, Robbins is hitting .542 (13-for-24), pushing his overall mark to a Carolina League-leading .314. Robbins has hit safely in eight straight games, tied for the longest run of his 2016 campaign. Fellow outfielder Hunter Jones, who is tied for the top spot in the CL in hits (69) is the only other Dash hitter in the top 10 among qualifiers in average (.297; seventh).
  • The Dash rallied to take two of three from the Mudcats at BB&T Ballpark last Wednesday to Friday, when Winston-Salem limited Carolina to just six runs.
  • The Dash own an all-time record of 19-23 (.452) at Five County Stadium, the home of the Mudcats.
  • Thursday starter Thad Lowry posted season-lows in earned runs (1) and hits (2) in his victorious start against the Mudcats on Friday at BB&T Ballpark.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on 600 AM-WSJS in the Winston-Salem area, as is the case with every Thursday game throughout the season. The game is also available on wsjs.com, as well as wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m, with the first pitch at 7:00 p.m.

-Joe

Protected in the past, thriving in the present

While most of the kids around Matt Cooper in Little League did not wait, the Dash All-Star held off from throwing a curveball in a game until he was 16 years old.

His teammates and opponents threw the breaking ball. They threw their fastball harder than him. They seemed like the better pitchers.

In an attempt to save his arm and prevent future injury, Cooper instead learned how to throw a fastball for a strike. He built up the kind of arm strength that many of the kids who endangered their arms with a curveball at a young age did not have. He learned how to pitch first.

160508-0393-JS

20-year-old Spencer Adams tossed a nine-inning, 91-pitch complete game on Sunday against Wilmington (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Years later, Cooper transitioned from a reliever into a starter with an arm fresh enough to thrive in the Carolina League. Entering Thursday’s action, Cooper leads Minor League Baseball in strikeouts by 13.

Cooper is not the only Dash pitcher with success in recent outings. Spencer Adams pitched his first professional complete game shutout on Sunday with only 91 pitches, less than 30 of which were off-speed pitches. A day later, Brandon Brennan, who was promoted to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday, pitched his second nine-inning complete game in a row, something no Minor Leaguer had accomplished since early August of 2015.

In six of the last 11 Dash games, Winston-Salem’s starters have lasted eight innings or more.

They are delivering the kind of pitching performances that dare the audience – in the dugout, in the stands, even on the field – to blink, for fear they will miss something. It is like the pitcher – whether it be Adams, Cooper, Brennan, or even Thad Lowry or Jordan Stephens, who have been solid contributors, too – has challenged the stadium to a staring contest of sorts. The fans should not look away because the performance has left the onlookers mesmerized, hooked and daresay, hopeful, after a tough start to the season.

These pitchers have prepared their arm strength since Little League, and once they made it professionally, their development has shifted into the hands of the White Sox organization and, here in Winston-Salem, manager Joel Skinner and pitching coach Jose Bautista. The two former Major Leaguers track pitch count from the dugout steps and enforce conditioning to keep their young arms fresh.

“I don’t let it go more than 100 [pitches],” said Bautista, who made 312 Major League appearances on the mound. “These are young pitchers, and I think they don’t need to throw that much. Spencer’s 20 years old. He’ll have a time he can go 120, and that’s when he’s in the big leagues.”

There’s a line coaches, from the Little League dad to the Minor League manager, must dance on, as they waltz between the risk of overuse and the reward of professional development. Skinner and Bautista intend to keep their pitchers safe while building arm strength, enabling the Dash pitchers to throw as many innings as their pitch ceilings will allow.

“The coaches say all the time, ‘It’s not about what you do here’,” Adams said. “’We want you to do that at a higher level.’”

Bautista talks conditioning, but not just in arm stability. The stronger the athlete is, particularly in the legs, according to Bautista, the more pitches he can throw. Athletic trainer Josh Fallin and strength and conditioning coach George Timke are integral to this process.

The day after they pitch, all Dash starters complete some form of cardio in order to break down the build up of lactic acid in their arms from the day before, followed by a legs and back workout. Every day, the pitchers also do a five-minute shoulder program for strength.

Cooper640_0506_1

Matt Cooper did not develop his full arsenal of pitches as early as most, and it has paid dividends with Winston-Salem in 2016 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

“Your next start starts the day one after your previous start,” Cooper said.

But the process began before Skinner, Bautista, Fallin and Timke came along. It began with the coaches who did not allow Cooper to toss the breaking ball that might strain his arm until he was old enough. It began with Adams’ travel ball coach, who would not allow him to throw a curve ball until seventh grade.

“Don’t ever throw a breaking ball until you’re shaving,” Cooper said.

On the day Adams signed with the White Sox in the second round of the MLB Draft, his older brother thanked Adams’ travel baseball coach. His brother used to push his coach to have Adams throw a curve, but the coach protected Adams for his future.

Adams watched opposing high school and travel coaches use up the arms of young pitchers like himself. He was one of the fortunate ones, he says. One of the players with coaches who preserved his arm for the most important moments. As if, years later, his arm – and the other ones like his – could last a nine-inning complete game.

-Jackie

Game #59 Preview – Dash vs. Wilmington

Game #59 – Home Game #31
Winston-Salem Dash (23-35) vs. Wilmington Blue Rocks (19-36)
Tuesday, June 7 – 7:00 p.m. 
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

For the second straight game, a Winston-Salem starter tossed a complete game shutout. Righty Brandon Brennan scattered nine hits in the Dash’s 6-0 win over Wilmington on Monday at BB&T Ballpark. Brennan needed 103 pitches to get through his second consecutive complete game after Spencer Adams tossed all nine in Sunday’s 4-0 win. The Dash go for their second consecutive series win at home on Tuesday against Wilmington.

STARTING LINEUP:

Winston Salem Dash vs Potomac Nationals

Brandon Brennan tossed his second consecutive nine-inning complete game on Monday (Jody Stewart/ W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Mason Robbins – LF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Toby Thomas – 2B
Brett Austin– C
Michael Suiter – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Matt Cooper – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Brennan became the first Minor League pitcher to string together back-to-back complete games since Dillon Gee accomplished the feat on July 28 and August 3 of 2015 while with Las Vegas (Triple-A, Mets). Only two Major Leaguers have ripped off two complete games in a row this season–White Sox ace Chris Sale and Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto. Five days before Monday’s shutout, Brennan suffered a tough-luck defeat after giving up three runs in nine innings against Carolina on Wednesday.
  • Before this recent surge of three nine-inning complete games on the homestand, Winston-Salem had only churned out five in the first six-plus seasons of the Dash era (2009-present). A Dash hurler had not accomplished the feat since July 20, 2014, when Tony Bucciferro tossed a one-hit gem at Frederick.
  • Winston-Salem starters have logged at least eight innings in six of the club’s last 10 contests. Over the last seven games, the Dash’s rotation has submitted a 1.34 earned run average (9 ER in 60.1 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start. Wilmington’s aggressive offensive approach has helped the Dash’s duo of Adams and Brennan finish the last two games. Adams needed just 91 pitches, while Brennan fired 103, meaning that they needed just 2.9 pitches per plate appearance in the two games.
  • Tuesday starter Matt Cooper will attempt to continue Winston-Salem’s ridiculous tear on the mound. Cooper netted the CL’s Pitcher of the Week honor for last week after blanking Carolina over eight innings on Thursday, during which he whiffed 11. Cooper, who has punched out 23 in his last two outings, boasts the highest strikeout total in Minor League Baseball with 86, nine more than the next-closest challenger. The former University of Hawaii star has struck out 11.6 batters per nine innings (86 K in 67.0 IP).
  • Dash infielder Marcus Davis has hit safely in 14 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Dash hitter in 2016. He received just his third day off in 2016 on Monday. Davis is hitting .281 (16-for-57) with five RBIs and six runs during the streak. Not only is this the longest active run in the Carolina League, but it owns a share of fifth place on the circuit all season long. A Dash hitter has not posted a hitting streak of 15 or more games since 2012, when both Nick Ciolli (15) and Marcus Semien (18) did so in the first half.
  • BB&T Ballpark, the home of the Dash, has been named the “Best of the Ballparks” at the Class A-Advanced level through a fan vote on Ballpark Digest’s website. BB&T Ballpark bested Salem’s LewisGale Field in the final round by snagging 61.8 percent of the fan vote. A five-seed at the beginning of the contest, BB&T Ballpark won all five rounds by at least 10 percent, including two wins over CL facilities (Salem and Potomac).
  • Winston-Salem has clinched its first winning homestand of the season, and the club can guarantee its second straight home series victory with a win Tuesday.
  • Following this finale and a league-wide off day Wednesday, the Dash hit the road for four against Carolina and three in Wilmington.
  • Cleuluis Rondon had not gone deep since June 27, 2015, when he laced a homer Monday.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch set for 7:00 p.m.

-Joe

Game #58 Preview – Dash vs. Wilmington

Game #58 – Home Game #30
Winston-Salem Dash (22-35) vs. Wilmington Blue Rocks (19-35)
Monday, June 6 – 7:00 p.m. 
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Right-hander Spencer Adams tossed a nine-inning complete game shutout in the Dash’s 4-0 victory over Wilmington on Sunday afternoon at BB&T Ballpark. Adams needed just 91 pitches to blast through his longest professional outing, during which he scattered eight hits and struck out two. The Dash now look to secure their first above .500 homestand this season on Monday against the Blue Rocks.

STARTING LINEUP:

Adams640_0508_3_o8cqjvcy_c4ra08fn

On Sunday, Spencer Adams tossed the first complete game shutout for a Dash pitcher since July 20, 2014. (Jody Stewart/ W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Michael Suiter – RF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Toby Thomas – 2B
Mason Robbins – LF
Brett Austin– C
Zach Fish – DH
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Brandon Brennan – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Adams churned out the first nine-inning complete game shutout by a Dash hurler in almost two years. Fellow righty Tony Bucciferro took a no-hitter into the ninth inning but settled for a one-hit shutout at Frederick on July 20, 2014. In the Dash era (2009-present), Winston-Salem has recorded seven nine-inning complete games, with two of them coming on this homestand. Brandon Brennan returns to the hill on Monday for the first time since his nine-inning loss versus Carolina on Wednesday (3-0 the final).

  • Less than a month ago, Adams had never worked more than seven innings in a Minor League start, but he has logged at least eight frames in three of his last five outings dating back to May 14. His overall innings total of 74.0 innings stands atop the Carolina League and is third-best in all of Minor League Baseball. Only Jason Wheeler of Rochester (76.2) and fellow White Sox farmhand Tyler Danish (75.1) has accumulated more innings than Adams in 2016.

  • Winston-Salem starters have logged at least eight innings in five of the club’s last nine contests. During the last seven games, the Dash’s rotation has submitted a 1.58 earned run average (9 ER in 51.1 IP), with no hurler giving up more than three runs in a start.

  • Dash infielder Marcus Davis continued his hitting streak with a first-inning RBI double to the wall in left field. Davis has now hit safely in 14 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Dash hitter in 2016. Davis is hitting .281 (16-for-57) with five RBIs and six runs scored. Not only is this the longest active hitting streak in the Carolina League, but it owns a share of fifth place on the circuit all season long. A Dash hitter has not posted a hitting streak of 15 or more games since 2012, when both Nick Ciolli (15) and Marcus Semien (18) did so in the first half.

  • While Winston-Salem did win Sunday’s contest, the club did suffer a loss that will be attributed to Saturday night. Wilmington plated four in the top of the ninth against Manny Martinez to claim the suspended series opener. The game was suspended in the top of the eighth inning after rain soaked BB&T Ballpark.

  • BB&T Ballpark, the home of the Dash, has been named the “Best of the Ballparks” at the Class A-Advanced level through a fan vote on Ballpark Digest’s website. BB&T Ballpark bested Salem’s LewisGale Field in the final round by snagging 61.8 percent of the fan vote. A five-seed at the beginning of the contest, BB&T Ballpark won all five rounds by at least 10 percent, including two wins over CL facilities (Salem and Potomac).

  • Before Wilmington’s four-run ninth inning against Martinez, Winston-Salem’s bullpen had ripped off 14.2 consecutive scoreless innings over its previous eight games.

  • The Dash have won five of their last seven games after losing five in a row from May 24-28.

  • With a base hit on Sunday, Hunter Jones remained two knocks behind Potomac’s Andrew Stevenson (68) for the top spot in the Carolina League.

  • Matt Cooper was named the CL’s Pitcher of the Week after tossing eight shutout frames on Thursday (12 strikeouts).

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Monday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch set for 7:00 p.m.

-Joe

Game #56 & #57 – Dash vs. Wilmington

Game #56/57 – Home Game #28/29
Winston-Salem Dash (21-34) vs. Wilmington Blue Rocks (18-34)
Sunday, June 5 – 1:00 p.m. 
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Winston-Salem’s series opener with Wilmington was suspended due to rain on Saturday night at BB&T Ballpark. The Dash and Blue Rocks will resume play on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the game tied at 2-2. Wilmington’s Alfredo Escalera will be batting with two down and the bases empty in the top of the eighth. Following the completion of Saturday’s contest, the Dash and Blue Rocks will play Sunday’s regularly-scheduled contest, which will remain a nine-inning affair. This marks the first suspended game for the Dash this year.

STARTING LINEUP (regularly-scheduled game):

160426-0451-JS

Jordan Stephens worked 6.1 strong innings in the Dash’s suspended game on Saturday (Jody Stewart/ W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Mason Robbins – LF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Toby Thomas – 2B
Brett Austin – C
Michael Suiter – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Spencer Adams – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • The Dash jumped out to a 2-0 advantage on Saturday night thanks to a Keon Barnum RBI groundout and a wild pitch to score Michael Suiter. Wilmington evened the contest in the third on a Joshua Banuelos two-run home run against Jordan Stephens, who otherwise held the Blue Crew off the scoreboard during his 6.1-inning effort. The Dash did have a chance to reclaim the lead in the seventh with men at first and third and one out. However, Louie Lechich lined out, and Cleuluis Rondon grounded out. Had the Dash scored in that inning, they would have won the game in a rain-shortened fashion.
  • Not only had Winston-Salem starters worked at least eight innings in four of the club’s last seven contests entering Saturday’s game, but the Dash’s rotation has submitted a 1.75 earned run average over the last five games (7 ER in 36.0 IP). Dash relievers have enjoyed similar success. In the previous seven games, the Dash’s bullpen did not give up an earned run over 13.0 innings.
  • It is not official until Saturday’s game is complete, but Marcus Davis pushed his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest by a Dash hitter in 2016, with a first-inning single. Davis is hitting .286 (14-for-49) with four RBIs and five runs through the first 12 games. Davis’ surge is the longest active run in the Carolina League.
  • Dash outfielder Hunter Jones is at or near the top of the Carolina League in several offensive categories. He is one of four men on the circuit who have played all of his team’s games. He stands first in games (55), first in at-bats (218), tied for first in triples (7), third in total bases (95), fourth in runs (39) and fourth in stolen bases (23) in the Carolina League. The former Indians farmhand’s .294 overall batting average is good for ninth in the CL, too.
  • Winston-Salem has played every CL club except Wilmington, who invades the Triad for four games. The Dash and Blue Rocks will become very familiar with one another, as they will complete their 15-game season series by July 3. Thus, 15 of the Dash’s next 26 games will be against the Blue Rocks. Since becoming the Dash in 2009, Winston has a better mark against Wilmington than any other team (76-58, .567).
  • The White Sox announced Saturday that former Dash outfielder Jason Coats has earned his first promotion to the Major Leagues. Coats went 0-for-1 with a walk as the starting left fielder for the White Sox, who lost at Detroit on Saturday. Coats did leave the game in the seventh due to injury after colliding with center fielder J.B. Shuck. Coats is the 343rd Winston-Salem alumnus to climb to “The Show,” with 35 of them coming from the Dash era (2009-present). The former TCU star was a Year-End CL All-Star while in Winston-Salem in 2014. He finished in the top six in all three triple crown categories while with the Dash: average (.291; sixth), home runs (15; T-fourth) and RBIs (72; fourth).
  • The regularly scheduled nine-inning game will begin approximately 30 minutes after Saturday’s suspended game concludes.WMYV-TV will carry the regularly-scheduled game.
  • The Dash are just 1-7 on Sundays this season.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Coverage for the suspended game on Sunday will begin at 12:45 p.m on wsdash.com/broadcast, MiLB.tv, or the TuneIn App. Fans can watch Sunday’s regularly scheduled contest on My 48 (WMYV-TV) or follow the contest at MiLB.tv (subscription required) or the TuneIn App.

-Joe

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94 other followers