Results tagged ‘ Steve McCray ’

Still plenty of positives

Dan Black is shining for Double-A Birmingham after a tremendous 2012 in the Triad (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Dan Black is shining for Double-A Birmingham after a tremendous 2012 in the Triad (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Even though the Dash have dropped three in a row, there are plenty of positive notes to hit on during this Tuesday afternoon. How about an optimistic set of Dash Dots? Last time we did that, Winston-Salem mustered a sweep at Frederick (proof here). Here’s hoping for a similar result.

DASH DOTS:

  • Dating back to last season, Winston-Salem outfielder Adam Heisler has reached base in 34 straight games, which is tied for the second-longest current streak in Minor League Baseball. High Desert’s Jamal Austin has reached safely in 38 straight games, while Nashville’s Scooter Gennett also has a 34-game run.
  • Heisler made his way aboard in the final three contests of 2012 with rookie-level Great Falls before finding his way on base in all 31 games thus far this season (19 with Low-A Kannapolis and 12 with Winston-Salem). Heisler has hit safely in 27 of these 34 games, and he owns a .303 (40-for-132) average with 15 RBIs and 23 runs scored during this streak.
  • Winston-Salem leads the Carolina League in fielding percentage (.976), and the Dash are tied with Potomac for the fewest errors on the circuit (28). The Dash stumbled out of the gates defensively, amassing 10 errors in the first four games and 21 in the first 14. Since then, though, the Dash have only made seven defensive miscues in their last 17 games.
  • Dash alum Jordan Danks hit a game-winning home run in the eleventh inning against Kansas City Monday, helping the White Sox avoid a sweep against the surging Royals. It was Danks’ first homer of the season.
  • In that ballgame, Addison Reed, who shined with Winston in 2011, earned his 11th save. He also has a win, which means that Reed has had some factor in the decision in 12 of the White Sox first 13 wins.
  • How about the start for Double-A Birmingham? The Barons are a Southern League-best 20-10 on the season, including a 13-2 record at home. Birmingham just wrapped up a five-game sweep of Chattanooga over the weekend with a thrilling 16-14 win Sunday afternoon.
  • Multiple 2012 Dash alums are at or near the top of the SL in a handful of offensive categories. Dan Black is currently leading in batting average (.340) and RBIs (25) and sits second in hits (35). He is only two behind fellow Baron and former Winston-Salem player Marcus Semien, who tops the league in hits with 37. Trayce Thompson also has the second-most runs (24) on the circuit.
  • On the pitching side, Steve McCray and Scott Snodgress are two of five pitchers in the SL who have won four games this season, while Erik Johnson (third, 1.30) and Spencer Arroyo (ninth, 2.36) are in the top 10 on the circuit in earned run average. Taylor Thompson is tied for third with five saves thus far this season, too.
  • Vine is one of the newest social media platforms, and both Dash players and Dash fans are having fun with it. Check out Courtney Hawkins’ clips from the Dash’s MVP Education Day at BB&T Ballpark last Saturday. Plus, Dash fan Eric Martinez sums up a Saturday night game here.

The Dash try to avoid losing their fourth straight home game, something they have only done once in BB&T Ballpark history, tonight at 7 against Frederick. Pregame coverage begins at 6:45 here.

- Erika, Rob and Brian

Playoff Perspective – Game 1

Steve McCray kept the Dash in Saturday’s game, but he and Winston-Salem ultimately lost (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

One night after an incredible SDCS finale, the Dash stumbled in Game 1 of the Mills Cup Championship Series. Lynchburg led the entire way in a 3-1 win over the Dash Saturday at BB&T Ballpark. Here are a few thoughts before the quick turnaround for Game 2 Sunday at 2 p.m.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

  • Big league rehab assignments are always touchy subjects during the playoffs, but I have absolutely no problem with them. If Paul Konerko needed to work back from an injury, and the Dash were the only minor league affiliate playing, you better believe he would be in Winston-Salem. Sure, Andrelton Simmons was a big part of Lynchburg’s win tonight, but he is here to prepare for a return to the big leagues.
  • For the first time this season, Michael Lee did not allow a run in a start with the Hillcats. His off-speed stuff befuddled the Dash over six and a third innings. Lee was the difference in the game.
  • Even though Dash starter Steve McCray did not post his best start of the season, he kept Winston-Salem in the game. The former Tennessee Volunteer stranded seven runners and only allowed two runs in five innings, with one being Simmons’ leadoff homer. It could have been much worse for McCray, but the righty battled to keep his club in the contest.
  • The Dash struggled offensively for seven innings, but this offense has a special aura to it. When Michael Earley, Mike Blanke and Courtney Hawkins strung together three straight hits, it felt like the Dash were going to battle back. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but this is an offense that can strike in a hurry, and I’m guessing it will before this series concludes.
  • Speaking of Hawkins, the 18-year-old has driven in a run in all four playoff games, which is incredible considering the Dash only scored one run in both series openers. This youngster is the real deal.
  • Tomorrow is the 77th and final minor league baseball game at BB&T Ballpark in 2012. This facility has hosted 50 Dash victories, three walk-off wins, an incredible All-Star game and much more. It will be bittersweet to wrap up the home slate, but it is fitting that the Dash are playing in a meaningful game after an incredibly great 2012 campaign here in the Triad.

Keep the faith. The Dash go for a series-tying win tomorrow. Already can’t wait.

- Brian

Game 1 Preview – Lynchburg at Winston-Salem

Mills Cup Championship Series
Lynchburg Hillcats at Winston-Salem Dash
Saturday, September 8  — 7:00 p.m.
Game 1 — Series tied 0-0

GAME 1 BACKGROUND:

Both the Dash and the Hillcats won winner-take-all games Friday night in the Division Championship Series. Winston-Salem plated four in the second and five more in the third en route to a 9-0 win over Myrtle Beach at BB&T Ballpark. Lynchburg nipped Wilmington 2-1 in the NDCS finale thanks to Braeden Schlehuber’s solo shot in the bottom of the eighth inning.

As a result, these two franchises will meet for the Carolina League title for the first time since 2003, when Winston swept Lynchburg in three games for what is the club’s most recent championship. The Dash were last in the Mills Cup Championship Series in 2010 when Potomac won three games to one. The Hillcats’ last trip resulted in a sweep of Salem in 2009.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Winston-Salem — RHP Steve McCray (9-3, 3.30 ERA): McCray faced the Hillcats six times during the regular season. In a team-high 27.2 innings against Lynchburg, McCray boasts a 3-1 mark and a 3.58 ERA. In his final start of the regular season August 31, the former Tennessee star blanked the ‘Cats over seven innings for the victory. McCray, who makes his first playoff start tonight, is currently riding a four-game win streak dating back to August 9, a run that matches a career high.

Lynchburg — RHP Michael Lee (3-3, 3.93 ERA): A former Red Sox farmhand, Lee has made 11 appearances and nine starts for the Hillcats this season. Lee has allowed a run in every game since his scoreless Lynchburg debut, but he did turn in a very solid start against Winston-Salem August 21 in Virginia. He matched a season high with seven innings of work and surrendered three runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits.

DASH DOTS:

  • Winston-Salem has won a record 11 Mills Cup titles since joining the Carolina League as a charter member in 1945. The franchise’s last crown came in 2003 when the Warthogs swept Lynchburg in the championship set. This is Winston’s second trip to the Mills Cup Championship Series since becoming the Dash prior to the 2009 campaign. Potomac downed the Dash three games to one in 2010.
  • The Dash outscored Myrtle Beach 12-1 in the final 12 innings of the Southern Division Championship Series, and Winston only needed three scoring frames to post that crooked number.
  • Winston-Salem’s pitching staff did not need all that support. The Dash posted a 1.67 earned run average in the SDCS. Starter Chris Bassitt was the story Friday because of a career-high seven scoreless innings. Bassitt, who only allowed four Pelicans to reach base, twirled the second-longest start for any hurler thus far in the CL postseason.
  • With his grand slam Friday night, Kevan Smith has plated 27 runs in his 24 High-A games. Between Winston-Salem and Low-A Kannapolis, Smith has 83 RBI in 108 efforts. Smith also hit the Dash’s seventh grand slam, which leads the CL. Smith, who hit a grand slam in his High-A debut July 26, is the only CL hitter with two grand slams in 2012.
  • A couple of key Dash swingers bounced back from a rough start to the playoffs with big games Friday. Both Keenyn Walker and Dan Black went 0-for-8 in Game 1 and Game 2, but the duo combined for four hits Friday. Walker drove in three runs, while Black scored once and reached three times.
  • The Dash and Hillcats split their 20-game season series, with Winston owning the 6-4 edge inside BB&T Ballpark. Winston had the slight advantage in average (.254 to .246), but Lynchburg outscored the Dash 102-96. The Dash won their season set against every other team in the Carolina League.
  • Chris Curley, who joined the Dash eight days ago, went 6-for-10 with three runs scored. Since his promotion from Kannapolis, Curley is 11-for-22 in the CL.

AN EYE ON THE WHITE SOX FARM:

Two other teams are in the playoffs within Chicago’s minor league system. Triple-A Charlotte missed out on a chance to sweep Indianapolis last night. The Indians won Game 3 8-0, but the Knights still lead the best-of-five two games to one. Also, rookie-level Great Falls dropped Game 1 of a best-of-three Pioneer League semifinal to Missoula 8-3.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Dash fans can catch the club’s quest for a 12th Mills Cup by tuning in here. Fans are encouraged to tweet @WSDashBaseball and use the Dash’s official playoff hashtag: #Dash12. The Pre-Game Dash begins at 6:40 p.m. and features a chat with manager Tommy Thompson and a look back at the Dash’s SDCS comeback.

- Brian

Playoff Perspective – Game 3

In case you missed any of our coverage following the Dash’s SDCS-clinching win, be sure to check out the game recap, the highlights, two postgame interviews and the twitter updates. Now, it’s time for our Game 3 analysis.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

  • The Dash posted the best overall record and home mark in full-season minor league baseball, so this team won on a regular basis throughout the year. This was, in my opinion, the most complete effort of the season, and it came with the season on the line.
  • Myrtle Beach outplayed Winston-Salem during the first 14 innings of this series, but the Dash responded and crushed the Pelicans in the final 13 frames. After Vinny DiFazio’s homer in the top of the seventh inning in Game 2, Myrtle did not score again in the series, while the Dash plated 12 runs and recorded three crooked numbers.

Chris Bassitt twirled the best start of his career Friday (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

  • The offense will steal the headlines because of the nine-run showing, but Chris Bassitt pitched the game of his life. “Absolutely,” Bassitt said when I asked him about it. Considering the importance of the game, I haven’t seen many pitching performances better than the one Bassitt turned in Friday night.
  • Keenyn Walker’s three-run triple in the second inning was a huge hit for the Dash and for Walker personally. The Pelicans were a deflated bunch after Walker slammed a 2-0 fastball to the gap in right-center. Plus, Walker had struggled a bit in the first two games of the series, and hitting coach Gary Ward has been working with him frequently over the last few weeks. Walker credited Ward in my chat with him after the game, and Dash fans saw Walker’s hard work come to fruition.
  • Winston-Salem catcher Kevan Smith put the game away with a grand slam in the bottom of the third. In his 24 games as a member of the Dash, Smith has driven in 27 runs. He has proven that he can truly hang offensively in the Carolina League, and his slam tonight was a bomb to the bullpen bar.
  • Speaking of Smith’s grand slam, tonight’s crowd was not the biggest at BB&T Ballpark, but it may have been the most baseball-savvy one we’ve seen this year thanks to the draw of a playoff elimination game, and the reaction after Smith’s grand slam was tremendous. This crowd went nuts.
  • Now, the scene shifts to the Mills Cup Championship Series, and the Dash have a huge advantage in their rotation for the first two games. Steve McCray will go in Game 1, and Justin Collop will toe the rubber in Game 2. On the flip side, Lynchburg will have Michael Lee for Game 1, but the Hillcats may have to go with multiple relievers in Game 2.
  • Two playoff wins down, and three to go. Enjoy it, Winston-Salem. I can’t wait until tomorrow.

- Brian

Dash Playoff Rotation Set

Erik Johnson is set to start Game 1 Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Today is the calm before the storm on the baseball field, but coverage for the 2012 Carolina League playoffs begins today. Winston-Salem will square off with Myrtle Beach in the Southern Division Championship Series, and the Dash have announced their starters for the three possible games in the series.

Game 1: RHP Erik Johnson

Johnson thrived with Low-A Kannapolis before earning his first promotion to High-A in mid-July. In his eight starts in a Dash uniform, Johnson is 4-3 with a 2.74 earned run average, and the former California Golden Bear has earned a quality start in seven of his eight efforts. The Los Altos, Calif., native has also worked through six innings in all but one start. Johnson has not pitched against the Pelicans this season.

Game 2: LHP Scott Snodgress

Snodgress, like Johnson, joined the Dash’s rotation in July after beginning the campaign with the Intimidators. The southpaw was 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in eight starts, and he has five quality starts. The Yucaipa, Calif., native has struck out 44 men in 42 innings of work. When Snodgress appears against the Pelicans Thursday night, he will be facing them for the third time. His first two outings against Myrtle Beach were stellar: 12 innings, 1 run, 0 earned runs, 14 strikeouts, 3 walks.

Game 3: RHP Chris Bassitt

If the SDCS goes down to a deciding Game 3, Chris Bassitt will toe the rubber for Winston-Salem. Two months ago, Bassitt had never made a professional start, but he went 4-2 with a 4.25 earned run average in 10 starts over the final seven weeks of the season. Overall, the former Akron Zip is 5-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 38 appearances overall. Against the Pelicans, Bassitt has not allowed a run in nine and a third innings spanning four games (one start).

Where are Justin Collop and Steve McCray?

If needed, both Collop and McCray will be used out of the bullpen during the SDCS this week. Both men worked out of the bullpen during the first half of the season, so this is not a new role for the duo. However, if the Dash can dispose of the Pelicans easily without needing Collop or McCray, both could slot back inside the rotation for the Mills Cup Championship Series.

Myrtle Beach’s rotation

The Pelicans are expected to throw three right-handed pitchers: Luke Jackson (5-2, 4.39 ERA), Nick McBride (2-3, 3.76 ERA) and Joe Van Meter (4-5, 2.06 ERA).

- Brian

Dash Rotation Altered

Ryan Buch and the Dash have had to keep their eyes open for rotation moves lately (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

If today’s game begins on time at 11 a.m., the Dash will have had a gap of 90 hours and 24 minutes between the end of their last game and the start of this contest. This is because of the off day Monday and consecutive postponements Tuesday and Wednesday.

As a result, the Dash’s rotation gets a bit of a makeover. Spencer Arroyo will start in this morning’s double dip opener, with Jon Bachanov taking to the mound in the second game. In essence, the Dash will use a “Johnny Wholestaff” approach for the second game, but it will be Bachanov starting the game for Winston.

This weekend, three right-handers will go against the best club in the Northern Division–the Lynchburg Hillcats. Ryan Buch toes the rubber in the opener. Matt Heidenreich follows suit Saturday evening. Finally, Jake Petricka, who made his Double-A debut in a spot start Monday, will pitch the finale Sunday.

Once Monday rolls around, Winston-Salem will likely feature another bullpen games with Bachanov to get the call as of now. By Tuesday, we are back in the typical rotation with Arroyo starting for the Dash.

Bachanov takes the spot of Steve McCray, who will head to the bullpen for at least the next week.

The Dash and Keys square off at 11 a.m. I greet you on the air at 10:45 with the “Pre-Game Dash.” Hear from Dash skipper Tommy Thompson and Frederick play-by-play man Adam Pohl (who has a GREAT Tommy story) during our day-long coverage. Talk to you then.

- Brian

Dash Players on Twitter

(Photo courtesy of New Media Blog)

EDIT: Thanks to reader and tweeter John for pointing out that I forgot one. Dash infielder Dan Wagner is available at @danwag06. So we are up to 10 Dash players on Twitter.

______________

The Dash have played really well over the last seven days. They have won a season-high seven in a row. So, Dash players deserve a reward, right?

Here is your chance to help. The Dash are all over the Twitter world. Here are the ones I could find:

Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419): He may be the most active Dash player on Twitter. From tweets about the Dash, minor league travel and his favorite sports team, Chris is a Twitter machine.

Kyle Bellamy (@KyleBellamy_U): His picture is worth the click and follow alone. Check it out.

Nick Ciolli (@nciolli20): Nick is a big fan of the <<< or >>> fad.

Michael Earley (@MoneyMikeEarley): If you want to see what the Dash are playing for this season, check out Mike’s twitter picture.

Stephen McCray (@mccrazy44): The newest member of the Dash roster may have the best handle on the club.

Nick McCully (@NMcCully): He’s been in nine states over the last two and a half years. If anything, he probably has good packing advice.

Jake Oester (@oester16): The guy likes fishing. His picture proves it.

Jake Petricka (@jacobpetricka): He doesn’t tweet much, but they are almost always baseball-related posts. That’s enough for me.

Brady Shoemaker (@whitesox4321): Brady has never tweeted before, and he doesn’t follow anyone. Still, he has 15 followers. That’s making something out of nothing.

Let me know if I missed anyone, and be sure to give these guys a follow. By the way, the Dash’s Twitter account is approaching 3,000 followers. Be sure to give us a follow. We will do another fun Twitter post later this week! Talk to you tonight at 6:50 on wsdash.com for the Dash and the P-Nats.

- Brian

Sunday Fun in Wilmington

Six straight wins. It feels great to type. The Dash aim for seven in a row this afternoon at Frawley Stadium against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. We’ve got a grab bag Sunday for you here today on the blog, with monster offensive numbers, long hitting streaks and a ridiculous double play.

- Since Winston-Salem’s franchise became the Dash in advance of the 2009 season, the organization has only seen three winning streaks longer than this one. The longest in Dash history is nine, which stretched from April 14-22 of 2010. Winston also has a pair of eight-game streaks during this span: May 30-June 7, 2009, and August 26-September 3, 2010.

- The Dash’s six-game winning streak is the longest in the Carolina League thus far this season. It eclipsed Lynchburg’s season-opening five-game winning streak. The Dash now own the Carolina League’s best record for the first time this year. The Dash lead the Hillcats (12-8) by a half game.

- It was a Saturday hit parade for Winston-Salem. The Dash easily established a new high water mark in the hit category with 18 hits, four more than the Dash’s previous high, which came April 11 at Frederick. The Dash have not posted that many hits since pulverizing Potomac with 23 knocks in a 15-3 blowout victory August 21, 2011.

Image

Mike Blanke puts his nine-game hit streak on the line Sunday (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

- Dash catcher Mike Blanke has bounced back from a slow start in a big way. After starting 5-for-26 in his first seven games, Blanke has hit safely in nine in a row, which is a season high for a Winston swinger. “I feel like I was swinging good before,” Blanke said. “I just wasn’t finding the holes. I was hitting a lot of hard outs.”

- Blanke has raised his batting average to .288 because of a .364 average (12-for-33) during his hitting streak. “I’m starting to find holes now,” Blanke said. “I’m just keeping my same approach. We’re just going to continue building off that.”

- Let’s not forget about the pitching staff. Winston starter Steve McCray looked solid in his first career High-A appearance Saturday. In four innings of work, the righty allowed three runs, but all of them were unearned. Behind McCray, Jon Bachanov gave up one run in three innings for his third victory. Bachanov is tied with four other hurlers for the league lead in wins, but he is the quintet’s only reliever.

- Finally, this clip is so good, I have to show it. It has nothing to do with the Dash, but check out this double play turned by Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Ouch. Thanks to the Naturals’ twitter account (one of MiLB’s best) for this video.

Hear more from Mike Blanke on the Pre-Game Dash, which begins at 1:20 this afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:35 from the “First State.” Bring your brooms.

- Brian

Dash Add Pitcher

Steve McCray played his college baseball at the University of Tennessee. He is now a member of the Dash's rotation (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images).

The White Sox announced a roster move that affects the Dash earlier today. Right-handed hurler Steve McCray has joined the Dash in advance of the opener of a three-game series at Wilmington. McCray began the season with Low-A Kannapolis and posted an 0-2 record but a solid 2.30 earned run average. In 15 and two-thirds innings, the Lilburn, Ga., native surrendered four runs on ten hits. He struck out 14 and walked only three.

McCray will be the newest member of Winston-Salem’s starting rotation. His first High-A appearance and start will be in about 24 hours against Wilmington. It will be McCray’s 17th start and 41st appearance in his minor league career.

McCray takes the roster spot of righty Andre Rienzo, who was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball. This season, Rienzo was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.08 in four starts with Winston-Salem.

The Dash wrapped up their homestand with a sweep-clinching victory over Potomac last night. Trayce Thompson’s RBI single with the bases loaded in the ninth gave the Dash a 7-6 win. The club made the overnight trip north to Delaware, and Winston kicks off a seven-game road trip tonight at 7:05 from Frawley Stadium in Wilmington.

Join me on the Pre-Game Dash at 6:50 tonight to hear from Dash skipper Tommy Thompson and relive the walk-off magic last night at BB&T Ballpark. Talk to you then.

- Brian

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