The AAA Zephyrs’ fifth starter, Matt White, pitched seven scoreless innings on Friday and moved his record to 4-3 as New Orleans beat Memphis 1-0. The 27-year-old left-hander allowed six hits, struck out three and walked one before giving way to Ray Corcoran, who finished off the shutout and picked up his third save.
New Orleans scratched out its only run in the seventh thanks largely to the efforts to Tyrell Godwin. The centerfielder lined a single to lead off the inning and then advanced to second on a ground out. He stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Dee Brown.
That was the second end of a Friday doubleheader. Memphis won the first game 4-1 by blasting three home runs off of New Orleans pitching. For the Zephyrs, Dee Brown, just called up from AA Harrisburg, went 2-4 with a double and drove in his team’s only run.
On Thursday the Zephyrs returned to the field after getting six days off, thanks to the threat of Hurricane Dennis to the New Orleans area and the AAA All-Star break. Kevin Orie went 4-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and one driven in his team’s 7-5 win over Memphis. The 32-year-old Orie has a .434 batting average in 16 games with New Orleans and sports an OPS of .926.
The Zephyrs have three players in the leagues top five in hitting. Rick Short leads the league at .377, Brandon Watson is fourth at .357, Orie, who was with Nashville until last month, is third, batting .365. The Z’s are second in the league in hitting with a .290 average. The highest the team has ever hit for the season was .290 in 1998, championship season.
Harrisburg beat Altoona 3-2 on Friday with a seventh-inning rally. Trailing 1-0 after the stretch, Ryan Zimmerman smacked a solo home run to tie it up. Shawn Norris and Cristian Guerrero hit singles and then, with two outs, Jesus Feliciano hit a clutch double, scoring both runners and giving his team the lead.
Josh Karp pitched the first six innings and allowed one run, raising his ERA since joining the Senators last month to 0.95. Kip Bouknight relieved Karp in the seventh and picked up the win to move his record to 4-4. Saul Rivera pitched the last two innings and got his seventh save.
On Thursday the Senators beat the Sounds in even more dramatic fashion, plating two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win. Zimmerman drove in the winning run with a two-out infield single that scored Feliciano from third. Cristian Guerrero had tied the game with an RBI double.
Zimmerman was 2-3 on the day with two RBI. The team’s first draft pick this summer, Zimmerman is beginning to find his stride after slumping badly against AA pitching after being called up on June 25. He is now batting .234 with an OPS of .691.
Another young Nationals prospect beginning to find his batting stroke is shortstop Ian Desmond. In A Potomac’s 12-1 win over Lynchburg on Friday he went 2 for five to raise his batting average to .300 since joining the P-Nats last week. Certainly, a lot of work needs to be done; the leadoff hitter has 8 strikeouts and no walks in seven games with Potomac.
One Potomac player who has been in stride all season is third baseman Kory Castro, who went 2-5 in the win with both hits being doubles. His batting average stands at .293 with an OPS of .891.
It was not-quite-enough and too late for Potomac on Thursday as they nearly overcame a 4-0 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth against Lynchburg. They scored twice on a Frank Diaz home run to lead off the ninth and on Josh Whitesell’s RBI double. The Nationals had the bases loaded with nobody out, but Hillcat reliever Todd Ozias, who had come into the game in the eighth, finished off one of the shakier saves you’ll see as he got a strikeout, make a nice defensive play and forced the runner at home, and then induced a harmless fly ball to end the game.