Friday, July 11, 2008

The usual suspects

Neil Walton

Fort Myers 1 at Vero Beach 12

W: H. Rollins (5-7, 3.46); L: A. Burnett (6-3, 3.69)
HR: VER: M. Fields (14), J. Callender (1).

Rounding up the usual suspects to pin this blow out on would not be hard. The Miracle bullpen has been suspect all season. While Alex Burnett was quietly good prior to the All-star break, he's struggled in the second half, with the exception of a very good game against Brevard County.

Burnett would exit early, lasting only three innings after surrendering 7 runs, 3 earned, on 8 hits. Garrett Groce and John Matulia singled to start out the Rays offense in the bottom of the 1st. Groce however would be picked off and caught stealing by Miracle catcher Danny Lehmann. Neil Walton then hit a double to score Matulia. Walton would go to 3rd on Nevin Ashley's ground out, then come home on a Cesar Suarz single to give the Rays an early two run lead.

Al Reyes made a rehab start for the Rays and was replaced in the top of the second by Heath Rollins. Yangervis Solarte singled off of him, but the Miracle offense was nearly as listless as the pitching, managing only 6 hits to Vero Beach's 16.

Burnett got three quick outs in the bottom of the 2nd and in the top of the third, Yancarlos Ortiz singled out to center, then stole 2nd. Edward Ovalle would reach on throwing error by Matthew Hall at short that allowed Ortiz to score for the Miracle's lone run in the game.

Groce and Matulia singled in the bottom of the 3rd and Walton reached on a force attempt, but a fielding error by Ortiz allowed Groce to score and put Matulia on 2nd. Ashely hit into a force out to nab Walton at 2nd, which left runners at the corners. Suarez drove in Maulia and Ashley with a single to right that Ovalle threw past Solarte at third. Following a line out to 3rd, Joey Callender homered to bring in Suarez. Burnett would get Lopez to ground out, but it would be Spencer Steedley who trotted out to the mound in the 4th.

Groce singled and Matulia doubled to greet the new sitting duck pitcher. Walton's ground ball to center brought in the pair. Steedley would then get Ashley to fly out and Suarez to strike out. Despite loading the bags in the fifth, he'd manage to get out of the inning without additional damage.

Matt Williams replaced Steedley in sixth and walked Walton, then hit Ashley with a pitch. After Suarez went down on strikes, a wild pitch moved the pair. Matt Fields then doubled out to left to drive them in, making it 11-1.

Matt Hall would hit a ground rule double in the bottom of the second, but Williams was able to get out of the inning, despite hitting pinch hitter Craig Albernaz with a pitch. Fields would homer off Williams in the 8th to make it 12-1.

Ovalle was 2-for-4 while Wilson Ramos, Solarte, Lehmann and Ortiz all had singles in the game, making them, each and every one, one hit wonders. No one walked, and the Rays pitching staff struck out a combined total of eight.

The Miracle leave town with a split and return home to Hammond Stadium for a 4-game set against the Jupiter Hammerheads. It is Dog Daze III, plus Happy Hour Friday, so bring your Pooch to the Park and treat him or her to some free hot dogs from 6 until 7 PM. I doubt the Chips and Salsa would be much to their liking.

Deolis Guerra (8-4, 4.58) will hopefully be to the liking of the home town crowd as he'll be on the mound against Jupiter's Jeff Allison (5-6, 4.56). First pitch is due right after the free dogs stop, at 7:05 PM.

News Press

Homestand Happenings: Saturday is Miracle Stadium Blanket Giveaway with the first 750 fans being treated to a stadium blanket from Gator Country 101.9 FM and Mix 104.7 FM. The Miracle also honor the first year inductees into the Topps Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame. Sunday is family Funday at the ball park with 4 general admission tickets, 4 dogs and 4 sodas, plus a program for only $20. Monday night is "Miracle Mystery Night" where you'll find yourself asking "Who did it?"

One night after being blown out by the Boston Red Sox 18-5, the Minnesota Twins bounced back to pick up a win over the Detroit Tigers, 7-6. Former Miracle Justin Moneau was 5-for-5 at the plate with a pair of runs including a home run to lead the Twins attack. Tampa Bay native Denard Span, who played for the Miracle in 2005, was 4-for-4 with a walk and a pair of runs as well.

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