Fernandez ‘super ready’ for try at clincher(Bill Hass on Hoppers Baseball)

Posted by Andy Durham on June 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Very good read from Bill Hass at www.gsohoppers.com….Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball in the hunt for the playoffs….

Fernandez ‘super ready’ for try at clincher

Nobody said it would be easy.

The Hoppers couldn’t clinch the SAL’s first-half Northern Division title on their end Friday night, being out-played in a 5-2 loss to the Charleston RiverDogs. Hagerstown staved off elimination by beating West Virginia 5-2 in 10 innings.

The upshot is that Greensboro (44-24) has two more chances to clinch it with a win — Saturday and Sunday. Or one more loss by Hagerstown (42-25) would do it.

Jose Fernandez draws the start for the Hoppers Saturday and that pleases manager David Berg.

“There’s nobody I’d rather have out there,” Berg said. “There’s not a better competitor, he has plus stuff and he’s not afraid of anything.”

The 19-year-old right-hander spent Saturday watching the Charleston hitters from behind home plate in the stands.

“I spent a lot of time taking notes and I’m super ready for this game,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity, but it’s not about me, or the catcher or the shortstop. It’s about the team. I don’t care if they score 10 runs as long as we get 11.”

For the last month, nobody has scored at all off Fernandez. In his last five appearances since May 16, he has not given up a run in a total of 24 innings. Two of those starts were curtailed by rain, limiting him to four innings in his last start and a single inning in another. Overall, he’s 6-0 and leads the league with a 1.27 ERA. He’s also first with 88 strikeouts, a 0.85 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and a .179 batting average against him.

“I’m just competing and giving 110 percent for my team,” he said. “All teams want to win and make the playoffs, so this is fun stuff.”

There wasn’t much to say about Friday’s game. Starter Adam Conley was not sharp, giving up two runs in the first inning and a long home run (it hit off the roof of the green utility shed beyond center field) to Gary Sanchez in the fifth inning.

“His command wasn’t there, especially on the inner half of the plate,” said pitching coach Blake McGinley.

Berg said Conley’s inability to throw strikes inside led him to stay mostly outside and the RiverDogs slapped 11 singles in their 13 hits.

What Conley did was keep the score close, although the Hoppers couldn’t generate much offense. The first two hitters singled but were stranded in the first inning, and the bases were left loaded in the fourth.

“Our (hitting) approach was not very good tonight,” Berg said. “When we’re scuffling we over-swing and we don’t good very good at-bats.”

Wilfredo Gimenez had the biggest blow, a triple in the sixth inning that scored Matt Smith to make it 3-1. But Charleston scored twice in the top of the seventh and essentially put it out of reach.

Chris Shafer, who was with the Hoppers last season and for part of 2010, was activated and pitched two scoreless innings of relief with five strikeouts. He replaces Kevin Cravey, placed on the DL with some bicep tendinitis.

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