Bill on Baseball:Hoppers get three homers from middle of the order to win

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

Hoppers get three homers from middle of the order to win

Yordy Cabrera is learning to use his hands instead of his body when he swings, and he’s starting to see results.

Greensboro’ third baseman cracked his eighth home run of the season, and fourth in his last 10 games, to stake the Hoppers to an early lead that they never lost en route to a 5-1 win over Kannapolis Friday night.

“I’m feeling more comfortable, more balanced,” Cabrera said, “and I’m recognizing pitches better. I’m starting to put the pieces together.”

Obtained in an winter trade with Oakland, which drafted him in the second round in 2010, the Marlins saw some unrealized power potential.

“They told me the power was there,” Cabrera said, “but I needed to use my hands instead of my muscles. I’m doing that better and the power is showing itself.”

Hitting coach Frank Moore said the idea is for Cabrera to “use his hands and take his body out (of the swing). Do that and you’ll have a lot of success. He works hard and it’s good to see him have success.”

Cabrera’s two-run shot came in the bottom of the first inning, after Jesus Solorzano had driven in a run with a groundout. It put the Hoppers up 3-1 and they cruised from there. Solorzano hit his sixth home run in the third inning and Viosergy Rosa added his 12th in the eighth inning. Rosa’s came off Stew Brase, a submarine right-hander.

“I just told the guys ‘swing as hard as you can and hope for the best,’” Moore said of his advice about hitting against Brase. “It worked out with a line drive home run.”

The three homers represented half of the Hoppers’ hit total and might have been the first time the 3-4-5 hitters homered in the same game.

“Those guys need to get hot and carry us,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “That’s why they’re in the middle of the lineup.”

Hernandez liked the way his team pitched, hit in the clutch and played good defense in winning for the 10th time in its last 13 games.

Ramon Del Orbe picked up the win to square his record at 3-3. He pitched six innings, Jheyson Manzueta followed with two and Frankie Reed retired the side in order in the ninth inning.

Del Orbe battled through some tough innings, but after giving up a run in the first he put five zeroes on the scoreboard.

“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he pitched six innings,” Hernandez said. “The key for him is to stay focused — every inning, every out, every pitch. He has a plus fastball, a good breaking ball and good changeup.”

There were several fine defensive plays to help all three pitchers. Shortstop Anthony Gomez made two good stops and throws from the hole and also started a double play to get Del Orbe out of the fourth inning. Second baseman Yeison Hernandez fielded a grounder, tagged a runner and threw to first to complete a double play. Rosa made a good play at first base in the seventh. Solorzano sprinted to the track in center field to run down a deep fly ball in the ninth.

In the sixth inning, Cabrera made an excellent backhand stop behind the bag and a strong throw to retire a hitter. After being a shortstop for three years in the Oakland system, he has converted to third for the Marlins. He leads the team with 14 errors, but believes he is improving.

“It’s a different angle and every ball comes at you differently (at third),” he said. “I’ve had to adjust my throwing, control it more by throwing on top instead of from the side. I’m getting used to it.”

The teams play the second game of the series Saturday night at 7 o’clock. Matt Milroy will make his first home start for the Hoppers.