Bill Hass on Baseball:Braley, Devers, Santos come up big in win

Braley, Devers, Santos come up big in win
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Pitching has been setting the tone for the Hoppers lately and Friday night was no exception.

Behind a strong seven innings from Taylor Braley, the Hoppers beat Lakewood 7–2 for their fifth win in seven games.

He got hitting support from Jose Devers, who hit a pair of RBI triples and added a single. Jhonny Santos drove in three runs, one on a fielder’s choice and two more on an RBI single. Lazaro Alonso doubled in a run and Cameron Baranek scored three times.

Braley allowed only five hits and one run in seven innings. Manager Todd Pratt refers to him as “a bulldog out there.”

The stickiest situation Braley faced was, after pitching three hitless innings to start the game, he gave up a single and an infield hit to the first two batters in the fourth. But he got two popups to shallow right field and a ground ball to Alonso at first to retire the side.

“Everything was working for me, so there was no reason to change from the game plan,” Braley said of the spot of trouble. “I slowed the game down and let the defense work behind me.

“My two-seam fastball had a lot of run to it tonight and my cutter was working well.”

Pitching coach Mark DiFelice liked the way Braley shut down the fourth inning before it developed into anything.

“He had great stuff tonight,” DiFelice said. “He kept his fastball down and forced a lot of weak contact.”

Good starting pitching, like good hitting, can be contagious.

“When you watch someone else pitch really well, you want to do the same,” Braley said. “It makes it a little competitive and helps makes each other better.”

Devers lined a triple to right-center field to score Baranek in the first inning and slashed another into the right field corner to score him in the third.

“He’s been doing a great job,” Pratt said. “Working with (coaches) Frank Moore and Angel Espada, he’s made some adjustments. He’s been listening and transferring what he’s learned into the games.”

Devers has been the designated hitter for about a week, but Pratt said he will be back at shortstop Saturday night.

An odd aspect to the game was the Hoppers’ inability to score runners from third base. They stranded a runner at third in each of the first three innings, again in the sixth and another in the eighth. They had two runners forced out at the plate in the eighth before Santos brought in two runs with a single.

The teams play the second game of the series Saturday night at 7 o’clock. Brandon Miller will start for the Hoppers.

NOTES: Brown made his first start of the year at shortstop … He has also started games at first, second, third and right field … Second baseman Sam Castro made a fine defensive play, spearing a grounder that deflected off Braley’s glove and getting the runner in a close play … The Hoppers ended the game on a classic around-the-horn double play from third baseman Marcos Rivera at third to Castro at second to Johnson at first.