Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers fall to Tourists once again

Hoppers fall to Tourists once again
from Bill Hass, with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

It’s said that numbers don’t lie, but they can certainly be misleading.

Not that there was any doubt about the outcome of Saturday’s game, which saw Asheville top Greensboro 6–4. It was the 10th time in 12 games the Tourists have beaten the Hoppers.

Anyone reading the box score will see that Hoppers starter Trevor Rogers didn’t make it through the second inning, giving up four hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings. A bad outing, right?

A bad result, sure, but the Hoppers’ staff thought the 20-year-old left-hander was much better than his stats. Manager Todd Pratt said Rogers had “good stuff.” Pitching coach Mark DiFelice said he had “great stuff.”

There was evidence of that in five strikeouts, including four in a row, in Rogers’ short outing.

So what happened? Basically, the third inning got the best of him. The Tourists got the help of three soft hits?—?two ground balls that found a hole and a bloop over the shortstop’s head. One strikeout on a pitch in the dirt resulted in the ball going to the backstop and the runner reaching safely. He later came around to score. Rogers issued a bases-loaded walk on a pitch DiFelice thought was strike three. Add a sacrifice fly and it resulted in three runs. After 55 pitches, Rogers was pulled.

“He’s a young pitcher and a first-rounder (in 2017),” DiFelice said. “When you throw that many pitches by the second inning, you’ve got to protect him.

“The key now is how does he move past that from a mental standpoint. I talked to him in the dugout, and it seemed like he was already putting it behind him.”

Pratt liked the way Brandon Miller and Michael Mertz stepped up with 6 2/3 innings of relief. Nestor Bautista got the last two outs in the ninth on strikeouts.

As usual, the Tourists did some long-ball damage. Ramon Marcelino hit his 21st homer, a solo shot, off Miller in the third inning. And Siler City native Casey Golden belted his 27th homer, a solo blast to straightaway center field, in the ninth inning off Mertz. It was his second homer of the series.

“(Mertz) got beat by the MVP,” Pratt said, referring to Golden. “It’s not official yet, but he gets my vote. He’s a very good player.”

The Hoppers stayed close because of a solo homer by Marcos Rivera and the effort of Isael Soto, who tripled in one run and added a two-run homer. In the 14 games he’s played since July 25, Soto has RBIs in 11 of them. He has driven in 20 runs in that span, raising his team-high total to 54.

“In the last six weeks, games and practice, he’s really come around,” Pratt said.

After Soto’s homer in the fifth, which cut the lead to 5–4, three Asheville relievers shut down the Greensboro offense, allowing only two hits. Austin Moore pitched two innings, Hayden Roberts one and Tommy Doyle finished by recording his 12th save.

The third game of the series will be played Sunday at 4 p.m. Colton Hock will be the Hoppers’ starter, bidding for his 10th win of the season.

NOTES: Soto’s homer was his ninth and the triple was his third … Rivera’s homer was his 12th … The Hoppers committed three more errors after making four Friday night … Among the youngsters, Osiris Johnson went 1- for-4, Will Banfield 0-for-4 and Connor Scott was given the night off.