Fillmyer, Ports outduel Gray, Nuts
It took Heath Fillmyer until July 20 to earn his first win last season, as the right-hander struggled during the first half of the 2015 campaign. He finished last season strong and carried that second-half performance into his California League debut in 2016. Facing a rehabbing Jonathan Gray and the Modesto Nuts, Fillmyer dominated on his way to his first win of 2016.
The hard-throwing Fillmyer had his entire arsenal working on Sunday. He struck-out three, induced six groundouts and breezed through most of his 5.2 innings of work. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, when Rockies' prospect Forrest Wall laid down a perfect bunt single. Wall's bunt single came after Wes Rogers reached on a two-base fielding error by right-fielder Seth Brown. That set-up a first-and-third no-out situation. Fillmyer worked his way out of that situation without breaking a sweat, inducing a pop-up, a strike-out and a flyout to end the inning. Fillmyer didn't allow a run until the final pitch of his outing, when he allowed a two-out single that drove-in Omar Carrizales.
The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, as Nuts' starter and top Rockies' prospect Gray also had his good stuff. Gray, who is rehabbing from an abdominal injury he suffered during spring training, appeared to tire in his fifth frame. He allowed a one-out single to Argenis Raga and a two-out RBI double to Jose Brizuela that broke the scoreless tie. That ended Gray's day. Yoely Bello took over and he immediately allowed an RBI double to James Harris. B.J. Boyd followed with an RBI single and -- after a balk moved Boyd to second -- Joe Bennie closed out the Ports' big inning with an RBI single.
Those four runs were all that Fillmyer and the Ports' bullpen would need. After Fillmyer departed with two-outs in the sixth, Carlos Navas came into the game and recorded the final out of the sixth and worked a scoreless seventh. Ben Bracewell took over in the eighth. He allowed a run in that frame but pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his first save of the season. He struck-out three.
It was a crisply played game by the Ports, who moved to 2-1 on the season. Bennie made several excellent plays at second base and first baseman Sandber Pimentel made several nifty scoops of low throws at first. The game took two hours and 29 minutes and took place in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 2,451. The game was played under cloudy skies, but the rain held off one day after the Ports and Nuts were rained out.
Other system notes
- The Beloit Snappers split a double-header against the Wisconsin TimberRattlers on Sunday. Chris Iriart had a huge day. He had a hit and drove-in a run in game one and then in game two, he went 3-for-3 with two homers, two runs scored and four RBI. Evan Manarino worked five scoreless innings and earned the win in game two. It was Manarino's 2016 debut.
- The Nashville Sounds dropped a pitcher's duel against the Oklahoma City Dodgers and moved to 1-3 on the season. Zach Neal allowed just a run in five innings, but he was stuck with the tough-luck loss in the 3-1 Dodgers' win. The Sounds managed only five hits and four walks in the game. It was a tough four-game set for the Sounds against OKC, as they scored just four runs in the series.
- The Midland RockHounds suffered a blow-out loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Sunday, dropping a 16-2 decision. The Naturals homered six times, including two each by Royals' prospects Hunter Dozier and Bubba Starling. Joel Seddon and Sam Bragg each absorbed tough outings in their 2016 debuts.
-- Melissa Lockard contributed to this report