Jaxx Notes: Home Opener a Success

After 10 days on the road to open Southern League play, the Cubs Double-A team was finally in the comforts of their own home on Monday night ...

... and regardless of venue, it was business as usual for the Diamond Jaxx on this young season.

Left-handed starter J.R. Mathes was solid throughout 5 1/3 innings as the Jaxx continued their hot start on the mound and in the standings, topping Mississippi, 6-2, to win their home opener at Pringles Park.

The Jaxx continued their early season success in front of 2,403 fans in Jackson, as Mathes picked up his second consecutive win with only an unearned run and two hits allowed. He struck out a season-high six and walked one.

In relief, the Jaxx bullpen allowed three hits plus an unearned run in the final 3 2/3 innings. The team's pitching staff has held opponents to two runs or less in nine of their first 11 affairs this season. The Jaxx improved to 8-3 overall with their league best 1.65 combined ERA.

At the plate, the club racked up 12 hits against Mississippi to raise their team average 10 points on the night (to .257). Four players finished with two hits in the victory: second baseman Eric Patterson, third baseman Scott Moore, catcher Jose Reyes and OF Luis Montanez, the league's top hitter with a .438 batting average in nine games.

Leadoff hitter Chris Walker was hitless in five plate appearances, but the Jaxx leadoff hitter believes the bats may be starting to come around after somewhat of a sluggish start.

"We're looking pretty good," said Walker, who brings a .280-plus average and 60 stolen bases in each of the past two years into his first Double A season. "The pitching has been lights out. With the way our offense is right now, we just seem to score enough to win. We're playing good defense and as of right now, it's a winning formula."

Jaxx reliever Thomas Atlee agreed that the team's pitching has been their bread and butter thus far. Through their first 11 games, the Jaxx are not only first in the Southern League in ERA, but all of Double-A baseball in general.

"The whole staff has started out on the same page," said Atlee, who has thrown 8 1/3 shutout innings to open the year. "It's an awesome feeling because you feed off each other. It's always great to get the job done from the beginning. No one likes to start off going backward. The staff as a whole has a lot of confidence right now."

In addition to the win, one of the bright spots for Jaxx players and front office members was the better than 2,000 fans who came out in support of the club in their opener at home.

"We were very excited that we had the crowd that we had," said fourth-year Diamond Jaxx General Manager Jeff Parker. "Hopefully, it's something we can build on. We had some really good publicity behind us for this game."

E-mail Steve Holley: staff@insidetheivy.com.

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