-Hayden Penn started on the mound today for Phoenix and he was backed by Jeff Fiorentino in left and Nolan Reimold in right. Penn started off tough. He was aggressive in the strike zone and it is apparent why he is a top pitching prospect. He pounded the strike zone with his explosive fastball in the first inning. Although he gave up one run on two hits, Penn still looked impressive. However, in the second inning his control abandoned him as he walked the first two hitters he faced. After battling Matt Tuiasosopo to a 3-2 count, Penn surrendered a single which plated Justin Maxwell. After that, Penn settled in and struck out the next two batters with overpowering stuff. Unfortunately, Brett Gardner nailed another single which resulted in another run scoring. Gardner then stole second and Tuiasosopo scored on a Drew Butera throwing error. Penn got out of the inning when Dexter Fowler grounded out.
-It is apparent that Penn needs to do what he was sent here to do- continue to get work in, so his control will improve. He also had problems holding runners on base, as there were two bases stolen against him. His fastball has pop to it and he was not afraid to go after the hitters. His loss of control did him in today.
-On the offensive side, Fiorentino's struggles continued today. He struck out twice, popped out weakly twice and walked once. His new stance is an open one and it seems that he is pulling off the ball.
-Nolan Reimold grounded out twice, struck out on a foul tip and hit a monstrous home run over the left field bleacher. My guess is over 350 feet. I watched Nolan's batting practice today, and it was a precursor of his home run. He was driving the ball well and long.
-Bob McCrory did what he does best, saving the game by pitching in the ninth inning. Rafael Santana was hoping to save his bullpen and get McCrory an extra day of rest by letting Jeff Gray pitch into the ninth inning. Santana did not have McCrory up in the bullpen to start the inning as the Dogs had a three run lead and he did not want to waste his bullpen if he didn't have to. After fanning Brandon Hicks to start the inning, Gray's game came unglued as he gave up two straight singles. At that point, Santana brought McCrory in from the bullpen. After walking Jordan Schafer, it was déjà vu all over again, as McCrory bounced a slider in the dirt in front of Drew Butera. Butera could not handle it, allowing a run to score. McCrory then settled in and fanned the next two hitters to end the game.
-Notes: McCrory continues to lead the league in saves with four now. The all time AFL record for saves is 17, set by Eric Ludwick in 1996. I read an article which quoted a scout as saying McCrory bounced a changeup in Tuesday's game, so I asked him before the game what he had thrown. According to him, the first wild pitch he bounced was a curveball and the second was a slider. He used the slider today to finish off Justin Maxwell to end the game.
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