While the effort level has remained high with the bat – and kids are the same way before they realize it takes both to win games – the defensive play at Parkview Field has been shoddy.
While only two errors were credited to TinCaps players, there could have been a lot more. Playing more like a rookie level team than a Low-A squad, things weren't pretty in the opener.
"We are a really young team to be honest," catcher Jason Hagerty said. "We are going to make our mistakes and learn from them."
Everett Williams made a pair of outfield blunders on balls that should have been caught. He lollygagged to balls hit over his head, perhaps falsely reading that they were headed out of the park. Both balls were within his reach and led to runs – one gaffe helped spawn an eight-run frame.
Danny Payne played center field in the night cap and showed how it was done, tracking down a ball in the right-center gap to erase a potential extra-base hit.
"I need to improve my footwork," Rincon admitted. "My mechanics are a little off but I am working hard." His throw went high with runs coming in piles and him trying to make a play by rushing his throw. His set was off-balance, causing the ball to ride high and pull Jeudy Valdez off the bag.
Rymer Liriano also added a throwing error tossing the ball – to an open space between third base and home.
"I make it a point that defense and pitching is going to keep us in games," manager Jose Flores said. "Aggressive mistakes and aggressive errors, I don't have a problem with. If you miss a routine ball and something that needs to be made, those are the most frustrating.
"It comes to a point where you can't use ‘these guys are young' excuse anymore. Now it becomes time for them to make these routine plays or it causes big innings."
It is a young team that is maturing but has played like the Bad News Bears at times.
Two nice plays were made. Nick Greenwood stabbed a sharp ball headed up the gut. He speared it and made the throw to first for the out. Valdez also made a great play in the eighth. Ranging to his right on a hard hit grounder, Valdez caught the ball behind his body on a slide and twirled to throw the runner out at first.
Valdez was, however, picked off first base in the eighth with the team down by three runs and swinging the bats well – another miscue from a young team.
Was that the reason behind his game one success?
"No, unfortunately," Freiman said. "A lot can happen between BP and the game. I have been lucky enough to have Torni (hitting coach Tom Tornicasa) with me all year. He is very observant. He has figured out our swings and knows exactly what to tell us to help us out."
Jonathan Galvez was not so good. His setup was late and he was under many of the balls. He worked on trying to gain early separation but that seemed to throw off his timing.
His changeup sat between 78 and 82 and his curveball showed great movement coming in from 71 to 77 mph. His two-seamer was fading back to arm side, and that was the pitch the opposition was able to pull, taking advantage of the hole between third and short.
"He left a couple of balls up and they played pepper with him," pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. "He made some good pitches and they found a hole too. He has given us solid innings. This is one bad game. Maybe he was tired because his pitches started to elevate. He has been extremely solid for us."
Mikolas did allow three inherited runners to score and one of his own but it was helped by an error.
Moved to the bullpen, Carter surrendered three runs on two hits and a walk.
"It is an effort to have him gain his confidence back to let it go instead of trying to finagle it around," Flores said. "The bullpen is a chance for him to let loose. We will see what happens."
Jerry Sullivan relished the battle against a top prospect.
"You have to enjoy the battle, especially when their guy is throwing inside and striking some of our guys out," Sullivan said. "You want to go back out there and get three quick ones.
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