L - Kirkman (0-2)
12-5, 2.5 GU
After the Express swept a four-game series in Oklahoma City, the two clubs traveled south to begin another four-game set. And once again, the road team was victorious.
Astros prospect Jordan Lyles tore through the Round Rock lineup, working seven shutout innings and giving up only three hits. The hits came from Endy Chavez (1/4, 2B), Craig Gentry (1/3) and Joey Butler (1/3).
Express starter Michael Kirkman was better in his third start, but he was still hittable. The left-hander allowed three runs on eight hits over five innings, walking one and striking out three. He threw 92 pitches.
In 13.1 innings between Triple-A and the major leagues this season, Kirkman has permitted a whopping 32 hits. It's uncharacteristic for a lefty that is still showing good stuff––he has just been missing up in the zone and over the plate.
Righty reliever Yoshinori Tateyama (2.00 ERA/.278 BAA) fanned four batters in two scoreless frames. He gave up two hits and walked one. The 35-year-old now has 13 strikeouts in nine innings with Round Rock this season.
L - Pimentel (0-3)
6-9, 3.0 GB
Carlos Pimentel turned in his best Double-A outing, but it wasn't enough to get the victory. The 21-year-old righty allowed three runs (two earned) while scattering five hits in 5.2 innings. He walked two and struck out three.
The RoughRiders logged only seven hits in the game and didn't put a man in scoring position after the fourth inning.
Infielders Jose Ruiz (2/4, 2B) and Davis Stoneburner (1/4, 2B) both doubled. Leadoff hitter Engel Beltre singled twice in four trips, raising his average to .266.
After getting out to a slow start power-wise, the 26-year-old Ruiz now has three doubles and a home run in his last six games.
Corey Young worked around two hits and a plunked batter to post 1.1 shutout innings. Righty Justin Miller needed only 17 pitches to complete his two scoreless innings, which lowered his ERA to 3.48.
W - Wieland (1-1)
11-4, 0.5 GU
The Myrtle Beach rotation duo of Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland has been seemingly impossible to score on this year. Ross extended his season-opening scoreless streak to 16.2 innings on Friday, and Wieland lowered his ERA to 0.95 on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Wieland tossed seven shutout innings in the blowout victory. He scattered six hits (all singles), walked zero, and struck out six. The line gives him an impressive 23:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio (in 19 innings) to begin the year.
Wieland got plenty of support, as all nine of the Pelicans' starters had at least one hit. Only shortstop Leury Garcia, who was 2-for-6 with a double, didn't score a run.
Catcher Zach Zaneski (3/4, 2B, BB) and third baseman Mike Olt (2/6, 2B) also doubled for the club's other extra-base hits. Zaneski drove in three runs.
Ryan Strausborger (2/5, BB), Chris McGuiness (2/4, 2 BB) and Jared Prince (2/4, BB) all singled twice. Prince's two-hit day finally brought his average over the .100 mark.
McGuiness, who drew 77 walks in 112 games last season, now has six free passes in his last four contests.
Left-hander Kasey Kiker walked three batters and hit one more in his two innings of relief. He gave up two unearned runs and yielded only one hit while striking out two, but he was once again undone by the walks and hit batters. Kiker now has 11 walks in seven innings this year.
W - Mendez (3-0)
HR - Clark (2), Herrera (1)
12-5, 0.5 GB
During Hickory and Hagerstown's five-game set, the teams scored at least three runs in a half inning 11 times.
This time, it was the Crawdads who opened up the game with a six-run outburst. After Teodoro Martinez (1/4, BB) walked, Jake Skole (1/3, 2 BB) singled, and Tomas Telis (0/5) reached on a fielder's choice, first baseman Andrew Clark belted a grand slam––his second homer of the year––to give Hickory a 4-0 lead just four batters into the game.
That was more than enough support for young starter Roman Mendez (1.86 ERA/.247 BAA), who improved to 3-0 through four starts. Mendez spread eight hits over five innings, giving up just one run, walking two, and striking out six.
Reliever Zach Osborne (1.50 ERA/.146 BAA) continued his phenomenal start by posting three hitless, scoreless innings. Osborne, who walked one and struck out two, recorded seven groundouts and no flyouts on the night.
Right fielder Josh Richmond continued to pick up the pace, going 3-for-5 with two doubles. The 21-year-old doesn't have any home runs yet, but he does have six two-baggers (plus a triple) in his last seven games.
Odubel Herrera (.344/.394/.508) was 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBI. The long ball was the 19-year-old's first of his professional career. While he's a small left-handed hitter (5-foot-11, 165-pounds), Herrera generates some power with his quick, strong wrists.
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