- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After another marquee performance by a starting pitcher fell by the wayside Tuesday due to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ continued offensive woes, their sticks finally produced Wednesday to end a drought of 17 2/3 straight scoreless innings.
Daryl Thompson was as happy as anyone over the Blue Crabs’ run production as his brilliant pitching performance was not in vain, like so many of his fellow mound starters have been this month with the team averaging just over two runs per game in its previous 11 contests entering Wednesday’s rubber game at Bridgeport.
Fittingly, it was Blue Crabs hitting coach Jeremy Owens, also the team’s center fielder, that supplied the big blow Wednesday with one out in the sixth inning as he stroked a bases loaded double that drove in three runs.
The Blue Crabs four-run sixth, their biggest output in an inning since July 30, was more than enough the way the right-handed Thompson was dealing.
The Hughesville native took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh inning before Bridgeport got its first hit, a single by designated hitter Alexis Gomez. Thompson yielded just one run and three hits over eight innings with four strikeouts and a walk in the Blue Crabs’ 5-2 victory, as they captured their first series after losing their last three.
“We’re putting a lot pressure on ourselves [offensively] because we haven’t been getting it done,” Owens said about the Blue Crabs scoring inadequacies for much of this month. “Myself, ‘Ozzie’ [Blue Crabs manager Patrick Osborn], Joe [Gannon, Blue Crabs pitching coach] — we just reminded guys not to do too much [with the bat], trust the guy behind you [in the lineup], take what the pitcher gives you.
“I think a lot of us, me included, are just trying to do too much at times at the plate. More is less in this game.”
The Blue Crabs and Bridgeport both took advantage of two-out wild pitches in the ninth to score their final runs Wednesday.
For the Blue Crabs, reaching five runs in a game for the second time in three nights — despite getting shut out Tuesday in a disappointing 1-0 outcome — represented a bit of an offensive breakout for the club. It had been two weeks since the Blue Crabs put up as many as 10 runs over a three-game stretch, illustrating their barren offense throughout this month.
Thursday’s four-game series opener in Camden for the Blue Crabs (15-24 second half, 52-56 overall) finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
The second half essentially means nothing to the Blue Crabs besides being a valuable tune-up for the postseason. The Blue Crabs clinched their fifth straight playoff appearance by winning the Liberty Division first-half title.
Thanks to the division being much weaker again this half than the Freedom Division, the Blue Crabs are actually still in the hunt for the second-half title despite a weak record.
Their Wednesday win moved them to five games out of first place in this second half behind frontrunner Long Island (20-19, 50-59), which lost for the sixth straight time on the same night. The Blue Crabs were just one game behind second-place Bridgeport (16-23, 39-70) in the division during this second half entering Thursday’s action.
After Tuesday’s loss, which saw the Blue Crabs fail to score more than one run for the sixth time in 11 games while falling to 12-18 in one-run games, Osborn was briefly resolute when asked if the possibility of adding former Major League slugging star Manny Ramirez was under any type of consideration to ignite the offense.
Ramirez, who has been suspended twice since 2009 by Major League Baseball for violating its drug policy, was released Tuesday by the Texas Rangers organization while he played for Triple-A Round Rock in a failed attempt to revive his big league career.
“No, I don’t have any interest in Manny Ramirez,” the Blue Crabs skipper simply said on the matter.
Osborn also added that he is not signing any new faces this week in an attempt to upgrade the team’s offense after previously hinting last week that another batter or two could be brought in.
Thompson’s latest display lowered his ERA to 3.18, fifth best in the Atlantic League. He improved his win streak to three games in the process, having gone five straight starts without a losing decision.
Tuesday, Gaby Hernandez became the next in a long line of Blue Crabs starting pitchers this month not rewarded for a mighty effort on the mound.
Hernandez threw seven shutout innings of five-hit ball, fanning six and walking two. He departed a scoreless game that saw Bridgeport win in walk-off fashion with a bases-loaded, two-out single in the ninth from Luis Rodriguez.
Blue Crabs newly signed reliever Tim Redding, a former Major Leaguer for eight seasons, surrendered the win during an unsuccessful stint in the ninth as he allowed three hits and issued an intentional pass along with fanning a pair of batters to record his outs.
It was Redding’s second appearance for the Blue Crabs after throwing a shutout inning the night before in relief as part of a 5-3 win in his Southern Maryland debut.