A-Ball Friday: Michael Fulmer Starts, Aderlin Rodriguez Finishes with a Walkoff

A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 1, Charleston RiverDogs (NYY) 0 (10 innings)

Everyone in the stadium knew it was possible, likely even, when Aderlin Rodriguez stepped to the plate leading off the bottom of the 10th inning in a scoreless game. Four pitches and a missile of a homerun to leftfield later, the Gnats had a 1-0 win. ┬áIt was his second game in a row with a homerun, and his third in his last four games. With 15 homeruns overall, he’s now tied for second in the SAL, and his 36 extra-base hits are tied for fourth. Once again for fun: since May 1, the 20-year old has hit .312/.374/.563 with 26 extra-base hits and 20 walks in 54 games.

And then there was the defense. He committed his 17th error of the year. In the fourth inning, with one out, he moved to his left to cut off a chopper. He was there, but as he reached out for the ball, he looked over his shoulder to check on SS Matt Reynolds. That diversion of his attention, cost him the ability to field the ball cleanly. In the 10th inning, he made a similar play moving to his left, setting his feet, and firing a strike to first, without adventure.

Michael Fulmer joined Rodriguez as Gnats shy of drinking age who had a really good Friday night. His line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. In addition to the two hits he allowed, he gave up a few hard-hit balls, but Gnats played some good outfield defense: Gilbert Gomez made a pair of nice running plays in centerfield, one in shallow right-center and one in the left-centerfield gap and RF Charley Thurber made an impressive reaching, running grab in right in the third inning. It was the second time in his career, and the second time in his last four starts, he’s finished seven innings. Now with enough innings to qualify for the league leaderboard, his 2.70 ERA is fourth in the SAL, his opponents’ batting average is second (.197) and his WHIP (1.09) is third. His last four starts have been lights out: 0.68 ERA, 26.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 HB, 8 BB, 21 K, .121 opponents’ average (11 H/91 AB).

Fulmer did a better job, relative to the season’s opening weeks, keeping his fastball down and off the middle of the plate. He got in on the hands of righthanders in particular. As he told MiLB.com, “I had fastball command tonight.” He threw a few good changeups, including one that froze a batter and one that induced a swing and a miss for a strikeout and a few flat ones including one that turned into a single up the middle. He didn’t throw that many sliders, but did just enough with it to keep it in the minds of right-handed hitters.

A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 5

Cory Vaughn launched his 15th homerun of the year in a two-hit night. The 23-year old is hitting .233/.335/.444 in77 games.

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