Domingo Tapia, pitching at home in Savannah for the first time since May 23rd, did not begin well. In the top of the first inning on a sweltering afternoon in Savannah (94 degrees officially and muggy at first pitch) he walked the leadoff man. A flyout and a pair of singles gave the RiverDogs a 1-0 lead. After a strikeout, and a wild pitch, he gave up a sharp single through the left side past the reach of SS Matt Reynolds to a left-handed batter that plated two runs. An unearned run in the second inning put the 'Dogs up 4-0.
Then Tapia started rolling. From the second inning on, he retired the 16 of the final 17 batters he faced, and from the third inning on, the final 13 batters in a row. Of those last 13 batters, he allowed two flyballs, nine ground balls, and fanned two. He needed 41 pitches in the first two innings and then 41 over the next five. His pitch counts by inning: 28, 13, 5, 10, 9, 8, 9.
What changed? Well, his sinker started sinking and sinking. He got weak contact with his changeup. I thought in the first inning, he was trying to establish his slider, which is distinctly his third pitch. He tossed up a few spinners that did not do much. More to the point though, he had trouble with his sinker early, particularly throwing it at the bottom of the zone. Later in the game, he threw a few decent sliders. His mid-upper 90s fastball could get him to the big leagues, but if he's going to be an impact starter, he's going to need that slider.
The Gnats tied the game in the eighth on 3B Aderlin Rodriguez's 16th home run of the year. There are no cheap homers at Historic Grayson Stadium and this was a liner that cleared the 16-foot wall above the manuel scoreboard to the left of the batters' eye. The 20-year old has a nine-game hitting streak and four homers in his last seven games as part of a .277/.341/.506 line. He also struck out three times and committed a throwing error looking for a force-out at second base in the 'Dogs four-run 13th inning. He's up to second in the SAL with his 16 homers and is tied for third with 38 extra-base hits.
Cesar Puello, who was 1-for-4 played rightfield while Alonzo Harris played center. Hmmm. He played games on the second and third and then sat the fourth, fifth and sixth, before playing on Saturday and Sunday.
Tyler Pill was very solid: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K