Jacksonville Sports Day

JUMBO SHRIMP: Bird’s Grand Slam Propels Jacksonville Past Braves

JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp topped Mississippi 8-2 in the fifth game of a six game series Monday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Lefty Daniel Castano got the start for Jacksonville.  The Braves countered with righthander Jaseel De La Cruz.

Corey Bird’s grand slam in the fifth was his second home run of the season and made it 8-0.

Stone Garrett’s single to right center scored Martin Prado to give Jacksonville a early lead in the fourth. Prado was hit by a pitch to open the frame. He then stole second.

Jacksonville added to the scoring in the same inning on Bird’s base hit that scored Garrett.

De La Cruz ran into more trouble in the fifth. After Castano led off with a flare over second base, Brian Miller and Prado then drew walks.

That loaded the bases with no outs when Riley Mahan hit into a double play that scored Castano to make it 3-0. Miller came home on Garrett’s second RBI of the game. That set the stage for Bird’s HR.

Ray-Patrick Didder and Alejandro Salazar notched back-to-back RBI doubles in the seventh, but that was the extent of the damage against Castano (2-1).

The left-hander yielded two runs on four hits in 6.2 innings, striking out seven without walking a batter. McKenzie Mills tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief and Chad Smith hurled a shutout ninth to seal the victory.

Prado joined the Jumbo Shrimp on a major league rehab assignment from High-A Jupiter. Prado has been on Miami’s injured list since June 14 with a right hamstring strain.

Prado with Jupiter played in three games, hitting .444 (4-for-9) with no home runs and one run batted in. Prado with the Marlins this season has played in 51 games, hitting .239 with a home run and 12 RBI, seeing time at first base and third base.

The teams close out the series Monday at 12:05 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

LAST TIME OUT: Walk-offs from Joe Dunand and Bryson Brigman on Sunday sealed a doubleheader sweep for the Jumbo Shrimp over the Mississippi Braves. In the opener, Ryan Casteel broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a home run. J.C. Millan’s RBI single tied the score in the sixth. In the eighth, Dunand was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for a 2-1 Jacksonville win. In the finale, Corey Bird’s RBI double in the second inning put the Jumbo Shrimp up 1-0. In the fifth, Cristian Pache’s RBI triple tied the tally at one. A Dunand RBI base hit gave Jacksonville a one-run advantage. However, in the seventh, Daniel Lockhart registered a sacrifice fly before Greyson Jenista launched a pinch-hit home run to put Mississippi up 3-2. In the bottom of the frame, though, Millan’s RBI base hit tied the game before Brigman’s single won it 4-3 for the Jumbo Shrimp.

MORE LIKE A.C. MILAN, AMIRITE?: Jacksonville infielder J.C. Millan entered play on May 17 hitting a woeful .191/.203/.235 for the season. Even so, the 23-year-old infielder was given a chance to earn an everyday spot in the Jumbo Shrimp order. Responding to the opportunity, over the last 38 contests, Millan is slashing .319/.387/.452 with nine doubles, three home runs, 26 RBIs and 15 walks. This 38-game stretch has seen Millan’s season wRC+ shoot up from 25 to 108. Of the 102 hitters in the Southern League who have compiled at least 150 plate appearances, Millan has excelled with the 22nd-highest ground ball rate (49.4 percent) and 27th-lowest fly ball rate (32.6 percent).

‘PEN PALS: The Jumbo Shrimp bullpen finally saw their scoreless innings streak come to an end at 21 in the ninth inning on July 5 at Mobile. That roll came right on the heels of a 14-frame scoreless streak that was snapped with an unearned run on June 30. Thus, Jacksonville relievers went 36 frames in a row without yielding an earned run. Over the last 29 games, Jumbo Shrimp relief pitchers have tossed 96.1 innings with just 16 runs, 14 earned, for a 1.31 ERA. During this 29-game span, the Jumbo Shrimp’s bullpen has collectively ceded just 55 hits (5.1 H/9) while whiffing 105 (9.8 K/9) against 30 walks (2.8 BB/9). On the year, Jacksonville relievers have retired an impressive 74.1 percent of first batters faced.

RUN STOPPERS: Jacksonville has surrendered just nine runs through the first four games of their series with Mississippi, and the club’s starting pitching has been a huge culprit behind those run-prevention efforts. Jorge Guzman, Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and Kolton Mahoney have combined for a 1.46 ERA (4 ER in 24.2 IP). That quartet has posted 21 strikeouts against six walks and 20 hits allowed in the process. In comparison, Jumbo Shrimp starters compiled a 6.13 ERA (32 ER in 47.0 IP) over the previous nine games.

NOT AN AVERAGE JOE: Jacksonville infielder Joe Dunand came into play on June 9 with a dormant season batting line of .209/.275/.262. However, in the 31 games since then, the Miami native is for 33-for-111 at the plate, slashing a robust .297/.376/.423 with nine doubles, one triple, one home run, 10 RBIs and 12 walks. A product of N.C. State, Dunand has dropped his strikeout percentage from 29.7 percent with Jacksonville in 2018 to 22.1 percent this year. However, his ground ball rate has shot up from 32.4 to 44.9 percent.

Thanks to Scott Kornberg and Roger Hoover of the Jumbo Shrimp for game notes.

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