Like a Stone With No Moss, the Dash Keep Rolling

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Cristian Castillo had a good start brewing, generating off-balance swings and striking out four, but grimaced and called for the trainer after throwing a pitch in the third inning. After a quick conference at the mound, he walked off, leaving behind a line of 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, and 4 K, all swinging. Palos-Heightsian Zach Lewis was pressed into service in relief and threw nothing but junk (the good kind of junk!) for two-plus solid innings.

The sixth inning spelled trouble for Lewis, though; he opened with a walk, then gave up a line-drive single to the Pelicans’ number nine hitter, then a second walk to load the bases with nobody out. He got a strikeout and was removed in favor of Will Kincanon, who, like most, is walking everyone (5.55 BB/9), but (like some) is still putting up good end-result numbers (2.22 ERA). Kincanon hit the first batter with a pitch to force in a run, credited to Lewis, then got a crucial strikeout (in fairness, he has a 10.73 K/9) and Yeyson Yrizarri showed no mercy on a ground ball that he charged down and slung to first, where the indefatigable Jameson Fisher handled it with ease. His stellar defensive year at first base continues.

The seventh was Codi Heuer’s, and he struck out the first two batters swinging in the blink of an eye. His fastball came out of the gate at 98 mph, and the Pelicans were no match for it — at least, until the eighth. I have no data to back this up, so take this with a huge grain of salt, but to me it seems as if every time Heuer pitches, he’s unhittable in his first inning and gets knocked around in his second. I don’t know if it’s stamina or exposure, or even if it’s true enough to be a pattern, but it’s something I’ve noticed more than once.

This was the first Dash game since last July without Nick Madrigal on the roster, after his promotion to Birmingham, and that leaves Steele Walker as the only “real” top prospect left in the lineup. Nobody told this to the Dash, though, because they won their fifth straight and are 18-4 in their last 22 played. Scoring this season has been characterized by little offensive output during the first few innings, then, if it’s going to happen, much more in the twilight of the game. Here, though, and generally during the Dash’s hot streak, those first innings have actually had numbers other than zero up on the scoreboard.

Steele Walker’s batting average is still under .220, but his eye remains as good as ever and he drew a two-out, first-inning walk to keep his OBP in the .370 range. Zach Remillard, who still hasn’t been promoted despite repeating the year and crushing it (maybe it has something to do with Birmingham being stuffed with prospects), doubled him in. 

In the second, Craig Dedelow hit an absolute shot, a donged ball, a mashed tater. It landed underneath the Dash scoreboard in center field, a 437-foot home run. Sometimes, a guy hits a baseball so hard you’re allowed to just start laughing as soon as he hits it, and that was true here.

They skipped the third, but in the fourth, Remillard hit his second double of the game (12th of the year). A Carlos Perez single scored him. Perez is getting the majority of playing time behind the plate over compatriot Evan Skoug, and while the power hasn’t really peeked out, he’s still having a decent year and has hit safely in seven of his last eight games. His single put team up 3-0.

Remillard again inserted himself in a run-scoring situation in the sixth, after the Pelicans had retaliated with one in the top of the inning. He singled with one out, then Dedelow did the courtesy of doubling him in. Perez drew a walk, and Yeyson Yrizarri stirred from his offensive slumber with a two-out RBI single.

That tied up the scoring for the Dash — Mitch Roman, swapping places with Nick Madrigal from Birmingham, Fisher, Remillard, and Perez all had two hits, and Dedelow had three, finishing a triple short of the cycle. Perez and Walker also drew walks. Heuer lowered his ERA to 2.97 and Jose Nin got his sixth save as the Dash won 5-2.

The forecast is stormy for the next few days, but the Dash will try to play on tomorrow at 7 pm.

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