by Coby Segal
Tyler Blair: Extended Version
Brant Cummings went with a bullpen game, attempting to stretch out Tyler Blair, who had made two innings his lengthiest appearance. After a scoreless first inning, the fatigue showed in the second inning as a wild pitch scored a run to give the Crawdads a lead, but he bounced back to end the inning getting Luke Piazza to chase two straight changeups. He also induced plenty of ground balls, as 8 of the 19 batters he faced hit a ground ball. After three innings, the four-win Mudcats were leading 3-0. Blair gave up four runs, but only one earned, as the Crawdads had defensive miscues early. The usually reliable Griffin Harrison had a tough start to his day, as two balls seemed to go through his glove, and Joey Donnely had a ball go under his glove in the third to score two.
Redemption for Griffin Harrison and Joey Donnelly
Andres Galinda, the starter for the Mudcats, had Griffin Harrison fooled his first three at-bats. He struck out twice on three sliders. But with Galinda out of the game, Harrison came to the plate with bases loaded and two outs. He scorched a grounder into left field to score two runs and extend the Crawdad lead to 8-4. Meanwhile, Joey Donnelly did his damage in the running game. He stole four bags on the day (17 on the season). He also reached base in all five plate appearances.
Max clobbered two baseballs way over the left-field fence. Both were two-run shots. One came in the fifth to tie the game at 4-4, and his second was the dagger in the 9th to extend the lead to 12-6. On July 1, after an 0-4 game with three strikeouts, Max Farfan had an abysmal slash line of .091/.231/.152. Then he changed his swing, left his toe tap behind, and went to a leg kick. Since the change, he is hitting .478/.611/1.261 for a Herculean OPS of 1.872 and has hit five home runs.
Playoffs in Sight
The Walnut Creek Crawdads are one step closer to clinching the playoffs for the second straight year. Manager and owner Brant Cummings has done a fantastic job of improving his team over the last two years. In 2021, the Crawdads went 12-18. In 2022, they made the playoffs with a 25-21 record. And now, coming off a 12-6 win against the Solano Mudcats, they improve to 20-6 on the season, and their magic number is one to clinch the playoffs. They need to win one game or need the Sonoma Stompers to lose one. Sonoma has their next league game on July 22 when they host the Bay Area Admirals, so the Crawdads have their first chance to clinch at McBean Field against the Lincoln Potters.
Other Game Notes
- Ryder Helfrick received the Barry Bonds treatment with three walks.
- Nico Button is an on-base machine, walking three times today. He raised his OBP to .450 and has walked (13) more than he has struck out (10).
- The Crawdads stole nine bases today. Four by Donnelly, two each by Helfrick and Cole Fellows, and Emmitt Phinney’s first
- The Crawdads have swept the season series vs. the Mudcats.
- Crawdads have a +84 run differential on the season, second in the CCL North to Healdsburg (+127)