Savannah Sand Gnats (8-14, 5th, Southern) vs. Lakewood BlueClaws (10-12, 6th, Northern)
Game #23 – Road Game #14 – Sunday – 1:05
RHP Yohan Almonte (2-1, 4.30) vs. RHP David Buchanan (3-0, 1.82)
FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood, NJ
Radio: News/Talk 630 and sandgnats.com
Today: The Gnats, SAL affiliate of the New York Mets, play game two of a four-game series in Lakewood against the BlueClaws, SAL affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Today will be the seventh game of a nine-game road trip to Delmarva and Lakewood on which the Gnats are 1-5. Savannah’s next home game is Thursday, May 5th.
Last Night: The Gnats used three home runs and strong pitching to snap a seven-game losing streak with a 5-1 win. Robbie Shields’ solo home run in the fifth inning evened the game at 1-1. Aderlin Rodriguez’s two-shot in the sixth put Savannah ahead 3-1 and Javier Rodriguez added a two-run blast in the eighth. Ryan Fraser held the BlueClaws to one run in six innings for the win and Taylor Whitenton struck out seven in three innings for his first save of 2011.
Now Pitching: Yohan Almonte will make his fifth start tonight for the Gnats. He’s coming off back-to-back outings in which he gave up four runs and two home runs in each. Almonte is fourth in the SAL in WHIP (0.96). In 2010, Almonte led the New York-Penn League in ERA (1.91), IP (89.2) and WHIP (0.93), averaging nearly six innings per start. He had the second-lowest batting average against among starters at .207 and the third-fewest unintentional walk/9 IP (1.41) with a K/BB ratio of 4 (60 K/15 BB). The 21-year old Almonte has moved steadily through the Mets system advancing from the Dominican Summer League in 2008 to the Gulf Coast League and then the Appalachian League in 2009, to the New York Penn League in 2010 before joining the Gnats, his first full-season team, in 2011. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2007. The Gnats are 2-2 when Almonte starts and have supported him with 4.00 runs per game.
Rodriguez on a Roll: By going 2-4 last night, Aderlin Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to seven straight games. He’s hitting .300 (9-for-30) with one double and five home runs in his last seven contests with an .833 slugging percentage. Rodriguez is part of a four-way tie for ninth in the SAL with his five homeruns. Since April 23, when his hit streak began, Rodriguez leads the South Atlantic League with five long balls.
Homer Happenings: Last night was the first time the Gnats have hit three home runs in a game in 2011… Robbie Shields became the third Gnat, joining Aderlin Rodriguez and Blake Forsythe to homer in back-to-back games…The Gnats have homered in 69% of their road games (9 of 13) and 33% of their home games (3 of 9)… Savannah is 2-1 at home when homering and 2-7 on the road.
Pitch to Win: Last night, for the seventh time this season, Gnats pitching held their opponents to three runs or fewer. Savannah is 5-2 in such contests and 8-4 when holding the opposition to five runs or fewer. The Gnats are 0-10 when their opponent scores six runs or more. Gnats pitching gave up six runs or more in six of the seven games on Savannah’s seven-game losing streak which the team snapped Saturday.
Road Data: The Gnats are 3-10 on the road in 2011, all against Northern Division teams. At home, Gnats pitching has a 3.56 ERA and has allowed 4.19 runs per game. On the road, Gnats pitching has a 5.52 ERA and has allowed 5.94 runs per game. The Gnats have hit .241/.318/.371 (AVG/OBP/SLG) at home and scored 4.2 runs per game. On the road, the team has hit .234/.297/.392 and scored 3.6 runs per game.
Vs. Lakewood: The Gnats are 1-0 against the BlueClaws this year. The two teams split the four-game series 2-2 in 2010.