Pitching stole the show on opening day at Charlotte Sports Park, providing the fans a dazzling performance on the mound. Drew Smyly got things started by throwing two perfect inning of work during his rehab stint. Then last year’s minor league pitcher of the year for the Rays Blake Snell picked up right where he left off, fanning ten hitters in six innings of work.
It didn’t take long for the Stone Crabs to get their first baserunner of the season. Andrew Velazquez reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the first. But he was quickly erased from the bases as he was thrown out trying to steal second. Kean Wong replaced him on the bases after drawing a walk. But a strikeout out/throw out ended the inning.
The offense continued to grind in the second inning. Returing Stone Crab Maxx Tissenbaum drew a four-pitch walk with two outs to put a runner on the bases. Then the first hit of the season came off the bat of Yoel Araujo, a double to left. But bother runners were stranded in scoring position and the game remained scoreless.
While the offense was creating opportunities, the Stone Crabs pitchers were working just as hard to keep the Miracle at bay. Smyly tossed two perfect innings and Snell chipped in with a perfect inning of his own to retire the entire Miracle lineup in order the first time through.
In typical Florida State League fashion, Mother Nature made an appearance at Charlotte Sports Park on opening day. Rain began to fall in the fourth but never forced a tarp pull.
The Stone Crabs picked up their first runs of the game and of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning. Araujo drew a walk to lead off the frame. He advanced to second when the pickoff throw by Kohl Stewart missed the target and went up the right field line. Braxton Lee then delivered an RBI single to score Araujo and give the Stone Crabs a 1-0 lead. Velazquez picked up his second hit of the night to put runners on first and second for Wong who belted a double left, scoring Lee to give the Stone Crabs a 2-0 lead.
Things got scary in the ninth as the Miracle put the trying run on the bases. But closer Brad Schreiber worked out of the jam to secure the victory.
Snell picked up the win and Schreiber notched the save. Kohl Stewart was the losing pitcher for Fort Myers.
The series now shifts to Hammond Stadium for games two and three. Ryan Stanek will start Friday’s game against Aaron Slegers for Fort Myers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
- Andrew Velazquez (3B): 2 for 4
- Kean Wong (SS): 1 for 3 with a double and a walk
- Willy Adames (SS): 0 for 3 with a walk
- Jake Bauers (1B): 0 for 4
- Joey Rickard (LF): 0 for 3
- Maxx Tissenbaum (DH): 0 for 2 with a walk
- Yoel Araujo (RF): 1 for 2 with a double, walk and run scored
- Armando Araiza (C): 0 for 3
- Braxton Lee (CF): 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored
- Drew Smyly: 2 perfect innings with 1 strikeout
- Blake Snell (Win, 1-0): 6 shut-out innings with 10 strikeouts and 3 hits
- Brad Schreiber (Save, 1): 1 scoreless inning with 3 hits