Welcome to the seventh installment of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ baseball Week in Review. Each week, I will take a look back at the Pelicans’ performances, pull out some of those who stood out from the rest and provide a preview for the following week of baseball in the Carolina League.
The week that was…
Whatever buttons Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey is pushing, he’d be best advised to continue doing so.
In the past week, the Chicago Cubs’ Class A-Advanced affiliate has been the recipient of solid pitching and timely hits en route to a 6-1 record. Myrtle Beach’s only blemish in the stretch proved to be a 4-3 loss to Down East, the setback coming in extra innings.
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After falling that series opener, the Pelicans have not lost. That doesn’t mean they haven’t had their share of close calls:
▪ Down 6-1 in the seventh inning, a furious rally by Myrtle Beach allowed it to escape with a 7-6 win over Down East in 10 innings. The Pelicans scored a pair of runs in both the eighth and ninth innings, the latter of which came with two outs. Matt Rose’s home run in the 10th allowed the club to walk off with a miraculous victory.
▪ Following a late surge by Buies Creek, the Pelicans again dipped into their bag of late-game magic, this time using three runs in the 10th to pull out a win over the Astros.
More importantly for the club, it picked up a much needed series win over Buies Creek, doing so by way of a sweep.
Myrtle Beach is 34-25, nine games above .500 — a high for the season.
Player of the week
Left fielder/ designated hitter Eloy Jimenez: After a rough stretch that saw him go for 1-for-17 at the dish, the Cubs’ top prospect broke out of his slump in a big way last Friday night. A home run in the eighth and a double the following inning allowed Myrtle Beach to eventually tie their game with Down East, one the club eventually won. He followed that with another two-hit game the next night. For the week, he was 6-for-26 with a home run and 6 RBIs. More importantly, he has four-game hit streak.
Pitcher of the week
Left-hander Ryan Kellogg: Prior to last Thursday night against Down East, it had been more than a month since Kellogg had earned a win for his troubles. It didn’t take a month to win his third game, the lefty from Whitby, Ontario, Canada, pitching a gem en route to a 2-0 win over Buies Creek, lifting the Pelicans into first place in the Carolina League Southern Division. He was 2-0 on the week, scattering six hits in 12 2/3 innings, giving up two earned runs. He struck out six over the span of those two starts.
‘21’ is the (No.) 1: No pitcher this Carolina League season tormented batters more easily than Carolina Mudcats hurler Corbin Burnes, who in 60 innings of work gave up a total of nine runs — seven of which were earned — for an ERA of 1.05. With him now at the Class AA level, a new players has assumed the role as the circuit’s ERA leader. Myrtle Beach lefty Justin Steele’s ERA of 2.62 now leads the league. In 11 starts, he has gone 3-3 , giving up 25 total runs with 16 of them being earned. He has struck out 42 opposing batters.
Flying below radar: Despite being in first place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division, the Pelicans’ struggles continue at the plate. The club is tied for last in terms of team batting average (.243), with its on-base percentage of .304 worst in the league. Still, Myrtle Beach finds itself among the circuit’s top teams in terms of home runs, its 47 long balls good for third in the circuit.
Three-horse race: While none of the Carolina League’s Northern Division teams have been eliminated from first half contention, the same cannot be said for their southern counterparts. Myrtle Beach holds a 1.5 game lead over the Carolina Mudcats heading into Thursday, the start of the teams’ three-game series. Buies Creek, which spent the large share of the first half atop the Southern Division, is only two back.
The week ahead
On deck: Myrtle Beach welcomes the Carolina Mudcats to TicketReturn.co Field at Pelicans Ballpark for the start of a three-game set that could go a long way toward deciding the Carolina League’s Southern Division title. The clubs last met late last month, splitting a four-game set in Zebulon, N.C.
In the hole: Before closing out the first half of the 2017 Carolina League campaign in Kinston, N.C., against the Down East Wood Ducks, Myrtle Beach will play host to the Frederick Keys. It is the Baltimore Orioles farm affiliate’s first trip to the Grand Strand this season after the Pelicans paid them a visit in early May, the series won by the Keys.