Welcome to the second 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…
Guess it’s best to describe the Pelicans as a mixed bag through two weeks of baseball.
While no one is hitting the panic button — knowing the season is a marathon, and not a sprint — consistency is an area in which the Chicago Cubs’ Class A-Advanced affiliate has struggled to get a grasp of.
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Last Sunday, Myrtle Beach fell to Lynchburg in the teams’ series finale, 5-4. The Buies Creek Astros were next to visit TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, making themselves right at home by taking two of three from their hosts.
Both of Buies Creek’s wins were by two runs or less.
Later in the week, the Pelicans traveled to Kinston, N.C., to take on the Down East Wood Ducks — the Texas Rangers’ Class A-Advance affiliate in its inaugural season with the Carolina League.
Myrtle Beach took the first two games of the series in impressive fashion, scoring 17 runs in those contests. A Wood Ducks flurry of home runs on Saturday put an end to the Pelicans’ brief winning streak, however, Down East getting on the board in the series, 8-2.
The clubs played Sunday afternoon in the series finale.
Player of the week
Third baseman Jesse Hodges: On a ballclub that has largely struggled at the plate, maybe the native of Victoria, British Columbia is doing his part to help the Pelicans out of their early season slumber.
Last week, the Myrtle Beach third baseman hit .391 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs. He also scored on five occasions during the span.
Courtesy of a big week, Hodges now leads the Pelicans in batting among players with at least 50 at-bats this season (.269).
Pitcher of the week
Right-hander Dillon Maples: Starter Justin Steele would be an easy choice following another stellar performance last Tuesday against Buies Creek.
However, 24-year-old also Dillon Maples proved his worth as well. This past week, the Pinecrest (Southern Pines, N.C.) alum scattered two hits and walked two batters in each of his two appearances, both of which he was credited with wins. He also struck out seven batters.
Thus far, he has a 3-0 record in five appearances, with a 2.25 ERA.
Top 3 moments
1. Six-run explosion propels Pelicans to win: Needing a win in the worst way, Myrtle Beach used a six-run fifth inning to get back into the winner’s circle this past Thursday night. An Eddy Martinez home run was the biggest blow, his three-run homer to left-center field giving Myrtle Beach a lead over Down East. The Pelicans’ bats would come alive afterward, with third baseman Jesse Hodges and first baseman Matt Rose both hitting home runs to give them an 11-7 win.
2. Steele again masterful: Following up on a dominant effort against Lynchburg, right-hander Justin Steele went 5 1/3 innings against Buies Creek last Tuesday night.
Though not credited with a decision, he scattered five hits and no runs, while issuing two walks and striking out five. Among Myrtle Beach starters, his ERA is far and away the best on the club, sitting pretty at 0.63.
3. Hodges leads the way: Though No. 7 in the Pelicans batting order, it can be argued third baseman Jesse Hodges has been the heart of the team’s lineup of late. Particularly during Friday night’s game at Down East, where he finished 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and a pair of RBI to lead Myrtle Beach to a 6-3 victory.
Pelicans pitching getting it done: Coming into Sunday’s series finale with Down East, Myrtle Beach is leading the Carolina League in team ERA (3.44) and shutouts (2). The staff is also leading the way in terms of innings pitched (149.0), while yielding the second least number of runs in the circuit. The club is also getting more than its share of strikeouts with 145 — fourth-most in the Carolina League.
Rose coming around: Before leaving Saturday’s game against Down East, it seemed first baseman Matt Rose was starting to find his stroke at the plate. Last week, he batted .231 with two home runs and a pair of doubles. He also scored seven runs. Through Saturday night, he was tied for second in the Carolina League with four home runs.
Pelicans bats still trying to come around: At one point last week, Myrtle Beach’s batting average was worst among all clubs in the Carolina League at .219. By week’s end, the Pelicans had improved upon their average, up 11 percentage points to .230. Still, it finds itself in the lower half of the circuit, batting .230. Conversely, Myrtle Beach is at the top of a category it would rather not be, its 158 strikeouts most among all clubs in the league.
The week ahead
On deck: The Carolina League’s northernmost ball club will travel to the one farthest to the south starting Tuesday, when Wilmington visits TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark for the first a three-game set on Tuesday.
Third baseman Wander Franco currently leads the Blue Rocks in hitting with a .302 batting average. He also has five extra base hits.
Starter A.J. Puckett (2-1) has proven his worth on the bump, going 17 innings in three appearances, giving up three earned runs.
In the hole: At the end of the week, the Pelicans will travel to Lynchburg for the teams’ third series of the young season.