It was about as mixed a bag as could have resulted for the Amarillo Sod Poodles to end July as they hosted the Corpus Christi Hooks at Hodgetown.
The numbers in the Win-Loss columns reflect that, as the Sod Poodles won three and lost three against the Hooks. It could have been more successful, as they headed into the weekend having won three of their first four games before dropping Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests to settle for a split.
After winning a pair of games decisively on Thursday and Friday, including a rain-shortened win, the Soddies came down to earth hard over the weekend, losing 7-5 on Saturday and 13-4 on Sunday. Those two games echoed the first two games of the series, which the Sod Poodles split while scoring a total of only seven runs.
Considering that the Soddies scored a total of 23 runs in only 12 innings winning the middle two games of the series, manager Shawn Roof was able to find a common offensive thread.
“Guys are putting together good at-bats and they’re battling,” Roof said. “They’re laying off balls and hitting strikes when they’re in the zone. Our pitching is doing a great job attacking the zone.”
Starting pitching was a definite strength in the first five games of the series. In game one, a 5-4 win, Deyni Olivero got his first Double-A win after several hard-luck starts, going five innings and giving up two runs for the victory.
Bryce Jarvis was even stronger Wednesday night, striking out 10 and walking only one while giving up three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, Jarvis wasn’t even involved in the decision, as the Sod Poodles lost 7-2 in 10 innings, as reliever Justin Lewis gave up a pair of home runs in the 10th.
On Thursday night, the Sod Poodles scored an 8-1 win in a game which was called after five innings due to rain. Left-hander Blake Walston, rated the No. 1 pitching prospect of the Soddies parent organization Arizona Diamondbacks, went five innings, striking out 10 and giving up only a solo homer to Alex McKenna.
In Saturday’s loss, Brandon Pfaadt took the loss while striking out eight in six innings, as he was hurt by giving up two homers.
“Our starting pitchers were great this series,” Roof said. “Pfaadt gave up four runs but that was enough to give us a chance to win. Jarvis was really good and Walston was spectacular. That was all you could ask was to go out and throw strikes and give us a chance to win and they did that.”
In six games, the Sod Poodles averaged 6.5 runs a game, which seems about average for a hitters’ park like Hodgetown. Accordingly, they won as many as they lost last week.
Here are some of the more notable occurrences of the series last week.
A brief return
Arguably the Sod Poodles best hitter the first month of the season, outfielder Dominic Canzone made an unexpected return to Hodgetown last week. Canzone, who was promoted to Triple-A Reno on April 22, returned to Amarillo for the series with Corpus Christi.
Following a three-game injury rehab assignment with the Diamondbacks developmental team in Arizona, Canzone came back to Hodgetown last Tuesday. The results were predictable, as Canzone played in four of the six games and homered in three of them, reminding the locals of why he was promoted in the first place.
Canzone said that it might have been due to a glut of outfielders in the Diamondbacks system that he was sent to Amarillo to get some more at-bats. In his first at-bat Tuesday night hitting second in the lineup, Canzone singled and scored, then in his second at-bat, blasted a majestic homer to right field to lead off the third.
“It was nice while I was here to see the Hodgetown faithful for another week,” said Canzone, who in 47 games in Reno hit .253 with eight homers and 38 RBIs. “Obviously it’s a hitters park and you’ve just got to get the ball in the air. (Leadoff hitter Jorge) Barrosa did a great job battling in front of me and I got some good pitches to hit and it was a good week.”
Canzone anticipated he would be sent back to Reno by the time the Sod Poodles leave town for their series in Frisco starting Tuesday. That might not be his last move this year, though.
With Tuesday being Major League Baseball’s trade deadline and there being a number of talented outfield prospects in the Diamondbacks system, Canzone might be a good candidate to change organizations this next week. Canzone wasn’t anticipating anything one way or the other.
“To be completely honest it’s a roller coaster,” Canzone said. “You just try to take it day by day and not get too stressed about it. There’s a lot going on, so you just go out and play and if you get a call, it is what it is.”
A rough debut
While Canzone was likely making his last appearance as a Sod Poodle, right-hander Ross Carver made his Class AA debut Sunday on the mound. To say the least, he got a good taste of what Hodgetown can do to pitchers.
On Carver’s second pitch as a Sod Poodle, Corpus Christi’s Wilyer Abreu blasted a towering homer to right field to welcome Carver to the Texas League.
Befitting the feast or famine nature of pitching at Hodgetown, Carver retired the next six Hooks, and struck out the last four in that stretch. Leading off the third though, Shay Whitcomb hit a long homer to left, and with two outs, Justin Dirden did the same for a 3-0 Corpus Christi lead.
Carver allowed the first three runners to reach base in the fourth before a two-run single by Edwin Diaz and was pulled shortly after that. He ended up taking the loss, giving up eight earned runs, but he did strike out five in 3 1/3 innings.
In Tuesday’s series opener, the Hooks opened the game with two runs in the top of the first on McKenna’s two-run double off Olivero. The Sod Poodles answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double by Eduardo Diaz.
After that, there was even less variety to the way the teams scored. Drew Stankiewicz hit a solo homer in the second to give the Sod Poodles the lead for good and was the first of five solo homers the rest of the way to account for all the scoring.
Canzone and Leandro Cedeno hit solo shots in the third and fifth respectively to give the Soddies a 5-2 lead. That held up, as Corpus Christi’s Cesar Salazar and C.J. Stubbs hit solo homers off Sod Poodles reliever Austin Pope in the seventh to cut it to 5-4.
Soddies relievers Mack Lemieux and Blake Rogers combined to retire the final seven Hooks to preserve the win.
Top two strong, the rest not so much
Sunday’s game showed why Barrosa and Canzone were the top two hitters in the order for the Sod Poodles. Barrosa had two hits and scored a run (he stretched his hitting streak to 10 games), while Canzone also had two hits, including a solo homer in the third.
However, Barrosa and Canzone were the only two Sod Poodles to score hits in the contest. Nobody in the bottom seven spots of the lineup mustered a base hit.
Unusually, 4-5-6 hitters Diaz, Tristin English and Tim Tawa all walked twice.