Alcala Shines, But Blue Wahoos Endure Fourth Walkoff Loss To Barons

July 9, 2019

The Blue Wahoos right now can’t seem to shake heartbreak.

Or new ways to experience it.

The latest unfolded Monday night when Birmingham’s Damek Tomscha, a former Auburn Tigers player, led off the ninth inning with a home run on the first pitch, giving the Barons a 2-1 victory and their fourth walkoff win against the Blue Wahoos in this series at Regions Field in Birmingham.

It added into a fifth straight defeat, all against the Barons, and dropped the Blue Wahoos (9-10 second half) under .500 for the first time in two weeks. The Barons (14-5) have won each game in different ways.

The teams will conclude a six-game series Tuesday in Birmingham, then an off day ensues Wednesday that now seems especially well-timed for the Blue Wahoos. Birmingham won its ninth straight home game and 13 wins overall in the past 15 games.

What did go right Monday for the Blue Wahoos was the longest and arguably the best outing of the season from starting pitcher Jorge Alcala. The Minnesota Twins’ No. 19 rated prospect by MLB Pipeline was sensational in a six inning, four hit, shutout performance against the Barons.

Alcala had worked into the sixth inning just four other times, but never pitched six complete innings. It was only the third time he held an opponent scoreless and the first time he did it since May 13.

His performance included seven strikeouts, no walks. Of the 82 pitches he threw, 57 were for strikes.

Unfortunately for Alcala and his teammates, Birmingham starter Matt Tomshaw, a 30-year-old lefthander, who faced the Blue Wahoos 10 previous times the past seasons while with the Miami Marlins organization, was equally superb.

Tomshaw worked seven complete innings without allowing a run. He scattered six hits. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

The Blue Wahoos scored the game’s first run in the eighth inning against reliever Kodi Medeiros (3-8), who wound up as the winning pitcher.

Alex Kirilloff, who finished 3-for-4, led off with a triple in the centerfield gap. Brian Schales followed with a sacrifice fly to center fielder Luis Gonzalez, scoring Kirilloff.

But in the bottom of the eighth, Blue Wahoos reliever Jeff Ames gave up a leadoff single to Joel Booker, who then stole second base and went to third when catcher Brian Navarreto’s attempted put-out throw sailed into center field.

With one out, Luis Gonzalez hit a grounder that briefly handcuffed Kirilloff at first base, allowing Booker to score on the put out.

In the ninth, Joe Cronin drew a one-out walk. He stole second with two out. But Jordan Gore struck out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Anthony Vizcaya faced Tomscha as the leadoff batter. Tomscha, who was signed by the Chicago White Sox on June 28, jumped on Vizcaya’s first pitch and lined the ball over the left wall to cause another walkoff celebration by the Barons.

Kirilloff’s three hits in the game raised his batting average to .285. Mark Contreras, Brian Navarreto, Caleb Hamilton and Joe Cronin each had one hit .

Jeff Ames pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Alcala. He got out of a situation in the seventh, following a triple by leadoff batter Ti’Quan Forbes and Tomscha being hit by a pitch.

Ames retired the next three batters in a clutch relief effort.


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