Wahoos Beat The Montgomery Biscuits

July 14, 2019

Uncertain weather the past few days forced the Blue Wahoos to forego taking batting practice on the field.

Saturday, manager Ramon Borrego, who constantly checks a weather app on his phone, got the players out earlier and left nothing to chance.

The effect was noticeable throughout Saturday’s game, as the Blue Wahoos matched one of their season-best hitting performances in a 5-3 win against the Montgomery Biscuits.  A night after Biscuits’ pitchers flirted with a no-hitter, the Blue Wahoos had multiple hits by five of the top six guys in the batting order.

“Basically that was one of the points,” Borrego said. “For me, it’s better when those guys can hit on the field. They get a better view, they know how the ball carries.”

Alex Kirilloff saw it well. He went 3-for-4, drove in a run and scored twice as batting average climbed to .281.

“It’s different coming back here after being on the road, I think just having the reps on the field that we haven’t had the first two days helps,” said Kirilloff, the Minnesota Twins No. 2 overall prospect and No. 10 ranked overall by MLB Pipeline.

“To see pitches on the field… the wind was a little different (Saturday) which helps, too,” said the 21-year-old Kirilloff. “But you never want to make excuses, you just roll with the punches and deal with it.”

That’s the same way he reflects upon a season where he’s twice dealt with being on the injured list. Since being in the lineup every game since the second half began, his production has climbed.

“I haven’t thought about that,” he said. “For me, each year is its own year. This year has come with challenges as far as injuries, but this is the year that has been given me and I just try and make the best of it.”

Again Saturday, the wind was blowing in from Pensacola Bay as the side effects from Hurricane Barry’s landfall in Louisiana were evident.

This time, the Blue Wahoos drove pitches into outfield gaps. Kirilloff’s first-inning double was followed by an RBI double from Ivan De Jesus Jr., 32, a former major league player, including two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, who the Twins signed earlier this week.

In the second inning, Mark Contreras’ run-scoring double made it 2-0. The Blue Wahoos added three runs in the fifth, all after two out, none-on. They had a triple, double and two singles in that inning.

Kirilloff, Lewin Diaz and Caleb Hamilton all had run-scoring hits.

“That is the Alex we expected,” Borrego said. “He’s a really good hitter. Obviously he was dealing with a lot of stuff. We lost him for couple weeks in the first half.

“But Alex is a very smart guy, he knows what to do. He knows how to make an adjustment. He made some really nice swings. He stayed through the ball Saturday, so that was good.”

On the mound, Charlie Barnes (2-2) earned the win with one of his best starts this season. He worked six innings, allowed six hits, struck out six and allowed just one walk.

Reliever Sam Clay followed Adam Bray in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, one out, and got out of the jam after catcher Brian Navarreto made a perfect throw on Josh Lowe’s attempted steal of second base.

In the ninth, Clay yielded a one-out walk and single, but retired the next two batters, ending the game on a strikeout. Clay has been consistent all season.

“We are so happy for him and the way he’s been pitching this season,” Borrego said. “He’s making a lot of improvements.. If something wrong, he fixes it. And he just gives you results right now.

“His ball has a lot of movement right now.”

The win slowed Montgomery’s movement. The Biscuits had won five in a row and eight of their last nine games. The Blue Wahoos, meanwhile, had lost six of their last seven.

“We know there are still a lot of games left to play and we try not to get too far ahead of ourselves now and take each day as it comes,” Kirilloff said.

Borrego is hoping to repeat the batting practice plan on Sunday in the fourth of six games in this series. The final two games will be Monday and Tuesday night.

“When they hit out on the field, they swing better, they know how the ball carries, so that was helpful,” Borrego said

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