The Brevard County Manatees snapped their four-game losing streak on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory over the Florida State League’s top team, the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Javi Salas was impressive, with six innings of shutout baseball, in front of 1,270 fans at Space Coast Stadium.
Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy started his injury rehab assignment with the Manatees in this game and helped Salas navigate through the first five innings. Lucroy was impressive in his own right, both offensively and defensively. He roped a single to right in his first at bat in the first inning, following a single by Chris McFarland. Two outs later, Taylor Brennan singled McFarland home, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.
Lucroy showed his defensive prowess behind the plate in the top of the second. After Salas walked the first two hitters, Yoel Araujo tried to sacrifice the runners and Lucroy jumped out from behind the plate, fielded the ball and gunned down Alec Sole at third.
The Manatees (19-27) had their chances to add to the lead in the early going, but they ended up stranding nine runners on base in the first four innings, against Charlotte starter German Marquez. The best of those chances came in the fourth when Omar Garcia singled with one out and McFarland was hit in the top of the head with a pitch.
McFarland would be fine and he proved it on the back end of a successful double steal with Garcia. Clint Coulter followed with a walk, loading the bases for Victor Roache, who couldn’t get the job done, as he popped out to third.
Charlotte (32-15) couldn’t make the most of the opportunities they had against Salas, despite having eight hits, leaving 13 runners on base and having the Manatees commit three errors. Two of those errors came in the top of the sixth, when McFarland and Taylor Brennan booted two. The Stone Crabs got a runner to third, but Salas struck out Araujo to end the inning.
Salas ended his night there, pitching six innings, giving up six hits, walking two and striking out five. He was relieved by Tristan Archer, who pitched well in his 1.2 innings of work. He overcame a McFarland error in the seventh and in the eighth, he gave up a single to Granden Goetzman, who got to second on a fielder’s choice after Araujo hit one to short. Angel Ortega went to second to force Goetzman, but he was called safe on a bang, bang play.
Manatees’ manager Joe Ayrault was taking no chances, he pulled Archer in favor of lefty Trevor Seidenberger. He issued a walk to Braxton Lee to load the bases but got Dayron Varona to ground out, ending the eighth inning.
Brevard County got their insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Roache singled and went to second on a ground out by Brennan. He scored moments later on a single by Garrett Cooper, making it a 2-0 ballgame. Seidenberger came back out in the ninth and got the Stone Crabs in order, recording his fourth save of the season.
For more info: Charlotte @ Brevard County boxscore
The Manatees managed 12 hits, but like Charlotte, left 13 on base. This was a much needed win, especially after Wednesday’s failed comeback, in a 3-2 defeat. The final game of the series is set for Friday, at 6:35 p.m. Jorge Ortega (3-4, 2.21 ERA will take the mound for the ‘Tees.
Game notes: Lucroy played five innings behind the plate and went 1-for-3 at the plate. He is slated to be the designated hitter in Friday’s series finale and is expected to get four plate appearances.