By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns (19-30) are coming off a series loss to Birmingham, and look for a fresh start in the series opener with the Montgomery Biscuits (23-26) tonight with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET from Bragan Field.
All three losses for the Suns against the Barons came in walk-off fashion. The five-game set featured Suns closer Sean Donatello blowing a pair of saves including in the rubber match yesterday. Jacksonville has moved to a season-worst 11 games back of first place in the Southern League South Division standings.
The Montgomery Biscuits enter this series 23-26 and six and a half games back of the first-place Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League North Division standings. The Biscuits control the league’s third-best batting average (.263) and eighth in ERA (4.03). Outfielder Boog Powell comes in controlling the S.L.’s ninth-best batting average (.321) and is fifth in on-base percentage (.411). Outfielder Johnny Field is tied for third in RBI (33), tied for second in extra base-hits (23), fifth in slugging percentage (.517), and fifth in total bases (89). Infielder Daniel Robertson is tied for second in doubles (15) and knotted in fifth for extra-base hits (21). The pitching staff features Jamie Schultz who sports the S.L.’s best K/9 rate (11.47) while striking out a total of 62 batters. Left-hander Blake Snell made headlines a week ago after having a streak of 49 consecutive innings in which he pitched in scoreless fashion. That streak came to an end in the first inning of a contest with the Tennessee Smokies on 5/23. According to Baseball America, the longest shutout run in Minor League history was 72 innings by Irv Wilhelm, who ran up the tally over stints in the Minors that spanned 1907-11.
Tonight’s pitching matchup will feature Jacksonville right-hander Kendry Flores to be opposed by Montgomery righty Austin Pruitt. Flores enters tonight’s series opener with a 3-3 record attached with a 2.06 ERA. In his last start against Birmingham on 5/27, Flores would pick up the win, tossing six innings allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits while walking two and striking out three. The native of the Domincan Republic has really shined in the month of May, working to a 2-0 record while posting a 1.06 ERA over 34 frames and five starts. He came over from the Marlins organization in a trade that sent major league veteran Casey McGehee to the San Francisco Giants. Flores remains as the only member of the Suns on the current Marlins 40-man roster.
Pruitt takes the ball 2-4 with a 3.66 ERA over nine starts this year. The former ninth-round draft pick of the Biscuits shouldered a losing decision in his last start against Tennessee on 5/25, after he tossed five frames surrendering six runs (all earned) on eight hits while walking two and striking out four. Pruitt has one start against Jacksonville this year which came on 4/16, and it was a no decision that saw the righty last seven innings allowing one run (earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out seven. This is his first year in double-A, after spending last season with the high-A Charlotte Stone Crabs producing a 9-7 record and a 3.73 ERA over 25 starts and collecting ‘Pitcher of the Week’ honors on 8/4/14.
Fans can listen to the game live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Roger Hoover and Kyle Crooks will host the Memorial Hospital Suns Pre-Game Show beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.
The 2015 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Sponsorships, group outings, and season/individual game tickets are currently available by calling the Suns front office at (904) 358-2846.
Matchup: Montgomery Biscuits (23-26) @ Jacksonville Suns (19-30)
Starters: MTG: RHP Austin Pruitt: (2-4, 3.66 ERA) vs. JAX: Kendry Flores (3-3, 2.06 ERA)
Who’s Hot: Kenny Wilson had a solid series in Birmingham after finishing .391 at the plate, he would also reek havoc on the base paths stealing five bases while collecting a pair of RBI. Austin Nola knocked in four men in the series against the Barons, and has produced the second most RBI (20) on the team through 50 games. Zack Cox continues his torrid pace offensively, over his last 10 games he’s posted a .478 average which has helped catapult him to control the S.L.’s seventh best B.A. (.326).
Suns Spots: Here’s a note from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes:
-Starter Kendry Flores is first in WHIP (0.85), first in batting average against (.172), first in fewest baserunners allowed per nine innings (7.94), and fourth in ERA (2.06) in the Southern League. Closer Sean Donatello is first in saves (12) in the S.L. Reliever Lay Batista has generated the league’s lowest average against holding opposing batters to a .097 average. Zack Cox rests in fourth in on-base percentage (.413), and seventh in batting average (.326).