Despite a rocky performance on Saturday night, the Manatees bullpen has gotten off to a strong start so far in 2014.
After Tyler Wagner sparkled through the first five innings of the season opener on Thursday, the bullpen was stellar in shutting the door on the Cubs.
Tommy Toledo, who led the Manatees with 20 saves in 2013, picked up his first save of the season. The right-hander threw just 13 pitches to close out the 1-0 victory against Daytona.
A night later, the bullpen was arguably even stronger over the game’s final 4.1 innings in the team’s first road game at Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
After leading the team in wins and earned run average a year ago as a starter, right-hander Jacob Barnes faced the minimum amount of hitters over 2.1 innings of relief.
Left-hander Mike Strong, who struck out 98 batters over 87 innings in Class-A Wisconsin a year ago, retired the heart of the Cubs lineup in order, including a strike out of power-hitting left fielder Rock Shoulders.
Despite allowing three hits in the bottom of the tenth, Tanner Poppe got the job done for the ‘Tees as well and picked up his first save of the year.
With the tying run at second and the winning run at first, Poppe got Daytona’s center fielder Albert Almora to hit a weak grounder back to the mound to end the threat and give Brevard County their second straight win to start the season.
Over the opening two games of the Manatees season, six different relievers combined to allow just five hits and strike out six batters over 8.1 scoreless innings pitched.
Friday night’s starter Damien Magnifico had nothing but praise for the team’s relievers through the first two games.
“Our bullpen’s great,” said Magnifico. “As a starter, you know they’re going be behind and clean things up when you get into a mess. Having that comfort is everything.”
The Manatees finish their four game set with the Daytona Cubs tonight at the Jack. Be sure to tune into the broadcast with the pregame show slated to begin at 6:30 and first pitch scheduled for 7:05. Listen to the live broadcast HERE.
‘Tees Tidbits: Manatees infielder Orlando Arcia is off to a hot start to the 2014 campaign…Despite being the youngest player in the FSL, Arcia has picked up a base-hit in each of the first three games and currently leads the ‘Tees in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, RBI, and extra-base hits…Strikeouts have been a problem for both Brevard County and Daytona through the first three games of the series…The two clubs have combined to strike out 41 times compared to just 19 walks over the season’s first 28 innings.