Mow-‘Em-Down Magnifico – TBT 5/22
When we left you on Monday, we made a promise. After RHP Damien Magnifico spun a complete game, two-hit shutout to defeat the Jupiter Hammerheads, we vowed to take an in-depth look at Magnifico’s outing and take a Throwback Thursday-style look back at recent complete game shutouts by Brevard County pitchers.
Rest assured, we never break our promises. First, though, let’s take a listen to the highlights from that gem:
So, that’s how Magnifico’s complete game sounded, but what made him so effective? The right-hander kept the ball on the ground. Of the 27 outs Magnifico recorded, 15 of them were on the ground. He also fanned five Hammerheads, which means that just seven of his outs were in the air.
As a hard-throwing right-hander – who has been clocked at 100 mph with his fastball in the past, but is more consistently between 94-96 mph – you might expect Magnifico to keep the ball up in an attempt to get hitters to chase. That would, hypothetically, lead to more fly ball outs and sometimes home runs.
Magnifico, however, has not given up a homer this season. That is because his success has largely come from mixing inside fastballs with sliders low and away to produce ground balls, as he explained to MiLB.com after his performance on Monday morning.
If you look even deeper into Magnifico’s propensity for ground balls, you will notice that three men who reached base against the starter in his complete game performance did so on ground balls. Jupiter’s two singles were on grounders and the ‘Tees infield committed an error behind Magnifico on a ground ball in the sixth.
With all those ground balls, it would appear Magnifico’s fastball-slider strategy was working well against the Hammerheads. The right-hander’s Manatees teammates gave him their own special brand of congratulations:
Do you remember?
After Magnifico stifled Jupiter, it got us wondering… When was the last time we saw a performance like that from somebody in a Manatees uniform? As it turns out, that question has two correct answers:
As Manatees broadcaster Dave Walkovic noted, RHP Drew Gagnon’s performance was of the seven-inning variety, as it was the first game of a doubleheader. That, however, should not diminish Gagnon’s accomplishment. The right-hander struck out seven men, walked one and only allowed three hits. In the second game of the doubleheader, Brevard County RHP Nick Bucci and LHP Alan Williams combined to strike out 10 Flying Tigers in a 4-1 win.
So, Gagnon holds the last official complete game shutout by a Brevard County Manatee before Magnifico. Who, though, was the last to pitch a complete game shutout over nine innings?
RHP Evan Anundsen had everything working in a 10:35 a.m. start against the Daytona Cubs. That much was clear, as the right-hander turned in a no-hitter to beat the Manatees’ I-95 rivals, 1-0. Anundsen allowed four baserunners on a walk, a hit-batsman and a pair of errors in the infield.
Other than that, Anundsen was flawless, despite waking up at 6 a.m. to catch the team bus. On that April 28 morning and into the early afternoon, the then 20-year old struck out 10 Cubs batters, including the final hitter of the game.
In fact, Anundsen had to compose himself to strike out the game’s final batter. The previous batter had popped up to shortstop, but Nate Brewer had trouble with the afternoon sun in Daytona Beach and dropped the ball. With a runner on second, Anundsen fanned Tyler Colvin to complete the second no-hitter in Manatees history.
Finally, did anybody notice a common thread between Magnifico, Gagnon and Anundsen? Each one of their complete game shutouts came on the road.
After Magnifico’s complete game shutout, LHP Jed Bradley came back the next day and pitched nine scoreless innings against the Palm Beach Cardinals. The Manatees lost the game in 11 innings, however, by a score of 1-0.
Bradley’s performance continued a trend of dominance by Brevard County’s starting pitchers. Over the first five games of the Manatees’ road trip to Jupiter and Palm Beach, the starting staff maintained a startling 0.25 ERA.