With a strong showing at the plate on Tuesday night, first baseman Jim Murphy accomplished a feat rarely seen. When he flew out to the warning track in the bottom of the 8th inning, he received a rousing ovation from the crowd on hand to see the Class A BlueClaws take on Yankees affiliate Charleston RiverDogs.
“It was surprising for sure,” Murphy said of the nod he received from the appreciative home crowd of 3,644 after his attempt to mash a third homerun in the game fell short.
Murphy, who stands 6-feet-3-inches tall and weighs in at 230 pounds, went 3-for-4 on the night while driving in a career-high 6 runs with a single and 2 powerful homeruns.
The Phillies’ 17th draft selection in the 2007 amateur draft, Murphy, played with Lakewood in 2009 and was with the High A level Clearwater Thresher in 2010.
With his 5th and 6th dingers of the season, Murphy is positioned just 2 homeruns from tying the all-time Lakewood lead in homeruns, 22 currently held by Juan Richardson, who played with the BlueClaws in the team’s inaugural season of 2001.
“Holding any record for any team (would be) fun, especially a record like that. Obviously, (Ryan) Howard and a lot of guys, that are up in the big leagues now, played here. So that would be a cool record to hold,” Murphy stated.
Teammates Cameron Rupp and Edgar Duran each slammed their first homeruns of the season. For Duran, the shortstop that was named Phillies minor league player of the week on Monday, it was the first of his professional career. Second baseman Jeremy Barnes added 3 safeties for Lakewood, to help the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions lock down an 11-1 victory over the RiverDogs.
The BlueClaws got off to a slow start offensively this season, as they scored just 27 total runs in their first 12 games. However, the lumber has really come alive since last week, as Lakewood has plated 55 runs in the past 6 games.
With 15 hits in Tuesday night’s 11-1 victory over Charleston, the ‘Claws continued their recent success at the dish. Manager Chris Truby attributes a new zealous approach and the absence of wasted at bats as reasons for the team’s change of fortune with the bats.
“It’s been nice to see them come out hacking and being aggressive. We’ve had some big 2-out RBI’s. I’ve thought our at bats have been solid for the most part,” Truby said.
The BlueClaws began cracking in the first inning against lefty starter Kramer Sneed. Murphy started things off with a run scoring single and Zach Collier, who received new life in his at bat after a pop foul fell between Sneed and catcher Gary Sanchez, drove in Barnes and Murphy with a triple, that put Lakewood up 3-0.
The runfest rolled on in the 2nd frame, as the home club tacked on 5 more runs. Duran’s solo blast was followed by singles from Aaron Altherr and Geancarlo Mendez as well as a double by Barnes that firmed up a BlueClaws cycle after just 4 outs in the game by Lakewood. A 3-run bomb by Murphy to deep left field capped off the inning.
Later, in the 7th inning, Lakewood would notch its second 2-homer inning of the night when Murphy launched his second four-bagger, a 2-run blast, and struggling catcher Cameron Rupp got his first homerun in a BlueClaws uniform, which cranked the home team’s runs total up to 11.
Rupp, who is batting .186 this season, has been putting in extra work each day, in order to try to improve his offensive output.
“I’ve been working with (hitting coach Greg) Legg everyday, coming in early. The results weren’t showing for me and I was getting frustrated, but I stayed with my plan, got a pitch and got it off,” Rupp stated.
Lost in the story of the collective crush was starting pitcher David Buchanan’s 7 innings of shutout baseball. The Phils’ 7th round draft pick from 2010 pushed his record to 3-0 on the year and lowered his rotation-best ERA to 1.82.
The BlueClaws and RiverDogs will go back at it on Wednesday at 11:05 AM, as last year’s 1st round draft pick by the Phillies, Jesse Biddle, will attempt to earn his first Class A win against right-handed hurler Zach Nudding, who sports a 2-0 record thus far in 2011.
In more minor league news…
The Phillies announced on Tuesday that Double A Reading second baseman Harold Garcia will miss the remainder of the 2011 season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Garcia was batting .300 with 3 doubles and 2 homeruns in 12 games this season with the R-Phils.
The Triple A IronPigs were out-hit 12-2 and were defeated by Pawtucket 7-2. Catcher Dane Sardinha’s 0-for-3 performance in this contest dropped his batting average to .088 for the season in 11 games.
Against the Erie SeaWolves on Tuesday, Reading lost back to back games for the first time this season, as they dropped both ends of a double header. In game 1, Reading was shut out 4-0 and righty starter Austin Hyatt took his first loss of the season while giving up 4 earned runs over 5 innings. In the second game, Erie walked off with 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning (two 7-inning games in minor league double headers) as Justin De Fratus gave up a game ending hit and took the blown save, while Phillippe Aumont was charged with all 3 runs and took the loss.
In more double header action, the High A Clearwater Threshers split 2 games with the Tampa Yankees. In the first contest, RHP Trevor May won his first game of the season, as the Threshers were victorious, 10-1. May tossed a 7 inning complete game, striking out 6 and walking none. In game 2, Tampa won 4-0. Converted pitcher Joe Savery went 3-for-8 with 2 RBI on the day, which puts his season batting average at .456.