With Kevin Gausman taking the mound to face Harrisburg, the story on Saturday night was supposed to be about pitching. It was, but Paul Demny and Trevor Holder stole the show from the #2 rated prospect in the Orioles organization in the Senators’ 6-1 victory over the Bowie Baysox.
Steven Souza gave Harrisburg an early 2-0 lead with a home run up and over the left-centerfield boardwalk on a 1-2 curveball. Justin Bloxom and Ricky Hague followed in successive innings with two-run base hits to give the Senators all the offense they would need on the night.
Demny came into spring training in the best shape of his life and through three effortless innings he showed he was a different pitcher than what he showed last year on City Island. “(He) got after it from pitch one. We didn’t see these large gaps in velocity with his fastball,” pitching coach Paul Menhart elaborated, “His effort was consistent for his whole outing.”
But in the fourth inning, Demny had a bout of wildness that prompted a visit to the mound from Menhart, “I wanted him to be Spring Training Paul…The carefree attitude is what makes him effective. If he starts thinking too much he gets into alot of trouble.”
Moments later a groundball went through Josh Johnson’s legs and Demny’s new demeanor was put to the test. But the righthander struck out the last two batters to avoid further damage and a potential meltdown that was more than likely last season. Manager Matt LeCroy noticed, “To see him overcame that little bit of adversity with the error and then to come back and get out of that showed me some maturity.”
Trevor Holder finished up the strong pitching performance by working an efficient four innings of relief to secure the victory. “He had very good bottom to his fastball when he was trying to sink it and he was getting some easy outs,” Menhart said, “That was a pretty impressive outing.”
Player of the Game: Paul Demny (5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 6 K)
From the Windup
• Word on Matt Skole’s injury from Friday night is that it’s a wrist strain with a small fracture that will keep the slugging first baseman on the disabled list for an estimated 3-4 weeks. Manager Matt LeCroy also said he has tenderness in his elbow and will see the doctors in DC on Sunday.
• With his four innings of one-hit scoreless relief, Holder picked up the first save of his professional career.
• Steven Souza continued his impressive first week in Double-A as he crushed the Senators’ first home run of the season to stake the club to a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish. LeCroy had nothing but praise for the way Souza has matured since the first time he managed him in Potomac during the 2011 season, “When he comes out here to the field you can tell he has a purpose in what he’s trying to do.” He went on to compare Souza to his former teammate Michael Cuddyer in that the outfielder “plays with intent that he’s not going to ever back down from whatever the score is”.
• The Senators used a balanced attack where ever player collected at least one hit and Sean Nicol was the only one to register two.
• The Rochester Red Wings home opener against the Buffalo Bisons on Saturday afternoon featured a pitching matchup of former Senators on the hill. Claudio Vargas (’02, ’03) threw four innings in the 9-2 Buffalo victory and didn’t factor into the decision. Shairon Martis (’06, ’08, ’11) started for Rochester and was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs in only three innings.
• It’s not often you see a below-average runner like Sandy Leon go from first to third on a seemingly routine groundball up the middle, but that’s what the Venezuelan catcher did in the fourth inning on Sean Nicol’s first hit. LeCroy praised the aggressive baserunning program the Nationals implemented in the minor league system in 2010 for that kind of a play, “That’s something we have to do as an organization is be able to run the bases. I think Bryce Harper changed our big league team by the way he runs the bases.”