In an effort to write more than I have been, I decided to try at least putting together “Just One Thing” about each game I cover. It might be about a particular play, an at-bat, or a guy’s walk-up song. Whatever piques my interest that game. We’ll see how long this lasts.
The first two pitches Tyler Mapes delivered on Saturday night were both laced for doubles by Richmond’s Bryce Johnson and Ryan Howard. The next four Mapes tossed weren’t in the strike zone with the last one hitting Jalen Miller.
This wasn’t the start Mapes or anyone in the Senators’ dugout had hoped for entering the game.
The previous night, starter Kyle McGowin couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, and Jordan Mills’ injury taxed the bullpen to pick up the slack. The last thing they needed was a short outing by Mapes, and that’s where things looked like they were headed in a hurry.
The 28-year-old right-hander, however, worked out of the jam allowing only two first-inning runs when the Flying Squirrels’ rally could have put the Senators in a much bigger hole to start the game.
“I was a little worried,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He did a nice job squashing the damage.”
After that, Mapes settled down and gave the Senators precisely what they needed on the night. He followed with seven shutout innings allowing only five more hits while striking out 10 in his outing.
“Honestly, I found something in my motion,” Mapes said of the adjustment after the first inning. “Something finally clicked in my mechanics. It’s been a while. When I felt that feeling again, I was able to pitch to my strengths.”
Thanks in no small part to Richmond’s hideous defense, Harrisburg exploded for ten combined runs in the third and fourth innings to coast to an 11-2 win. The margin of victory also allowed LeCroy to stick with Mapes through 91 pitches.
“That was huge for our bullpen,” the skipper said. “It allowed me to give some guys a day off.”
Mapes’ season so far has been inconsistent at best, but when the pitching staff needed him to come up large, he delivered in a big moment.