A potential pitcher’s duel between former big-leaguers quickly turned into a offensive battle as the Nashville Sounds topped the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 12-8 before a crowd of 3,177 at Security Service Field.
Making his first start of the season, John Ely made quick work of the Sounds order in the early going with the help of some devastating changeups, striking out three of his first five batters faced. Staked to an early 2-0 lead heading into the top of the third inning, Ely struggled to find the same efficiency giving up six runs on six hits and two walks over his next 1.2 innings pitched before being relieved by left-hander Jed Bradley with two outs in the fourth.
2002 Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito started for Nashville in his first Triple-A appearance since a rehab stint with the Fresno Grizzlies in 2011. Zito’s signature curveball carried him through four strong innings of work until things started to unravel in the bottom of the fifth inning. After surrendering a loud lead-off double to Elian Herrera, a walk to Jason Rogers and a game-tying double to Matt Clark, Sky Sox center fielder Ben Guez made Zito pay with a prodigious blast that went well over the left field fence. The three-run shot travelled an astonishing 429 feet and brought the Sox back to a one-run deficit at 6-5. Things seemed like they would continue to go in favor of manager Rick Sweet’s squad as third baseman Jason Rogers added to the slug fest with a two-run shot off of Sounds reliever Kevin Whelan in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the team an 8-6 lead.
Bradley and fellow reliever Ariel Peńa combined to turn in 3.1 innings of 1-run ball as the Sky Sox carried an 8-7 lead into the 8th inning. Former Brewers set-up man Brandon Kintzler (0-1, 54.00) started the 8th but was only able to record one out before being pulled with an apparent injury with a 1-0 count on Nashville right fielder Jason Pridie. David Goforth was summoned to pick up where Kintzler left off in what was his first ever Triple-A appearance after serving as Double-A Huntsville’s All-Star closer in 2014. While Goforth recorded his first career Triple-A strikeout after blowing second baseman Joey Wendle away with a 94 mph fastball, he struggled with command, ultimately allowing his inherited runners to score while giving up a run of his own. Nashville continued to pile on the runs and brought in righty Chad Smith to shut the door as they downed the Sky Sox by a final score of 12-8, giving Ryan Cook (1-0, 0.00) the win after a strong two inning relief appearance.
There was certainly no lack of offense in the game as the two sides combined for a total of 32 hits and 20 runs scored. Rogers, Guez, Herrera and opening night hero Matt Clark turned in strong offensive performances that give the team optimism heading into game three of the 2015 season.
The Sky Sox will look to take control of the four-game series in game three tomorrow night at Security Service Field as LHP Nick Additon (NR) makes his season debut against Nashville right-hander Angel Catro (NR). First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 PM MST.