By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Stone Crabs’ rough patch continued Tuesday night against the Daytona Tortugas.
Daytona’s 7-2 win gave the Stone Crabs their fifth loss in a row and seventh in their last eight games.
“It just seems right now – our team is a little bit streaky – and right now we’re on a bad streak,” Charlotte manager Michael Johns said. “But it doesn’t mean we can’t put together a good one. It’s just when is it going to happen?”
A pair of highly-touted Cincinnati Reds prospects did the damage for the Tortugas.
MLB Pipeline’s No. 22 overall and Reds’ No. 1 prospect Nick Senzel went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
Reds’ No. 26 prospect Gavin LaValley was a triple shy of the cycle, going 4-for-5, with his third-inning two-run home run representing the eventual game-winning runs.
The Tortugas took advantage of some mistake pitches, tagging Charlotte pitcher Eduar Lopez for a pair of homers on the way to five runs in 5 2/3 innings of work.
Lopez was out-dueled by Daytona’s Jesus Reyes, who pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts and no walks. The Stone Crabs did manage to get eight hits off of Reyes, however.
“Overall, Lopez’s stuff wasn’t bad. He was in the strike zone with all of his stuff, but they’re a good team,” Johns said. “They made him pay for what I thought were pretty good pitches.”
Reliever Noel Rodriguez had a nice outing in relief of Lopez. Rodriguez threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, gave up just one hit and struck out four.
“He keeps making good strides,” Johns said of Rodriguez. “When he can drive the baseball down, he’s pretty good. He got some bad swings against a pretty good hitting team. He was outstanding tonight.”
Tampa Bay Rays reliever Tommy Hunter (calf) started the game and made his first rehab appearance Tuesday with the Stone Crabs.
Hunter tossed 21 pitches in one inning of work, and allowed two runs on three hits. He struck out three Tortugas while consistently hitting 95 miles per hour on the radar gun.
“You don’t want to put those guys in a hole like that,” Hunter said. “The calf felt good and hopefully it stays this way for a while. It was good to get back out there finally. It’s been a layoff and it’s always fun to get out there and throw.”
The Stone Crabs took Hunter off the hook with a pair of runs in the second inning for their only runs of the game.
Brett Sullivan hit a leadoff double. Ryan Boldt attempted a sacrifice bunt in the next at-bat, which went better than planned, as catcher Chris Okey made a throwing error, allowing Sullivan to score and Boldt to go to second base.
Boldt eventually came around to score on a Jake Fraley single.
Sullivan went 2-for-4 with that one run scored. Fraley and Boldt also had two hits.