By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Three runs in the first inning Thursday night would be all the Florida Fire Frogs would need to steal a win against the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the series opener.
All three of those runs came off Tampa Bay Rays reliever Brad Boxberger, as the Stone Crabs fells 10-2 in their return home after an eight-game road trip. Boxberger is on a rehab assignment with the Stone Crabs while being on the 60-day Disabled List out of spring training.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Fire Frogs, who are in the cellar of the Florida State League’s North Division.
“Obviously they swung the bats very well tonight,” Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns said. “They had a couple of balls that just fell in, a couple of hard-hit balls and a couple of home runs.
“It was just one of those night. I thought we hit the ball well, too. It just didn’t fall.”
The Stone Crabs did manage to get a pair of runs in the second inning to bring it to 4-2 at the time, but the Fire Frogs plated another three in the third to put the game out of reach.
Dalton Kelly had a strong evening with the bat, going 3-for-3 with three singles. Jim Haley picked up an RBI.
Also rehabbing, in addition to Boxberger, was catcher Wilson Ramos, who was behind the plate for five innings and went 0-for-3 with the bat.
Charlotte pitchers combined to surrender 17 hits and six walks. A majority of that came off scheduled starter Roel Ramirez, who allowed four runs on 11 hits in five innings.
All-star second baseman Brandon Lowe was hit by a pitch in his right forearm toward the end of the road trip.
Lowe hasn’t played since then due to continued soreness. According to Johns, Lowe hasn’t taken at-bats in the last few days, but he was able to do running and fielding drills on Thursday.
He’s not expected to land on the disabled list because of the injury, and could potentially see the field at the end of this weekend.
Kevin Padlo, who’s continuing to recover from a hand injury, is still a few weeks away from returning, Johns said.
Just like with Lowe, Padlo isn’t swinging the bat just yet, but he is running and throwing.