Walk This Way

The Huntsville Stars had no singles among their hits Thursday night and drew 15 walks in a nine-inning game. Rather than an easy victory, though, the Stars were beaten 10-4 by visiting Jacksonville.

Three Suns pitchers–lefty Alvis Ojeda, righthander B.J. LaMura and ex-big leaguer Matt Riley–combined to have “one of those nights,” as pitching coach Danny Darwin put it. Darwin, who’s been around the pro game since signing with the Rangers as an amateur in 1976, said he’d never seen a combination of 15 walks and just four runs in a game.

“Each one of our pitchers made good pitches when they needed to,” he said. “I was joking with them that I made more visits to the mound in one night than I’d made all year. I was trying to loosen them up, telling them they were trying to kill my knees by making me walk out there so much. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen 15 walks.”

Ojeda was the main culprit, walking eight in four frames, while LaMura, working off a low-90s fastball with good movement down in the zone when he’s right, walked five in three hitless innings. Riley walked two more in two innings to finish.

Jacksonville ranks third in the Southern League in ERA (2.98) but is leading the league with 74 walks in 130 innings. They also lead in strikeouts with 139, with top prospect Scott Elbert (24 Ks, 10 BB) helping lead the way on both counts. Closer Jonathan Meloan, who hasn’t walked a batter and has 13 whiffs in eight innings, has helped the most to keep down the walks and has impressed Darwin as much as any pitcher on the staff.

“He’s been up to 95, and he’s been outstanding,” Darwin said. “He’s very aggressive and attacks the zone the way we want guys to. He’s on a mission to get to the big leagues. It’s just a matter of refining his stuff and command. I like the stuff, I like his makeup and his mentality. He’s just on a mission.”