Jumbo Hooks: First Half of Season Complete

In the most rain-shortened and altered series at the Baseball Grounds this season, the Jumbo Shrimp (30-40) were able to close the first half of the Southern League slate on a three-game win streak. Jacksonville swept the Sunday doubleheader, 3-2 and 1-0, over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the first-half South Division champion. It’s the first time the Shrimp have won three in a row since May 25 and 26. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday were rain-impacted. Friday and Sunday were turned into doubleheaders.

The Jumbo Shrimp completed the first half of the season in last place of the five-team South Division, just a half-game back of the Mobile BayBears, Jacksonville’s first home opponent of the second half. Crustacean Nation, the Jumbo Shrimp return home next Wednesday, June 28. The Blue Wahoos (40-30) clinched their fourth consecutive half-season division crown with Friday’s 1-0 win in game two of the doubleheader. The four straight titles date back to 2015. The Chattanooga Lookouts, with the league’s best record at 42-28, won the North Division and own a three-game win streak.

  1. Rain postponed Wednesday’s game to turn Thursday into a doubleheader of two seven-inning games. More rain hit after one out in the sixth inning to give Pensacola the 1-0 victory. The completion of five innings makes a game official. Jax starting pitcher Joe Gunkel (1-3) went a third straight start of at least five innings – all coming in the month of June. On Thursday, he gave up six hits, three walks with a strikeout. The second game was moved to Friday to make the last day of the work week a pair of seven-inning games (let’s try this again, rain).
  2. In Friday’s first game, a 9-3 Blue Wahoos win, Jacksonville had a pair of Miami Marlins batting one/two in the lineup on rehab assignments. Pensacola had a Cincinnati Reds pitcher on rehab as well, with left-hander Brandon Finnegan starting and impressively retiring the first nine Jumbo Shrimp he faced. Martin Prado, starting at third base, ripped a lead-off double to open the fourth inning down the left field line for the only hit against Finnegan over four innings. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria finished 0-for-2 as both Marlins rehabbing played the first five innings Friday. The Bold City squad was able to get one run, which was enough to send All-Star left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham to his third consecutive win, and find a groove in Friday’s second game. Kickham gave up four hits and one walk over his five scoreless innings. He also scored in the third inning off Brian Anderson’s two-out triple to right center field. The 1-0 victory snapped Pensacola’s five-game winning streak over Jacksonville.
  3. Another Marlin, reliever Junichi Tazawa, came to Jacksonville on a rehab assignment. He struck out one batter in the top of the sixth Thursday night. Tazawa pitched the entire fourth inning with two strikeouts. His two outings versus Pensacola produced three strikeouts against four opponents with no hits allowed. Early Thursday, Jax had two roster changes. Left-handed reliever Daniel Schlereth – who pitched in nine Jumbo Shrimp games with one save and a 2.70 ERA – was sent to Triple-A New Orleans. Chris O’Grady, another left-handed reliever, comes to the First Coast after six starts in nine games with New Orleans. He held a 2-3 record and a 3.93 ERA in those games with the Baby Cakes.
  4. Due to more rain late Saturday afternoon, the Jumbo Shrimp and Blue Wahoos were forced to play another pair of seven-inning games on Sunday. A couple of one-run wins to finish the weekend sent Jacksonville into the All-Star break with good vibes. Check out video highlights of the Shrimp’s Sunday performances. Martin Prado and Adeiny Hechavarria, like on Friday, played the first five innings in Sunday’s first game and each went 1 for 3. Sunday’s second game was scoreless through six innings. Right-hander Chris Mazza allowed five hits and fanned three before Andy Beltre came in to record the win, his second with the Jumbo Shrimp and first since May 20.
  5. The majority of Southern League players will get a couple days of rest because of Tuesday’s Southern League All-Star Game in Pensacola. The Jumbo Shrimp will start the second half of its season on Thursday in Jackson, Tennessee. Jacksonville last played the Generals May 24-28 at the Baseball Grounds. The Shrimp took three of five games. Interestingly, that was the last series Jax won before taking the recent Pensacola set. With the Jackson series, the Jumbo Shrimp have gone back-to-back matchups against Southern League teams that had six players selected to the league’s ASG.