Simmons, Suns bullpen team up to get job done

August 30, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

Jeramy Simmons avoided the one thing on Tuesday that has led him to a 1-4 record as a starting pitcher since his callup from Brooklyn - the big blowout inning by an opponent.

The right-hander kept Lake County at bay through 6 2/3 innings and then turned things over to the bullpen, and the Hagerstown Suns downed the Captains 3-2 at Municipal Stadium in the second game of the final eight-game homestand.

Simmons allowed a seventh-inning unearned run, walked only two and fanned five before leaving after 102 pitches with the Suns clinging to a 3-1 lead.

"I stayed away from the big inning ... eliminated walks," said Simmons. "I was hitting corners with my sinker ... started it on the black of the plate and it was working. I think I've pitched well."


Two of the five hits Simmons allowed came in the seventh. After a walk, manager Frank Cacciatore went to Nick Abel in the pen.

With runners on first and second and one down, Abel came in and fanned Lake County's Roman Pena and Matt Fornasiere.

Who was the first to greet Abel coming off the mound? Simmons, who was right there as Abel protected the lead.

"(Abel) came in and did a great job," said Simmons. "I've got all the confidence in our pen. It's my job to make a quality start."

Abel got bumped for a run in the eighth on a double and a run-scoring single by Mike Butia, but wiggled out of further trouble when he front-ended a 1-6-3 Suns double play.

That meant the ninth inning was time for Kevin Tomasiewicz, who has become the Suns' closer over the second half. Tomasiewicz closed the deal, striking out two as he gained his 19th save.

"I come in knowing I can't blow it for the team," said Tomasiewicz, who added knowing his role as a closer has made a big difference in his pitching. "Tonight, I wanted to do it for (Jeramy). That got some adrenalin going."

"(Kevin) has worked his way into the (closer) role," said Cacciatore. "And (Simmons) stayed in the zone tonight and kept them swinging. Abel got two big strikeouts and I think that was a big part of the game."

The Suns pitching staff has gone under the 4.00 ERA mark for the year, leaving Cacciatore happy.

"This team has not stopped playing," he said. "It's part of the character of this team. It's nice to see in the last few days."

The Suns drew first blood in the third inning when Sean Henry doubled and scored on Jose Castro's single.

A two-run sixth inning by the Suns turned out to be the difference. Ryan Coultas led off with a double and scored on Jonel Pacheco's 10th homer of the year.

Pacheco was originally asked to bunt, but fouled off a pitch. After taking a second strike, he ripped an Albert Vargas pitch over the fence in deep left center.

Captains right fielder P.J. Hiser, a South Hagerstown graduate, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

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