The Week in Winston: Dash update, June 23-29

Oscar Colás (Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

The Dash are still the only full-season Sox club above .500, but they haven’t quite been able to escape its orbit. They went 4-2 on the week, are 15-10 in June, and are 37-34 overall. In fact, they dipped down to 33-33 after a loss on June 23, which was also the day the first half ended without much fanfare; they ended up in fourth place and 8.5 back. The Rays-affiliated Bowling Green Hot Rods finished first, so they were the only team in the division to clinch a playoff spot, and now the standings reset for the second-half title. So far in the new half, the Dash are 4-1 and in first place (please don’t do math with their second-half record and amount of season remaining). 

There was one major personnel move this week (no offense to 22-year-old Moisés Castillo, who fully earned his promotion to the Birmingham Barons with a .280/.388/.323 line with the Dash). Colson Montgomery came up from the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers to take his place, and the 2021 first-rounder is immediately raking with no sign of slowing down. His on-base streak remained intact over the transition and is currently thriving at 37 games.

In more minor news, infielder Shawn Goosenberg hit the full-season Injured List after going on and off all year, RHP Wilber Perez was activated from the less-than-full-season IL, and RHP Jeremiah Burke, who has been a sorely missed starting presence this year, was sent on a rehab assignment to the ACL.

Top pitching performances

Cristian Mena (June 23, Dash debut): 5 IP, 6 H, R, 4 BB, 2 K, balk (season, two levels: 62.2 IP, 55 H, 21 R (20 ER), 20 BB, 72 K, 2.87 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

Chase Solesky (June 24): 6 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, 5 K (season: 62.1 IP, 71 H, 29 R (27 ER), 17 BB, 43 K, 3.90 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Drew Dalquist (June 26): 4 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 4 K (season: 60 IP, 58 H, 40 R (36 ER), 35 BB, 47 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Luis Moncada (relief): 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 5 K (season, two levels): 32.1 IP, 43 H, 34 R (31 ER), 21 BB, 20 K, 8.63 ERA, 1.98 WHIP)

Karan Patel (relief): 3 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 3 K, WP (season: 34.1 IP, 25 H, 19 R (17 ER), 22 BB, 45 K, 4.46 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

Vince Vannelle (relief): 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (season, two levels: 30.1 IP, 21 H, 6 R (5 ER), 9 BB, 38 K, 1.48 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)

Top hitting performances

Duke Ellis (CF/DH/LF): 9-for-26, 0 XBH, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, 9 K, 4 SB, 1 CS (season: .308/.378/.454, 29 SB, 4 CS)

Oscar Colás (DH/CF): 11-for-21 (!!), 2 2B, R, 4 RBI, BB, K, GIDP (season: .315/.369/.498)

Colson Montgomery (SS, Dash only): 7-for-20, 2B, 2 HR, 6 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K (season, two levels: .326/.425/.500)

Luis Mieses (RF): 6-for-21, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB, 2 K, GIDP (season: .283/.330/.439)

Harvin Mendoza (1B): 6-for-19, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (season: .222/.300/.374)

Weekly rundown

Dash bats were near-utterly stymied at the plate on June 23, 19-year-old Cristian Mena pitching five innings and allowing just one run in his first start at the level but leaving with a no-decision. The Dash were able to manage four hits (all singles) against Hudson Valley Renegades starter Blas Castano, who went seven innings and whose only run was unearned in a two-error fifth inning. 

Of the team’s five total hits (all singles), three were off the bat of Oscar Colás and two were by Harvin Mendoza, whose own error led to two unearned runs for Luis Moncada in the eighth (with one on and one out, the error should have been out number two; a lineout immediately followed, then a two-run single). Bryan Ramos, Tyler Osik, and Keegan Fish each walked, but that was it for offense.

Moncada’s two unearned runs were all he allowed over the final two innings. Ty Madrigal preceded him with two innings and three runs, all earned after a hit by pitch, walk, and three-run bomb. Dash lose 6-1.

It was a very similar line score on June 24 with, thankfully, a different outcome. Although the Dash again walked three times and again amassed five hits (and, weirdly, five walks), they edged out the Renegades 2-1.

One could convincingly argue that Colson Montgomery was the deciding factor in this one, making his debut for the Dash at shortstop and batting second in the lineup. The first hit of the ballgame was his first hit at the level, a game-tying solo blast to lead off the fourth. He singled with two outs in the sixth for a 2-for-4 day. He also made an error, but it’s good to get that out of the way quickly and harmlessly.

The second Dash run was unearned; Luis Mieses hit his 24th double of the season, was grounded to third by Adam Hackenberg, and scored the eventual winning run on a Mendoza-involved error.

Meanwhile, Chase Solesky had another great outing, finishing six innings for the third time this year. Encouragingly, he walked zero, and has only walked four total over his last seven starts, spanning 32⅔ innings. The only run he allowed was a solo jack to Hardman in the second.

Skyler Árias’s scoreless streak to open his Dash career continued with two perfect innings and Vince Vannelle earned his third save with a scoreless ninth. They struck out three apiece; altogether, the pitching staff walked none and struck out 11. Dash win 2-1.

For the first time since April 28 and the fourth time in his career, Duke Ellis both stole a base (his 27th) and was caught stealing (his fourth time) on June 25. Both events happened in very quick succession during Colás’s third-inning at-bat that did culminate in a resultantly fruitless double. Insultingly, a Renegade—Bowman, nemesis of Hardman—successfully stole two bases, his 27th and 28th.

The Dash took the lead early, relinquished it before too long just two innings later, then took it back for good forthwith. They went up 1-0 in the first with Montgomery, Colás, and Mieses all singling with one out; anticlimactically, the one run came on an Osik ground ball out to short.

Matthew Thompson had a gleaming two-start stretch at the beginning of June where he went 11⅔ IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K, but in each of his three starts since then he’s allowed exactly three runs. This isn’t so much of a problem when they’re surrounded by 5⅓ innings and nine strikeouts, like on June 14, but harder to get around when he only goes four innings like his last two outings. Here, he walked three and struck out three, allowing nine baserunners total. He and Osik also combined for four stolen bases allowed.

He was able to escape with a no-decision, though, with Everhett Hazelwood emerging victorious. Hazelwood took over in the fifth, Dash trailing 3-1. In the bottom of that inning, Ellis hit a leadoff single, advanced on a Montgomery ground ball, then was driven in on a Colás base hit to cut the deficit to 3-2 (Colás had four hits total).

Hazelwood kept the Renegades scoreless in the top of the sixth, and with one out in the bottom, Ben Norman walked and Brandon Bossard singled before each being balked a base up. Jason Matthews singled to load the bases and Ellis drew a full-count RBI walk to tie it at 3-3. Montgomery remained unfazed by the level with a go-ahead single, which is where the fun (temporarily) ended, Colás grounding into a force at home and Mieses with a routine fly ball to end in the inning at 4-3.

The Dash scored two more ultimately unnecessary runs in the seventh. Osik was hit by a pitch to start the inning, Mendoza singled, then Norman hit his first High-A double to score Osik and make it 5-3. After Bossard struck out, Matthews hit a sac fly to drive in Mendoza.

Karan Patel took over for two near-perfect innings on the mound, pitching around Mendoza’s seventh error in the seventh. Luis Amaya picked up his first save with the help of a double play after a lead-off single in the ninth. Dash win 6-3.

On June 26, the Dash’s struggles with runners in scoring position continued, but they still pulled out a 4-1 win in the finale with the Renegades for a 4-2 series victory. This week, Colás had 11 hits and scored scored his only run in the eighth inning of this game on a wild pitch, if that tells you anything about their RISP numbers (maybe this will tell you more: 12-for-52 total, 42 left on base).

Drew Dalquist threw 36 of 60 pitches for strikes over four innings, striking out four and walking one; the only run he allowed was a third-inning dong that could have been worse, as the leadoff batter reached on error (Montgomery!!) but was caught stealing with Hackenberg behind the plate before the damage was done.

Four relief pitchers—Wilber Perez, Chase Plymell in his level debut, Árias, and Vannelle—combined for five fairly dazzling innings, allowing just two runs (both doubles), walking one and striking out two.

The Duke Ellis Special was back in action on the offensive side of things in textbook manner: bottom first, leadoff single, steal of second (28th), steal of third (29th), run scored on Colás base hit, Dash up 1-0.

They wouldn’t score again until the seventh, breaking the 1-1 tie with a two-out Ellis single that brought Norman home from second. In the chaos, Ellis got himself thrown out at second for the third out of the inning, but the Dash did go ahead 2-1.

They went even more ahead in the eight, Montgomery (isn’t it so nice to have a prospect promoted and immediately his name is all over the bases in the recaps?) drew TDLW and was driven in one pitch later by Colás’s 12th double, 3-1 Dash. Colás made it to third on Hackenberg’s ground out, then his big moment came, scampering home on a wild pitch to make it 4-1 Dash, the final score.

Garrett Schoenle had been having a series of great outings between the bullpen and starting in Kannapolis and Winston. Some flaws were perhaps revealed in his last start, in which he allowed four runs in four innings but only two earned, but all four runs he gave up on June 28 were earned in just one third of an inning. He was removed at 31 pitches, 16 strikes and one out in the first; his stint went HBP-double-walk-RBI single-strike out-RBI single-RBI walk.

Cooper Bradford also allowed a couple of runs in nearly four innings, although the Dash wouldn’t even come close to making up the first inning hole. Moncada, who’s been finding a little more success as a reliever than a starter, struck out four over three innings, and Madrigal had a shaky ninth with one run allowed.

Despite 10 hits (all singles), the Dash scored just twice. Montgomery (that guy again) singled with nobody out, took third on a Colás line drive base hit to center, then scored on Mieses’ infield single, still nobody out. Hackenberg, Osik, and Mendoza all went down in short order to end the inning.

In the fifth, Matthews and Ellis both hit one-out singles (Matthews’ a bunt), then after Montgomery struck out (he sucks!!), Colás drove in Matthews with a single. Of course it was a single! All of their hits were singles.

Ellis and Colás both went 2-for-4; Montgomery and Mieses both singled and drew the teams’ only two walks; Osik was the only batter to go hitless, his OPS plummeting to .810. Dash lose 7-2, dropping the first game to Orioles affiliate the Aberdeen IronBirds, who were the cross-division champions in the first half.

June 29 saw the Dash and the IronBirds combine to hit seven home runs, five of the solo variety: two off Dash starter Mena, one off Perez, and four off IronBirds starter Connor Gillispie (no). Mena’s outing was definitely shakier than his first, but all three runs he allowed were on the two dongs and he only gave up four hits total over four innings.

Patel added another scoreless inning and the dinger off Perez was the last IronBirds run of the game; Perez struck out five over 2⅔ innings and walked none. Vanelle, who does not appear to be about to give up the ninth, pitched around a handful of baserunners for the four-out non-save. His ERA dropped to 1.88; he has been scored upon in four of 25 appearances between Kannapolis and Winston, and never more than two earned runs at a time. With the Dash, he’s struck out 25 over 24 innings, walking seven.

Mieses was the first Dash bat to homer, leading off the second, and was followed two outs later by Mendoza, putting the Dash up 3-1, a lead they kept. 

Montgomery (can you believe it?!) homered with one out in the third, 4-1 Dash. He also made his third Dash error. It’s fine! So far.

Mendoza went deep again to lead off the seventh, 5-1 Dash.

Shockingly, their final three runs were scored without balls exiting the park. Matthews drew TDLW in the seventh inning, was grounded to third by Ellis, and scored when Montgomery (??!) etched his first double into the history of Aberdeen Stadium or whatever the hell their sponsor is, 6-4 Dash. Montgomery was then wild-pitched to third, whence he was able to score on Mieses’ single one out later, 7-4 Dash.

Lastly, all powered out, the Dash strung together a series of singles in the eighth, going Hackenberg-two outs-Matthews-Ellis for the last run. Interestingly, with Montgomery at the plate and two outs, Matthews and Ellis attempted a double steal or maybe a botched hit-and-run, with Matthews nabbed at the plate for the last out of the inning. In any event, Dash win, 8-4.

The Dash play out Aberdeen through June until Sunday, July 3. As a rule, no minor league level has had games scheduled on Mondays for the last two years, but apparently having the Fourth of July (MiLB Christmas) fall on a Monday is enough to change that rule. Teams will sit on Tuesday the 5th instead before the Dash continue their series with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Nationals affiliate.

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Heck of a comprehensive summary Julie. These articles are a great addition to the site. Wish it didn’t have to come the day after TLR does something silly that takes our attention away from awesome stuff like this.