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The last time we checked in with Winston-Salem just before the All-Star Break, the Dash were sitting at a record of 43-40, the only White Sox team to be above .500. In the nine games since then, they have collapsed to the tune of 1-8, 44-48 overall, including a five-game losing streak and losses of 14-8, 10-6, and 19-5.
Much of this arduous stretch can be attributed to horrendous outings by starting pitchers, but some of it is due to an imploding bullpen as well. The promotion of Vince Vannelle to Double-A removed the presence of a 1.82 ERA from the staff, his line with the Dash this year 28.2 IP, 24 H, 8 R (6 ER), 9 BB, 31 K. Defensively, the team also made errors in six of nine games, four of those leading to unearned runs.
While things are obviously offensively bad, offensively, things weren’t so bad, despite the loss of Oscar Colás to Double-A and Terrell Tatum to a 50-game amphetamine suspension. They scored five or more runs in five of nine, although the lack of timely hitting was fairly dire.
Colson Montgomery’s on-base streak snapped at 50 on July 22 with an 0-for-4; he has since started a three-game on-base streak. Over the original, he slashed .344/.448/.519.
Top pitching performances
Chase Solesky, two starts: 10 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 8 K (season: 85.1 IP, 101 H, 48 R (45 ER), 27 BB, 58 K, 4.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Tommy Sommer, July 24: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 K (season, two levels: 79.2 IP, 63 H, 32 R (25 ER), 31 BB, 89 K, 2.82 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Luis Moncada (relief): 5.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K, WP (season, two levels: 43.2 IP, 55 H, 39 R (36 ER), 23 BB, 32 K, 7.42 ERA, 1.79 WHIP)
Luis Amaya (relief): 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K (season: 30.2 IP, 35 H, 16 R (13 ER), 17 BB, 42 K, 3.82 ERA, 1.70 WHIP)
Top hitting performances
Ben Norman (LF/RF): 13-for-32, 8 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 SB-0 CS (season, two levels: .296/.349/.571)
Luis Mieses (RF/1B/DH): 12-for-36, 8 R, 3 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 SF, 1 HBP (season: .292/.338/.471)
Alsander Womack (2B/DH): 7-for-21, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 SF, 0 SB-1 CS (season, two levels: .283/.371/.441)
The carnage began on Thursday, July 14, heading into the weekend before the All-Star Break. Drew Dalquist pitched two scoreless innings and then walked the first two batters in the third, both of whom eventually scored. He allowed yet another home run in the third inning, something he’s done 15 times in just 75 innings this year after allowing just one in the 86 career innings preceding; he has given up nine home runs in his last seven starts.
He did complete five innings, but after retiring two in the bottom of the fifth with a 4-3 lead, he was burned for a single and an RBI double to tie it. Chase Plymell replaced him to start the sixth and gave up a leadoff single, then made an error that put runners on the corners, where one scored on a single to right. The damage was limited when the Tourists batter, CJ Stubbs, tried to stretch a double but was beaten to the bag by Luis Mieses’s throw.
The Dash actually scored first in this one, Brandon Bossard going deep for the first time as a pro to open the third inning. The next time they scored, it was the fifth, when Jason Matthews, Bossard, and Caberea Weaver went back-to-back-to-back with solo shots—it was Matthews’ second career home run and Weaver’s 11th, but first of the year for the Dash. If it needs to be said, it was also Bossard’s second career home run.
Despite a scoreless second inning of work from Plymell and one precarious but scoreless two-walk inning for Skylar Árias to keep it close, 5-4 is where the score would remain.
Asheville mashed their way through Dash pitching on July 15, Garrett Schoenle the first and primary victim but Everhett Hazelwood, Luis Moncada, and Luis Amaya contributing fairly equally after his exit. Schoenle has had some absolutely excellent starts at the level and a handful of clunkers, but none so gruesome as this one, seven runs allowed in three innings. Between two levels this season, the 24-year-old lefty has a 6.35 ERA in 22.2 innings as a starter (eight walks, 26 strikeouts) to a 1.57 ERA in 23 bullpen innings (12 walks, 33 strikeouts).
At the plate, the Dash enjoyed a productive day; Mieses set off some fireworks from the visitor’s side with his ninth home run of the year, a two-run bomb in the fourth that scored Bryan Ramos from a deflected infield single. In the seventh, Matthews singled and Bossard doubled to lead the inning off, then Weaver and Duke Ellis hit RBI knocks for two more runs.
Keegan Fish homered for the first time in his career in the eighth, then they poured on three more in the ninth: Ben Norman doubled with one out, Ramos singled him to third, and Mieses scored him with a line drive to left. Adam Hackenberg walked, then Fish hit a foul-territory sac fly to score Ramos. The eighth and final Dash run was scored by Mieses on a pop-up single by Matthews.
Even with the six late-inning runs, the Dash still lost by six, 14-8.
If there’s a silver lining to Cristian Mena’s five-run start on July 16, it’s that he’s 19 and had, to that point, a 2.48 ERA through his first 72⅔ innings of full-season ball. Mena has really made a name for himself this year but it was inevitable that he would struggle, too (those five runs coming over just three innings). A pickoff, a Duke Ellis outfield assist at second, and a rare batter interference out all helped limit the damage.
Not limiting the damage was the bullpen. Wilber Pérez pitched a clean fourth, minus a double, but started the fifth with another double, a hit by pitch, two walks (one run-scoring), a run-scoring wild pitch, and two run-scoring ground outs, putting the Dash down 9-0. Karan Patel added another run in a three-baserunner sixth inning that saw catcher Hackenberg with an assist to Patel at the plate for a very relatively crucial second out.
Ty Madrigal’s ninth was scoreless in large part because of Hackenberg’s efforts again: Madrigal hit the first batter, Quincy Hamilton, with a pitch; Hamilton stole second and would have scored on a wild pitch but for Madrigal’s relay to Hackenberg for the first out.
A five-run sixth inning was not enough to come close, but it was kind of fun. Ellis, Colson Montgomery, Tyler Osik, and Ramos all reached via walk or single to start the inning, Ramos knocking in two with a base hit. Mieses doubled in another and Hackenberg picked up the ground out RBI, then Alsander Womack singled in the fifth and final run. Norman doubled him to third, but he was not able to score.
A final run scored in the ninth: Norman singled, took second on a wild pitch, took third on an Ellis single, then came home on the hallowed run-scoring GIDP off the bat of Montgomery. Dash lose 10-6.
As a gesture of goodwill from God, the game on July 17 was rained out after the seventh before the Dash could lose any worse than 6-2. Chase Solesky came through with the first of just three decent starts by a Dash pitcher all week (spoilers: he also had one of the other two). He scattered two hits and one walk over four innings, but unfortunately clustered one hit and two walks together in the fourth to set up a Tourists run.
Dash offense was rare in this game. Montgomery homered for the fourth time in the first. Fish and Matthews singled in the fifth with two outs to account for the only other Dash hits, although neither scored. Their second and final run was heavily manufactured in the sixth and you will never guess who kicked it off: Ellis walked to open the inning, then stole his 37th base before Montgomery walked. After Osik popped up, a wild pitch moved both runners up a bag, then Ellis scored on a Mieses sac fly to put them up 2-1.
But then two normally reliable relievers, albeit in limited sample sizes, blew the lead. Plymell and Árias each gave up one or more runs in less than an inning of work. Newcomer Alejandro Mateo, 28 years old, gave up two more, and Moncada made a one-out appearance to finish the seventh, which ended up being game. Dash lose 6-2.
The team got to stew on that loss for four baseball-free days, then returned to their personal friendly confines on July 22, when they fell 3-2 to Rome for their fifth straight loss. Dalquist again had a weak start. After allowing a solo home run in the first to put the Dash down 1-0, he started the fourth by going homer-triple-single to deepen the hole to 3-0. He is giving up 1.8 HR/9.
The entire bullpen—almost literally—locked it down behind him. Luke Shilling, Patel, Madrigal, and Árias all pitched scoreless innings and Amaya pitched two, striking out four. It was Shilling’s first appearance back in full-season ball after Tommy John surgery disappointingly cut short a promising 2021.
Both Dash runs scored in the seventh, an inning that contained four of their six hits. Mieses, Hackenberg, and Osik singled consecutively to open the inning and make it 3-1 Braves, then Womack hit a sacrifice fly to pull the Dash within one, but Osik was not able to score from first on a deflected double by Weaver and ended up not scoring at all.
Montgomery did not reach base in a game he played for the first time since April 23, ending his on-base streak at 50 games. Dash lose 3-2.
The monkey’s paw curled and Mena’s struggles were back on July 23, although the losing skid ended. This and Mena’s previous start matched the run total from his only other two rough starts (also back-to-back, both with Kannapolis) at nine overall. Despite this, he did not give up a home run, and has only allowed four in 79⅔ total innings this year. He did give up five doubles between the two starts, though, including four on the 23rd, three of which contributed to runs scoring.
Scoring started for the Dash in the second and continued for most of the rest of the game. Osik doubled in Mieses from an error in the second and Norman singled in Osik to tie the game 2-2. They trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the third, when Montgomery bounced back with TDLW, then stole second and scampered to third on a catcher error. He scored on a Mieses deflected infield single to cut the deficit to 4-3.
The lead was theirs for good after the fifth, when Ramos and Mieses went back-to-back to put the Dash up 5-4. Even though he’s struggled after his scorching start to the season, Ramos still has 15 dingers, while doubles machine Mieses is up to 10 (his 31 doubles lead the league by nine).
Wisely, the team pushed across three more runs in the sixth. The first four batters all singled, with Montgomery driving in a run to make it 6-4, then Ramos forced in a run with a walk to make it 7-4. One batter later, Ellis was able to score on a wild pitch, 8-4 Dash. Norman added a final exclamation point in the seventh, homering for the fourth time this season.
The bullpen was again pretty, pretty good, Pérez with the redemption scoreless inning and Schoenle back in a relief role but still going three innings, striking out four and giving up a solo dong as the only damage. Mateo was the only one who really faltered, allowing one run in one inning. Dash win 9-6.
That was the one day of glory in the entire extended week, and they were back in the L column on July 24. This was despite the best efforts of Tommy Sommer, who picked up the loss despite giving up only two runs on two hits (and four walks) over 4⅓ innings. To be fair, he also only threw 37 of 72 pitches for strikes.
To continue being fair, the two runs credited to him were let in by Plymell, who entered after Sommer walked two with one out in the fifth. Plymell’s third pitch was a run-scoring single and one out later, he was beaten for a double that scored Sommer’s second run and Plymell’s first.
Hazelwood, Moncada, and Cooper Bradford, fresh off the injured list, pitched one scoreless inning apiece, but to no avail.
Mieses, who had a plurality of the Dash RBI this week, picked up another in the first inning, his double (what else) scoring Norman from a single.
This put runners on second and third with one out, Ramos having singled prior, but Fish and Harvin Mendoza both struck out to end the threat.
Norman valiantly dingered in the eighth to put the Dash within one, but that was pretty much their last gasp. Dash lose 3-2.
Solesky’s start on July 26 wasn’t quite as good as his one-run outing last time, but he still finished five with just three runs across the plate, all three runs scoring on two Grasshoppers home runs.
He exited with the Dash up 4-3 after a four-run second in which Mieses doubled, Osik knocked him in, then Norman homered for the sixth time and third straight game to make it 3-0. Over that three-game stretch, he went 8-for-12, those three dongs putting his OPS at 2.083 (Normal… Man???).
Womack then made it back-to-back with his fifth dong of the year, 4-0 Dash before the Retaliation of the Grasshoppers began.
Leading then by one, the Dash added one more in a seventh inning that should have been bigger and might have salvaged the game if it had been: Osik singled, Norman singled, and Womack walked to start the inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. Mendoza struck out (part of an 0-for-16 week for him) and a passed ball scored Osik to widen the Dash lead to 5-3. Ellis struck out for the second out, Montgomery was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases, and Ramos flied out to center to complete the anticlimax.
In relief, Amaya pitched a scoreless sixth inning before Patel ably handled the seventh. In the eighth, Patel gave up a lead-off single, then Árias relieved him and hit the first batter with a pitch. Both runs scored on the subsequent fielder’s choice/error combo by Ramos, tying the game at five, where it would remain until the 10th inning.
In the top of that 10th, Weaver pinch-ran as the ghost runner; two consecutive wild pitches brought him around to score, then Ellis, whose at-bat it was, was hit by a pitch. Ellis stole second, his 39th steal, then was awarded third on a balk, still with nobody out and the Dash up by one. Montgomery walked and Ramos was also hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs in the 10th inning of a one-run game… and then Ellis was thrown out at home in what does not appear to have been an attempted triple steal, although Montgomery and Ramos both advanced, but may have been more pitching-control related even after a pitching change
With one out and runners on second and third, Mieses struck out, Hackenberg walked to juice the bases up again, and Osik grounded out to end the inning.
Madrigal pitched the bottom of the 10th. He induced a ground out, walked the next batter, then gave up a three-run walk-off bomb to Ernny Ordonez. Dash lose 8-6.
Very few good things happened on July 27, both in the world and in Greensboro. Shilling was thrown on the mound as an opener and could not complete the inning, throwing 13 of 27 pitches for strikes, giving up a home run to his second batter faced and walking two. Although he exited after the second walk, both scored on back-to-back singles off Moncada.
This put the Grasshoppers up 3-1 over the Dash, who had scored in the first, Norman scampering home on a wild pitch after drawing TDLW. Amazingly given the final score of this game, 3-1 is where it would remain until the fifth inning.
That inning featured for Greensboro three walks, two home runs, a double, and a single, most of those coming off Pérez (directly or inherited) but some off Hazelwood, who entered with two outs and gave a first-pitch two-RBI double.
Hazelwood also contributed heavily to the 10-run Grasshoppers sixth, facing 10 batters that inning alone (six singles, one walk, one reach on error) before finally being taken out. Plymell took over with two on and two out; he loaded the bases with a first-pitch single to the first batter faced, then served up a second-pitch home run to pinch-hitter Mike Jarvis, making this, at that point, a 19-4 game.
Pitching the ninth was first baseman Osik, his first time on the mound as a professional. He did give up two two-out singles, but a fly ball and two ground outs got him out of the inning.
Three runs scored for the Dash in the sixth, Ramos and Mieses singling and both driven home by Womack’s sixth home run of the season. Their final run was pushed across in the ninth; Osik, fresh off the mound, walked, Matthews was hit by a pitch, and Norman hit a two-out single to score Osik. Montgomery walked to keep the inning alive, but a 15-run comeback was not to be and Mendoza grounded out to end it. Dash lose 19-5.
Looking ahead, the Dash hope to regain some dignity against the Grasshoppers as they close out the six-game set. They then head to Brooklyn, where they play the Cyclones for the first time in franchise history. This week has put them at 11-15 in the second half, where they are 6.5 games behind Rome for a playoff spot.