Ivan Pineyro had been on cruise control for his first four innings. He struck out the side in the first and seemed like he had Modesto’s number. He allowed a couple of runners in the fifth inning but worked around it and, at that point, had a 2-1 lead. Then the sixth inning happened.
Pineyro was trying to extend past the fifth inning for just the second time this year, but Joey Curletta and Gianfranco Wawoe hit back to back doubles to start the frame, from there the wheels fell off. Including the doubles, seven straight batters would reach base against Pineyro and Mason McCullough and the Nuts would score seven in the inning on seven hits while sending 11 hitters to the plate. It put Modesto (9-6) up 8-2, a deficit that Visalia (9-6) was unable to come back from, handing the Rawhide their third straight home loss this season.
The box score won’t do Pineyro (0-2) justice. He filled the zone with strikes over his first four innings, entering the fifth having thrown only 38 pitches, 32 of which went for strikes. The former AAA farmhand of the Miami Marlins struck out seven on the night, all of which came by the end of the fifth. But he was responsible for the first five runs that scored on the night and for the loss. McCullough had been dominant entering play tonight, but was not as sharp, hitting the first batter he saw with the first pitch he threw and falling into a tailspin from there. He would be responsible for three of the seven runs that scored in the sixth inning, while walking two batters, hitting one, and throwing a wild pitch. McCullough would, however, stay on and pitch a scoreless seventh inning. Keegan Long threw two shutout innings in relief, despite allowing three hits.
The Rawhide offense started early tonight, when Matthew McPhearson kicked off the bottom of the first by stretching a single into a double. Henry Castillo, fresh off the DL, would single him home with a grounder up the middle.
With a 1-1- tie in the third innings, Grant Heyman drove the first pitch he saw over the left-center field wall for his second homer of the year to give Visalia a 2-1 lead. Heyman also went yard in the ninth inning, homering off the batter’s eye in center, to cut the deficit to 8-4.
A former Dodgers farmhand, Curletta was a one-man wrecking crew for Modesto today, going 3-5 with a solo homer in the second inning, two doubles, and a run scored. Wawoe and Eric Filia also had three hits for the Nuts. 15th ranked Seattle prospect Braden Bishop also had a multi-hit game, going 2-4 while scoring a run on McCullough’s wild pitch.
Visalia, Modesto, Stockton, and San Jose are now all in a tie for first place atop the California League Northern Division, with all of their records sitting at 8-6. The loss dropped Visalia 1-3 at home this year and ended the club’s three-game winning streak.
The homestand will continue tomorrow night with the Rawhide’s second All-American Saturday of the year. All active and former military will receive free tickets, beer and soda will be half-priced with an All-Star Game Boot Mug, and the Rawhide will wear their new stars and stripes jerseys. The probable starters for tomorrow’s game are Trevor Simms (1-0, 0.90 ERA) for Visalia and #3 Mariners prospect Nick Neidert (1-0, 2.87 ERA). Tickets are still available at Rawhidebaseball.com