The Sox weren't going to hit the ball. Not on this day.
The Hillsboro Hops' starting pitcher struck out eight of the first nine Everett batters he faced as the Sox flailed at the plate en route to a 3-0 loss to the Hops at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Placido blew right through the Sox his first time through the lineup, and it didn't get much better for Everett the rest of the way as the Sox were shut out on four hits, striking out a whopping 17 times.
“Their guy was coming right after our hitters, establishing strike one,” Everett manager Dave Valle said. “We were behind in the count it seemed like all day. It was just a tough day for the guys.”
Placido, a 20-year-old left-hander from the Dominican Republic, was virtually untouchable. His fastball didn't light up the radar gun, ranging from 88-92 mph, but the Everett batters couldn't catch up to it. Placido ended up striking out 12 in 5? scoreless innings, giving up three hits and walking one en route to the win.
Hillsboro's bullpen wasn't quite as effective as Placido, getting itself into trouble in both the seventh and ninth innings because of walks. However, the Hops' relievers continued the trend of preventing the Sox from hitting the ball, escaping both jams with key punchouts.
“(Placido) has always had a good fastball and does a good job locating,” Hillsboro manager J.R. House said. “He's had success ever since I've seen him. I'm looking forward to more outings like that.
“Then everything was interesting in the late innings,” House added. “We've had tight ballgames (against Everett) and it keeps it dramatic.”
The Hillsboro pitchers also took advantage of a generous strike zone by home-plate umpire Josh Marshall. Ten of Everett's 17 strikeouts came looking, including the last seven. The zone played both ways as four of Hillsboro's nine strikeouts were looking.
“As young hitters you have to learn to start making those adjustments very quickly, whether it's within one at-bat or from one at-bat to the next,” Valle said. “You just can't allow that pitch to continue to be called a strike and not be aggressive and go out there and swing at it.”
Offensively for Hillsboro (1-2), Todd Glaesmann continued to wear out the Everett pitching staff, going 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and an RBI. Through the first three games of the five-game series the 23-year-old outfielder is 6-for-12, with five of his six hits going for extra bases.
Pedro Ruiz and Grant Heyman each went 2-for-4 for the Hops, with Heyman driving in two runs.
Chris Mariscal finished 2-for-4 to lead Everett (1-2). Starting pitcher Ramire Cleto took the loss, giving up three runs in 5? innings.
The Sox and Hops have played three times to open the season, and in all three games Hillsboro got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. On Sunday, the Hops scored two runs in the first. Glaesmann grounded an RBI double down the third-base line, then Heyman poked a run-scoring single to left, giving Hillsboro a 2-0 advantage before the Sox had a chance to bat.
Hillsboro tacked on one more in the sixth courtesy of Heyman's RBI single to left, which made it 3-0.
Everett had a golden opportunity to get back into the game in the seventh when the Sox loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to a pair of walks sandwiched around a single by Kyle Petty. However, Hillsboro reliever John Pedrotty, who put himself into the jam, got himself out unscathed by getting a foul out and a pair of called third strikes to keep Everett off the scoreboard.
The Sox then loaded the bases again in the ninth, this time with two out as Hops reliever Jake Roberts walked the bases loaded. However, Roberts caught pinch-hitter Brett Thomas looking at strike three with a fastball on the outside corner, a call that was disputed by the Sox. Nevertheless, it was a representative way for the game to end.
“In both the seventh inning and the ninth inning we have to find a way to push it across,” Valle said. “We had the same situation (in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Hops) with two runners on and one out and not getting it done. We'll get there. I want these young men to continue to be aggressive out there and believe they can get it done.”
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