Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jordan Danks' eighth-inning go-ahead single leads Knights over Mud Hens

Jordan Danks delivered the clutch hit, while Eric Surkamp turned in another solid outing, baffling the Toledo Mud Hens for the second time this season.

Danks drove in the go-ahead run with a one-out single off a left-hander in the eighth after Toledo had intentionally walked Marcus Semien to get to him.

The hit knocked in the first of three runs the Knights would get in the eighth on their way to a 5-2 win on Saturday at BB&T BallPark.

Danks’ single came on the first pitch of his at-bat and scored Micah Johnson, who led off the inning with his fourth hit of the game to spark the rally. Johnson moved to second on a passed ball and took third on a Carlos Sanchez sacrifice bunt before Semien took his free pass.

“When they walk a guy to get to you, in your mind, you take it as an insult and you’re like, 'all right, I’ll just come up big right here,' and I did,” Danks said. “I saw myself doing it before I did. I got a good pitch to hit and it worked out for me.”

The win improved the Knights to 4-11 in games tied after five innings and ensured Charlotte at least a split with two games remaining in its current four-game series with Toledo.

Surkamp, who fanned a season-high 12 in his previous start against the Mud Hens this season, entered the game fresh off tossing seven scoreless innings in a win over Lehigh Valley and picked up right where he left off, punching out four of the first six batters.

He scattered five hits, struck out seven and walked just one, while utilizing a sharp curveball. 

“I couldn’t pin (my success against Toledo) on one thing or another,” said Surkamp, who has now struck out 19 Mud Hens in 13 innings this season. “They’re a good hitting team, they are aggressive. I was just trying to throw strikes."

Asked what Surkamp’s curve looked like from his point of view in center, Danks laughed.

“Not one that I’d like to see. It’s one of those pitches that I look at from the outfield that makes me glad that he’s on my team. (Surkamp’s) not overpowering, but he’s around the strike zone, changes speeds and hits his spots. That’s harder to hit sometimes than a guy throwing 98.”

Johnson had a two-out run-scoring single to get the Knights on the board in the third inning on top of his go-ahead run late. 

The four-hit game was his second in four games and improved him to 10-for-22 over his last five, with five runs scored, three knocked in and two stolen bases.

Andy Wilkins (2-for-4) also contributed with two doubles and two runs knocked in.
Maikel Cleto, who came on for the eighth, walked the Mud Hens’ No. 9 batter, Danny Worth, with one out and allowed him to score two batters later on a single to center by Brandon Douglas, to erase Surkamp from the decision.

The three-run eighth by Charlotte set the table for a pleasantly uneventful save by Ryan Kussmaul, his second of the season.

“I feel like a lot of those tie ballgames late are going to be ones that we start pulling out,” Danks said. “We’ve lost a lot of one-run games and that doesn’t show up in the win-loss column, but we are a tough team to beat and hopefully this gets us on a roll.”

Notes: With seven strikeouts tonight, Eric Surkamp took over first place in the International League with 84 Ks, three more than Rochester’s Trevor May.