Monday, June 30, 2014

Lookout! Knights drop 11-5 decision to Braves in Game 1

It’s getting to the point where the fans in the outfield at BB&T BallPark – which measures just 330 feet to left and 315’ to right – might want to consider borrowing the hard hats from the construction crew working on Fourth Street.

In his second start in Charlotte since being acquired from the Blue Jays organization, Knights right-hander Shawn Hill found out first hand in Game 1 of Monday’s double-header against Gwinnett, just how small the park can play.

Hill (2-3) allowed three home runs in six innings of work in an eventual 11-5 loss to the Braves, but two of the long balls likely wouldn’t have left any other park in the International League.  

In total, there have been 110 home runs hit in Charlotte (58 by opponents, 52 by the Knights) in 41 games this season – 26 more than Columbus’ Huntington Park, which ranks second in the IL with 84.

The league average is 60.0.

“It’s no secret that this is a good hitter’s park,” Knights outfielder Jordan Danks said. “I mentioned a couple of times before the game to our guys, that it was going to be a good day to put the ball in the air.”

While Charlotte (32-52) hit two home runs of it’s own, it was the Braves (40-43) that really took advantage.

Gwinnett’s Joey Terdoslavich got jammed on a ball in the second inning, but still managed to muscle it out to left to put the Braves up 2-0.

In the fifth, Gwinnett added another run on a Mark Hamilton fly that Charlotte left fielder, Marcus Semien, could have caught without much trouble if it weren’t for that pesky 13-foot green wall.

Hill, who struggled to hide his frustration after Hamilton’s ball left the field of play, finished the afternoon with an ugly stat line, that read: six innings pitched, 10 hits, eight runs (all earned), one walk and three strikeouts.  

Team / Home Runs Hit
“He’s just happened to give up some lazy fly balls that have turned into home runs in this ballpark,” Danks said. “I don’t think it’s intimidating for him or anything, but it’s definitely frustrating at times for the pitchers.” 

Hill’s major mistake came in the third inning, when he allowed a deep home run to Edward Salcedo with two ducks on the pond, leaving the Knights in a 7-2 hole.

Charlotte entered Monday leading the IL in home runs with 94 (20 more than second-placed Toledo) and received long balls from Josh Phegley (3-for-4, 3 RBI) in the sixth inning and Tyler Saladino (2-for-4) in the ninth.

Danks (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB) and Phegley accounted for five of the Knights 10 hits in the game and four of their five runs, while Jose Constanza, Terdoslavich and Elmer Reyes each had three-hit games for the Braves.

“When you hit balls in the air here, that’s just the way it is,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said. “That’s where we are at; both teams are playing in the same ballpark. “They didn’t crush those balls, but again, this is where we are.”