Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Matt Davidson and Erik Johnson shine in Knights' 10-4 win over Toledo

Less than 24 hours removed from one of their worst offensive performances of the season, the Charlotte Knights slugged their way to a 10-4 win over the Toledo Mud Hens in front of 9,150 at BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.

The victory, which secured the Knights (12-7) second-straight series win, came in large part thanks to a career afternoon from designated hitter Matt Davidson, who went 3-for-5 with a home run and six runs knocked in.

Davidson, who hit in the four-hole on Wednesday, highlighted a big day from each of the Knights’ top four batters -- Leury Garcia (2 for 5), Carlos Sanchez (2 for 4, BB), Neftali Soto (3 for 4, BB) -- who combined to go 10-for-18 with nine runs batted in and nine runs scored.

The strong day at the plate for Charlotte came after Toledo pitching held the Knights to four hits in a 6-2 loss on Tuesday.

Erik Johnson (3-1) made his third start of the season for the Knights and cruised through his first five innings of work, holding the Mud Hens (9-10) scoreless on two hits, while tying his season-high for strikeouts, with six.

Johnson ran into trouble in the sixth inning and wound up allowing four runs (three earned) to make his final line (5.2IP, 4H, 4R (3ER), 2BB, 6Ks) a bit misrepresentative of how well he actually pitched.
Both Johnson (who posted a career-worst 6.73 ERA in 2013) and Davidson (who hit just .199) entered last season as prime candidates to make an impact with the Chicago White Sox and instead put together disappointing seasons.

So far this season, both appear to be right on track.

“I think, mentally, (Johnson’s) come back better this year. We’ve talked a lot because we both were prospects going into last year and we were supposed to be in the big leagues. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we kind of got in our heads and it obviously effected us and that showed on the field. I think that the big thing for him is that he's slowed down, relaxed, and is enjoying the game again.” – Knights’ third baseman Matt Davidson on the difference he’s seen in Erik Johnson this season.

Worth mentioning
A day after going a disappointing 1-for-8 as a team with runners in scoring position, the Knights turned things around, posting a 7-for-12 mark.  ... With his 3-for-5 performance on Wednesday, Davidson upped his batting average to .261. The six runs batted in marked a career high. The home run was his fourth of the season, tying him with Dan Black for the most on the Knights. … Black’s run-scoring single in the third inning made it so the first baseman has now reached base in 18-straight games (dating back to last season). ... Of the announced 9,150 at BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon, the vast majority were local middle school students.

What's next?
The Knights will begin a four-game series with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at BB&T Ballpark on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. RHP Kyle Drabek (0-0, 0.00) will make his BB&T Ballpark debut for Charlotte across from RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-2, 2.11).