Monday, May 11, 2015

Second-consecutive strong start from Kyle Drabek leads Knights to 7-2 win

The Charlotte Knights used a six-run sixth inning to pull away from the Louisville Bats in an eventual 7-2 win on Monday night at BB&T Ballpark in front of 7,408 in the first game of their eight-game home stand.

Despite sending 11 batters to the plate in the sixth, the highlight performance of the night belonged to Knights’ starter Kyle Drabek, who stymied the Bats over five scoreless innings of work.

Drabek – who wound up with a tough-luck no decision – held Louisville to just one hit, while walking one, and striking out five. The Bats spent the night pounding Drabek’s two-seam fastball into the dirt. Of the 11 balls they put in play, just two – a single and a weak fly to right – left the infield. 

Drabek also showed a sharp curveball that he was able to throw for a strike, as well as a swing-and-miss pitch.

The Knights (17-13) took a 1-0 lead against old-friend Dylan Axelrod (1-3) in the fourth inning when Matt Davidson singled home Carlos Sanchez.

The Bats (13-18) rallied for two runs off Knights’ right-hander Shawn Haviland (1-2) in the sixth inning, but Charlotte responded in a big way in the bottom half of the frame, when the first six batters all reached base (three singles, two errors, and a walk) and eventually scored.

Axelrod, who was not done any favors by his defense in the inning, was charged with one of the runs (two more were unearned), while Louisville reliever Ben Klimesh was tagged for the other three on three hits and a walk.

Maikel Cleto held Louisville scoreless over the game’s final two innings to preserve the Knights’ third win in as many nights.

“That two-seam (fastball) has been a major plus for me. I’m getting more groundballs as long as I keep it down, because I have left some up and they were getting hit over the wall. After my second surgery, the fastball miles per hour never really got back to where it used to be. Being able to sink it, cut it, and use the change has helped me out a lot more than just trying to blow it by people.” – Knights’ starter Kyle Drabek.

Worth mentioning
With two hits on Monday, Charlotte second baseman Carlos Sanchez (2-for-4, HBP) took over sole possession of fourth place on the Knights’ all-time hits list, moving out of a tie with Brian Daubach (285). The 22-year-old now trails only Josh Phegley (312), Joe Borchard (439) and Jordan Danks (449). … Knights’ right-hander Kyle Drabek has gone 0-1 in his last two starts despite posting a pretty impressive line (11 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 13 K). … Charlotte reliever Maikel Cleto, whose fastball was consistently registering 99-100 mph on the radar gun (once touching 101 mph), tossed two more scoreless innings on Monday to lower his ERA to a team-leading 0.47 over 19.00 innings of work this season. He has not allowed a hit in his last five innings pitched. … Prior to the game, the Chicago White Sox outrighted right-handed reliever Javy Guerra to the Knights. …“Who is Bats’ starter Dylan Axelrod.” is the future Jeopardy answer to, “He threw the first-ever pitch at BB&T Ballpark...” ... Axelrod spent parts of the 2011, 2012 and 2014 seasons with Charlotte (he spent all of 2013 with the White Sox) and is 10th all-time on the Knights' strikeouts list.

What's next?
The Knights will play Game 2 of their four-game series with the Bats on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at BB&T Ballpark. RHP Chris Beck (1-1, 4.78) will take the mound for the Knights against Bats’ RHP Josh Smith (0-0 8.31).