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‘We had a chance’: Chatham offense can’t capitalize on 5 innings of scoreless relief in 3-1 loss to Brewster

by Andrew Crane, 07-23-2021

‘We had a chance’: Chatham offense can’t capitalize on 5 innings of scoreless relief in 3-1 loss to Brewster

BREWSTER — Lyle Miller-Green glanced back toward the umpire, just to make sure. If Brewster catcher Kurtis Byrne did catch it, Miller-Green’s foul tip on a 3-2 count in the fourth, it’d end another round of Chatham at-bats without a hit. They’d already gone 3.2 innings without a baserunner, striking out five times against left-hander Brian Fitzpatrick, swinging and missing at his fastballs that dotted the outside half of the plate while striding off-balanced when Fitzpatrick mixed in his breaking balls.

When the home-plate umpire signaled that Miller-Green’s ball had been caught, and Byrne grabbed it from his glove, Chatham’s first baseman grabbed the bat with both hands and strolled back to the Anglers’ dugout. That became strikeout number six, and Miller-Green’s second of the night.

One game after the Anglers’ offense exploded against a plethora of Cotuit right-handers, it was another lefty that cooled them off. Fitzpatrick’s first start against Chatham this season came on June 25, when he flashed his potential with seven of 10 outs coming via strikeouts and teased the dominance that shone through on Tuesday night. On offense, the Whitecaps manufactured runs in ways that the Anglers couldn’t, taking command of Dylan Carmouche’s command issues and scoring two of its runs off defensive miscues — defeating the Anglers 3-1, holding them to just three hits at the plate and overcoming five innings of scoreless relief from Chatham’s bullpen.

“That score could've been real ugly after three innings,” manager Tom Holliday said. “Carmouche was not as good as he's been, and we were in trouble the whole time that he was out there. To be down after three, we were kinda fortunate to get that kind of relief pitching, we had a chance.”

It was a complete flip from the win that carried the Anglers into the off-day, when they torched Cotuit’s pitching for 12 hits and 13 runs and found a way to salvage a four-game homestand — one that Holliday called pivotal before it began — after dropping the first three.

Each of those three losses increased the need to win each of the 10 remaining games, and increased the hope that they’d receive help in the standings, and Holliday said that the Anglers need at least four wins before the next off day to stand a chance at the postseason. “We didn't really want to talk about it because we didn't want to apply pressure,” Holliday said, but the reality, the urgency for victories, has started to creep in.

And after Tuesday, there’s a greater importance on the remaining five. The Whitecaps found ways to manufacture runs by capitalizing on errors by Carmouche and the Anglers defense, overcoming their main weakness: a team batting average is just three points (.214) higher than Chatham’s, which is the lowest in the league.

When Carmouche hit his first batter on the first pitch and issued a four-pitch walk to the next one, Brewster created its first scoring opportunity and converted via Chris Lanzilli’s soft single into left field. The next inning, with two Brewster runners on again and no outs, the Whitecaps executed a double steal with its first-and-third situation and Carmouche — with his leg raised in the air — hesitated whether to go home or toward first, balking and allowing the runners to advance.

And in the third inning, the Whitecaps’ final run scored when Danny Serretti raced in on a grounder toward second. Will Simpson, the Brewster batter, sprinted down the line as Serretti flipped his glove toward Miller-Green but it brought him off the bag. Carmouche finished with six hits and one walk in his four innings, striking out six but taking his first loss of the season when the Anglers couldn’t make up the deficit even after its bullpen fired five scoreless innings.

“I just knew that I had to keep pounding the zone and keep establishing it with my fastball,” Winquest said. “If I get ahead, I have good enough to get them out.”

Chatham’s first burst of offense came in the fifth inning, when Garrett Martin led off with a deep fly ball to left-center field that dropped between the two outfielders and one-hopped the fence. Maxwell Romero Jr. then reached too, when his right knee buckled and Fitzpatrick’s breaking ball dropped right into it. The Whitecaps bullpen, which tossed a football around before, quickly assembled to get a reliever warmed.

Michael Prosecky, that reliever, entered after DeLeo worked a full-count walk — which came after he failed to lay down a bunt twice — and Fitzpatrick threw a first-pitch ball to Dominic Tamez. Prosecky compiled a 0.90 ERA through his first six Cape Cod Baseball League appearances, allowing just one earned run and serving as one of the anchors in the Brewster bullpen. And he picked up where Fitzpatrick left off, retiring the Anglers in order, including a strike out against Tamez after falling behind 3-1 in the inherited count, and extinguished the threat as quickly as it ignited.

“There's your game,” Holliday said. “We had an opportunity to do it right there and it didn't happen.”

Even though Chatham didn’t convert, its pitching, like it has all season, kept the Anglers in the game. Winquest extended his scoreless streak to 10.1 innings, and didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings before Cooper Weiss singled to open the seventh, a bouncer that careened over the head of Matt Garcia. After striking out the next batter, pitching coach Dennis Cook walked out to the mound and inserted Kade Bragg for his Cape League debut — tasking him with navigating the string of lefties in the middle of Brewster’s lineup.

Bragg did, and added a scoreless eighth while scattering a pair of walks, and in between those two innings, Dominic Tamez walked and Danny Serretti singled to start the eighth and forced another Brewster pitching change. It was prompted by a situation similar to the one that brought in Prosecky, where the Whitecaps relieved its current arm from the threat and replaced it with another left-hander, and it ended in a similar result for the Anglers. Dale Stanavich induced two swings and misses from Josh Rivera, then plunked Matt Hogan in the elbow with a first-pitch fastball and allowed Miller-Green to bounce a high chopper to Cooper Weiss at third base. The ball skied high in the air as the Brewster infielder tried to time his throw across the diamond with the trajectory of the ball, but Miller-Green reached base before the throw arrived.

Stanavich recovered and induced a fly out from Garrett Martin, then retired the side in the ninth, and completed an all-lefty approach against the team that’s struggled to hit left-handed pitchers all season.

“We didn't get much offense, just plain and simple,” Holliday said. “We don't hit left-handers very well.”