The Inland Empire 66ers and Visalia Rawhide kicked off their 3 game series on on a cold Tuesday night as Visalia claimed the 1st game of the series. After splitting the series in Rancho Cucamonga, the 66ers had a chance to move into sole possession of 2nd place with a win but they were unable to do so, despite another strong outing from Jaime Barria. The Rawhide shutout Inland Empire 4-0 thanks to some strong pitching and timely hitting.
“We’re fine right now,” said Inland Empire 66ers manager Chad Tracy. “We’ve done a nice job. We’ve had a few spots where we’ve fallen under .500 and battled right back. We’re looking for that run that we need to go on. They’re playing hard and getting after it. We try to turn the page on games like these and move onto the next day.”
Jaime Barria tossed 6 quality innings once again as he allowed only 3 hits and 2 runs on the night. His season ERA now sits at 2.72 and he has the good underlying numbers to back up his quality run prevention skills he’s showed. With 6 strikeouts and 0 walks on the night, Barria is now running a 33:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 39.2 innings this season. His fastball played a tick up more than usual on Tuesday night, settling into the 90-93 mph range but touching 94-95 on a handful of occasions. The fastball had around 2200 RPM, which helped it play up in the zone but he generally stayed low in the zone Tuesday. His change up was superb again as he generated plenty of awkward swings with the 79-85 mph offering that had around 1300 RPM on average. The curveball, which is his worst offering, was inconsistent at times but when he threw it well, the pitch was a good offering against Visalia’s right handed batters. The pitch was around 2300 RPM on the night, which is a below average figure but good enough to be used as a 3rd pitch.
“He’s been great. Used all his stuff. He got quite a few sloppy swings on change ups, landed his breaking ball when he wanted to. Fastball was in the zone,” Chad Tracy said about Barria. “He got through 6 innings again and was in the low to mid 80’s in pitches. He’s very efficient, attacks the strike zone and he’s not scared. He pitched himself into a situation with a man on 3rd, less than 2 outs and didn’t let it faze him. He’s very poised. It’s the same Barria we’ve seen all year.”
Visalia could hardly touch Jaime Barria but they capitalized on one hanging breaking ball in the 5th inning. Left fielder Grant Heyman belted a 79 mph curveball 109 mph down the right field line for a 385 foot 2 run home run that gave the Rawhide the lead and they wouldn’t look back after that. Ryan Atkinson was strong on the mound for the Rawhide with a no nonsense approach. He tossed 6 scoreless innings and only allowed 1 hit while striking out 5 and walking 2. He was around 88-90 on the fastball and featured an average curveball that had depth but was easy to read out of his hands. His change up also got some ugly looking swings from time to time but he didn’t use it too much.
“He(Atkinson) used a lot of fastballs. He had a little ride up at the top of the zone and got some swings and misses and foul balls with that fastball up,” Chad Tracy said. “He attacked the zone and used the strike zone for most of the game. He got us into some bad counts offensively and put us into some passive counts.”
The 66ers moved to 14-18 on the season after the loss. Here are some other notes about the team.
-Jesus Castillo, who was acquired last season for Joe Smith, was recently promoted to Inland Empire and has posted a 1.93 ERA through his first 9.1 innings with the club, along with 9 strikeouts and 3 walks. “He fits the same mold and build as Barria and Jose Rodriguez. He’s young and attacks the zone. He gets some arm side sink on his fastball. He lands his breaking balls,” said Chad Tracy. “You’re talking about a bunch of young kids that can throw a breaking ball or off speed pitch in any count. In this league that helps immensely. He’s another guy that goes out and attacks the strike zone. When you work ahead in the count, control the count, and don’t let the hitters control you, you’ll be fine.”
-Jared Walsh has recently been out after suffering a back injury after taking a knee to the back a few weeks ago. Chad Tracy said he’s starting up activities again but there isn’t a timetable on his return.