June 10, 2009
By John Brewer
WASHINGTON — Led by starting pitcher Ryan Doiron (1-0), the Senators pitching staff dominated the DC Grays lineup all night long, setting the tone for a 4-0 win. It was the first trip this season to the newly renovated and rechristened Maury Wills Field. Doiron, making his first start in a Senators uniform, came out focused and pounding the zone. He consistently reached two strike counts and through three innings had faced the minimum nine batters.
With Doiron jumping ahead of Grays hitters, the Senators wasted no time jumping on Grays starter Will Hanlon (0-1). A timely two-out RBI from Tony Mitchell, his first of the season, gave the Senators a 1-0 lead in the first. A leadoff homer in the second from Brandon Padula was more than enough support for the Senators pitching staff on this night.
Doironís only hint of trouble came in the fourth when he hit back-to-back batters with two out. He followed that with a wild pitch, but a perfect throw from his battery mate, Chris Horning, caught the advancing runner at second base to end the inning. Only twice more in the game would the Grays see second base.
Manager Chris Burr has been operating with a strict schedule for his pitchers so far this season. The order and number of innings for each pitcher has been posted in the dugout for all to see before the game. Despite Doiron holding the Grays hitless through five and having thrown only 61 pitches, Burr elected to stick with the plan. The Senators bullpen did not disappoint.
Kyle Blank kept the no-no bid going though six before handing off to Josh Davis. But any thoughts of a combined no hitter were ended when Davis gave up the first hit to Grays third baseman Kevin Wager. It was a tough one to swallow as Wager battled deep in the count and managed to loft a ball into shallow left past the outstretched glove of Senators shortstop Alfred Rodriguez. Davis quickly regrouped and kept the shutout intact through seven.
Kyle Hald came in to pitch the eighth, his second night in a row of relief. Tonight, the crafty lefthander showed the pickoff move that caused so much controversy a season ago. So good is the move to first that inexperienced umpires often mistake it for a balk. Hald used it with ease to erase a leadoff single by Austin Rock.
Not that the pitching staff needed it, but the Senators took advantage of a couple Grays miscues to score some extra insurance runs. A throwing error by the shortstop led to a run in the fifth. In the ninth, late substitute Austin Booker showed once again that he cannot be ignored on the basepaths. He swiped his team-leading second and third bags of the year before scoring on a balk by centerfielder-turned-pitcher, LaDale Hayes.
The skies, which had been ominous from the opening pitch, finally opened up at 9:30, and after a brief consultation with both dugouts, the game was declared official. New arrivals Nick Kuroczko, back for his second year with the Senators, was left on deck with Victor Lara in the bullpen preparing for the ninth. Getting Kuroczko and Lara on the field should only add more talented depth to the already strong Senators roster.
The Senators will enjoy a deserved day off Thursday before returning home on Friday night to face the new league members, the Southern Maryland Cardinals at 7 p.m.