Nashville’s Michael Blazek shut out New Orleans for 5.2 innings and also scored a run and drove in two in the series opener Saturday at Zephyr Field.
The loss was the fifth in a row for the Zephyrs (56-59), who have scored just six runs in their last 48 innings.
Blazek (2-4) scattered seven hits, all singles.
Blazek doubled leading off the fifth inning. With two out, he scored from third on a wild pitch by Z’s starter Anthony DeSclafani (2-3).
In the sixth, Blazek hit a two-out, two-run double after the Zephyrs walked Kevin Mattison, a .224 hitter, to get to him.
The Zephyrs scored two runs in the seventh when Austin Wates led off with a single and Mark Canha and Justin Bour hit back-to-back one-out doubles.
WHAT: New Orleans Zephyrs vs. Nashville Sounds
WHERE: Zephyr Field, Metairie
WHEN: 4 p.m.
PROBABLE PITCHERS: Zephyrs RH Alex Sanabia (5-4, 4.80 ERA) vs. Sounds RH Mike Fiers (8-5, 2.62
BROADCASTS: WMTI-FM, 106.1; MiLB.tv
The series against the Iowa Cubs had gone badly enough, but just before the final game on Friday, Zephyrs manager Andy Haines was being heckled persistently.
Haines looked up, and his mouth went agape.
“It was my high school coach,” Haines said before Saturday’s game. “He and his family had been vacationing in Texas and rerouted on their way back home to come see me. I had no idea he was coming.”
Monty Aldrich not only coached Haines, an all-conference catcher who graduated in 1995 from North Clay High School in Louisville, Ill., but was his next-door neighbor. Aldrich was an outfielder in the Atlanta Braves organization when Haines a pre-teen, and Haines said he looked up to him a lot.
“He’s the guy who taught me the game,” Haines said.
Aldrich was a sight for sore eyes. The Zephyrs were four games over .500 and a half-game in first place on July 21. Having lost nine of their past 12 games, they’d tumbled in to last place, five games behind.
Managing in Triple-A for the first time has been a great challenge, Haines said.
“I think (all the transactions) is just a lot different from the team aspect of the turnover on your roster,” he said. “In lower levels, you’re going to have a few moves, but you can kind of have that team chemistry and build the team dynamic. Here, because of all the turnover on your roster, that team dynamic is hard to get. Once you have it, you’re not going to be able to keep it long.
“It just reinforces things I believe in — being good to players and trying to help ‘em and understand how hard it is, especially being this close to their dream.”
The Zephyrs released center fielder Matt Angle on Saturday. ... Angle had made two impressive defensive plays in Friday’s series finale against Iowa. However, he batted just .213 this season, and the Marlins said the at-bats would no longer be there for him, particularly with the team taking a hard look at recently acquired center fielder Austin Wates. … The Marlins had sent down pitcher Dan Jennings along with Ed Lucas after Thursday’s trade in which they obtained Jarred Cosart from Houston. However, Jennings was recalled after Miami put starter Henderson Alvarez on the disabled list. So, Casey McCarthy, a pitcher from Single-A Jupiter, was brought up. … With teammate Jimmy Nelson (1.46) having been called up to the Milwaukee Brewers, Nashville’s starter today, Fiers, leads the PCL in earned-run average. … The Zephyrs were 5-7 against Nashville coming in.