NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jeremy Hermida picked up three hits including the go ahead two out, two run double in the fifth inning to give the Nashville Sounds a 6-4 win over the New Orleans Zephyrs on Sunday night at Greer Stadium.
The Sounds win the series taking three of four games against the Zephyrs. The Z’s remain in first place by a half game. The Z’s dropped their first series since May 9, when the team dropped three of four to the Iowa Cubs. A string of eleven series, that they either won or split.
The Sounds used five pitchers on Sunday and Brent Leach (3-1) earned the win working an inning and a third scoreless. The Zephyrs’ Jesus Sanchez (0-5) took the loss in relief allowing three runs on five hits.
The Zephyrs offense managed four runs and was limited to seven hits. The Sounds pitching staff is tops in the PCL and allowed 13 hits in the final three games of the series.
The Z’s offense got a shot in the arm from starter Brad Hand. He drilled a solo home run in the third inning. His third career home run. Hand only pitched 2.2 innings and allowed three runs on four hits. He was taken out due to a pitch count.
Coming to Round Rock has given Phil Irwin a new lease on his pitching life. He’d started his third season with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate, Indianapolis, and was 1-2 with an 8.72 earned-run average in 10 games, giving up four home runs. He was let go by Pittsburgh and picked up by the Texas Rangers on May 28, when the Pirates signed Walker native Josh Wall, who had pitched 20 games with the Zephyrs last season.
In six games with Round Rock, five starts, Irwin is 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 28.1 innings. He has struck out 34, walked 14 and not given up a home run.
Much of his earlier struggles has been attributed to injuries. In 2006, he had Tommy John surgery. He is coming up on the anniversary of a similar procedure: ulnar nerve transposition surgery.
He was drafted in the 21st round in 2009 out of Ole Miss, where his fastball was clocked at 88, 89 mph. Now it’s up to 92 consistently and reaches 94. Command, though, which was not really a problem earlier, has become one of late.
He is said to have a good, hard slider, an effective change-up and a wicked, sometimes knee-bucking curve.
WHAT: Round Rock Express at New Orleans Zephyrs
WHERE: Zephyr Field, Metairie
WHEN: 7 p.m.
PROBABLE PITCHERS: Zephyrs right-hnder Elih Villanueva (8-4, 2.93 ERA) vs. Express right-hander Phil Irwin (4-1, 2.22)
RADIO: WMTI-FM, 106.1
For the second consecutive series, New Orleans, which leads the American Southern Division, is playing the division’s second-place team. The Zephyrs and the Express were last and second to last near the end of May, but have flipped the standings. Heading into Sunday’s games, Round Rock was on a five-game winning streak and had won more games in June, going 16-10, than any team in the Pacific Coast League. The Zephyrs were tied for second with Tacoma, with 15. … First baseman Justin Bour, who was one of five players called up to the Marlins on June 17, was optioned back to the Zephyrs along with center fielder Jake Marisnick and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. Bour has had two stints with Miami this season. Pitcher Collin Cargill has returned from Double-A Jacksonville. Meanwhile, pitcher Sam Dyson was called up to Miami, and pitcher Brian Flynn, called up Friday, returned Saturday. … The Zephyrs are 4-8 against the Express this season. The teams split a four-game series at Round Rock on May 2-5, with New Orleans taking the series 3-1 at Round Rock on May 27-30. The Z’s took the next series in New Orleans 3-1 on June 5-8. … The Zephyrs are 16-5 in series openers.
-- Darrell Williams