Generals clinch First Half North Division title for second time in three years

 

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Kevin Medrano set the tone for the Generals in the First Half, homering in his first at-bat of the year. Medrano would go on to collect more than 70 hits in the First Half, earning a nod to the Southern League All-Star Game in Birmingham. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

 

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – The Jackson Generals clinched the Southern League’s 2018 First Half North Division title on Friday evening with a 3-1 victory over the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, capping an impressive First Half under first-year manager Shelley Duncan. A selection of the standout moments and numbers from the First Half are listed below.

 

FIRSTS

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Jon Duplantier (Photo Credit: John Sewell)

>>Debut by a No. 1 D-backs Prospect: Jon Duplantier pitched five innings in his April 21 Double-A debut against Chattanooga, marking the first time a Diamondbacks top prospect played for the Generals. Duplantier worked 35.2 innings in the First Half, dealing to an ERA of 2.52 with a 1.12 WHIP and a .221 opponents’ batting average with 41 strikeouts.

 

 

>>MLB Rehab start made at home by a Diamondback: Shelby Miller’s June 4 start

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Shelby Miller (Photo credit: Jessica Huber)

against the Tennessee Smokies was the first time a current Arizona Diamondbacks player had ever played in front of the home crowd at The Ballpark at Jackson. Miller threw 4.2 innings against Tennessee, allowing one run while walking four and striking out six. The Generals held on, 2-1 (F/7).

 

 

 

>>Generals pitcher tapped to start the All-Star Game since 2012:

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Taylor Widener (Photo credit: Danny Parker)

Right-hander Taylor Widener’s stellar First Half earned him the respect of Birmingham manager Ryan Newman, who tapped Widener to start the All-Star Game on the hill. Widener’s presence on the rubber on Tuesday, June 19 will be the first time a Generals arm has started the All-Star Game since Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen started the 2012 SL All-Star Game at Smokies Stadium in Sevierville, Tenn. Widener twice reached single-game double-digit strikeout totals in the First Half, leading the league with 89 over 67.2 innings.

 

 

APRIL

15-2 | Leaning on a versatile veteran lineup to support a talented pitching staff, the Generals set a franchise record with a 15-2 mark in their first 17 games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Birmingham, and Chattanooga. No full-season MILB team won more of their first 17 contests than Jackson in 2018.

 

9 | Jackson’s 15th win of the year came in the second game of a double-header sweep against Chattanooga, and it marked the team’s ninth win in a row. Contained in that nine-game spree:

>> 5 | a five-game sweep of the Birmingham Barons

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Galli Cribbs (Photo Credit: Cody Cunningham)

>>10 | total bases from Galli Cribbs on April 18, becoming the first General to hit for the cycle since Abraham Almonte in 2013

 

>> 6.0 | Jackson pushed their lead over the North Division to six games with the last victory, which came in the back end of a double-header sweep of second-place Chattanooga. Alex Young carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning of game one. Marty Herum won game two with a walk-off 2-run single, rescuing a Generals bullpen that surrendered a 4-1 lead one inning before.

 

 

 

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Generals infielder Marty Herum was one of five players injured in late April/early May that critically impacted Jackson’s performance. Herum hit .323 with 15 RBI in his first 18 games before going on the disabled list. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

 

 

5 | Long-term Injuries the Generals suffered in the eleven days (April 24-May 4) that followed their nine-game win streak. Infielder Marty Herum, outfielders Ben DeLuzio and Jay Gonzalez, and catchers Matt Jones and Alberto Rosario were all sent to the disabled list, effectively ruled unavailable for the remainder of the First Half. In a particularly rough turn of events, Herum was activated from the DL on May 10 at Chattanooga, but a re-aggravation of his injury during play that night forced him to return to the DL the next day. Gonzalez, who had previously spent time on the DL before returning to action on April 26, was sidelined for a second time on May 4 and did not return before the All-Star Break.

 

MAY

7 | Consecutive losses suffered by the Generals between May 6 and May 12. With a 5-game road series sweep by Chattanooga sandwiched between a series-finale loss to Montgomery and a series-opening loss to Mississippi, the Generals fell out of first place in the North Division. By the end of the Mississippi series, Jackson’s ERA in 15 May games was 5.17, while their WHIP had climbed to 1.48. The Generals stood 4.5 games out of first place after dropping their May 16 finale to Mississippi.

 

79% | In their series at Pensacola (May 17-21), Generals starting pitchers dug deep. Justin

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Ryan Atkinson’s best start May came against Pensacola, when he threw six shutout innings with ten strikeouts to help the Generals win their fourth straight. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

Donatella, Alex Young, Taylor Widener, Ryan Atkinson, and Jon Duplantier all pitched six or more innings in their respective starts, combining to throw 34.0 of 43.0 (79%) innings while allowing just three earned runs to the Blue Wahoos. Despite batting only .219 in the series, the Generals outscored Pensacola 22-4, recording their second five-game sweep of the year.

 

 

 

 

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Kevin Medrano (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

61 and 16 | League-leading totals in hits and doubles recorded by Generals infielder Kevin Medrano before being placed on the disabled list on May 24. Jackson’s second go-round with Birmingham (May 23-27) did not go like their first, as the Generals dropped a 3-2 series while losing Medrano, outfielder Jason Morozowski, and pitcher Mason McCullough to the disabled list before heading back on the road to face Montgomery on May 29.

 

 

 

 

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Juniel Querecuto was one of the Generals most important players in the First Half, holding down third base in Marty Herum’s absence while batting a league-best .373 before being promoted on June 8. (Photo Credit: John Sewell)

 

.302 and .145  | With the addition of league-leading hitter Juniel Querecuto (.373 batting average) to the Jackson disabled list on May 30, Jackson had enough DL players on May 31 to field an on-paper lineup. Had they done so, the Generals would have batted .302 and held opposing hitters to a .145 batting average, pitching to a 1.72 ERA. In the face of massive roster depletion due to injury, the Generals still gave themselves a chance ot win their series against Montgomery. However, the Biscuits won the June 2 rubber game, making Jackson 0-5 in rubber games in the First Half. After winning their April 21-25 series against Chattanooga, the Generals dropped six of their next seven series, but in a tight North Division, they stood only 1.5 games back of Chattanooga entering June 3.

 

JUNE

2 | Number of three-run homers hit by Domingo Leyba in Jackson’s series against Tennesee, helping the Generals split an up-and-down six-game set to boost the Generals into first place in the North, just ahead of a scuffling Chattanooga squad. Leyba, who arrived in Jackson on May 17 after starting the year on the disabled list, slashed .322/.403/.525 through his first 15 games with Jackson, scoring 12 runs in that span.

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Domingo Leyba (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

 

0 | Number of career extra-base hits at Double-A recorded by Generals catcher David Sopilka before the Generals’ game against Tennessee on June 7. With Jackson down to their last out and trailing 5-4, Rudy Flores popped up a seemingly routine fly ball to left field, but an improbable error by Tennessee’s Eddy Rodriguez allowed the ball to drop, with Flores reaching second base. Sopilka, pinch-hitting after only six previous at-bats at Double-A in his career, smacked a game-tying RBI double to force extra innings. The Generals would walk-off with a 6-5 victory in the tenth inning, when Jose Queliz singled on a deep fly ball to right field to score Jason Morozowski for the miraculous comeback. Jackson stood alone in first place for the first time since May 9.

 

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Justin Donatella (Photo Credit: Kate Wyman)

1999 | Last time the Generals witnessed a no-hitter before June 14, 2018. Dave Manning’s July 22, 1999 no-no was as the only no-hitter in franchise history before Justin Donatella, Daniel Gibson, Kirby Bellow, Kevin Ginkel, and Brad Goldberg combined for their own hitless magic against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in a 6-0 shutout. The victory for the Generals showcased both a quietly strong First Half from All-Star right-hander Donatella (57.1 IP, 3-3, 3.30 ERA) as well as the strength of a refreshed Generals bullpen. Along with Bud Jeter, the three-man weave of Gibson, Ginkel, and Goldberg combined for 5 holds, 4 saves, 3 wins, a 0.93 WHIP and a 0.54 ERA in 33.1 IP between May 16 and June 15.

 

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Joel Payamps (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

5:04 | Time, in hours and minutes, of rain delays impacting the first three games of the Generals’ First Half series at Jacksonville. After withstanding two delays of exactly one hour and forty-eight minutes on June 13 and June 14, Shelley Duncan’s club stayed focused after their June 15 contest got underway one hour and twenty-eight minutes after its scheduled first pitch. When it did, right-hander Joel Payamps worked into the seventh inning before allowing a Jacksonville run, and the Generals backed him up, winning 3-1 to secure their second First Half North Division title in the space of three seasons.

8 | Midseason All-Stars: Taylor Widener, Rudy Flores, Kevin Medrano, Juniel Querecuto, Jamie Westbrook, Justin Donatella, Mason McCullough, Galli Cribbs

3 | Player/Pitcher of the Week Winners: Taylor Widener, Jon Duplantier, Jamie Westbrook

1 | Diamondbacks Minor League Player of the Month: Galli Cribbs (April)

 

 

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