Jonathan Stilwell’s Otters (2-2) kicked off their second half with a split with Rod Caborn’s Beefers (5-7) in a series played Tuesday evening, July 27, at the Otters fabled Frank Selee Field in Altamonte Springs.
The Otters captured both of their wins with walk-off hits. Jake Cronenworth won the Game Two of the series with a ninth-inning walk-off triple off Stefan Crichton and, in Game Four, Jose Abreu homered in the bottom of the 10th, with Crichton once again the victim.
Both teams were very evenly matched. The Otters hit .232 for the series with 19 extra base hits, including six home runs, four of them in Game Two. The Beefs, whose bats have been relatively quiet the second half, hit .207 with 17 extra base hits, eight of them home runs.
Otters CF Mike Trout was 7-18, .388, with five extra base hits. Longtime Beefer nemesis Freddie Freemanhomered in the first two games for the Otters and added a pair of doubles in Game Four. Freeman, for the series, was 5-16, .313. For the Beefs, Brandon Belt, who suffered through a poor first half, was 7-15, .467.
Game 1 Beefers 8, Otters 3
Beefer CF Brandon Nimmo hit a three-run HR off Yu Darvish in the first, but Otter 1b Freddie Freeman cut the lead to 3-2 with a two-run HR in the third.
Darvish then served up HRs to Jeff McNeil, Fernando Tatis, and Brandon Belt in the middle innings to put the Beefs ahead 7-3. Shane Greene and Tony Watson held the Otters scoreless in the final two frames for an 8-3 win for the Bovines.
Beef 8-12-0 W- Shane Bieber 8-2. HR Brandon Nimmo 5 Jeff McNeil 4, Brandon Belt 3, Fernando Tatis 13.
Otters 3-6-0 L- Yu Darvish 3-2. HR Freddie Freeman 9.
Game 2 Otters 5, Beefers 4
The Otters had Beefer starter Zach Plesac’s number, with four different players hitting solo homers in the first four innings as the Furries built up a 4-0 lead. Otter starter Lance Lynn, meanwhile, threw six scoreless innings, allowing only four hit and fanning seven.
Down by four going into the ninth, the Beefers came to life against Chris Martin, who gave up four hits and three runs before Stilwell inserted relief ace Nick Anderson, who promptly served up a solo HR to Fernando Tatis, tying the game at 4-4.
The tie didn’t last long, however. Beef reliever walked Andrew Knapp in the bottom of the 10th and the next batter, Jake Cronenworth, tripled home Ketel Marte, running for Knapp, to bring home the winning run for a 5-4 Otters win.
Beef 4-9-0 L- Stean Crichton 1-2. HR Bryce Harper 11, Fernando Tatis 14 back-to-back in 9th
Otters 5-10-0 W-Nick Anderson 3-1. HR Freddie Freeman 10, Mike Trout 3, Jose Abreu 4, Andrew Knapp 1.
Game 3 Beefers 4, Otters 3 (12 innings)
Beefer lefty Jose Urias and Otters stalwart Jacob deGrom matched zeroes over the first six innings befgore the Beefs to a 1-0 lead on a solo HR by D.J. LeMahieu in the seventh.
The Otters answered back with a run in the 8th to tie the game at one apiece. In the ninth, the Beefs took a 3-1 lead when Christian Vazquez walked and pinch-runner Will Myers scored on a Tatis triple with Tatis scoring on an RBI single by Jose Ramirez.
The Otters, however, were not done. In the bottom of the ninth, Yasmani Grandal got aboard on a Tatis error and scored on a Mike Trout triple. Trea Turner then made it back-to back three-baggers, scoring Trout to tie the game at 3-3.
The bullpens then took over with the Beefs breaking through in the 12th on Ramirez’s 13th HR of the season, off Jeremy Jeffress. Diego Castillo put the Otters away in the bottom of the frame for his 8th save of the year.
Mike Trout was 4-5 for the Otters, including a pair of doubles and a triple.
Beef 4-6-1 W- Zach Britton 1-0. HR Jose Ramirez 13, D.J. LeMahieu 5.
Otters 3-10-0 L- Jeremy Jefress 0-1.
Game 4 Otters 2, Beefers 1 (10 innings)
The Otters Jose Abreu hit a home run in the bottom of the 10th, off luckless Stefan Crichton, to give the Furries a 2-1 win and a split in the series
Both teams scored in the second, the Beefs off an RBI double by Jeff McNeil and the Otters on a sac fly. The score remaining 1-1 through the ninth, with starters Dinelson Lamet and Zac Gallen both having good outings.
The Otters bullpen, however, was the difference-make in the game, holding the Beefs hitless over the final three innings before Abreu settled things with his fifth HR of 2021.
Nick Anderson picked up the win, his second win of the series and his first two victories of 2021.
Beef 1-3-1 L- Stefan Crichton 1-3.
Otters 2-7-0 W- Nick Anderson 2-0. HR Jose Abreu 5 (walk-off HR in 10th)