Lock-down pitching, a team-wide solid plate approach, and good defense is quite a combination.
To quote the late Jack Buck, legendary St. Louis Cardinals announcer, “That's a winner.”
Johnson City rode the superb trio to a very rare Appalachian League five-hit, no-walk shutout in a 9-0 decision over Danville on Tuesday night at Cardinal Park.
The Cardinals improved to 5-1 and remained in a first-place tie with Elizabethton in the West Division.
Pitchers Will Anderson, Blake McKnight and Fernando Baez each pounded the strike zone relentlessly. Anderson allowed two hits with three strikeouts in four innings while McKnight whiffed four with three hits in four innings. Baez shut the door with a one-hit, two-K ninth.
Cardinals manager Joe Kruzel said there were two parts to the pitchers' strike-zone approach.
“Our guys attacked the hitters, and to do that we've got to catch the ball behind them,” said Kruzel.
The pitchers also got plenty of support at the plate. Vaughn Bryan started things with a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning, and he scored on Brett Wiley's triple.
Ronnierd Garcia added an RBI groundout, and quickly the Cardinals had a 2-0 advantage.
Bryan went on to have a solid night at the plate. He went 2 for 4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
The speedy center fielder from Sunrise, Fla., is 8 for 24 on the season with four RBI and four stolen bases.
“I think I'm doing my job,” said Bryan. “I'm trying to help the team any way I can.”
Bryan was part of a 12-hit attack, including a seven-hit seventh inning. All of the hits were singles and most of them went to the opposite field.
“Everybody was locked in, and everybody did a very good job preparing for the game,” said Bryan. “It's a credit to the coaches.”
The Cardinals did the bulk of their damage in the five-run seventh inning.
“We strung together some good at-bats,” said Kruzel. “I thought the plate approach was outstanding all night. We took what they gave us.
“It looked like their guys were trying to run the ball away from us, and we took the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.”
Kruzel also liked the way his team bounced back from its first loss of the season.
“They showed character,” said Kruzel. “They came back and worked hard.”
Wiley and Garcia each added two hits for the Cardinals. Garcia, who had an RBI double in the third inning, finished with three runs batted in on the night. Wiley had two RBIs.
Next up for the Cardinals is a home game tonight at 7:20 p.m. against the Bristol White Sox. The odd starting time is because of Faith and Family Night, which includes a concert at 6 p.m. by contemporary Christian band Citizen Way. Admission for the evening is $1.