Tyler Mahle said earlier this week he wanted to work on eliminating the mistakes that hurt him a year ago in the 14 games he played in Pensacola.
On opening night for the Blue Wahoos, Mahle was nearly perfect, retiring the first 13 batters he faced and allowing just three hits to help lead Pensacola to a 4-1 Southern League victory over the Tennessee Smokies Thursday in front of a crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Mahle, 6-3 a year ago in 14 Double-A starts and one of the top prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization, struck out six in 5 2/3 innings. He was perfect through four innings.
“It was a good start. Usually opening day or my first start hasn’t been good for me,” Mahle said. “This was one went well. It’s good to have it under my belt.”
Pensacola Manager Pat Kelly was impressed.
“I thought he was marvelous,” Kelly said. “That’s the way he pitched all spring. “Last year, he just kind of ran out of gas down the stretch and into the playoffs.”
Mahle received plenty of support offensively, thanks in large part to the home runs by Taylor Sparks and Eric Jagielo.
Sparks broke a 2-1 tie in the fifth with his shot to right-center and Jagielo crushed the ball to the same side of the field in the eighth to stretch the Blue Wahoos’ lead to 4-1. The Blue Wahoos, coming off their second consecutive playoff appearance, finished with seven hits in all. The Smokies had four.
Read the full article in the April 13 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.