Knights Knotes — July 5, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will continue their three-game road trip in Lawrenceville, GA and face the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) today in a 2:05 p.m. game at Coolray Field. The two teams are playing six games against each other over a five-day stretch, which started on Thursday and continued with a day-night doubleheader on Friday. The Knights, who entered the five-day stretch with a 4-0 record this season against Gwinnett, dropped the first two games, but have come back to win the next two. Charlotte is now 6-2 against Gwinnett this season. Entering today’s game, the Knights are 1.5 games behind the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division. Norfolk has won eight of their last 10 games, while Charlotte has gone 4-6 over their last 10. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Matt Tuiasosopo’s sixth inning grand slam led the Charlotte Knights to a 5-1 win over the Gwinnett Braves on Saturday in a Fourth of July matchup from Coolray Field. Charlotte RHP Shawn Haviland (4-4, 4.19) did not allow a run over six innings of one-hit baseball. Haviland is now 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA over his last five games.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Terance Marin (2-0, 0.00) gets the start today for the Knights – his fifth of the 1396season. Marin, who was reinstated by the Chicago White Sox from Mexico and assigned to Charlotte on Friday, June 5, will appear in his sixth overall game with the Knights this year and has yet to allow a run in what is his first taste of Triple-A Baseball. Coming into today’s start, Marin has not allowed a run in 29.0 consecutive innings pitched this season with the Knights since coming back to the United States. He has tossed three-straight games of seven shutout innings. Marin, who was on loan to the Toros de Tijuana, posted a 2-5 record with a 4.94 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) this season with the Toros (47.1 IP). Other notable names on that Toros team with Marin this season were Jose Contreras, Miguel Olivo, and Yuniesky Betancourt. Before returning this season, Marin last pitched in Chicago’s organization last season – going 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 14 games (70.0 IP) for the Winston-Salem Dash. He also spent time last season with Double-A Birmingham and was 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in two games (12.1 IP). Marin, who was originally signed by the White Sox as a free agent on July 12, 2010, was released by the organization last year. He then signed with the Frontier League’s Evansville Otters, made six starts, and then was re-signed by the White Sox on June 19, 2014. Marin is a native of Modesto, CA and was undrafted out of Modesto Junior College.

GRAND SLAM: With Charlotte leading 1-0 last night, 1B Matt Tuiasosopo launched a grand slam off Gwinnett starter Mike Foltynewicz in the sixth inning. It was his second grand slam of the season (his first came on May 29 against Lehigh Valley starter Adam Morgan). The grand slam was Tuiasosopo’s third with the Knights. He also hit a grand slam last season (August 18 against Gwinnett starter Daniel Rodriguez). Charlotte as a team hit five grand slams last season. They have four already this season (Dan Black and George Kottaras are the other two players to hit grand slams this year).

IL LEADERBOARD
: OF Trayce Thompson is currently first in the IL in games played (83), second in runs scored (44), second in at-bats (310), tied for sixth in slugging percentage (.451), and third in extra-base hits (32)… Tyler Saladino is third in the IL in steals (24) and Leury Garcia is fourth (23)… 3B Matt Davidson is now second in home runs in the IL this season – one behind IL leader, Durham’s J.P. Arencibia (14). Davidson is also tied for third in the IL in walks (40)… RHP Kyle Drabek (3-5, 2.86) is tied for eighth in the IL this season in ERA (2.86) with teammate RHP Erik Johnson. Drabek is second in the IL in WHIP (1.12), and batters are hitting .216 against him – the fifth best mark in the IL. He has allowed the second lowest baserunners per nine innings (10.20).3328

FOUR KNIGHTS NAMED 2015 ALL-STARS: 3B Matt Davidson, OF Trayce Thompson, and pitchers Erik Johnson, and Zach Phillips, have been named to the 28th Annual First National Bank Triple-A All-Star Game, presented by Gildan. The Charlotte foursome will represent the Knights and the International League against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday, July 15. The Knights are one of just two IL teams with four All-Stars, along with the Norfolk Tides. Both Thompson (outfield) and Davidson (DH) were elected to start the game, while Johnson and Phillips were selected.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON: RHP Erik Johnson is 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) this season with the Knights. He currently leads the IL with 96 strikeouts and his 2.86 ERA is tied for eighth in the IL with teammate Kyle Drabek. Johnson, who won IL Pitcher of the Week honors earlier this season, is averaging 10.21 strikeouts per nine innings — also tops in the IL this season. He has allowed just two runs (one earned) over his last 32.0 innings pitched. 2B Micah Johnson is hitting .291 (51-for-175) with 10 doubles, three home runs, 20 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases (44 G) for the Knights.

CHARLOTTE’S PEN: RHP Maikel Cleto has the third lowest batting average against (.167) among relievers in the IL… LHP Zach Phillips is 1-0 with five saves and a 2.08 ERA in 28 games out of Charlotte’s bullpen this season. The Sacramento, CA native has allowed just three earned runs over his last 18 games (21.1 IP) and has not allowed a run in 22 of his 28 games this season…. Chicago RHP Matt Albers, who was placed on Chicago’s 15-day disabled list with a broken little finger on his right hand on April 26 (retroactive to April 20), continued his Major League Rehab assignment last night and allowed one run over two innings of work. He has allowed just one run over his six innings pitched with Charlotte.

KING GEORGE: Catcher George Kottaras homered for Charlotte in game two of the team’s day-night doubleheader on Friday – his sixth home run over his last seven games. Over that seven-game span, the Canadian native is hitting .409 (9-for-22) with seven runs scored, six home runs and 15 RBIs. In 23 games this season, Kottaras is hitting .328 (22-for-67) with seven home runs, 19 RBIs, 23 walks, and a .495 on-base percentage. In two-straight games (6/18-6/21), he hit three home runs with 12 RBIs after back-to-back six-RBI games. He homered twice on June 21. In nine games during the month of June, he hit .333 (8-for-24) with five home runs and 14 RBIs.

ATTENDANCE FEVER: Over the course of the 2015 regular season, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 20 sell-out crowds in 41 Knights games – nearly half of the team’s games. The ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, welcomed a sell-out crowd at last night’s Team USA vs. Cuba matchup (10,352). The Knights opened up the 2015 campaign with a sold-out crowd for the team’s exhibition game on April 3rd against their parent club, the Chicago White Sox. Overall, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 22 sell-out crowds this season. There were 31 sell-out crowds last season in 71 regular season Knights games. BB&T Ballpark – the most visited venue in Minor League Baseball last season, has welcomed 389,913 fans – second in Minor League Baseball behind Sacramento’s 399,191. Sacramento has had 43 openings, Charlotte has had two less (41).

TEAM USA WINS BIG AT BB&T BALLPARK
: Charlotte-born Nick Banks launched one of his team’s two home runs last night as Team USA beat the Cuban Baseball National Team 11-1 in front of 10,352 fans at BB&T Ballpark on July 4th. While the game attracted a sell-out crowd, the Uptown Charlotte area was packed with even more fans outside the ballpark. The Knights, along with News Talk 1110 WBT and 107.9 The Link hosted the 39th Annual WBT SkyShow event – second in as many seasons at BB&T Ballpark (10th overall for the Knights).

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