Minor League baseball represents a second wave of season openers, but the Charlotte Knights’ contribution to that slice of Americana needs a do-over.
The Durham Bulls scored five second-inning runs en route to a 7-3 victory over the Knights in their International League opener Thursday night before 7,710 fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Charlotte starter Scott Carroll lasted only 1 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks with four of five runs earned. It was a discouraging start for a 31-year-old pitcher in his 10th pro season, but Knights manager Julio Vinas pointed to a brief rain storm that blew over the stadium shortly before the first pitch.
“Unfortunately, the weather didn’t help,” said Vinas, who made his Charlotte debut. “When you’ve got a power sinker like he does and the ball is wet, it doesn’t help it sink at all. But he battled and kept going after guys. He’s still one of the guys we depend on. He can pitch.”
Last year Carroll was 7-4 with Charlotte and 1-1 in 18 games with the White Sox.
The Knights faced Durham lefty Blake Snell, who is ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Snell, 23, was 15-4 for three teams last year and named baseball’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year by Baseball America. He has now won his last six starts dating to last season, including three over the Knights.
Snell worked the five innings, throwing 75 pitches. He allowed two runs, five hits, one walk with five strikeouts.
Knights center fielder Jacob May, batting ninth, was 1-of-3 with two RBIs. Catcher Kevan Smith was 2-of-3 with a double and two runs scored. Designated-hitter Travis Ishikawa was 0-of-3 with an RBI on a ground-ball out.
Durham designated-hitter Richie Shaffer was 2-of-3 with three RBIs.
Knights shortstop Tim Anderson, rated the Best Athlete in the White Sox organization by Baseball America, led off the game with a single and was 1-of-5. But he booted a hot bouncer that allowed Durham’s third run before the Knights had recorded their first out of the second inning.
Notes: Former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez was signed by the Chicago White Sox and assigned to the Knights just hours before the opener. Gonzalez, who was 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA last year in Baltimore, will start Monday’s game at Norfolk. … In Friday’s second of four games, Charlotte’s Erik Johnson starts against Durham’s Matt Andriese.