Snyder leads Bats to 21st victory in June, 4-2
By Brian Bennett
Many players deserve credit for the Louisville Bats' unstoppable June surge, but one should not be overlooked. His name is Earl.
The increase in Earl Snyder's offensive production has dovetailed with his team's winning ways. Snyder drove in all of the Bats' runs yesterday during a 4-2 victory over Richmond at Louisville Slugger Field.
The Bats won their sixth straight game and tied a franchise record with their 21st win of the month. They have two more games to eclipse the marks set in July 1998 and May 2001.
Snyder is batting .309 with 22 RBIs in June. His hot streak began right about the time manager Rick Sweet moved him into the cleanup spot.
"We were struggling offensively, and we were looking for somebody to step up," Sweet said. "And it was like, bam! He stepped up and did the job."
It's no surprise that Snyder leads the club with 45 RBIs. After all, he compiled 196 RBIs the past two Triple-A seasons. But Snyder drove in just six runs during a miserable April.
"Every year I start slow, but this year it might have lasted a little longer," he said. "I worked on a couple of little things in the cage, but mostly it was just getting a lot more comfortable and seeing the ball better."
Snyder put the Bats on top in the first inning with an RBI single to shallow center. He tied the score at 2 in the sixth with a broken-bat single after Dewayne Wise's leadoff triple.
In the seventh, Richmond walked Wise intentionally to bring up Snyder with two men on. The Braves were trying to set up a double play with a righty-vs.-righty battle, but the Bats welcomed the situation.
"Especially with how he's played this month," Sweet said. "I would take him facing anybody right now."
Snyder stroked a two-run double to the left-field wall against Ricardo Rodriguez (3-7), clapping his hands as he reached second. A slugger who bashed 65 home runs the past two seasons, Snyder has just 11 this season. He's found other ways to bring runners home.
"It seemed like forever since I had an extra-base hit or hit one on the barrel (before that double)," he said. "RBIs are all about guys getting on in front of you and getting hot at the right time."
For the 14th time in their last 16 games, the Bats held an opponent to two runs or fewer. Justin Germano (6-6) turned in his fifth straight quality start since returning from a brief stint with the Cincinnati Reds, allowing one earned run in seven innings.
Germano said his fastball lacked movement yesterday, and the Braves hit several balls hard, including one that center fielder Norris Hopper caught before crashing into the center-field gate. But he excelled at damage control, especially after two errors and a questionable throw loaded the bases with none out in the fifth.
"I knew I couldn't put any extra pressure on myself," Germano said. "I really concentrated on getting a ground ball. I knew I'd probably have to sacrifice a run, but I was OK with that."
That's just what happened -- Germano induced a double-play grounder that resulted in a run. Jamal Strong then grounded out to short as Snyder saved Jeff Bannon's high throw to first base.
Snyder moved to first as Edwin Encarnacion (sprained ankle) played the second game of a rehab assignment from Cincinnati. Encarnacion went 1 for 4 and is scheduled to play for the Bats again tonight.
"There's still a little limp in his giddy-up, but he'll play through it," Sweet said.
The Bats will go for a series sweep tonight at 7:15. Lefthander Mike Gosling (4-4, 3.79 ERA) will start the homestand finale against Richmond righty Dan Curtis (0-1, 5.84).