A big challenge for Jeremy Beasley, facing a hot team with a Major Leaguer starting on the mound

What a challenge for Jeremy Beasley on the day before the 4th of July. First Jeremy’s Inland Empire team was on a six game losing streak and four of those loses were in their current series at Rancho Cucamonga. Meanwhile, the Quakes have been a hot team since the California League All-Star Game winning 10-of-12 games including seven straight. The hot team prevailed as the Rancho Cucamonga won 4-1. Beasley pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing six hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts and no walks. In his last two starts he has KO’ed 12 batters without walking one. Jeremy threw 82 pitches, 57 for strikes. His 66er team managed only three hits as Jeremy took the loss. He is 3-2 with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He has a better than 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio- 48 K’s and 11 walks. For his pro career the numbers are 104-to-30.

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Jeremy tossed three more full scoreless innings. This season 50-of-his-66 full innings have been shutout frames- that’s 75.8% and for his pro career it is 77.3% (75-of-97).

“I treat all of my starts the same with either team,” Beasley said. “My thought process is to pitch to my strengths from pitch one, and to carry it throughout the game. My team losing six in a row is a very frustrating thing for everyone, but it doesn’t change my objectives. I wanted to give my team a chance to win, and we had opportunities and we did not capitalize on. That’s just how baseball works and we’ll come back tomorrow and move on from today.”

Added to the challenge was the Quakes starting pitcher. Walker Buehler went 12–2 with a 2.64 ERA and 111 strikeouts for Vanderbilt’s National Championship team in 2014. He was drafted with the 24th pick in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. After Tommy John Surgery he made his pro debut in 2016 and by 2017 he was in the Major Leagues. In 52 innings with the Dodgers this season he is 4-2 with a 3.44 ERA and 54 strikeouts and just 12 walks. On June 8 he started at Sun Trust Park and held the Atlanta Braves to only two hits and an earned run with four K’s and no walks in 5 1/3 innings. Also, in June he limited the Rockies to just two hits and an earned run with six punch outs in seven innings. However, in his last start, at Dodger Stadium, he got bombed in the first inning as the Chicago Cubs scored five earned runs on five hits. After that the Dodgers sent Buehler down to the Quakes and the Advanced A California League.

He needs to be built back up as a starter,” Dodger manager Dave Roberts said. “Obviously yesterday didn’t go as planned for various reasons. Going forward, the goal is to get him built up. So what’s the best way to do that and what makes the most sense.”

“It was pretty cool to face that guy,” Jeremy said. “He was definitely fun to watch pitch and to see how he carried himself. He had a different persona than most guys, and I loved watching him.”

So, it was Beasley versus Beuhler before a big crowd of 4,902 in  LoanMart Field which seats 6,500. Beuhler won the first inning. He retired the 66ers three-up, three-down on a grounder and two strikeouts. Jeremy was facing a Quake team that had hit 101 home runs in 82 games and the leadoff hitter Gavin Lux, another Dodger first round draft pick, hit his ninth homer of the season to right field on a 2-2 pitch to put RC up 1-0. After that Jeremy struck out the next two Quakes on a called strike three and than a swing and a miss on a fantastic fast ball. He ended the inning inducing a grounder to third base on an 0-2 pitch.

Beasley won the second inning even though Buehler didn’t allow a hit. Walker struck out two Inland Empire hitters and got a ground out, but he walked a batter. Meanwhile, Jeremy retired the Quakes on just seven pitches. Jeren Kendall flew out to center on one pitch, Omar Estevez grounded out to second on two pitches and then Beasley retired his sixth straight batter striking out Logan Landon swinging.

In the top of the third inning Buehler recorded a ground out and a strikeout before giving up his first hit of the game- a single by Jahmai Jones. Jeremy had a bigger challenge to keep it a 1-0 game. He retired the first batter on a ground out to second base for his seventh straight out. However, on a 1-1 pitch Martee banged the ball of the top of the wall in right for a double. Lux jumped on the first pitch and flied out to left field. The 66ers went in to a shift against the Quakes big stick. DH Rylan Bannon entered the game with 19 homers and 54 RBI and he hit a squibber to third which under normal defensive circumstances would have been an easy grounder, but instead it turned in to an infield hit putting runners on first and third. No problem. Jeremy threw three straight splitters and mowed down number three hitter Cody Thomas to leave runners on first and third.

“The splitter is just one of those pitches that if you can throw it, it’s a weapon from the first throw,” Beasley said. “I’ve spent a lot of time over the past four years working on it, and it’s no easy feat to be able to control. The way I learned to throw it was to take a bucket of balls and throw it at the fence. I would watch the movement of the pitch to get used to the drop and then I would carry that into a bullpen. Buddy Carlyle (L.A. Angels minor league assistant pitching coordinator) was another influence for me. We refined my splitter in spring training and now I can do whatever I want to with my splitter.”

Note- Carlyle pitched for five different Major League teams- both New York clubs, the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves. His best season was in 2007 wearing the Braves uniform, he won eight games and in one inning he struck out three straight batters on the minimum nine pitches. He was the 40th Big League pitcher to do that.

Buehler took the mound for the top of the fourth inning and he only face one batter. Buford High Schoo’ls Brandon Marsh ripped a triple to center and that ended Walker’s rehap start. He threw 41 pitches, 30 for strikes in his three innings and he allowed two hits and an earned run with five strikeouts and one walk. Marsh scored on a sacrifice fly to even the score at 1-1.

In the bottom of the fourth Jeremy retired Cristian Sanata on a grounder to third base, he struck out Kendall looking at a breaking ball, Estevez singled and the inning ended when Logan Landon grounded out to third.

In the fifth Nick Yarnall hit a double off the wall in left, Martee took a fast ball on the outside corner for strike three and Lux doubled on Jeremy’s 77th pitch to put the Quakes up 2-1. Bannon- a right-handed hitter also took a fastball on the outside corner for strike three. Next up was Thomas- a lefty- Beasley had struck him out twice. However, 66er manager Ryan Barba decided to go to the bullpen and bring in Matt Bower. The 23rd round pick out of Washington State got the final out on a swinging K stranding the runner at third, but in the sixth he yielded the final two runs of the game.

Rancho Cucamonga Bottom of the 1st
Gavin Lux homers (9) on a fly ball to center field.
Rylan Bannon called out on strikes.
Cody Thomas strikes out swinging.
Cristian Santana grounds out, third baseman Connor Justus to first baseman David MacKinnon.

Rancho Cucamonga Bottom of the 2nd
Jeren Kendall flies out to center fielder Jonah Todd.
Omar Estevez grounds out, third baseman Connor Justus to first baseman David MacKinnon.
Logan Landon strikes out swinging.

Rancho Cucamonga Bottom of the 3rd
Nick Yarnall grounds out, second baseman Jahmai Jones to first baseman David MacKinnon.
Hamlet Marte doubles (8) on a fly ball to right fielder Brandon Marsh.
Gavin Lux flies out to left fielder Jo Adell.
Rylan Bannon singles on a ground ball to shortstop Alberto Triunfel. Hamlet Marte to 3rd.
Cody Thomas strikes out swinging.

Rancho Cucamonga Bottom of the 4th
Cristian Santana grounds out, third baseman Connor Justus to first baseman David MacKinnon.
Jeren Kendall called out on strikes.
Omar Estevez singles on a line drive to center fielder Jonah Todd.
Logan Landon grounds out, third baseman Connor Justus to first baseman David MacKinnon.

Rancho Cucamonga Bottom of the 5th
Nick Yarnall doubles (6) on a fly ball to center fielder Jonah Todd.
Hamlet Marte called out on strikes.
Gavin Lux doubles (18) on a line drive to right fielder Brandon Marsh. Nick Yarnall scores.
Rylan Bannon called out on strikes.
Pitching Change: Matt Bower replaces Jeremy Beasley.
Cody Thomas strikes out swinging, catcher Julian Leon to first baseman David MacKinnon.