- By Jeff Gilbert Contributing Writer
Hunter Greene struck out four in two innings Thursday night and threw a stadium-record 102 mph fastball at Fifth Third Field.
Then he left the game for no apparent reason.
Was he hurt? Was he on a strict pitch limit?
None of the above.
Greene’s family is visiting from California so they enjoyed a big meal Wednesday night Greene figures he just ate a little too much.
“I had wings last night that were really good, the sauce was really good,” Greene said. “I think it just got to me. It had been bothering me since I got to the ballpark. I just tried to push through it.”
Dragons manager Luis Bolivar knew his star pitcher — the Reds’ No. 2 overall draft choice in 2017 — was bothered by an upset stomach before the game. After the second inning, Greene, 18, told him he was finished. But Greene was himself after the game and will be ready for his next start on Tuesday at home.
“I took some medicine and relaxed a little bit — a lot better now,” he said.
Greene set the tone for the Dragons’ 2-1 win over Fort Wayne when he hit 101 mph on his first batter. He struck out the side in the first inning and hit 102 mph on strike three to Luis Campusano to end the inning. That pitched surpassed the 101 mph record achieved several times by Greene, Aroldis Chapman and current Dragons reliever Aneurys Zabala earlier this season as a member of the Great Lakes Loons.
“I was laughing when I came off the field because it was my first 102 at the stadium,” said Greene, who hit 103 recently at the Futures Game.
Greene walked the leadoff batter in the second but ended the inning with a double play and his fourth strikeout. Wendolyn Bautista pitched the next four innings to get the win followed by Brian Hunter, Ryan Nutof and John Ghyzel, who allowed a run in the ninth and earned his 18th save.
“I put on a good show,” Greene said. “My velo was obviously great and I struck out four guys in two innings.”
Greene threw his fastball and slider consistently for strikes. He used the low-80s slider at times as a first pitch to get ahead of hitters and as a strikeout pitch.
“His fastball had life and he threw pretty good sliders,” Bolivar said. “He looked great.”
Greene entered Thursday with a 4.61 ERA and a 2.74 ERA over his last 10 starts. His ERA now sits at 4.48.
The Dragons finally got to Fort Wayne starter Tom Cosgrove in the sixth when Jeter Downs singled, stole second and third and scored on Alejo Lopez’s single. The Dragons scored their second run in the seventh when Andy Sugilio singled with two outs, stole second and came around to score on two wild pitches.
The Dragons (16-17) are in the middle of a cluster of five teams fighting for the two playoff spots available in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
“To be in my first playoff chase possibly is really cool,” Greene said. “I’m excited to see what we’re going to be able to do in this second half.”
Dragons tales: Mac Sceroler is back with the Dragons and in the starting rotation. Sceroler, a fifth-round pick in 2017, began the season in Dayton but his 6.00 ERA in four starts sent him back to Billings, Montana, in the rookie Pioneer League where he pitched last summer. At Billings, Sceroler pitched well enough with a 3.07 ERA in seven starts to earn a trip back to Dayton.
Starter Adrian Rodriguez was sent down to Billings to make room for Sceroler. Rodriguez had a 7.19 ERA in 15 starts for the Dragons.
• Dragons catcher Hendrik Clementina was 0-for-3 with a walk and his batting average dropped to .266. Clementina was one of the Midwest League’s hottest hitters for much of the first half. He is batting .161 in his last 27 games since June 9. He still leads the Dragons with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs.