By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns (5-5) are back at home at the Baseball Grounds, welcoming in the Mobile BayBears (4-5) for the start of a five-game series today at 5:05 p.m. ET.
The Suns are coming off a road trip where they lost four out of five at Pensacola, and yesterday fell 3-0 to the Blue Wahoos.
Today to try and get back on the winning track, the Suns will start right-hander Jake Esch (1-1, 4.22 ERA) against Mobile right-hander Zack Godley (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
Here are more notes on today’s contest from the official Suns game notes:
Back at Home: The Suns are glad to be back at home following the 1-4 trip to Pensacola. In the first series of the year, the Suns went 4-1 against the Birmingham Barons on opening weekend at the Baseball Grounds. The Jacksonville Suns welcomed 26,336 fans to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville during the first homestand, for an average of 5,267 each night. Both the total attendance and average attendance are the best marks the Southern League, and the second-highest in all of Double-A baseball (Corpus Christi Hooks welcomed 27.510 fans in the Texas League). The Suns Thursday through Sunday were tops in Double-A Baseball with 24,508 fans. The Opening Night crowd of 8,367 fans was the highest the Suns have had for Opening Night since 2007, and this was the best opening series crowd since the 2011 season.
Life in the Fast Lane: The Suns lead the Southern League with 14 stolen bases through the first 10 games of the season. The top two hitters in Jacksonville’s batting order are leading the way, with Yefri Perez and Jeremias Pineda both having six each, tied with Birmingham’s Adam Engel for the league lead. Moises Sierra and Matt Juengel have a stolen base each, but 11 of the 13 Jacksonville stolen bases come from Pineda/Perez. Pineda had his best day on the basepaths on Sunday April 10 when he stole four bases as part of a team six steal day against the Birmingham Barons, the most the Suns have stolen in a game since 2008. Last season, the Suns were last in the league with 59 stolen bases, and Jacksonville’s Kenny Wilson had 37, which was tied for second-best in the league.
Mooney Shines Bright in Pensacola: The best individual game for a Suns hitter came on Saturday night in Pensacola, as second baseman Peter Mooney went 3-for-4 with two doubles in Jacksonville’s 3-0 loss to the Blue Wahoos. The three-hit day was the first for a Suns hitter in 2016, and finished a terrific series at the plat for Mooney. Against the Wahoos he was 7-for-15 with four doubles, with a run scored and an RBI. His seven hits against the Wahoos were more than any other Suns hitter in the series. Mooney was signed by the Marlins as a free agent after spending last season with the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am League.
Esch Hopes to Continue Success vs. BayBears: Today’s Suns starter Jake Esch was dominant last year against Mobile, going 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA in two starts. He earned the win in his first start at Hank Aaron Stadium on May 6. In that outing he went seven scoreless innings scattering five hits, walking three batters and striking out eight as the Suns won 2-1. Esch took a no decision in his last start against the BayBears on July 11 at the Baseball Grounds. Esch worked five and two-third innings, allowing a run on two hits with a career-high foseven walks and four strikeouts. The Suns would go on to win 4-3 in 14 innings in Jacksonville.
Hello BayBears: Today starts the first series of the year between the Jacksonville Suns and the Mobile BayBears. The Suns and BayBears will play each other in four different series this year, with the next two meetings coming in Mobile from June 10-14 and July 20-24 at Hank Aaron Stadium. The BayBears will not return to the Baseball Grounds until the final series of the season from September 1-5. Last year the Suns won the season series with the BayBears, with Jacksonville going 12-8 against Mobile, going 5-5 in Mobile and 7-3 at the Baseball Grounds.
Today at the Baseball Grounds is Baptist Health Sunday Family Funday, where kids can feel like the pros before each Sunday home game, as kids and their families can play catch on the field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Then a Suns player will read a children’s story to kids. Following the game, kids 12 and under can run the bases. It’s also Dr. Suess Day, a Suns player will read a Dr. Seuss story to kids before the game. Kids are encouraged to dress up as Dr. Seuss characters. The winner will receive a Suns prize. Between-inning contests will have a Dr. Seuss theme. To celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, there will be a pregame swear-in of youth receiving Junior Ranger badges. Chris Hughes, Superintendent of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and Fort Caroline National Memorial, will be throwing a ceremonial first pitch. Also as part of Tomorrow’s Leaders, five area youth who have shown exemplary commitment to academics and community service will throw ceremonial first pitches before the game.
Fans can listen to the game live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover and Marco LaNave providing play by play. Hoover, LaNave, and Andrew Gibson will host the pregame show Suns On Deck beginning at 4:50 p.m. ET, the game can be heard locally on FM 102.3 The Beach, on the TuneIn Radio app, as well as online by clicking the link below:
ABOUT THE SUNS: The Jacksonville Suns opened a new era of affordable family fun under new ownership with the largest Opening Weekend attendance of any team in Double-A baseball. With a FUNdamentally Different promotional schedule and a new lineup of ticket packages for the 2016 season, there is a reason for everyone to get part of the action by calling the Suns at (904) 358-2846 or visiting www.jaxsuns.com.