BRISTOL - Looking down the Bristol Bluesâ€™ lineup card Monday night, there was one note that instantly jumped out.
The Blues were stacked with left-handed bats.
Out of the nine starters, six of them hit from the left side, one was switch-hitting (Parker Upton) and only two (Buddy Dewaine, Brogan Searle-Belanger) were righties.
â€śItâ€™s a luxury. A left-handed stick is always great to have, and we were fortunate to have six or seven in the lineup,â€ť Blues manger Ronnie Palmer said following his clubâ€™s 8-2 win over the Nashua Silver Knights on Monday. â€śAt the end of the day, whether youâ€™re hitting from the left or right side, itâ€™s just quality hitters we want. It brings a certain element to the game when you can do that.â€ť
It doesnâ€™t sound like Palmer or the Blues were specifically strategizing to create a lineup chock full of lefties when they created the roster leading up to the summer. But it certainly doesnâ€™t hurt to have guys like Austin White (.369/.536/.514, 14 RBI) Brandon Miller (.415/.549/.489, 18 RBI), Dylan Reynolds (.256/.280/.344, 14 RBI), Kyle Maves (.213/.277/.327), Will Reiner (.294/.441/.429) and J.T. Mounce (.278/.333/.344) - Mondayâ€™s sixth left-handed hitters - able to pound out hits against Nashua right-handed starter Evan Christopulos.
â€śYouâ€™re just asking for quality players,â€ť said Palmer, who also employs Kasey Bass as the clubâ€™s other lefty. â€śWe just want quality guys, and itâ€™s just something thatâ€™s worked out for us on a daily basis. We normally have four to six guys who hit from the left side. Thatâ€™s a luxury thatâ€™s nice to have that not a lot of teams have.â€ť
Five of the Bluesâ€™ top seven hitters in batting average hit from the left side. That includes Reiner, who has gone 6-for-12 (with five RBI) in his last three games to raise his average from .182 to .294; White, who has the second-most hits on the team and fourth-most in the FCBL (31) and second-highest team batting average, remarkably his lowest of the summer; and Miller, who leads the league in average and is second with 36 hits.
â€śWe are fortunate to where our left-handed sticks are pretty good,â€ť Palmer said. â€śIâ€™m not saying anything that you canâ€™t see in the stats. But even outside of the stats, they have a lot of quality at-bats. Those guys have a plan when they go to the plate. Theyâ€™re aggressive and they attack within that plan. Theyâ€™ve been pretty successful thus far.â€ť
The rest of the league has taken notice of the lefty success deployed by the Blues, and that has become apparent to Palmer, who is in his third season as the clubâ€™s manager.
â€śIâ€™ve seen more left-handed starting pitchers this summer than I have my previous two combined,â€ť Palmer said. â€śA lot of teams realize that we do have a lot of left-handed hitters in the lineup so weâ€™re starting to see a few more guys from the left side throw at us.â€ť
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org