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Technically the fourth game of the season for the Record-Journal Expos saw them going in with an 0-2 record because their first game of the season is suspended. This was the fifth game for the Malloves Jewelers, however, as they were coming into the game with a 3-1 record. All signs pointed to this being a great game because the Expos were coming off a tough to the Phillies and a game I didn't see against the Hartford Colts so it felt as if they were building towards a win. The Jewelers weren't around last season so this was my first time seeing them in a while which made me wonder whether or not they had improved their team or would continue to battle with Rainbow Graphics for last place.
The Expos needed to come out and make a statement during this game and they did that with a two run homerun in the first inning by Jason Sullivan. That early two run lead seemed to build the momentum that would help the Expos win with more offense and behind the pitching of Justin Marks. The second inning, for example, saw the Jewelers retired with a ground out to third and two strikeouts.
In the bottom of the second inning, Jonathan Walter was able to score while going to third as the Jeweler's third baseman threw the ball into the stands and not too far from me. Someone near us almost got hit but luckily no one did. Jack Rich would then smash a double to clear the bases and put the Expos up 6-0 after two innings. The pitching of Justin Marks was able to silence the Jeweler's bats, but the Expos bats were just on fire during this game.
Though the Jewelers managed to get a runner on second base in the third inning, three strike outs brought the inning to an end for them. The Jewelers just seemed to be having a string of bad luck as Jonathan Walter was HBP after Will Kszywanos was walked. Charlie Hesseltine (who was playing left field) hit them over for the first out of the inning. Then, on a base hit near first the throw went to home instead of getting the easy, routine out at first, which was not in time and Will Kszywanos plated another run for the Expos. Sebby Grignano walked- a total of three walks during this game- and then Kyle Hartenstein picked up two RBIs to make the third a three run inning.
At this point, it was 9-0 and it felt like both teams just wanted to get out of the game. The Jewelers weren't as concerned with scoring as they were with making sure they got out of an inning to not have the game go all night. The Expos allowed two runs in the fourth inning and another three in the seventh before Jason Sullivan closed it out pitching. I'll give the Jewelers credit for getting those five runs, but I think the overall feeling was it would take some kind of special situation for them to tie the Expos and even then the Expos could have walked it off in the seventh.
It was good to see the Jewelers back and it was even better to see the Expos back to their winning ways. I feel like a lot of the pitching of the Expos has relied heavily on Charlie Hesseltine and A.J. Hendrickson but then they had this sort of floating rotation of other starters. Having Justin Marks on their roster and as a hopeful starter for many games this season seems to be an improvement I'm not sure that the other teams are ready for. It used to be a matter of facing Charlie Hesseltine or A.J. Hendrickson and being lucky to get a hit but now Justin Marks is proving to be that caliber of a pitcher as well.
The Expos offense also really showed what it can do with everyone playing a role and helping earn these nine runs. I feel like that's one of the aspects which has always made the Expos team so dangerous offensively because you have that chance of any player scoring that winning run- no batter is an easy out. And the offense has been there all season too- in both their tie with the Steel and in their loss to the Phillies it was just barely. I really feel like the Expos were just finding their groove in those first few games and now they're playing like the championship team I know that they can be.