Earlier in the year, Dane Dunning was ejected and suspended for throwing at the head of Milwaukee prospect Lucas Erceg following a perceived “pimping” of a home run.
In an interview with Chuck Garfien, Dunning didn’t sound exactly contrite. Whatever the leftover feelings, the rivalry took a healthier form on Tuesday during the Winston-Salem Dash’s game with the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, N.C.
Dunning struck out Erceg the first and third times at the plate, but in between, Erceg hit a two-run homer on a down-and-in fastball that accounted for the game’s only scoring.
Outside of the one mistake, Dunning was impressive. It was only a two-run homer because the Monte Harrison reached chasing a wipeout slider that also got away from Seby Zavala. That was one of 10 strikeouts over Dunning’s six innings. He allowed just the two runs on two hits and two walks, with one hit batter.
The plunking happened on the next pitch after Erceg’s homer, but it was on an overthrown slider. If Dunning fell into any bad habits, that looked like the tendency. He’d squeeze his slider into the left-handed batter’s box or throw his fastball high and away armside, and maybe it’d require a brief visit from Zavala. But as you can tell from his line, whatever he did wrong didn’t last long.
It took me a couple innings to locate the stadium radar gun, but he was working at 95 in the third inning, and was at 93 in his sixth and final frame. The slider was his go-to secondary pitch the first time through, pitching forward and backward. The effectiveness with that approach allowed him to save his changeup primarily for the sixth inning. It yielded a handful of strikes, including two swinging strike threes.
He didn’t face much traffic, but he showed a quick pickoff move for the few runners he did have. He appeared to use a second fastball – or maybe it was only a subtracted fastball – when wanting a grounder, reading at 90-91. He induced a pair of double-play balls in the fourth inning. The first was mishandled by shortstop Sam Dexter to put Dunning in a bind, but Dunning remained composed and ended the inning with a 4-6-3.
Based on his game log, there’s probably more to learn about Dunning from watching him battle a little, but sometimes it’s fun to see somebody at his best.
Here’s some footage of Dunning against Corey Ray, who struck out all four times at bat.
Charlotte 2, Durham 1
- Jake Peter went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Jacob May, 0-for-2 with a walk, sac bunt and strikeout.
- Rymer Liriano went 2-for-3 with his 17th homer and a walk.
- Casey Gillaspie was 0-for-4 with a K.
- D.J. Peterson, 1-for-3.
- Eddy Alvarez walked and struck out twice.
Birmingham 7, Tennessee 0
- Eloy Jimenez went 3-for-4 with a double.
- Zack Collins, 0-for-3 with a walk.
- Nick Basto went 2-for-4 with a double.
- Trey Michalczewski singled, walked and struck out twice.
- Courtney Hawkins went 1-for-3 with a double.
- Danny Mendick, 1-for-4.
Carolina 2, Winston-Salem 0
- Jameson Fisher struck out looking three times during an 0-for-4 night.
- Seby Zavala went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Dane Dunning: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 HBP
Kannapolis 4, Greensboro 0
- Joel Booker went 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout.
- Luis Gonzalez, 1-for-3 with a sac fly.
- Blake Rutherford was 1-for-4.
- Jake Burger, 1-for-4 with a homer and a strikeout.
- Gavin Sheets, 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Alex Call went 0-for-3.
- Blake Hickman: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K
Helena 15, Great Falls 13
- Craig Dedelow went struck out in both his at-bats.
- Justin Yurchak doubled, singled, hit a sac fly and walked thrice.
- Franklin Reyes went 2-for-5 with two strikeouts.
- Amado Nunez, 0-for-4 with a walk.
AZL White Sox 2, AZL Indians 1 (10 innings)
- Ramon Beltre went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
- Maiker Feliz went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.