Grey Dominates in Dogs 2-1 Victory over RedHawks
By Jack Ankony, The Chicago Dogs
Like all younger brothers, Connor Grey always wanted to be like his older brother.
So when Grey’s brother started throwing curveballs when he was 11, the 9-year-old Connor followed suit. And ever since, it has been the pitch he has used to devastate opposing hitters.
“It’s the only pitch that my grip has stayed the same, so I’ve always had it,” Grey said.
Grey’s curveball was as good as ever on Tuesday night as Grey shut down the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to regain first place in the American Association North Division. Grey dazzled for eight innings, allowing just three hits, one earned run, one walk and eight strikeouts in a 2-1 Dogs victory.
Going into this game, Grey said he and Ryan Lidge mapped out a gameplan that was executed to perfection. Grey’s mind was locked in on getting ahead early in the count, throwing his offspeed pitches for strikes and perfecting his fastball location.
Grey said he and Lidge divided up the strike zone into thirds and were hitting their spots all night, being careful not to miss in the middle of the zone. And on a night like Tuesday, Grey was feeling good about each of his three pitches: the fastball, slider, and his signature knee-buckling curveball.
“It’s always a good feeling when you’ve got your best stuff,” Grey said. “It’s a lot easier to pitch that way.”
Grey’s stellar night on the bump on Tuesday was the most recent example of a Dogs starting rotation that has had its best stuff recently. Jordan Kipper threw a complete game in the Dogs’ win over Milwaukee on Friday, and Michael Bowden secured a series victory over the Milkmen with five innings of one-run baseball on Sunday.
Bowden has two wins in his last two starts and has given up just one earned run while striking out 12 batters in 11 innings. This led to Bowden being named the American Association Pitcher of the Week.
For Dogs manager Butch Hobson, any time a starter can go six or seven innings is a big positive. But these kinds of starts have been especially important for the Dogs as three of their better bullpen arms in Tyler Ferguson, Kevin Marnon and Paul Schwendel have recently been signed by MLB organizations.
“Even when you have those guys, it’s good when you’re starters go deep,” Hobson said. “Especially as we get more into the season and bullpens get used a lot early and a lot of these arms are a little sore.”
Jeff Kinley relieved Grey in the ninth inning on Tuesday and faced the heart of the RedHawks order. Kinley walked one batter, but allowed no hits in the ninth to secure the win. Kinley forced Correlle Prime, who homered earlier in the game, to ground out on the final play to lower his ERA to 1.08 on the season.
But no matter who is waiting in the bullpen, Grey said the starting rotation’s approach is always to give the team the best chance to win the game. After winning three of four at Sioux City and winning a road series at Milwaukee, the Dogs are in first place and playing with confidence behind recent dominance from the starting rotation.
“I’ve always had pretty good confidence in myself, and I think that’s really important out on the mound,” Grey said. “As the results keep coming, that confidence only builds up from here.”