Putnam's homer powers Bluefish
Updated 12:16 am, Monday, May 23, 2011
BRIDGEPORT -- Outfielder Danny Putnam reached the big leagues in 2007 with the Oakland Athletics and he had played more than 200 games at Class AAA in his career. He would not go as far as to say he underestimated the level of competition in the Atlantic League last season.
No matter what Putnam's mindset was when he joined the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2010 he learned quickly that the league is filled with quality talent. And Putnam struggled at the outset.
This season, though, there has been little sign of a struggle. Putnam went 1-for-3 Sunday with two walks and two runs scored and he hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the sixth inning to lead the Bluefish to an 8-7 win over the Lancaster Barnstormers before 2,290 at Harbor Yard.
"I got humbled greatly last year in the first half," Putnam said. "So I feel like working with (manager) Willie (Upshaw) has really helped me get past where I was at there and even better than I was when I came to start. It's very, very exciting."
The Bluefish (9-9) have won five of their last six games to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season. They have also won back-to-back series for the first time.
The Barnstormers (12-6) committed five errors and left the tying run at third base in the ninth inning for the second straight game.
"There was never a doubt I don't think with anybody in this clubhouse that knows how good we can be," Putnam said. "It's always frustrating when you're not playing like you can. We just weren't clicking yet. So I think everybody knows it was a matter of time."
With the Bluefish trailing 5-3 with one out in the sixth, Putnam homered off of Yunior Novoa (1-1) to give them the lead for good.
Putnam was hitting just .182 with one home run, nine RBIs and eight runs scored in 24 games through May 22 last season. He is currently hitting .305 with three home runs, six RBIs and a team-high 12 runs scored in 15 games.
"I like the way he's started this year," Upshaw said. "Overall, I've always liked his aggressiveness. That's something you want every player to have because you can't coach that. He's got it. And he's fun to be around because of it."
The Bluefish added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single by Michael Moras and another in the eighth on a two-out error by third baseman Terry Tiffee. They proved to be vital as the Barnstormers rallied for two runs in the ninth against Miguel Saladin.
Saladin ultimately induced Emerson Frostad to hit into a game-ending 3-6-1 double play with the tying run at third. Saladin caught the throw from shortstop Angel Chavez while falling on his stomach and toeing the bag for the final out.
"As soon as the ball was hit I knew it was going to be a tough play," Saladin said. "I knew I had to bust my tail to get over there. It was a bang-bang play.''
Saladin earned his fifth save.
"I feel like we're getting our feet under us offensively, pitching-wise," Upshaw said. "We put some timely hits together. A big hit by Put and we got some good relief pitching. And that's kind of what we've been missing."
UP NEXT -- Tuesday at Somerset, 7:05 p.m. RHP Matt Pike (0-0, 6.23) vs. TBA.
LANCASTER 000 203 002--7 12 5
BRIDGEPORT 010 203 11x--8 7 1
Batteries: L--Zach Parker, Tim McNab (4), Yunior Novoa (6; L, 1-1), Jeff Bennett (6), T.J. Beam (8) and Emerson Frostad; B--Pat Ryan, Chris Rivera (6; W, 1-0), Juan Padilla (7), Antonio Alfonseca (8), Miguel Saladin (9; Save, 5) and Luis Rodriguez. Home runs: B--Danny Putnam (3).