Jimmie Sherfy’s heater is warming up Reno’s frigid spring nights.
Sherfy, 27, recorded his fifth save of the season Wednesday in a 2-0 victory over Las Vegas to secure the Aces’ first shutout since April 13, 2018. Sherfy’s four-seam fastball touched 94 mph battling 53-degree weather with wind speeds up to 13 mph.
Reno’s all-time saves leader now has 52. He’s recorded saves in back-to-back games for the fourth time in his career.
“(The save record) is a testament to my hard work,” he said. “I just thank God every day that he’s given me the opportunity to play here and play professional baseball. It’s definitely a blessing to say the least.”
The flame-throwing right-hander is anxious to make a permanent return with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had 1.65 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 15 games last season with the Dbacks. Sherfy was optioned back to Triple-A Reno to start the year.
He was recalled to Arizona on April 21 and sent back to Reno the next day.
“I didn’t have the best spring this year,” he said. “It just showed me where I was at. When I got sent down, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘Let’s get it going again. I feel a lot better now.”
Sherfy surrendered two earned runs and four walks in six innings of work in the spring. Equipped with plenty of heat and a sweeping low-80s slider, he’s focused on improving his command with the Aces.
“When I was up there in the spring I wasn’t really attacking the zone that much,” he said. “I was kind of shying away from contact. When I went down, it was, ‘All right, let’s attack the zone. Let’s induce contact’.”
Sherfy’s dominance on the mound can translate to another call-up in the near future. Seven-straight shutout outings has lowered his ERA to 1.74 with 15 strikeouts in 10 appearances this season. He’s held opposing batters to a .225 batting average.
“He’s been closing games here,” Aces pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru said. “But he’s also getting some two-inning stints to showcase what he’s all about. That’s what you gotta do in the big leagues and he has all the talent to do it.”
Before he put on the red and navy blue Aces jersey, Sherfy sported the orange and green with his alma mater, the Oregon Ducks. The right-hander totaled 40 saves with Oregon over three seasons.
The Dbacks selected Sherfy in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He’s moved up the ranks in Dbacks’ minor league system, earning his first-ever all-star appearance with Double-A Mobile in 2016.
Entering his third season with the Aces, Sherfy is used to the wind at Greater Nevada Field.
“It is what it is, that’s all I can say,” he said. “If you’re pitching bad, you kind of get exposed but you can pitch good here. Just don’t shy away from contact. It’s all about being aggressive, getting good counts and putting hitters away.”
Clarke outduels Mengden in Aces win
Taylor Clarke outdueled Daniel Mengden in a battle of right-handed hurlers to lead the Aces to victory on Wednesday.
Both teams combined for just six hits and 13 strikeouts.
Clarke, 25, tossed five shutout innings, surrendering just two hits with one strikeout. Clarke’s fastball touched 93 mph, but his overarching breaking ball jammed opposing batters and kept balls in the infield for most of the night.
Clarke improved to 3-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to 6.12. He has three of the four Aces shutouts over the last two years. The fourth shutout belongs to former Reno starter and current member of the Las Vegas Aviators, Jake Buchanan.
With the win, Clarke earned his 40th career minor league victory. He had a team-high 13 with the Aces last season, when he had a franchise-record 125 strikeouts.
Sporting a Rollie Fingers-style handlebar mustache, Mengden matched Clarke pitch-for-pitch. His two-seam fastball topped out at 89 mph, but it’s late movement had Aces third baseman Wyatt Mathisen swinging at the dirt on two separate occasions.
Mengden went six innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits, three walks and five strikeouts. Despite a solid outing, Mendgen’s facial hair couldn’t help him from hanging a breaking ball that Querecuto jumped on to score Locastro in the third inning.
Tim Locastro was a bright spots offensively for the Aces, going 1-for-2 with a double. During this home stand, Locastro is on an eight-game hitting streak. The Auburn, New York native is 16-for-31 with four homers, 11 RBIs and 11 runs in that span.
Dbacks infielder Ildemaro Vargas set the franchise record with a 35-game hit streak set last season.
Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas. The slugging first baseman broke the hamate bone in his right hand on March 21 during an exhibition game in Tokyo on against the Seattle Mariners . He had surgery on March 24.
Olson’s right hand is key in his unique batting stance. A left-handed batter, he fully extends his arms over the plate. He holds the bat away from his body to complement his sweeping right leg before he swings.
Olson went 0-for-3 with a walk, but he was 10 feet away with a fly ball to center field in his first at bat.
The Aviators couldn’t get out of their own way. Center fielder Dustin Fowler, waiting in the on deck circle, was called for interference when Reno first baseman Marty Herum ran into him attempting to catch a foul ball in the fourth inning.
The Aces plated two runs in the third inning for the only runs in the game. Clarke and the Reno bullpen took care of the rest. Aces relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Rubby De La Rosa blanked Las Vegas through three innings before Sherfy sealed the deal in the ninth.
Notes: Left-handed reliever Alex Young leads the team with 22 strikeouts. The southpaw has 18.1 innings pitched under his belt and has four relief appearances with four or more punchouts. The Aces are 9-11 against right-handed pitchers this season compared to 2-4 against southpaws. … The Aces are 2-2 on Wednesday.
On Deck: Reno, 11-15, face Las Vegas for the fourth and final game of the series on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Justin Donatella is the expected Aces starter. Tanner Anderson will get the nod for the Aviators. … The A’s called up 25-year-old outfielder Skye Bolt and optioned right-handed reliever Ryan Dull to Las Vegas on Thursday.
— Isaiah Burrows