Modesto Nuts' Humphries drives in three runs in Cal League victory over Stockton

bvanderbeek@modbee.comJuly 16, 2013 

    alternate textBrian VanderBeek
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Sports, including preps, colleges and the Modesto Nuts
    Bio: Brian VanderBeek joined The Bee in 1996 after previously working at The Home News-Tribune and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, the (Dover) Delaware State News and the Hanford Sentinel. He is a graduate of Ripon High, Modesto Junior College and holds a degree in journalism from Fresno State.
    Recent stories written by Brian
    On Twitter: @modestobeek

— If you're Brian Humphries and you're reading this, you might want to stop right here.

The Modesto left fielder, who homered and drove in three runs in the Nuts' 8-4 victory over Stockton on Wednesday, claims he doesn't know his batting average.

But for the record, Humphries is hitting .330, which is third-best in the California League and leads all left-handed hitters.

"I don't know what my average is," said the Pepperdine University product. "I keep my eyes off the scoreboard. I don't want to know and I don't need to know.

"After a game if I've hit two or three balls hard then I've had a good day."

In addition to his homer and RBI double, Humphries hit a third ball on a hard line to deep right field.

And the line-drive fever was contagious, as the Nuts collected 12 hits off three Ports' pitchers — including ringing doubles by Niko Gallego, David Kandilas and Trevor Story — to improve to 13-8 in the second half.

"We had a lot of good at-bats," said Fred Nelson, managing his first home game since taking over for the fired Lenn Sakata on Sunday.

"I can't believe the balls Kandilas and Story hit stayed in the park. Those balls were a lot louder than the home run that Brian hit. Maybe I didn't hear it right."

Stockton took a 2-0 lead in the third off Modesto starter Ben Alsup, with both runs scoring on a double by Addison Russell.

Alsup (6-8) would allow only two hits through the rest of his stint, running into a pitch count with one out in the sixth.

The zeros he posted gave the Nuts ample time to rally, and they began their comeback immediately with a run in the third on doubles by Niko Gallego and Humphries.

Modesto then continued its hitting against Ports' starter Michael Ynoa, Oakland's $4.25 million bonus baby, who is working his way back from numerous arm ailments and a Tommy John surgery.

With one out in the fourth, Tyler Massey singled and scored on a long double to left by David Kandilas. Drew Beuerlein's single scored Kandilas for a 3-2 Nuts' lead, which was stretched to 4-2 by Trevor Story's booming double to left.

Humphries followed with a line drive homer to right — his fifth of the season — to complete the five-run uprising and end Ynoa's night.

Ynoa, originally signed in 2008 as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, has made two starts for Stockton — both against the Nuts — and has allowed 10 earned runs in 71/3 innings.

"He's a big, tall lanky guy, so the ball looks like it's coming at you from 50 feet instead of 60 feet, 6 inches," Humphries said. "But in the end the ball still has to cross the plate and you still have to hit it if it's in the zone."

Alsup walked five in his 51/3 innings, but managed to work out of two deep jams with minimal damage.

Getting as deep into the game as possible was a priority for Alsup, since the bullpen will be counted on for at least four innings tonight with Eddie Butler and his five-inning limit taking the mound for the Nuts.

Kraig Sitton took over from Alsup and got the Nuts into the seventh, with Kenny Roberts allowing a run in the eighth and Nick Schnaitmann giving up a run in the ninth.

But since Modesto tacked on two runs in the eighth, with Kandilas and Drew Beuerlein driving-home the runs, Nelson had the cushion to not go too deep into the bullpen.

Humphries came up in the eighth with a chance to add to the lead, but flew out to left to end the rally. The opposite-field line drive hurt his average, but in his own personal method of measuring success it counted as a positive notch.

"Hits don't necessarily dictate how well you've been hitting the ball," Humphries said. "If you have a couple broken bat singles on balls you were fooled on, then it doesn't mean you had a good day seeing the ball."

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