Modesto Nuts win seventh straight, lead Visalia by three games

bvanderbeek@modbee.comAugust 18, 2013 

Baseball's beauty is contained within the rhythms of the game, and right now the Modesto Nuts are making sweet music on and off the field.

Sunday's workmanlike 6-1 victory over Bakersfield was the Nuts' seventh straight win, and allowed them to sweep a two-team homestand of more than five games for the first time since becoming a Colorado affiliate in 2005.

With 14 games remaining they have a three-game lead over second-place Visalia just in time to visit the Rawhide on Tuesday to start a huge three-game series.

So much for the on-the-field melody, because what's happening off the field is every bit as lyrical.

Earlier Sunday, roommates Tyler Massey and Drew Beuerlein posted their first in a series of music videos to YouTube under the band name "Saving Southern."

Then, Massey, hitting ninth after a season of batting everywhere in the order, went out and had two hits, scoring a run and driving in one more as Modesto scored in five separate innings.

"Everybody's contributing," Massey said. "For so many months all of us were saying that we were just trying to get things rolling and now we've played well and had some breaks, so maybe things are coming together for us.

"It feels like every game is a playoff game right now. Not to add pressure, but every game is very important. Everybody feels that and we're feeding off each other's energies."

Back to the music. The initial video, a cover of "Washed by the Water" by the band "Needtobreathe," can be found at http://bit.ly/14UTAIj. In the video, Beuerlein — a published author, song writer and motivational speaker — is playing guitar while Massey sings.

"Drew's just a Renaissance Man, and I'm thankful to tag along," Massey said. "It's fun to get it out there on the Internet. The original is coming out pretty soon. We played it in front of the team yesterday and everybody seemed to like it, so that gave us the courage to put this one on YouTube."

The team as a whole doesn't seem to be short on courage these days, particularly in those situational hitting moments that gave all of them fits through about the first 90 games of the season.

"They've started to grind every inning and are working toward grinding every at-bat," said manager Fred Nelson. "It's showed up in so many areas that it's started to produce wins. Winning is a habit, as is losing, and we've gone through the losing part of it. These guys now can feel it when they step out there that good things are going to happen."

Tyler Anderson breezed through seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and needing only 82 pitches. He could have gone longer, but the strength of Modesto's starting rotation has left only a few crumbs of work these days for the Nuts' bullpen.

Nelson Gonzalez and Ryan Buch matched hitless innings to land the win without incident.

"We're struggling to find innings for our bullpen," Nelson said. "Guys are upset that they can only throw one inning when they'd like to throw two and three. We don't have the innings for them right now."

Taylor Featherston, who has been in the leadoff spot for a not coincidental seven straight games, led off the first by walking and scored on Trevor Story's double. Massey singled to open the third and eventually scored on a double-play grounder.

Modesto pulled away by scoring in three straight innings, starting with the fifth.

David Kandilas singled, stole second and scored on Massey's single in the fifth, Jordan Ribera lined a two-out RBI single in the sixth, and the Nuts added two more in the seventh on Featherston's sacrifice fly followed by an RBI grounder out by Brian Humphries.

It means that all of the sudden a team built to play little ball not only has accepted that challenge, but is beginning to excel at it.

"We're grinding out at-bats and seeing pitches, and maybe some of the balls we're hitting hard aren't right at people anymore," said Massey, the musician. "We're hitting situationally and getting runs, and you can't say enough about the pitchers. It's all been special."

Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek

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