Everett opens their season in excellent fashion... the VSLM's finish a pitching duel in bleh fashion... the rest of Single A baseball takes the All Star Break off in rather lazy and absent fashion... Andrew Baldwin pitches a great game in rather unusual fashion (well, for the minors)... and Brad Thomas takes a loss in somewhat bizarre and unlucky fashion, while I briefly address the Adam Jones issue in rather cynical, pessimistic fashion.
VENEZUELA~! VSL Tigers 1, VSL Mariners 0
Jean Tome: 4 IP, 0 H, walk, 3 K, wild pitch
Mayckol Guaipe: 2 IP, 2 K, 3 walks, K, balk
Kelvin Montbrum: 2.1 IP, 4 H, (1 R) 0 ER, walk, K, wild pitch
Yoervis Medina: 0.1 IP, walk
Jose Hernandez: 3-4 (.286)
Jorge Agudelo: 2-4, 2 K (.206)
Jean Tome goes and pitches four no hit innings... then leaves the game? Hey, these are kids and are on strict workload limits, so development comes first, but still, not bad of the kid to tiptoe to 4 no-hit innings while only facing 13 batters. All of his groundballs came against the final 5 batters he faced, and two resulted in fielding errors.
Line Drives: 0
Pop Ups: 2
It remained scoreless through 8. Kelvin Montbrum is definitely able to pitch extended stretches, so it's hard to say if he was left in too long here when he came out to pitch the bottom 9th, his 3rd inning of work. But after a leadoff single followed immediately by a throwing error on said infield single, the VSL Tigers had a man on 2nd and no outs, then bunted him over to 3rd. Yoervis Medina came in to pitch, walked a pinch hitter, then watched it go all for naught as Raul Leiva hit a walkoff sacrifice fly.
OPENING DAY IN EVERETT!
A: Everett 5, Yakima 1
Edward Paredes: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 walks, 4 K
Shawn Kelley: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER (HR)
Nick Hill: 2 IP, 1 H, walk, 2 K
Greg Halman: 2-4, R
Manelik Pimentel: 2-4, 2 R, RBI, K
Kalian Sams: 1-4, double, 2 RBI, K
Joe Dunigan: 2-4, R, 2 K
Deybis Benitez: 1-3, double, 2 RBI, K
Ogui Diaz: 2-3, double
Big win on Opening Day, as the Aquasox jumped on Bryant Thompson early. Kalian Sams hit a two out, two run double in the 1st, and pounded in 3 more in the 3rd: Greg Halman singled with one out, stole 2nd, stole 3rd, and got knocked in by Manny Pimentel before he had a chance to go Willie Mays Hayes... then after Joe Dunigan singled, Deybis Benitez doubled in two more.
That was more than enough for Edward Paredes, who settled into a groove in the 3rd and did not give the Yakima Bears anything to work with after that, until he left following the 6th. Only 5 of the 22 batters he faced put the ball in the air between the foul lines, and 3 of those came in the first two innings, while the other two came back to back during a 1-2-3 4th. Yep. Paredes pwned the Bears last night.
Line Drives: 1
Pop Ups: 1
The first batter Shawn Kelley faced as a professional, Aaron 'Mister' Hanke, took him deep to end the shutout bid, but after a groundball single, Kelley got a double play and a tapper back to the mound to get out.
After that, military man Nick Hill worked the last two innings, getting some help when a liner with one out turned into a double play with the runner off the bag... and another runner off the bag in the 9th allowed him to score the pickoff.
NEXT: Juan Carlos Ramirez starts game #2 at 7:05 pm PDT.
AA: Mississippi 4, West Tenn 2, 11 innings
Andrew Baldwin: 7 IP, 1 H, walk, 5 K, hit batter
Chris Jakubauskas: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 walks, 6 K. Welcome!
Michael Hrynio: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, walk, K, wild pitch
Charlton Jimerson: 1-5, double, 2 RBI, K (.252)
Matt Tuiasosopo: 1-5, 2 K (.286)
Luis Valbuena: 2-4, walk (.240)
Luis Oliveros: 1-4 (.291)
Rene Rivera: replaced Oliveros, 0-1 (.189)
Andrew Baldwin pitched an interesting ballgame, allowing a hit only in the 4th and working through 7. He could have easily surrendered his 1st hit in the 3rd, but back to back line drives found fielders. The hit came from Diory Hernandez, who was a royal pain throughout Baldwin's start, stealing 2nd after the single, and getting on via HBP in the 7th, then stealing 2nd with one out. He was fortunately stranded both times.
While they're more common in the big leagues, for whatever reason, the average minor league starting pitcher can easily go 6-7 innings without a single infield pop up. Sometimes, they get 1 or 2. But Andrew Baldwin got SEVEN outs via pop up. It's easy to look at the basic groundout-flyout box score and say, 'Oh, Baldwin just had a good night because he got lucky on his flyballs in play,'... except most of those flyballs were actually pop ups. Long ago, when I brought this box score anomaly up (line drive outs, pop ups were all included as flyball outs), someone had the gall to tell me that pop ups and line drives were not included in that stat and that all flyball outs were genuine flyballs. Given the person was reasonably informed and not being as well versed myself, I actually took his word for it.
If I could remember who that was, I would wring that person's neck for telling me lies.
Line Drives: 3
Pop Ups: 7
Walks: 1 (plus 1 hit batter)
Andrew Baldwin is ready for the Majo- haha, just kidding. He and Andrew Barb are worth a 44 year old starting pitcher, though. Ask Pat Gillick.
So with no score, the DIAMOND JAXX bats got around to scoring right after Baldwin's final inning. With two outs in the bottom 7th, Chris Minaker drew a walk, then Sebastien Boucher lined a single to left, then Charlton Jimerson lined a double to left to score both runners and make it 2-0... then got greedy and broke for 3rd as the throw came in to try and get Boucher. The throw was not in time, but catcher Chris Sammons turned, threw to 3rd and gunned down Jimerson for the 3rd out.
Still, 2-0, and Baldwin ceded to... Chris Jakubauskas? This mishmash of Greek consonants, a welcome addition to a depleted bullpen (so what else is new?), made his 2007 debut with orders to go as long as he could. Mark Jurich sensed the presence of fresh meat and led off with a lined single. Clint Sammons and Van Pope got so preoccupied with Chris' name and memories of gyros past (with fine tzatziki) that they went down quietly, though Jurich did advance to 2nd. Carl Loanderthal, whose ancestors were killed by Greek chefs who strangled them to death with raw calamari (okay, not really), did not concur and ripped a grounder to 2nd that Luis Valbuena could not play in time, moving Jurich to 3rd. Mike Rozema walked and the bases were loaded... for Brandon Jones.
And Jones ripped a single to left that plated Jurich and Loanderthal to tie the ballgame. Both teams say Two Outs, So What?
Diory Hernandez, the thorn in the DIAMOND JAXX side, went down on strikes to end the threat. That's what.
The DIAMOND JAXX did try and put the persistent AA Braves away in the bottom 9th. Luis Oliveros singled with one out, and after Chris Minaker got plunked, Oliveros was lifted for pinch runner Jeff Frazier, a disastrous move given that, if the DIAMOND JAXX did not score, the new catcher would be everyone's favorite welding-mask wearing waste of space, Rene Rivera. Sebastien Boucher owed it to us to knock in the winning run.
The Braves even helped out as Clint Sammons passed a ball, allowing the runners to take 2nd and 3rd. And they only needed one! Even a grounder to the right side gave West Tenn a good chance to win, anything but a strikeout, infield pop up or a grounder to 3rd base.
So Boucher hits a grounder... to 3rd base. Two outs, runners go nowhere. Charlton Jimerson comes up with a chance to show us some clutch hitting... and HE hits a grounder to 3rd base to end the frame and send it to extras. WEAK sauce.
The 10th inning went quietly, and Chris Jakubauskas had given the team 3 reasonably useful innings, so he took a seat and Michael Hrynio, who we'll probably be seeing a lot of the rest of the season, came on to pitch. Hrynio walked Brandon Jones, and Diory Hernandez sac bunted him over for one out. If you look up Baseball Troll in the dictionary, you probably won't find it because that's not an actual term, but if it was there, I'd imagine there would be a picture of Diory Hernandez next to it.
Greg Creek smoked a grounder up the middle, which allowed Jones to score and make it 3-2 AA Braves. Josh Burrus popped up and Hrynio need only get the next guy to give his guys 3 outs to overcome a one run deficit... except he uncorked a wild pitch to move Creek to 2nd, then allowed a double to Mark Jurich that plated Creek and made it 4-2. Clint Sammons went down on strikes but still... very unclutch baseball in the late innings.
Luis Valbuena drew a one out walk but other than that, the DIAMOND JAXX went down without so much as a whimper in the final half.
NEXT: Robert Rohrbaugh's turn to face the Brave Pain In The Arses, and in fact is doing so as we speak.
AAA: Sacremento 5, Tacoma 3
Brad Thomas: 5 IP, 8 H, (4 R) 3 ER, 4 walks, 7 K
Juan Sandoval: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, walk (ERA: 15.95)
Ryan Rowland-Smith: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Wife Vulture: 1 IP, K
Jeremy Reed: 1-4, double, R (.290)
Adam Jones: 1-4, 2 run HR, better than Raul Ibañez and José Vidro (.325)
WLAD: 2-4, double, R, SB #12 (.319)
Jeff Clement (DH): 2-4, RBI, K (.261)
Rob Johnson: 2-4, K (.252)
After Gookie Dawkins K'd to lead off the game, Jeremy Reed doubled, and Adam Jones took a crap pitch deep. 2-0. You can state the obvious for me, thanks.
Rob Johnson showed us he is NOT ready for the majors, watching Brad Thomas load the bases with one out, then passing a ball to allow a runner to score, 2-1. Thomas blew 2 of the next 3 batters away to get out without further damage.
Thomas, meanwhile, had a crazy game, netting 3 walks and 5 Ks in the first 3 innings and two infield flies carried with the wind and came down in from of outfielders for base hits. Raley Field and Sacremento are a rather bleh weather environment similar to the balmy swirling-yet-dead air of the Bay Area. It's a bit clearer being inland, but the heavy, somewhat humid air quality is roughly the same, and the result is a depressed offensive environment even with a wind blowing out.
In the 4th, he watched three straight groundballs turn into base hits that punched in a run, then two batters later watched Bryan LaHair misplay another grounder to allow another run and give the River Cats a 4-3 lead. The one unearned run out of 4 doesn't quite tell the whole story, as grounder after grounder found holes even after Thomas had settled down. He only allowed four 'well hit' balls in the air all day, and two of those 'well hit' balls were the aforementioned soft flyballs that carried from the infield and dropped in unexpectedly for hits.
Line Drives: 1
Pop Ups: 1
Things settled down after that, and neither side got much going, which sucked for the Rainiers because they were trailing 4-3. The Rainiers got WLAD and Clement on the corners with one out in the 6th, but Rob Johnson worked more magic, grounding into the 5-4-3 inning ending double play.
The River Cats returned the favor after a one out double and walk put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, as Daric Barton grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
The Rainiers went quietly in the 7th but the River Cats got going again in the bottom half. Jeremy Brown led off with a single, and RRS came on to spell Juan Sandoval. RRS got Jorge Piedra on strikes, then got Jason Perry on strikes, and it looked like he'd escape... except Kevin Melillo tripled to right and pinch runner JD Closser scored to make it 5-3, which given the environment and momentum was like a 5-3 lead in soccer. The Rainiers would only get one more ball into the outfield after that, a harmless flyout, and that was that.
Adam Jones reminds me of when Snelling was hitting .370 back in 2005 with Tacoma, and warranted a callup (though not as convincingly as Jones). He was brought up right before the AAA All Star Break... but only after Randy Winn was dealt, and even then, Snelling was platooned with Bloomquist, because in the mind of a veteran manager, a rookie bat, no matter how good the actual bat is, is on par with a crappy utility bench bat. Bob Melvin may have run his pitchers into the ground but at least he showed a willingness to plug kids into the lineup without having to have his veteran toys taken away.
Methinks that, if the org pulls their heads out of their- ignorance, that one of Vidro or Raul will get dealt/benched and Jones will get the call then. The obvious fear is that Ellison gets jettisonned, Jones get called up... then rides the bench as the 4th OF that never plays. I fear (and I don't mean Feierabend) that that's what's going to happen in terms of Adam Jones 'forcing his way up.' He will force his way up, and then hit his head against the glass ceiling... again, unless people are fired and the org makes the bold move to deal or cut one of Ibañez/Vidro, because Hargrove will not have the sense to bench either one of them.
NEXT: Rotation shuffle or CAMPILLO TIEMPO? We'll find out when the Rainiers go again at 7:05 pm PDT.