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5/11 Minor League Wrap-Up

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I'm gonna try something a little different with the wrap-up this weekend.  As it stands, if you're reading a recap, it's the bottom 9th and the affiliate is down a run, but you already saw that they won 5-4, you already know what is going to happen.  This eliminates most of the suspense.

Rather than spoil the results before discussing the game, I'll try discussing the game first and then giving the results at the end, as it's done in sportscasts.  Just without all the Yankees/Red Sox slobbering.

A+: High Desert Mavs vs Stockton

Ah, nothing like home sweet home!  Unless, of course, you're a High Desert Mavs pitcher.  That said, the Mavs pitching didn't have that bad a night, save for Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who has to wondering what is up after surrendering two more runs in his inning of work, despite two K's.  The runs, however, were the first 2 runs he surrendered at home all season (in 7 appearances, 10.1 IP).  ABD was wild out of the gate, plunking Anthony Recker and then uncorking a wild pitch.  He finally regained enough form to throw strikes, but hung a pitch to Jose Pineda, who lined a single to right to load the bases.  ABD threw gas to Chad Boyd to strike him out for one, and got Justin Sellers to ground out for two, avoiding the run when Jeff Flaig at 3B checked the runner.  But ABD hung a pitch to Cliff Pennington and Penny hit a deep fly to right that fell in for a double, scoring the 2 runs.  Frank Martinez went down on strikes.

ABD's problem, aside from facing 34 left handed batters (lefties get a huge advantage against sidearmers, as pitches appear to float towards lefthanded hitters), has been control, not just consistently finding the zone, but finding it in a way that does not lead to hanging pitches over the plate.  He originally adopted the new delivery to try and jam hitters, but now that he's missing the zone, he's having to throw it more over the plate just to get strikes and it's hurting him.  Most of his walks have been against righthanded hitters, though lefties have had just as easy a time scoring runs against him (6 runs allowed vs 34 LHBs, 7 runs allowed vs 47 RHBs).  ABD will always have some disadvantage facing lefthanders, but at this point the biggest issue with the adjusted delivery has to be establishing his control with the four seamer while keeping the ball down.  Those who lamented the adjusted delivery probably should accept that it's here to stay, and better to have him struggle with his control now in High A ball and come out of it a better pitcher with better stuff, than to have made no adjustments and found out in AA or AAA that his slower stuff is simply too hittable.

Oh yeah, meanwhile, High Desert so loved scoring bunches of runs yesterday in Lancaster that they picked right back up and dropped an 11 spot on Stockton at home, sparked by a 6 run bottom 4th that made it 9-1 and basically put the game out of reach, even after the Ports picked up a couple runs in the 5th and 2 more off ABD in the 6th.  Also, go figure that Aaron Cotter regains his form now that he's back in the space park, allowing only 3 runs, two earned, over his 5 innings, wiggling out of random jams in the process with groundball outs.

High Desert 11, Stockton 5

Aaron Cotter:  5 IP, 6 H, (3 R) 2 ER, 3 walks, 2 K
Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 K, wild pitch, hit batter
Brian Kappel:  2 IP, 1 H, walk, K
David Asher:  1 IP, 2 K
Casey Craig:  3-5, 2 doubles, R, 2 RBI, K (.304)
Michael Saunders:  3-4, 2 R, RBI, walk (.274)
Jesus Guzman:  2-5, 2 R, 2 K (.320)
Johan Limonta:  1-5, RBI, 2 K (.339)
Adam Moore:  4-5, solo HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, K (.245)
Jeff Dominguez:  1-3, R, 2 RBI, 2 walks (.252)
Chris Colton:  2-5, 2 RBI (.278)

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A:  Wisconsin Timber Rats @ Great Lakes

The T-Rats, already having taken 2 of the first 3, went for the series win and struck first in the top 3rd.  Kuo Hui Lo led off with a flyball single off starting pitcher Arismendy Castillo, making his 1st start of the season and only his 2nd appearance.  Juan Beltran popped up for one out, but Gavin Dickey smoked a grounder into right to move Lo to 2nd.  Alex Meneses, quiet to this point as a T-Rat, unleashed a rocket shot into center that came down in front of the wall, but scored Lo and Dickey as Meneses slid into 3rd with a triple.  2-0 T-Rats.  Phenom hit a sharp grounder into left to score Meneses and make it 3-0.  Halman and Peguero went down but the Loons faced the 3 run hole.

Nathan Adcock held the fort until the bottom 4th, walking Adolfo Gonzalez.  Eduardo Perez flew to center for one out, but Adcock walked Preston Mattingly, who doesn't have the most patience in the world, to put two men on.  Francisco Lizarraga grounded to 3rd, but young Alex Liddi let it get by him and Gonzalez scored as Mattingly took 3rd and Lizarraga took 2nd, cutting the lead to 3-1, one out.  Carlos Santana grounded to 1st for One Out (Don't Make No Ballgame), and Preston Mattingly scored to make it 3-2.  Scott Van Slyke went down on strikes to end the inning, and makes me wonder exactly how much nepotism exists in the minors.  Damn.

Castillo got out of the 5th despite back to back singles from Meneses and Triunfel, both of whom had pretty good days.  Justin Fuller led off the bottom 5th with a grounder to Phenom that couldn't be played in time.  Bridger Hunt flew to right for one out.  Matt Berezay grounded to 1st, but Hargrove's kid is about as good with the glove as his father and Bucknered the ball, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd.  Adolfo Gonzalez grounded to short for two outs, but Fuller came in to tie the ballgame at 3.  Eduardo Perez, STILL not THAT Eddie Perez, hit a towering fly that hit the grass near the wall for a double that scored Berezay and gave the Loons a 4-3 lead.  Not a single run Adcock had surrendered was earned.  Preston Mattingly tapped to Adcock, who threw him out to end the inning.

Arismendy Castillo was done and in came Francisco Felix, two first names that conjure up conflicting feelings in Mariner fans, all in one pretty good Mexican reliever.  Except he led off by walking Carlos Peguero.  Hargrove's kid flew to left for one out.  Alex Liddi dropped a flyball in front of Scott Van Slyke in right to put runners at 1st and 2nd.  With Kuo Hui Lo at the plate, the T-Rats tried a daring DOUBLE STEAL, and interestingly enough, with the righthanded Lo in the way of 3rd, catcher Carlos Santana threw to 2nd and left Alex Liddi with Nowhere to Run for two outs... but left Peguero at 3rd, looking to get the next batter so it wouldn't matter.

Lo grounded to 3rd and 3B Justin Fuller COULDN'T GRAB IT, allowing Peguero to score as Lo reached first safely, tying the ballgame at 4!  Juan beltran tapped back to the pitcher to end the frame, but that was a huge run for the T-Rats.

The Loons went quietly in the bottom 6th and the T-Rats struck again in the 7th.  Gavin Dickey led off by laying down a perfect bunt down the 3B line to get on.  Alex Meneses sac bunted him ahead but catcher Carlos Santana threw YIKES AND AWAY and She's Not There to catch it... whoever She is, as Dickey went ahead and took 3rd in the melee.  Triunfel flew to right for two outs, but Dickey tagged up and easily scored to give the T-Rats a 5-4 lead.  Francisco Felix botched a pickoff throw to move Meneses into scoring position, but Carlos Peguero could only ground to 1st for the 3rd out.

Robert Harmon came in to relieve Adcock, now in line for the win, and despite a leadoff single and two sacrifices to get the runner to 3rd, got out of the bottom 7th without trouble.  The T-Rats tried the same thing in the top 8th after Little Rain Delay drew a leadoff walk, replacing him with pinch runner Leury Bonilla (held out of the lineup) and sacrificing him to 3rd, but Juan Beltran's foulball got caught by Matt Berezay in LF for the 3rd out.  Harmon mowed the side down in order in the bottom 8th, and once again, with one out in the top 9th, Meneses and Triunfel hit back to back singles, but Greg Halman killed the rally dead by grounding into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

Harmon came out to work the bottom 9th and walked Scott Van Slyke to lead off.  Harmon was pulled and Rollie Gibson, pretty well rested middle reliever, came in to finish.  Justin Fuller sac bunted SVS ahead for one out.  Bridger Hunt hit a flyball to left that dropped in front of Gavin Dickey, and SVS scored to tie the ballgame.  BLOWN SAVE for Rollie Gibson!  Matt Berezay swung at strike three for two outs.  Bridger Hunt stole 2nd with Adolfo Gonzalez at the plate, but Gibson wasn't worried given Adolfo had been quite the gagger throughout the series (That's what she said).

Adolfo grounded to 3rd, and Liddi threw to first YIKES AND AWAY!  YIKES AND AWAY!!  Bridger Hunt turned and easily scored and the Loons stole the rubber match 5-4!  You can only imagine what Alex Liddi, who was already having a hard time making the adjustment to US life as a first year 18 year old 3rd baseman, is thinking after making a bad throw on a routine grounder that allowed the winning run.

Great Lakes 6, Wisconsin 5

Nathan Adcock:  6 IP, 4 H, (4 R) 0 ER, 4 walks, 5 K
Robert Harmon:  2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, walk, 3 K
Rollie Gibson:  0.2 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, K
Alex Meneses:  3-4, triple, R, 2 RBI, K
Carlos Triunfel:  3-4, 2 RBI, K (.264)
Greg Halman:  0-5, 2 K
Carlos Peguero:  0-3, R, walk (.238)
Hargrove's kid:  0-3, walk (.224)
Alex Liddi:  1-2, walk (.210)
Kuo Hui Lo:  1-4, R (.186)
Gavin Dickey:  2-4, 2 R (.230)

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AA:  West Tennessee DIAMOND JAXX @ Mississippi

Joe Woerman, struggling at AA so far this year after posting low ERAs in A ball last year, took on undersized Kelvin Villa, also struggling at AA after an alright season in the Carolina League.  The AA Braves struck first in the 3rd, as Van Pope led off with a grounder to 3rd that Tui couldn't keep a grip on, to get on.  JC Holt blooped a single to right to move Pope to 3rd.  Brent Lillibridge flied to center for one out, but Brandon Jones hit a worm-burner down the LF line to bring in Pope and make it 1-0 as Holt slid into 3rd and Jones into 2nd for a double.  Matt Esquivel walked to load the bases, but Greg Creek popped up for two outs and Mark Jurich's liner was snagged by Marshall Hubbard at 1B to end the threat, the DIAMOND JAXX only trailing 1-0.

West Tenn quickly responded with one out in the bottom 4th.  Chris Minaker lined a single into center, and Jeff Frazier smoked a grounder to 2nd that wasn't playable, everybody safe.  Prentice Redman drew a walk to load the bases, and Tui flew to right for two outs, but Minaker tagged up and scored to tie the game at 1.  Charlton Jimerson smacked a grounder through the hole into left and Frazier turned for home as LF Brandon Jones grabbed it and threw home.  the throw came in and Frazier was OUT AT HOME to end the frame.  Gutsy move to send Frazier home there, and it was close.

West Tenn had another shot in the 5th.  Luis Oliveros grounded up the middle with one out for a single.  Luis Valbuena grounded to 1st, and 1B Greg Creek started the 3-6-3 DP, except SS Brent Lillibridge dropped the throw, and everybody was safe!  Brent Johnson drew a walk and the bases were loaded with one out.  Chris Minaker hit a shallow liner that Lillibridge reached up and snagged for two outs.  Frazier grounded to short and Lillibridge threw him out to end the frame and atone for the potentially game-busting gaffe.

The AA Braves blew it open in the 6th on a tiring Joe Woerman.  Matt Esquivel led off with a walk.  Greg Creek smoked a grounder into right and Mark Jurich blooped a single into right to bring in Esquivel, making it 2-1, and that was it for Joe Woerman.  The Aircraft Carrier came in for what had to easily be his highest leverage situation of the season.  Jose De La Cruz stopped his windup on a pitch and got called for a balk that scored Creek to make it 3-1.  Carl Loanderthal grounded to short for one out as Jurich took 3rd, but the Aircraft Carrier struck out Rey Serrano and Van Pope to end the threat.  The DIAMOND JAXX never threatened against the Braves bullpen and that was that.

Mississippi 3, West Tenn 1

Joe Woerman:  5 IP, 5 H, (3 R) 2 ER, 2 walks, 3 K, hit batter
The Aircraft Carrier:  3 IP, 2 H, 2 K, balk, wild pitch
Brent Johnson:  0-2, 2 walks, K (.290)
Chris Minaker:  2-4, R (.244)
Jeff Frazier:  1-4 (.221)
Prentice Redman:  0-3, walk, K (.306)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  0-3, sac fly RBI, K (.328)
Charlton Jimerson:  1-4, 3 K
Marshall Hubbard:  0-3, 2 K (.244)
Luis Oliveros:  1-3 (.364)
Luis Valbuena:  0-3, K (.180)

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AAA:  Tacoma Rainiers @ Round Rock

Jeremy Reed led it off with a grounder into center for a single against 27 year old AAA rotation filler Jared Gothreaux (37 IP, 4.38 ERA, 7 HR, 23-8 K/BB).  Rob Johnson flew to right for one but WLAD's grounder got into left to move Reed to 2nd.  Bryan LaHair's grounder got into left to score Reed as WLAD took 3rd, but LaHair broke for 2nd as LF Mike Rodriguez threw home.  Gothreaux, seeing that Reed would easily score, cut off the throw and gunned down LaHair at 2nd for two outs.  Mike Morse lined a shot into right for a double as WLAD scored easily.  2-0 Rainiers off the bat.  Jeff Clement lined a shot but it was low and 2B Brooks Conrad snared it to end the threat.

Jake Woods sucks and plunked Jesse Garcia to start the bottom 1st.  Mike Rodriguez watched strike three with utter disbelief for one out.  Brooks Conrad finally put a charge in one but WLAD got under it for two outs.  Danny Klassen smoked a high shot into right that got behind WLAD for a double that scored Garcia ahead of the throw, cutting the lead to 2-1 as Klassen took 3rd.  Cody Ransom felt bad for his former org and tapped back to Woods to end the threat.

The Express threatened again in the bottom 2nd.  Eric Bruntlett singled with one out, and Danny Ardoin doubled him ahead to 3rd.  But Rock Raines' kid lined right to Gookie Dawkins at 2nd for two outs and Jesse Garcia grounded to 3rd to end the threat without a run.

Gothreaux had recovered from the bad 1st inning and was putting the sides down in order.  Mike Rodriguez led off the bottom 3rd with a curious bunt back to Woods for one out, but Brooks Conrad took Woods' trash deep to left for a solo bomb, his 8th HR of the year, that tied the game at 2.  Cody Ransom drew a bases empty two out walk but Round Rock got nothing else going that inning.

Mike Morse led off the bottom 4th and ended the impasse with Gothreaux by taking him DEEP to left center for a solo shot that gave the Rainiers another lead, 3-2.  Jeff Clement grounded to 2nd for one out and Jon Nelson flew to center for two outs.  Gookie Dawkins lined a single to left and Oswaldo Navarro blooped a single to center.  Jeremy Reed lined a single to center, scoring Dawkins to make it 4-2 as Oswaldo took 2nd.  TWO OUTS, SO WHAT?  Rob Johnson drew a walk to load the bases.  After Round Round coaching advised Gothreaux to be a man because this is Texas, Gothreaux got WLAD to ground out to end the inning.

Both sides got quiet until two outs in the bottom 5th, when Brooks Conrad lit up Woods for a double to center.  Danny Klassen lined a single to left, Conrad came home and Jon Nelson threw home but could not get him in time as Conrad scored to cut the lead to 4-3 as Klassen took 2nd.  Cody Ransom swung and missed at strike three to end that threat.

Mark Saccomanno led off the bottom 6th by taking Woods deep over the left field wall to tie the ballgame at 4.  Jake Woods sucks.  Eric Bruntlett grounded up the middle to get on, and Danny Ardoin hit a towering double to center that brought in Bruntlett and gave Round Rock the 5-4 lead.  Rock Raines' kid (Little Rock?) bunted Ardoin over to 3rd for one out, but Jesse Garcia fouled strike three into Clement's glove for two outs, and Mike Rodriguez watched strike three to end the inning.  Jake Woods doesn't suck?  Or he sucks too often not to not suck?

Gothreaux was done and four eyed Travis Driskill relieved him to start the 7th.  Driskill is a great strikeout reliever with excellent control (70/15 K:BB in 80 IP since the start of 2006) who had too much of a HR problem to keep his closer job from last year.  However, there would be no problems in the top 7th, as Rob Johnson grounded out and Driskill got Bryan LaHair and Mike Morse on strikes.  The Rainiers celebrated the 7th inning stretch with a rendition of "Take Woods Out Of The Ballgame", and for the second game in a row, the Rainiers brought in newcomer Andrew Fiorenza to pitch.  Danny Klassen did walk and take 2nd on a wild pitch, but Fiorenza finished the bottom 7th without any damage.

Stephen Randolph, a 33 year old minor league journeyman southpaw who switched to the bullpen after walking 114 batters in 154.1 IP last year in Charlotte (and struck out 144), has found incredible success as a reliever, K-ing 30 batters in 18.1 IP while walking only 3.  Randolph came in to pitch the 8th and struck out the side, only getting the chance to do so after Gookie Dawkins hit what would have been an inning ending groundball that was Bucknered.

Fiorenza's luck ran out in the bottom 8th.  Eric Bruntlett (man, didn't he have a day yesterday?) led off with a worm-burner down the LF line for a double.  Danny Ardoin bunted him over to 3rd for one out.  But Little Rock Raines took Fiorenza deep to right for a 2 run shot that extended the lead to 7-4.

With the 3 run lead, Randolph finished the game by putting down Reed, Rob Johnson and WLAD in order, Reed and WLAD with K's to earn his 1st save of the season.

Round Rock 7, Tacoma 4

Jake Woods:  6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER (2 HR), walk, 7 K, hit batter (ERA: 6.75)
Andrew Fiorenza:  2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER (HR), walk, 2 K, wild pitch
Jeremy Reed:  2-5, R, RBI, 2 K (.252)
Rob Johnson (DH):  0-4, walk (.244)
WLAD:  2-5, R, K (.323)
Bryan LaHair:  1-4, RBI, 2 K (.220)
Mike Morse:  2-4, double, solo HR, K (.315)
Jeff Clement:  0-4, K (.223)
Oswaldo Navarro:  2-4, double, K (.192)