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5/2 Minor League Wrap-Up

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One bad loss to a bad team... one big loss to remind us how young the T-Rats are... one long, difficult, painful extra innings win for the DIAMOND JAXX... and one big hero with a big, big hit.

A:  Bakersfield 4, High Desert 3, 10 innings

Nicholas Allen:  5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, walk, 3 K
Jose Escalona:  1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, walk, K, 2 wild pitches, BALK
Juan Zapata:  2.1 IP, 2 H, K
Roman Martinez:  1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR), K
Michael Saunders:  1-4, K (.239)
Casey Craig:  1-3, R (.273)
Jesus Guzman:  0-4 (.298)
Johan Limonta:  1-4, RBI (.341)
Jeff Dominguez:  2-4, triple, R (.294)
Chris Colton:  1-2, triple, R, RBI (.259)

Michael Schlact went and pitched the game of his life, thanks in part to sdome fortuitous defense, and kept the Blaze in this ballgame.  Jose Escalona helped give Bakersfield the lead in the top 7th when, after allowing a leadoff to Tony Roth, balked to move Roth to 3rd.  Escalona got Hunter Harrigan on strikes, but walked Matt Smith, then uncorked a wild pitch to give Smith 2nd, but catcher Craig Hurba, making his 1st start of the year for the Mavs, kept it close, preventing Roth from scoring.  It was for naught, sadly, as Micah Furtado's flyout was deep enough to allow Roth to tag up and score anyway.  3-2 Blaze.  Escalona was yanked for Juan Zapata and John Mayberry flew out to end the threat.

The Blaze nearly added another run in the top 8th.  Christopher Davis doubled with one out, and Thomas Berkery's grounder to short was horked by Jeff Dominguez, but quick reacquisition of the ball prevented Davis from passing 3rd and scoring.  Then Truan Mehl's bunt popped up and into the glove of 1B Johan Limonta, who stepped over to the bag for the unassisted double play to end the threat.

The Mavs quickly awoke in the bottom 8th.  Dominguez led off with a triple, and Chris Colton's one out sac fly brought him in to tie the ballgame.  That sadly, was all they could muster, as Michael Schlact called it a night after 8 quality innings.

The Mavs had a chance in the bottom 9th against Ryan Knippschild, but some Raulesque baseurnning cost them the rally.  Michael Saunders' liner back at Knippschild thankfully didn't hurt anyone but it got him on base.  Casey Craig bunted Saunders ahead for one out, but Saunders turned for 3rd for no logical reason, and 1B Tony Roth astutely threw to SS Matt Smith, who threw to 3B Thomas Berkery, who easily tagged out Saunders for two outs.  With the bases now empty, Jesus Guzman harmlessly grounded out to short and we went to extras.

The overworked Roman Martinez came in to work the 10th and got worked.  Brandon Boggs came up with two out and took him deep to right to make it 4-3.

The Mavs had a vague shot at re-tying, as Craig Hurba lined a single to right with one out (and was replaced by pinch runner Ronald Garth)... but Jeff Dominguez grounded into the game ending 6-4-3 double play.  MARINERS IN THE MAKING.

NEXT:  Paul Fagan vs Bakersfield!  7:05 pm PDT.

Before I go into the T-Rats game, I learned something interesting via MiLB about how yesterday's T-Rats game ended.  Turns out an obnoxious new rule screwed Leury Bonilla:

Viola's first pitch was strike one. Bonilla took a close pitch for strike two. He did not agree with the call of home plate umpire Alex Ortiz and took a couple of steps out of the batter's box.  Because of his brief walk away from the plate, Bonilla was in violation of a rule that does not allow batters to step all the way out of the box after called strikes. The rule is not new, but is being strictly enforced at the start of the 2007 season. The penalty is a called strike. Diaz rang up Bonilla for strike three and that was how the game ended.

Say what you want about Leury Bonilla's reaction to the strike and the need to instill discipline in hitters, but I think this is a ridiculous rule designed to further the pimp-slap of bad ball/strike calls by the umpire with penalties for what sometimes is a natural reaction to dubious calls.

That said, still, the T-Rats got one hit.  These kids' inexperienced bats are still way behind the stuff of young adults 4-5 years their senior.

A:  Dayton 10, Wisconsin 1

Anthony Varvaro:  5.1 IP, 5 H, (5 R) 3 ER, walk, 7 K, 3 HBP
Robert Harmon:  1.2 IP, 1 H, (4 R) 0 ER (HR), 2 walks, K
Rollie Gibson:  1 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, walk, 2 K
Andrew Barb:  1 IP, 3 K
Greg Halman:  0-4, K (.244)
Leury Bonilla:  1-4 (.305)
Carlos Peguero:  1-4, 3 K (.138)
Kalian Sams:  1-4, 2 K (.250)
Carlos Triunfel:  0-4 (.265)
Hargrove's kid:  1-2, solo HR, walk, K (.207... CALL HIM UP)

Poor Carlos Triunfel.  The kid's only 17 and already has it hard enough trying to play single A ball against guys several years older than he, let alone trying to play shortstop, a position that sees more groundballs than any other in the infield and thus requires more work.  It's admitted that the team's poor defensive record is in part a product of his struggles, a painful thing to admit given he's only a freaking kid and the fact that he is able to play with competence at all as a professional is amazing.

But he committed three errors yesterday, one of which facilitated a backbreaking grand slam in the top 6th by the villainous Juan Francisco, and all of which were the precursors for all six unearned runs allowed by Wisconsin.

Granted, even with the bases loaded in the 6th, Robert Harmon as a pitcher still needs to get those outs, and his 7.71 ERA despite all four runs being unearned indicates he is definitely part of the problem here.  Harmon also previously walked in a run that was charged to starter Anthony Varvaro.  And two runs had already scored before the fateful Phenom error that set the table for the grand slam, helped in part by a passed ball from catcher Juan Beltran.  Triunfel is not the problem here.  He is already head and shoulders above any 17 year old playing baseball today.  His struggles in the field are partially growing pains, and partially a symptom of a bigger problem with the team.  If the kid is the real deal, he will be fine.  Talent, work ethic and character almost always rise above adversity in the end.

Also, Anthony Varvaro hit three batters with pitches.  Someone's getting a little surly.  You want to say 'wild' instead of 'surly' but the guy only walked one batter, indicating that either his control was just fine, or that he was overthrowing serious gas that hitters were genuinely scared of.  Either scenario is encouraging.  Andrew Barb striking out the side in the 9th for the hell of it is encouraging.

The 10-1 loss is not.  4-18.  They're kids playing in a young man's league.  Remember that.

NEXT:  Steven Richard makes his debut tonight at 4:35 pm PDT against Dayton, and it's not looking encouraging for the T-Rats bats: Dayton's Daryl Thompson has been a shutdown stud: an 0.39 ERA with one walk and 19 Ks in 23 IP (11 H), his only run allowed coming on a solo HR.

AA:  West Tenn 3, Mobile 2, 11 innings

Justin Thomas:  1 rehab IP, 1 K
Juan Done:  6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER (HR), 3 walks, 4 K
Kam Mickolio:  3 IP, 2 H, 4 K
The Aircraft Carrier:  1 IP, 1 H, K
Sebastien Boucher:  2-6, R, 2 K (.186)
Ron Prettyman:  0-5, 3 K
Prentice Redman:  3-6, triple, R, SB (.306)
Marshall Hubbard:  2-3, R, RBI, 3 walks (.283)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  0-2, 3 walks, K (.363)
Jeff Frazier:  1-5, K (.200)
Chris Minaker:  1-3, double, RBI, 2 walks, K (.237)
Rene Rivera:  0-3, walk, 2 K (.206)
Luis Valbuena:  0-5 (.183)

The DIAMOND JAXX could not take advantage of a wild Chris Kinsey, who walked six, threw 3 wild pitches and plunked Rene Rivera's portly posterior once... yet West Tenn only scored one run off him in 5 innings.  The illustrative inning is the bottom 2nd, where Kinsey walked FOUR batters and threw two wild pitches, yet the DIAMOND JAXX only scored a single run, in part thanks to no hits and Luis Valbuena bouncing into a 4-6-3 inning ending double play.  In fact, Mobile took a 2-1 lead in the top 4th with a one out two run HR from Cesar Nicolas.

The DIAMOND JAXX tied the game in the 7th against A.J. Shappi.  Prentice Redman, heating up after a slow start, tripled to center with one out.  Marshall Hubbard drew a walk to put runners at the corners, and Shappi ceded to Matt Elliott.  Tui drew a walk to load the bases and Mobile pitching coach Dan Carlson took offense at the fabulous strike zone that home plate umpire Doug Levy was using, so Levy ejected the old man.  Jeff Frazier took advantage of the chaos as only he could, by lining out to short for two outs.  Chris Minaker, however, took advantage of the fabulous strike zone and drew a walk to force in Redman and tie the ballgame.  And then Rene Rivera lined to 1st to end the inning, because he's Rene Rivera.

West Tenn took their shot in the bottom 9th.  With one out, Marshall Hubbard grounded to 2nd and beat the throw.  Tui grounded to 3rd and they took the force at 2nd for two out, Tui too fast to give them a shot at the DP.  Frazier got his revenge and lined a single to right to put runners at the corners- OH WAIT, Tui's gonna turn and try to score.  Catcher Wilkin Castillo lobs to the pitcher, Mark Rosen, who tags out Tui to end the inning and send it to extras.  Is it Bad Baserunning Week in the Mariners org?

No action until the bottom 11th against pitcher Abe Woody.  Sabastien Boucher's grounder up the middle found a hole to lead off.  Ron Prettyman, still cold as ice, bunted Boucher to 2nd for one out.  Prentice Redman grounded to 3rd and was thrown out for two, but Boucher took 3rd base.  All they need is to knock him in, and Marshall Hubbard's grounder to 2nd GETS THROUGH AND THE DIAMOND JAXX WIN.  A win is a win is a win and Tui has some splaining to do about that bottom 9th.  He had no hits, but did draw 3 walks, so check out that patience and selection at the plate... even given the lack of patience and selection on the basepaths.

NEXT:  Andrew Baldwin vs Mobile, and the game started so early today (9:05 am PDT) that it's probably already in the books as I post this.

AAA:  Tacoma 6, Colorado Springs 3

Ryan Feierabend:  6 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, walk, 3 K
Renee Cortez:  2 IP, 2 H, walk, K
Ryan Rowland-Smith:  1 IP, walk, K
Adam Jones:  1-3, R, RBI, 2 walks, K (.302)
Jeremy Reed:  2-5, R, K, SB (.240)
WLAD:  1-4, GRAND SLAM, walk, K (.367)
Bryan LaHair:  2-4 (.216)
Mike Morse:  0-4, 3 K (.319)
Jeff Clement:  0-4 (.194)
Jon Nelson:  2-4, double, 2 R, 2 K, SB (.290)
Brant Ust:  1-4, double, K (.276)

The Rainiers came into the bottom 9th trailing 3-2, and only after squeezing in a run in the 7th after a one out double by Jon Nelson.  They had managed little against Byung-Hyun Kim (HEY) and the Sky Sox bullpen.  Nelson came to the plate to lead off the bottom 9th against Mike Gallo, but watched strike three for one out.  Brant Ust doubled to right, and Gookie Dawkins pinch ran for him.  Oswaldo Navarro's liner was gloved by Ian Stewart for two outs, and it was in the hands of Adam Jones... who worked the count and drew a huge walk.  Jeremy Reed choked by knocking it back to the pitcher, but it had enough life for Gallo to not glove and throw in time, and Reed was safe, loading the bases... for WLAD.  But just because WLAD is a big time slugger this year doesn't mean he is a clutch hitter under pressure, so all he did was drive a Gallo pitch over the fence FOR A GRAND SLAM.  RAINIERS WIN!  WLAD!!!

NEXT:  Jorge Campillo in the rubber match with Colorado Springs tonight at 6:05 pm PDT.