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5/30 Minor League Wrap-Up

After a loss last night, I try and dissuade your fears about Chris Tillman pitching in High Desert... the T-Rats bats, still without Triunfel, put up a terrific fight after Tillman's de facto replacement imploded in the 2nd... and the high end clubs recorded shutouts, while Charlton Jimerson put down the monster stick, only to see a DIAMOND JAXX teammate pick it back up.

Rk:  The VSL Mariners did not play a game yesterday.

Bakersfield 9, High Desert 6

Chris Tillman:  2.2 IP, 6 H, (6 R) 5 ER (2 HR), 4 walks, K
Nicholas Allen:  3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 K
Paul Fagan:  1 IP, 1 K
Steve Uhlmansiek:  1 IP
Casey Craig:  1-2, double, R, 2 walks (.318)
Michael Saunders:  1-4, R, 2 RBI, walk, 2 K (.278)
Jesus Guzman:  1-5, R, RBI, K (.287)
Johan Limonta:  1-5, 2 K (.316)
Adam Moore:  1-3, RBI, walk, K (.282)
Reed Eastley:  0-4, R, RBI, walk (.264)
Jeff Flaig:  2-4, RBI, K (.207)
Josh Womack:  1-4, double, R, K (.230)

Okay, Chris Tillman: I'm sure, after looking at that line, there are cries around the internet (not so much here, but anywhere that covers the M's minor leaguers) of 'SEE!  High Desert is destroying Chris Tillman!  I told you High Desert destroys pitchers!'  I'm no sociological expert, but I know the Mariners blogosphere enough to know this is the likely reaction.

Ahem.

  1.  They were playing in Bakersfield, CA, which is 408 feet above sea level and whose park factor is slightly above average, and I mean slightly, like 1.0 being average and Bakersfield being, like, 1.015. EDIT: The stated park factors are being debated on USSM. Steve Nelson cited factors that show that, relative to all High A leagues, it's actually around 1.17. Plus, the home run factors referenced are similarly high to High Desert's. That said, keep in mind the Cal League's reputation, and that many relevant orgs often elect not to send their better prospects to the Cal League for this season... which would in turn give the hitters an additional advantage. Combine this with Bakersfield's 787 home OPS and you can't exactly say that Tillman was asking to get rocked by starting today.
  2.  Bakersfield has one of the league's worst teams.  They do have a couple of big bats, though, like John Mayberry, who was one of two guys who took Tillman deep yesterday.  The blast was Mayberry's 15th of the year.
  3.  The rest of the Mavs pitching staff has done reasonably fine despite most of them lacking significant talent and pitching about half of their games in that space park back in Adelanto.
  4.  Chris Tillman is in his first full year of pro ball, and even with his success in the Midwest League, had a problem with hanging meatballs high in the zone that Single A hitters destroyed.  He didn't leave this issue behind when he got promoted to High A.
  5.  Oh, and High A Cal League hitters, obviously, are better than Single A Midwest League hitters.
Chris Tillman hung pitches and the Blaze hitters killed them.  Things that he got away with in the Midwest League aren't things he can get away with in the Cal League... not that High A is a quantum leap from low A, but these are better hitters with an extra year or so of experience.  Tillman found out the hard way.  Chris Tillman needs this challenge as much as Triunfel needs the challenge of playing pro ball at 17, as much as Tui needed the challenge of AA ball at 20, as much as Felix needed the challenge of catapulting to AAA ball at 19, then the Majors.  Don't read the line score, then read about how High Desert destroys pitchers, and just assume that's what happened... because that's clearly not the case here.  This is a case of a young, talented pitcher watching better hitters punish his mistakes.  He will likely be a better pitcher for it, as long as he learns from it.

And yeah, this game was all but over by the 2nd, as Tillman did not finish the 3rd, and Bakersfield continued to pile on, scoring at least one run every inning through the 5th, finishing the 5th with a 9-1 lead.  The Mavs hitters did roar back with a 5 run 7th to make it interesting, but they could not drive anyone in after that.

A:  Burlington 10, Wisconsin 9

Steven Richard:  1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 walks, K
Drew Fiorenza:  3 IP, 1 H, walk, 4 K
Rollie Gibson:  1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 K
Joe Kantakevich:  2 IP, 2 H, walk, 2 K
Andrew Barb:  1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER (HR), 2 K, wild pitch
Still no Triunfel.  Still no word on what's up.  Still on the lookout for more info.  I'll assume it's a minor injury.
Kuo Hui Lo:  3-5, double, solo HR, 4 R (.274)
Carlos Peguero:  3-5, double, 2 run HR, 3 RBI (.258)
Hargrove's kid:  1-3, double, R, 2 RBI, walk, K (.243)
Gerardo Avila:  1-5, solo HR, K (.273)
Alex Liddi:  2-5, 2 run HR, K (.209)

Steve Richard looked shaky in the 1st but got out without allowing a run.  He looked far worse than shaky in the 2nd.  In fact, he looked positively Weaveresque, pitching to 8 batters and failing to record an out as he coughed up 5 runs before getting the hook.  Drew Fiorenza got the T-Rats out of the disaster inning but not before allowing one of Richard's runners to score to make it 6-1.

The T-Rats roared back in the 3rd.  Hargrove's kid, reduced to spot duty with Gerardo Avila's return, doubled home 2 runners with one out to make it 6-3.  Then embattled youngster Alex Liddi hit a 2 out 2 run bomb to cut the lead to 6-5.

Drew Fiorenza got as far as the 4th before ceding to Rollie Gibson for the 5th.  Kurt Mertins tripled to lead off the bottom 5th, and Jeff Howell homered to make it 8-5 Burlington.  Gibson got out of the inning after that, but Rollie ain't no Rollie Fingers.  He ain't even Rollie Sheldon.

The T-Rats awoke in the 7th off tiring reliever Henry Barrera.  Alex Meneses led off with a lined single, then Carlos Peguero took Barrera deep to make it 8-7.  Two batters later, Gerardo went RICO SUAVE on a meatball and took Barrera deep for his 1st HR of the season to TIE THE BALLGAME at 8.  Barrera got pulled and Aaron Hartsock put a stop to that madness quickly.

Andrew Barb, back from injury, came in to pitch the bottom 8th, and Brady Everett led off with a smoked grounded to short that Ogui Diaz could not play in time.  Joe Dickerson tried to bunt him ahead but Barb got the lead runner for one out.  Kurt Mertins came up and suddenly, Barb lost control and uncorked a wild pitch to move the runner, then hung a meatball that Mertins destroyed to make it 10-8 Burlington.  Damage done.

Down to their last three outs, the T-Rats led off with back to back doubles from Kuo Hui Lo and Carlos Peguero to make it 10-9.  But Kalian Sams struck out, Gerardo Avila grounded out and with Peguero at 3rd base as the tying run... Alex Liddi watched strike three to end the ballgame.

AA:  West Tenn 7, Tennessee 0

Robert Rohrbaugh:  7 IP, 5 H, 2 walks, 8 K
Aaron Troila:  2 IP, 2 K
Sebastien Boucher:  2-4, double, RBI, walk, K (.201)
Charlton Jimerson:  0-4, K, no rampage today (.244)
Marshall Hubbard:  1-4, double, R (.241)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  1-2, R (.291)
Erick Monzon:  3-3, double, GRAND SLAM, 2 R, 5 RBI, walk (.282)
Rene Rivera:  0-3, sac fly RBI, K (.179)

Rivera Space is a Waste of Rene. - dyslexic commentator OchCowens.

It was Erick Monzon's turn to be a one man offense beast, as he drove in the first of three DIAMOND JAXX 2nd inning runs with a double, then came up with the bases loaded in the 8th and crapped all over an Adalberto Mendez pitch for a grand salami to make it 7-0.  Unlike Jimerson, Monzon isn't anything special, posting a 684 OPS last season with three different Mariner squads.  He has a decent eye but doesn't wield the lumber well and has very little power.  HEY, that sounds familiar!

Tacoma 5, Omaha 0

Justin Lehr:  8 IP, 5 H, walk, 2 K
Juan Sandoval:  1 IP, 1 H
Adam Jones:  1-4, double, R, K (.303)
Jeremy Reed:  2-4, double, RBI (.280)
WLAD:  1-4 (.323)
Jeff Clement:  2-4, R (.244)
Gookie Dawkins:  1-2, R, RBI, walk (.221)
Rob Johnson (DH):  0-3 (.254)
Oswaldo Navarro:  1-3, double, 3 RBI (.221)

Once again, Omaha is the Royals' AAA affiliate, so don't get too excited.

But nonetheless, Justin Lehr pitched a solid game, shutting out the AAA Royals over 8 strong while recording 13 groundouts next to 7 flyouts.  The low K's indicate a gameplan of keeping the ball down and pitching to contact, and Lehr did that very well last night.  Juan Sandoval, trying to show his disastrous first outing was an aberration rather than an indicator, threw a shutout 9th to seal the shutout win.