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5/5 Minor League Wrap-Up

Modesto-High Desert recap, guaranteed free of gratuitious Nuts jokes!... T-Rats WIN!  THHHHHHE... T-RATS WIN!... with a couple of early, cheap runs, Mobile awakened the fury of Doug FISTER and their lineup paid the price... and the Rainiers watched Jim Parque hurtle back to Earth faster than a deep flyball from WLAD once it's cleared the fence.

A:  Modesto 8, High Desert 4

Aaron Cotter:  5.2 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 4 walks, 4 K.  Whoa.
Jason Snyder:  1.1 IP, 2 H, K
Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  1 IP, 1 H, K
Michael Saunders:  0-5, 3 K (.225)
Jesus Guzman:  1-4, solo HR, K (.290)
Reed Eastley:  2-4, double, R (.280)
Adam Moore:  0-3, R, walk (.241)
Ronald Garth:  1-4, double, 2 RBI (.160)
Chris Colton:  1-3, solo HR, walk (.262)

Well, the thing with Aaron Cotter's early success in Adelanto is that you had to resist the temptation to get too excited, because you knew the sample size was small and that only time would tell if he had conquered Single A+ and the space park.

Well, time has shown that Aaron Cotter is definitely still beatable at the A+ level and has some things to work on.  He got shelled in his last outing before last night... and he got shelled last night, for 11 hits and 8 runs while walking 4 before finally getting the hook in the 6th.  It's clear the Mavs were trying to rest the pen, as Cotter got lit up for 6 runs in the first two innings, and touched up for two more in the 4th, but was kept out there as long as possible.

Meanwhile, down 8-0 to Modesto, Chris Colton hit his first HR of the season to put the Mavs on the board in the 8th.  The Mavs went for broke on David Arnold in the top 9th.  Jesus Guzman homered with one out, Reed Eastley lined a double to left, Adam Moore drew a walk and Ronald Garth knocked a lofty fly ball past Travis Becktel to score Eastley and Moore, 8-4, one out.  Chris Colton drew a walk, and Modesto went ahead and pulled Arnold for David Patton.  Johan Limonta, one of the Mavs biggest producers but left out of the lineup to rest, came in to pinch hit for Jeff Flaig, and flied to right for two outs, but Garth took 3rd.

It'd be nice to go into detail on a great, improbable comeback by the Mavs, but after Josh Womack drew a walk, Andrew Johnston came in to pitch and got Michael Saunders to ground out to short to end the ballgame.

HEY LOOK, more solid work from Austin Bibens-Dirkx!

A:  Wisconsin 3, South Bend 2

Kyle Parker:  6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, K
Ricky Orta:  2 IP, 2 H, 3 K
Andrew Barb:  1 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, walk, K
Greg Halman:  1-4, 2 K (.245)
Carlos Triunfel:  0-4, K (.250)
Danny Santin:  1-5, R, K
Hargrove's kid:  1-4, double, R, RBI (.229)
Carlos Peguero:  1-3, walk, 2 K (.175)
Leury Bonilla:  2-4, K (.300)
Kuo Hui Lo:  1-3, RBI, K (.130)
Gavin Dickey:  1-4, double, K (.164)
Luis Nunez:  1-2, R, walk (.194)

So look at this: amidst my recent hand wringing in text, the T-Rats went, pitched and played a pretty sound ballgame and won.  With Kyle Parker not exactly dealing, he still got a lot of groundballs, and the T-Rats infield converted quite a few of them.  And the end of the game... well, let's just say it was another interesting night in what's been an interesting season for the T-Rats.

First, the offense.  Down 1-0 in the top 4th, one out, Andy Hargrove's grounder to 3rd was misplayed, allowing him to reach.  Carlos Peguero's grounder found a hole into LF and Hargrove took 2nd.  Leury Leury Bonilla smoked a grounder down the middle into CF to load the bases.  Kuo Hui Lo's flyball to left was caught, but Hargrove's kid tagged up and scored to tie the game.  Brett Anderson uncorked a wild pitch to move the other runners into scoring position, but Gavin Dickey went down on strikes.

That wasn't all.  In the top 5th, Luis Nunez led off by smoking a grounder to 2nd that 2B Manuel Ferrer couldn't play in time.  Greg Halman's grounder to short for one out moved Nunez to 2nd.  Phenom flew out to center, and Daniel Santin smoked a grounder to short that SS Yunesky "No me llamo Betancourt" Sanchez wasn't gonna be able to throw him out on, but Sanchez tried anyway... lost the handle and allowed Nunez to score, making it 2-1 T-Rats.  A LEAD!

Andy Hargrove took advantage, doubling in Santin with a hard liner to LF, 3-1 T-Rats.  Carlos Peguero went down on strikes, but the T-Rats had a lead to work with, but a good sign was the outs they had been converting from grounder after grounder the entire game.

They had a close call in the bottom 6th: Manuel Ferrer drew a leadoff walk, and a groundout had moved Ferrer to 2nd.  Gerardo Parra (HA, thought the T-Rats had the only Gerardo in the Midwest League, didn't you?) hit a sharp grounder to Bonilla at 3rd base and Bonilla's throw did not get him in time... but Ferrer, who had taken off from 2nd, had already turned and headed for home!  Hargrove's kid astutely turned and threw home to Danny Santin at the plate, who easily tagged out a mortified Ferrer in front of the plate for the 3rd out.

The embattled Ricky Orta took over in the bottom 7th and despite giving up an infield single, struck out the side.

Things got testy in the top 9th.  Ramon Sanchez came in to pitch, and Gavin Dickey quickly led off with a double.  Luis Nunez bunted him ahead to 3rd for one out.  A wild pitch led Dickey to come home, but the pitch caught a bunch of air, not a lot of distance, and catcher Richard Mercado caught it right in Dickey's path, turned to tag him and Dickey, a former football player, plowed him.  Mercado held on for the 2nd out, but the South Bend apparently took offense.

Greg Halman got plunked, and Halman's no fool.  He knew exactly what that was about, and took a few steps towards Sanchez, clearing the benches.  Umpire Ike Boykins separated the two sides, issued the customary warnings and restored order.

Or so he thought.  Triunfel came to the plate and Sanchez hit HIM.  Phenom slammed his helmet to the turf and started yelling at Sanchez, clearing the benches AGAIN, leading umpire Ike Boykins to eject Ramon Sanchez and South Bend manager Mark Haley.  Not cool, man.  Not cool.  After order was finally restored, new pitcher Craig Pfautz got Danny Santin to ground out to 1st for the 3rd out.

Andrew Barb, now the T-Rats closer, came in to finish off the bottom 9th with the 3-1 lead.  He got Brad Miller on strikes for one out.  He walked Frank Curreri, and Shea McFeely grounded a game ending double play ball to Triunfel... except Triunfel muffed it, and a last ditch attempt to at least get the force at 2nd was not in time!  Instead of ending the game, the T-Rats now had runners at 1st and 2nd with one out.

Richard Mercado put a charge in a Barb pitch, but it was caught in center, coincidentally, by Greg Halman for two outs.  Curreri tagged up and took 3rd.  Yunesky Sanchez grounded sharply to 1st and Grover's kid, to his credit, snagged it, but struggled to get to the bag in time and Sanchez was safe, allowing Curreri to score, make it 3-2, and McFeely to take 2nd.

It looked like a familiar scene for the T-Rats.  But Barb got Manuel Ferrer to ground to 2nd, and Nunez quickly turned the easy out at 1st to end the ballgame.  An important win amidst adversity for the T-Rats, who hadn't won since April 27th and really, really needed a W to lift their spirits.

AA:  West Tenn 5, Mobile 2

Doug FISTER:  6 IP, 7 H, (2 R) 1 ER, walk, 6 K.  FISTER IS BACK.
Mumba Rivera:  1 IP, 2 walks, K
The Aircraft Carrier:  2 IP, 3 K (1st save of season)
Sabastien Boucher:  1-4, double, R, RBI (.198)
Erick Monzon! : 3-4, RBI (.357... 1st action since April 14th)
Marshall Hubbard:  1-4, K (.266)
Prentice Redman:  3-4, 2 solo HRs, K (.311)
Matt Tuiasosopo:  0-3, walk, 2 K (.337)
Jeff Frazier:  1-4, solo HR (.216), and 2 outfield assists!
Rene Rivera:  0-3 (.189)... oh, and a passed ball
Luis Valbuena:  1-3, double, R, K (.196)

After two less than stellar outings, Doug FISTER returned with... well, can't quite call it a vengeance, as Mobile did score 2 runs on him in the first 3 innings (to his credit, the 1st run scored on a Rene Rivera passed ball), but he held the fort for 6 innings, and allowed the DIAMOND JAXX to build a 5-2 lead that the bullpen did not relinquish, handing Mobile starter Matthew Green his 1st loss of the season.

West Tenn gave The Fist some help after the early gaffe left him down 1-0.  In the bottom 2nd, Prentice Redman led off with a solo shot to tie it at 1, then after a Tui strikeout (?), Jeff Frazier hit a blast over the wall in left center to make it 2-1.  Frazier, the old PTBNL from the Bazardo trade, is starting to wake up after a horrible April.

Mobile came back in the top 3rd.  Emilio Bonifacio laid a nice bunt down the 1st base side that newly returned Erick Monzon, still a bit rusty, couldn't quite field in tiem, and Bonifacio was on.  Phil Avlas doubled him to 3rd.  After a Javier Brito flyball for one out, Mark Reynolds lined a single to left that easily scored Bonifacio to make it 2-2, but Avlas followed him home, and Frazier gunned him down at the plate for two outs!  Nice save by Frazier!  A Josh Ford groundout ended that threat, and that appeared to be the turning point for FISTER, who settled down and allowed little to nothing after that.

West Tenn had a shot in the bottom 3rd: Sebastien Boucher reached after his grounder to short got misplayed, and Erick Monzon's grounder got past the left side into LF.  Marshall Hubbard moved them over with a grounder to 1st for 2 outs, but Prentice Redman swung at strike three to end the inning.

Frazier got another assist in the 4th: Cesar Nicolas lined a single to left, but got greedy, went for 2nd, and Frazier easily gunned him down at 2nd.  Did Mobile's scouts think that Frazier had a noodle arm or something?

Mobile's lineup kept getting FISTED, and the DIAMOND JAXX came up money in the bottom 5th.  After Rene Rivera flew out to left for one out, Luis Valbuena hit a worm-burner well into RF for a double.  Sebastien Boucher lined a shot into center for another double, scoring Valbuena easily to give West Tenn the 3-2 lead.  Erick Monzon certainly isn't rusty with the bat, smoking a liner to center for a single that scored Boucher to make it 4-2.  But Marshall Hubbard killed the rally dead with a grounder into the 5-4-3 double play.  Where has the clutch been lately, Marshall?

West Tenn gave FISTER one more insurance run before he ceded the mound, when Prentice Redman led off the 6th with his 2nd solo shot of the game.  Prentice has had a taste of the AAA life and he is on a mission to return!  He and the return of Erick Monzon can only mean good things for a DIAMOND JAXX offense that can certainly use the help.

Mumba Rivera took care of business despite some control struggles in the 7th, and Jose De La Cruz, the Aircraft Carrier, allowed only one in play flyball in the 8th and 9th to earn his 1st save of the season.

AAA:  Salt Lake 9, Tacoma 3

Jim Parque:  4.1 IP, 10 H, 7 ER (HR), walk, 5 K (ERA: 7.55)
Renee Cortez:  2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER (HR), walk
Ryan Rowland-Smith:  1 IP, 1 K
Brad Thomas:  1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Adam Jones:  3-4, R (.320)
Jeremy Reed:  1-3 (.252)
WLAD:  1-3, 3 run HR, walk (.370)
Bryan LaHair:  0-4, K (.212)
Mike Morse:  0-3, walk (.343)
Jon Nelson:  0-4, 2 K (.275)
Rob Johnson:  1-4, 2 K (.227)
Jeff Clement had the night off.

Salt Lake blew up Jim Parque for 4 runs before the end of the 2nd, and tacked on 5 more while knocking him out in the 5th.  WLAD was not amused and took Greg Jones deep with two on in the 8th for his 8th HR of the year.

Nobody shuts the Rainiers out in my house, bitch.

Sadly, it was 9-0 before the big blast, and the game was still too far out of reach to make the comeback.  Positives include a 3 hit game from Adam Jones, clearly continuing his terrific hitting in 2007, along with Ryan Rowland-Smith and Brad Thomas turning in some much needed shutout innings.