An epic contest in High Desert, or at least I make it sound epic... the T-Rats get a good rehab tune-up from Tony Butler, but then things go straight to hell for Steven Richard in one fateful inning... the DIAMOND JAXX jack themselves (that came across so wrong- SO DID THAT. DAMMIT)... and the Rainiers bats did even worse than that against Round Rock, while the RR hitters did way better than they normally should.
A: Lancaster 9, High Desert 8
Ruben Flores: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER (HR), 3 walks, 5 K, wild pitch
Nicholas Allen: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 walks, 2 K, hit batter
David Asher: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, walk
Brian Kappel: no outs recorded, 4 H, 4 ER (HR), walk
Casey Craig: 1-2, 2 R, 2 walks, SB (.276)
Michael Saunders: 1-4, 2 RBI, walk, 2 K (.227)
Jesus Guzman: 1-4, R, 2 RBI, K (.295)
Johan Limonta: 3-4, R, RBI, walk, K (.347)
Adam Moore: 1-3, 2 run HR, 3 RBI, walk (.233)
Josh Womack: 2-3, 2 R, walk, SB (.188)
Shocking development before this game: Jon Lockwood, beaten down by life as a lowly High Desert Mavericks SP, announced his retirement before the game! (Thanks to J at Mariner Minors for the tip) I would love to include a highlight reel of great moments in the illustrious career of Jon Lockwood... except, well....
I warn you in advance, this was a crazy game and the recap is long, so if you're pressed for time, skip down to the next set of boldface type and come back later.
Left up the creek without a Lockwood, the Mavs scrambled to find a replacement, and called Ruben Flores up from extended ST, flying him into Lancaster to make the emergency start. Flores up not only up to the task, but the Jethawks, with no chance to scout the guy in advance, weren't quite ready for him and it showed, as they couldn't get anything going early.
It was looking pretty good for the Mavs in their series opener with the Jethawks. Casey Craig drew a walk to lead off the game and stole second base, then Jesus Guzman lined a single to right with one out to knock him in and make it 1-0 off the bat, with Guzman taking 2nd. The Jethawks have yet to learn that smart Cal League pitchers don't pitch to Johan Limonta straight, because Kris Johnson hung one in the zone and Limonta drove it sharply down the middle into center to score Guzman, 2-0, before hot-and-cold Adam Moore grounded into the 4-6-3 DP to end the inning.
The Mavs got going again in the top 3rd. Josh Womack smacked a grounder through the hole into right to lead off, then took 2nd on a steal before Casey Craig bunted him to 3rd for one out. Michael Saunders hit a grounder to 1st with which 1B Aaron Bates couldn't get to 1st in time, and Womack scored easily to make it 3-0, Saunders safe at 1st. Saunders, however, broke for 2nd and got gunned down at 2nd by catcher Mark Wagner, and Jesus Guzman struck out to end the 3rd.
Flores tiptoed through the first 3 with no hits, but 3 walks and a wild pitch. He wasn't long for the game given a limited pitch count anyway, so High Desert kept the pressure on in the 4th. Johan Limonta led off with a flyball that landed in front of LF Bubba Bell for a single, then Adam Moore smacked one over the wall in left center to make it 5-0, and at this point Kris Johnson probably felt like retiring himself. Reed Eastley drew a walk, but Johnson quickly settled down. Jeff Dominguez grounded to 2nd and 2B Tony Granadillo threw to short for one out but SS Christian Lara could not turn the DP. They got the 2nd out quickly enough, as Dominguez took off for 2nd and Mark Wagner gunned him down for two outs. Scotuing note: Running on Mark Wagner is probably a bad idea. Ronald Garth's flyball found the glove of Luis Soto (not Sojo) for the 3rd out.
But Flores, apparently having spent the flight watching HoRam's Keys To Blowing Big Leads, came out a bit winded and started hanging pitches. he had enough gas to get Aaron Bates swinging for one out. But slugger Scott White got all of one and sent it over left center to put Lancaster on the board. Mark Wagner can gun down runners but he can't hit strike three here, two outs. Yahmed Yena smoked a liner into left for a double, and at this point Flores' tank is empty. He gets pulled and Nicholas Allen comes in for long relief.
Sadly, he provides relief for the wrong guy, Luis Soto, walking him to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Still trying to find the zone, Allen hung one to Tony Granadillo, who hit a lofty flyball over Josh Womack in CF to clear the bases with a double, 5-3. Christian Lara smokes a liner to center for a single that scores the swift Granadillo, 5-4. Bubba Bell thankfully grounded right to Jeff Dominguez at short, who threw him out to end this 4th inning fracas. But now what was a blowout had become a close contest.
The Mavs tried to spark again in the top 5th. Josh Womack bunted to Kris Johnson and got a good enough angle to beat the throw for a single. But Kris Johnson caught Womack stealing before he wound up, so he threw to Aaron Bates at 1B, who threw to Lara at SS, who tagged out Womack for one out. Casey Craig smoked a grounder to short that Lara couldn't throw in time and he was on. Then Craig took off too soon and Johnson tossed to 1st, and Bates and Lara eventually ran HIM down for two outs. Michael Saunders swung at strike three and the inning was over. Either Kris Johnson is getting away with balks or the Mavs have some work to do on the timing of their aggressive baserunning.
Lancaster got a couple baserunners in the bottom 5th but Allen didn't allow anyone past 2nd or allow any batted balls to get in the air. With one out in the top 6th, Johan Limonta lined a single to right, and Mark Wagner is great at throwing out baserunners but sometimes he loses the handle on outside pitches, like NOW... the passed ball allowed Limonta to take 2nd. Johnson was struggling with his command at the moment, so he went ahead and walked Adam Moore to put the force at 3rd. Reed Eastley got a little eager and he struck out for two outs. Kris Johnson called it a night while he was ahead and Hunter Jones came in. Jeff Dominguez got good wood on a pitch but the flyball found Yahmed Yema in CF for the 3rd out.
Allen created more drama in the bottom 6th. Luis Soto beat out the throw on a grounder to 2nd. Tony Granadillo lined a single to left, and Christian Lara bunted the runners ahead for one out. Bubba Bell drew a walk and the bases were loaded with one out. But Zach Daeges popped up for two outs, and Aaron Bates hit a flyball that Michael Saunders got under and caught for the 3rd out to escape the 6th.
Here come the Mavs again in the 7th (man, crazy game)! Ronald Garth's grounder snuck through into left for a leadoff base hit. Josh Womack's grounder got through to right, and Luis Soto candyarsed it to give the runners an extra base. Garth came out and Jeff Flaig came in to run for him, and Casey Craig drew a walk to load the bases. Hunter Jones felt the pressure, and Michael Saunders decided to do his Morgan Ensberg impression, drawing the walk to force in Flaig and make it 6-4, no outs, bases still loaded. Jesus Guzman went for broke and put a charge in one to center, but Yahmed Yena got under it and caught it for one out... though Womack tagged up and came home to make it 7-4 Mavs. Johan Limonta has the ability to smoke a backbreaker, but Jones pitched carefully and Limonta took a walk to re-load the bases. Hunter Jones, usually a 2 inning guy, was pulled after recording only two outs, and Kevin Guyette, prone to a wild appearance or two but otherwise more solid than the wilder Hunter Jones, came in to pitch.
Adam Moore put it on the ground to 1st, and Aaron Bates threw to 2nd for one, but Lara couldn't throw it back to 1st in time to get Moore, and Casey Craig scored to make it 8-4. Reed Eastley, however, popped up for the 3rd out and the wild inning was over.
Allen settled down and started putting batters down without incident. Guyette played the stopper well and also held the fort. However, after the 8th, Allen, a 1-2 inning middle reliever in general, had thrown 4.1 innings and was pretty much done. David Asher came in for the bottom 9th with the Mavs still holding a 8-4 lead, with Brian Kappel getting loose to follow Asher, who has already pitched quite a bit and likely only has enough gas in the tank to face 2-3 batters.
Bubba Bell smoked a grounder to 2nd, and Jesus Guzman, having moved over from 3rd a few innings earlier after Flaig came in, struggled to grip it and turn around, and Bell beat the throw to get on. Zach Daeges went down swinging at strike three for one out, but Kappel was ready and Asher was sent to the dugout.
However, Kappel was only ready in the sense that he was warmed up. The control eluded him against Aaron Bates and Bates took a walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd. He then hung a pitch to Scott White, who had already hit his 8th HR of the season in the 4th off Flores, and you can guess what happened next. The Mavs lead was now 8-7... but Kappel was still only two outs from sealing the deal.
Mark Wagner, however, took two bases instead after hitting a flyball past Casey Craig in left. Speedy runner Ryan Khoury came in to run for Wagner, with him representing the tying run and all. But Yahned Yema rendered that moot, hitting a shot to the wall in center past Josh Womack, easily scoring Khoury to tie the ballgame and giving Yema enough time to get to 3rd for a triple.
Kappel and his defense surrendered, hung one more and Luis Soto smacked a grounder through the hole into left to bring in Yema and spark a celebration after an unlikely 4 run comeback in the bottom 9th. A crushing loss for the Mavs, mainly for Brian Kappel, who only needed two outs to finish and couldn't even record one. This isn't even a case where you can blame the defense, as every hit was soundly struck.
NEXT: The name of the SP will likely be drawn out of a hat. Hopefully the lucky winner won't retire this time. 6:30 pm PDT in Lancaster.
A: Great Lakes 5, Wisconsin 3
Tony Butler: 2 IP, 2 K
Steven Richard: 5 IP, 8 H, (5 R) 2 ER, walk, K
Justin Souza: 1 IP, 1 H, K
Ogui Diaz: 1-3, double, RBI (.227)
Carlos Triunfel: 0-3 (.241)
Alex Liddi: 0-4, 3 K (.216)
Carlos Peguero: 1-3, triple, walk, 2 K, SB (.235)
Leury Bonilla: 1-3, 2 R (.282)
Kuo Hui Lo: 2-4, triple, R, RBI (.153)
Gavin Dickey: 1-3, RBI, 2 K (.195)
Well, Clayton Kershaw was indeed a tough pitcher to face, and reliever Jesus Rodriguez, who worked the final 2.1 innings, wasn't any easier.
Meanwhile, Tony Butler's start was actually just a rehab start, working 2 innings to get the rust off after spending 7 days on the DL with 'dead arm,' which if Evil Dead has taught me anything, is a very bad sign and means Tony Butler should be separated from humanity rather than brought back and asked to pitch in a minor league ballpark, at least until they replace that thing with a chainsaw or something. Nonetheless, he put down all six batters he faced, with only one batter hitting the ball in the air in play. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?
Ogui Diaz led off the game with a double, yet despite getting to 3rd and Carlos Peguero drawing a walk, the T-Rats somehow recorded three outs before he could get home. Actually, after Triunfel bunted Diaz to 3rd, Kershaw struck out Liddi and Kalian Sams, and strikeouts don't move runners.
The T-Rats improved on that in the 2nd. Leury Bonilla snucka grounder into center to lead off, and Kuo Hui Lo's grounder got into left for another single. Juan beltran bunted them ahead for one out, and Gavin Dickey smoked a grounder into center to cash in Bonilla and move Lo to 3rd. Ogui Diaz flied to left for two outs, but Lo tagged up and scored to make it 2-0. However, before Phenom could do anything, Kershaw caught Dickey off the bag, tossed it over and his infield ran Dickey down for the 3rd out.
With Butler finished after 2 and Steven Richard, held over to work the rest of Butler's innings, warming up, the T-Rats couldn't do much else as Kershaw settled down. Triunfel flew out and Liddi watched strike three again. Even after Peguero tripled to center, Kalian Sams couldn't get his slow-ass bat around on strike three and that was that in the 3rd.
Richard gave up a leadoff walk in the 3rd, and a Texas Leaguer with one out put two men on, but Trayvon Robinson flew out and Richard got Preston Mattingly (NEPOTISM) on strikes to end the inning.
With Clayton Kershaw dealing and putting down the side in order in the 4th, the Loons unloaded. Matt Berezay led off with a flyball single. Carlos Santana hit a black magic woman to Triunfel at short who went ¡oye como va! and couldn't get a grip on it, putting two men on. Phenom gets a mulligan for that since he was facing such a Supernatural. Adolfo Gonzalez's flyball to center hit the grass and Berezay scored to cut the lead to 2-1, but Santana could only get to 2nd because he had No One To Depend On. David Sutherland smoked a grounder through the hole into right, scoring Santana to tie the ballgame. Dance, Sister, Dance!... except Gonzalez tried for 3rd and got gunned down by Kalian Sams for one out... as in, thrown out... not that Kalian Sams had a weapon on the field, and shot- nevermind.
BTW, Sutherland was still on 1st, and Joshua Bell hit a grounder through the hole into right to move Sutherland to 3rd. The Loons got the memo on the T-Rats infield defense. Scott Van Slyke (nepotism?) changed things up with a flyball past the lumbering Kalian Sams to score Sutherland and move Bell to 2nd, as Van Slyke took 2nd. 3-2 now, Loons. Justin Fuller's grounder to the right side was snagged by Leury Bonilla, who checked runners and stepped on the bag for one out. Trayvon Robinson's grounder to the right side got through, however, and two more runs came in to make it 5-2. I hope the only message Steven Richard and his coaches take from this is 'the infield defense needs work.' Preston Mattingly came up but Preston Baseball's flyball found Gavin Dickey for the 3rd out.
And the two sides quieted down after that. The T-Rats made the requisite attempt at a 9th inning rally after Leury Bonilla got plunked with two outs, as Kuo Hui Lo tripled to deep center to score Bonilla and make it 5-3, but Juan beltran grounded harmlessly to short and got thrown out to end the ballgame. To the T-Rats' credit, save for the one disastrous inning, the pitching and defense were sharp, and Clayton Kershaw and Jesus Rodriguez are tough Single A pitchers.
NEXT: Chris Tillman looks to rebound from his last disastrous start in Great Lakes at 4 pm PDT.
AA: Mississippi 6, West Tenn 1
Andrew Baldwin: 4.2 IP, 8 H, (5 R) 3 ER, walk, 3 K, hit batter
The Aircraft Carrier: 1.1 IP, K
Michael Wagner: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER (HR), walk, K
Craig James: 1 IP, 1 H, K
Brent Johnson: 1-4, double (.268)
Marshall Hubbard: 0-4, 2 K (.250)
Prentice Redman: 2-3, walk (.345)
Matt Tuiasosopo: 1-4, double, K (.333)
Jeff Frazier: 1-4, K (.220)
Rene Rivera: 1-4, double, K (.195)
Luis Valbuena: 0-2, sac fly RBI, walk (.198)
Jo-Jo Reyes is by no means a great pitcher, but the DIAMOND JAXX simply couldn't get anything going against him, as the AA Braves slowly chipped away at Andrew Baldwin, knocking him out in the 5th after scoring 5 runs to take what amounted to be an insurmountable 5-1 lead, the only West Tenn run coming off a Luis Valbuena sac fly. Prentice Redman stayed hot with two hits, but had no one to drive in and no one to drive him in. Marshall Hubbard was ice cold and crack must be readily available in the offices of the DIAMOND JAXX coaching staff, as Brent Johnson was leading off today, and predictably, he had little to offer at the plate. Michael Wagner gave up a solo homer in the 7th just to see if anyone was still paying attention, and Matt Esquivel was. It was Esquivel's 9th of the season but don't get excited, Braves fans: he's repeating AA and his career numbers show that this sort of power is uncanny given his career up to the point.
Wait... you could almost say the same thing about Tui... nevermind. Tui had another double, BTW.
NEXT: Robert Rohrbaugh, in Mississippi at 5:05 pm PDT.
AAA: Round Rock 5, Tacoma 0
Jorge Campillo: 7 IP, 9 H, 4 ER (3 HR!), walk, 5 K
Jason Mackintosh: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER (HR)
Adam Jones: 0-4, 4 K: The Golden Sombrero (.296)
Jeremy Reed: 0-4, K (.235)
WLAD: 0-4, 2 K (.342)
Mike Morse: 0-3, walk (.319)
Jeff Clement: 1-2, walk (.211), and the only hit of the game for the Rainiers
Rob Johnson (DH): 0-2, walk, K (.226)
The Rainiers got one hit. Four innings from starter Mark McLemore (no, not THAT Mark McLemore), who was limited to 62 pitches, three hitless innings from Stephen Randolph, and two perfect ones from Paul Estrada, while striking out 12 Rainiers overall. I'd like to blame an oppressive wind, but the Express hit THREE home runs off Jorge Campillo and one more off Jason Mackintosh for good measure, a surprisingly fiery performance from an anemic Round Rock lineup. This game was toast.
NEXT: Justin Lehr in Round Rock, in progress as this is posted.