This recap, I assure you, is longer, more epic and packed with more info and action than the last few recaps.
Adam Jones and Jeff Clement go off on Portland pitching... Justin Thomas pitches badly, allowing a young 19 year old to make his West Tenn debut, and do pretty well in the process... the Mavs watched their pitching succumb to the space park, and Marwin Vega get Soriano'd in a scary scene that he fortunately will recover from, and the Mavs did mount a comeback despite it, but the Lancaster Jethawks were just too much... the T-Rats got good pitching out of one third of the Demolition Derby Trio... and Aguirre's got a pretty good VSL team.
Rk: VSL Mariners 10, VSL Cardinals 4
Oberth Guanire: 5 IP, 2 H, 4 K
Manuel Campos: 2 IP, 4 H, (4 R) 2 ER, 2 walks, 2 K, 3 wild pitches
Yorjans Chourio: 2 IP, walk, 5 K
Rafael Torrealba: 1-4, double, R, RBI, 2 walks, 2 K
Rigoberto Rangel: 4-4, 2 run HR, 4 R, 3 RBI (.289)
Jose Rivero: 1-3, triple, 3 RBI, 2 K (.315)
Cesar Del Rio: 2-3, double, RBI (.256)
Another good day for the VSLM's at the plate and for starting pitching. Oberth Guanire, who hadn't shown his face in a little while, pitched 5 decent shutout innings and the VSLM's staged various multi-run rallies (3 in the 1st, 2 in the 3rd, 2 in the 5th) to put the game away before Manuel Campos melted down in the 6th. Even after that, the VSLM's added 3 in the 8th just because. Guanire's performance, for the heck of it:
Line Drives: 1
Pop Ups: 1
I usually avoid discussing VSL pitching performances since the hitters are young and generally struggle to hit the ball well in general. But I wanted to show this as an example to show that, while Guanire's line looked good, he gave up a lot of flyballs that didn't hurt him only because of the fundamental struggles of the VSL hitters he faced. It's really hard to tell how many of the pitching performances are performances and how many are just a matter of the talent faced, moreso than in the states.
A: Wisconsin 5, Quad Cities 2
Kyle Parker: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 walks, 5 K, 0 cars damaged
Ricky Orta: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, walk, 2 K
Brian Kappel: 0.2 IP, 1 H, wild pitch
Reed Eastley (freshly demoted from High Desert): 1-3, 2 R, walk
Carlos Peguero: 1-4, 3 run HR, 2 K (.244)
Alex Liddi: 1-4, RBI (.212)
TWO IN A ROW for the T-Rats! The T-Rats faced a pitcher named Hernandez, but Elvis Hernandez ain't no Felix. He ain't even Runelvys. Sure, he's put up some pretty nice K numbers, but the guy's had a walk problem lately and he can't seem to pitch past the 4th inning in any of his starts to save his life. You can see why the guy's flip flopped between the rotation and the bullpen after a successful 2006 season in the Appalachian League. Cut down the 3.5 walks per 9 and you've got yourself a great pitcher... which isn't a problem that 10,000 other talented pitchers haven't had.
Case in point, yesterday, as he struck out 4 but got tagged for 3 runs in the 1st when Carlos Peguero crapped all over his suck pitch with two on for a 3 run bomb, and walked 3 over 3 innings. He did not come back out for the 4th. Despite this walk-laden lack of longevity, he's running a 3.12 ERA, in line with his FIP given the K's and keeping the ball in the yard.
On the other side, Kyle Parker took advantage of 3 1st inning runs and despite walking his first 2 batters, pitched 6 solid innings to win his 3rd game of the season. After the walks, he got hit a little bit, but settled down and got a variety of groundballs and flyballs, plus some K's late to keep the Swing down.
Line Drives: 3
Pop Ups: 1
He won't run a 1.50 ERA forever and he's not nearly as tremendous a pitcher as he has been, but he will pound the zone and force you to beat him. He's been the bright spot in the T-Rats rotation.
Ricky Orta, recently back from injury, recorded 7 outs in decent relief as the T-Rats added 2 runs to give themselves a comfortable lead. Orta did leave a runner for reliever Brian Kappel in the 9th, and the runner did score, but clearly it was not a factor.
Meanwhile, WELCOME, Reed Eastley! You're the lucky guy that got displaced when Hargrove's kid got called up! Granted, Eastley wasn't doing great in High Desert (265/340/337), but Little Rain Delay wasn't doing all that well in Appleton either. Must feel nice.
A: Lancaster 7, High Desert 6
Marwin Vega: 3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER (HR), walk, 2 K
Nicholas Allen: 4 IP, 5 H, (2 R) 1 ER (HR), K
Paul Fagan: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K
Jeff Dominguez: 0-5, RBI groundout, 4 K: The Golden Sombrero (.239)
Casey Craig: 2-4, solo HR, 2 R, walk, K, SB #11 (.336)
Johan Limonta: 1-4, 3 run HR, walk (.308)
Hargrove's kid: 3-3, double, R. Grover's kid likes the space park!
Okay, only now, with summer heating up the air in Adelanto, is the space park starting to impact Mavs pitching, as Marwin Vega and Nick Allen got taken deep, but then again, so did the Lancaster starter John Barnes and reliever Hunter Jones.
Barnes walked six and allowed 5 runs on only 4 hits, thanks in part to Johan Limonta's 3 run bomb in the 3rd, part of a 4 run rally that left the Mavs up 5-1, and thanks also to FOUR wild pitches.
However, Vega got bombed himself in the 4th for 3 runs, and he left a runner for Nicholas Allen that eventually scored to cut the leqad to 5-4. Vega appeared to settle down in the 2nd, but back to back line drives in the 3rd were a harbinger of the pitches he would leave up in the zone in the 4th before (*this is a late edit*) one of them hit him in the head! Vega, overall, simply left too many pitches up in the zone, on a field where he simply cannot afford to do that. Early reports on his condition indicate that he will be alright. I hope so.
Line Drives: 4
Disaster struck for Allen in the 5th when Zak Farkes (recently promoted to A+ after a 181/269/349 run in the Sally League) went deep for his 2nd bomb of the game, and his Cal League season, a 2 run shot that made it 6-5 Lancaster.
The score went nowhere until the bottom 7th, when Casey Craig led off after the stretch with a sudden, welcome solo shot off Hunter Jones that TIED THE BALLGAME. It was only the 2nd HR Hunter Jones had surrendered all year. Little Rain Delay lined a single with two outs, but Travis Scott couldn't keep it going.
Paul Fagan came in to pitch, as those paying attention would notice that this usually doesn't end well. Michael Hall led off with a single to right. Ryan Khoury flew to right for one out, but Christian Lara lined a single to left to move Hall to 2nd. Bubba Bell forgot who he was facing and struck out swinging for two outs. Tony Granadillo smoked a grounder up the middle, and it got through into center to score Hall and put Lancaster back on top 7-6.
After Jeff Flaig drew a leadoff walk in the 8th, the next three batters all struck out. The most embarrassing was the first, as Omar Peña bunted with two strikes and the ball bounced off his bat and into the catcher's glove. Peña is not off to a good start with the Mavs.
Fagan did get the side to go quietly in the 9th, setting up a potential rally as Chad Rhoades came in to close for Lancaster. Rhoades walked Casey Craig to lead off, but Michael Saunders and Johan Limonta both hit shots that found CF Bubba Bell, and Chris Colton went down on strikes to end the ballgame.
AA: Tennessee 7, West Tenn 3
Justin Thomas: 4.1 IP, 8 H, (7 R) 6 ER, 2 walks, 2 K, wild pitch
Thomas Johannesen-Ellis: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 K, wild pitch
Marshall Hubbard: 2-3, double, R (.242)
Matt Tuiasosopo: 2-4, triple, R, RBI (.297)
Jeff Frazier: 1-4, RBI (.234)
Luis Valbuena: 2-2, RBI (.226)
Thomas Johannesen-Ellis had a relief outing as long as his name, the first outing since his random 1 inning relief debut with Tacoma a month or so back. As thin as the bullpens are right now, it'd behoove the org to keep the 19 year old talent here and let him eat up innings when he can, especially if he's capable of pitching well against AA hitters (and if a guy can go 3+ innings without allowing a run, then yeah, he may very well be).
This was because Justin Thomas had a poor outing, failing to finish the 5th while getting roughed up for all 7 runs, 6 of them in the 4th and 5th innings. Thomas was humming along and getting groundballs, but he started leaving pitches up and those groundballs turned to flyballs and line drives. Add in a couple walks in the 5th and it all went down the drain before he ceded to TJE. To Johanassen-Ellis' credit, he inherited 2 runners and neither one scored. I think this kid's pretty good.
Groundballs: 7 (not including 2 sac bunts)
Line Drives: 3
Interesting moment in the 1st, as the Smokies' Jemel Spearman led off with a groundball single to left, and the 2nd batter of the game, Smokies CF Sam Fuld, bunted the runner ahead and was thrown out on a close play at 1st. Now, even if it was close, the batter would usually say, okay, I moved the runner over, and sit down, but Fuld argued the point with 1st base umpire Jason Bradley and I guess a Freudian slip while Fuld made a comment about Bradley's eyesight turned Fuld's comment into something about Bradley's mother and a sheep, and Fuld got tossed. Justin Thomas took advantage of this afterward and threw a pickoff throw to 2nd YIKES AND AWAY into the outfield to give Spearman 3rd, and Spearman eventually scored on a groundball. Baseball is a crazy game, and Sam Fuld needs to watch his mouth.
BTW, Fuld has a 12 game hitting streak that is technically still alive because Fuld did not record an at-bat as a result of his sac bunt and ejection.
With a 7-0 lead, Smokies starter Justin Berg pitched one of the best games of his bleh professional career, going 8 innings and allowing only 2 runs on 9 hits with all but one DIAMOND JAXX batter putting the ball in play. Berg's 33 Ks in 64 IP, to 36 walks, and 5.77 ERA indicates that he sucks, and his so-so numbers with Single A Daytona last year (4.1 walks/9 and average K rates) confirms this. He's a groundballer that keeps the ball in the yard, but that's about all he does well, a player in the mold of Rodrigo Lopez or... ::barfs:: Horacio Ramirez.
AAA: Tacoma 10, Portland 9
Brad Thomas: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 walks, K, wild pitch
Juan Sandoval: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, walk (5 appearances, 3.1 IP, 11 ER)
Kam Mickolio (!): 1.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER (HR), 2 K, hit batter, in over his head
Wife Vulture: 2 IP, 1 H, definitely not getting called up at this point after back to back outings.
Gookie Dawkins: 2-5, R, RBI, K (.260)
Jeremy Reed: 2-5, R, K (.297)
Adam Jones: 4-5, solo HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, ready for the majors like yesterday (.327)
Bryan LaHair: 1-5, double, R, 2 RBI (.254)
Jeff Clement: 3-5, 2 doubles, 2 run HR, 3 R, K (.252)
Rob Johnson (DH): 0-4, walk (.253)
Ronnie Prettyman: 3-4, double, R, 2 RBI (.261)
Brad Thomas was better than Justin Thomas, but he certainly wasn't good. He allowed 2 runs in the first and coughed up another in the 6th before taking a seat. The Rainiers small balled a run in during the 4th, after back to back to back singles form Gookie Dawkins, Jeremy Reed and Adam Jones, when Bryan LaHair's 6-4-3 GIDP wasn't enough to stop Dawkins from cashing in the run.
Jeff Clement led off the 5th with a double, Rob Johnson moved him over with a groundout and Ronnie Prettyman sac flied him in to TIE THE BALLGAME.
The Rainiers blew up in the 6th. Reed and Adam Jones hit back to back one out singles, and Bryan LaHair doubled Reed and Jones in to make it 4-2 Rainiers. With two outs, Jeff Clement took Tim Stauffer DEEP for a 2 run bomb that made it 6-2 Rainiers. What was that about Clement's bat being slow again?
Thomas came back out for the 6th and struggled. Clement passed a ball with men at the corners, which certainly didn't help, though the runner on 3rd didn't score. Frank Menechino did sac fly in a run to make it 6-3, and after Ray Chang smoked a grounder into center, Thomas was pulled for Juan Sandoval, who got a flyout to get out of the inning.
Ronnie Prettyman got on and stole 2nd base, his 1st swipe with the Rainiers, to try and spark some more offense in the top 7th, but his teammates would not comply.
And then Portland unloaded. One out single, then a walk. Sandoval comes out and Kam Mickolio, freshly called up from West Tenn, makes his Rainiers debut, one good run from the Show... and he watched Brian Myrow smoke a grounder to right to score a runner, 6-4. Royce Huffman smoked a grounder to Oswaldo Navarro and you can guess what happened next. They called it a single, and another runner scored to tie the ballgame. Mickolio got the next batter, but Frank Menechino hit a flyball that took a hop and hurtled the wall for a ground rule double, scoring another run and making it 6-6. Mickolio got out of the inning, but not a good start. To his credit, two of those hits were off grounders that found holes (yes, I'm calling Oswaldo Navarro a hole).
But that's okay, because Frank Brooks came in to pitch the 8th, and he forgot who Adam Jones was. BOOM over the left field wall! 7-6, RAINIERS LEAD.
Big Kam came back out to pitch the 8th. After inducing a pop up, he plunked Mike Sansoe, then his infield got the force on a grounder for two outs. Then Craig Stansbury grounded to 2nd, and Gookie Dawkins couldn't play it, putting 2 men on. We miss you, Yung-Chi Chen.
We REALLY miss you, because Kam threw Brian Myrow some AA pitch and Myrow showed Big Kam what AAA hitters do to AA pitches... BOOM over the left field wall, 9-7 Portland. Kam got the strikeout to end the frame, but we know how that inning REALLY went. Blowing two leads does not a good debut make.
The Rainiers needed runs with 3 outs to go and Royce Ring coming in. Were they out of gas?
Ronnie Prettyman got a grounder into center with one out. Oswaldo Navarro also snuck a grounder to left. Gookie Dawkins smoked a grounder into center to score Prettyman, 9-8, and Navarro took 3rd when Sansoe misfielded the ball. The tying run was 90 feet away for Jeremy Reed... who struck out for the 2nd out. Nice move. Aaron Rakers came in to finish off Adam Jones, which is like sending a guard to kill a pack of pitbulls with a butter knife. Jones promptly lined a ball into center for a base hit to tie the ballgame at 9. Bryan LaHair went quietly and we're headed to the bottom 9th. Did we mention Adam Jones is ready for the majors? I'm not sure.
The Rainiers needed a reliever to lay the smack down and who's better at smacking people around than Julio Mateo? Frank Menechino said TOO SOON and hit a ground rule double to center with one out, and Gookie Dawkins muffed a Ray Chang grounder, but Luke Carlin saved everyone's bacon by grounding into the 5-4-3 inning ending double play.
In the top 10th, Jeff Clement hit a one out double because his bat's so slow, and Ronnie Prettyman doubled him in for the go-ahead run. Wife Vulture got three quick outs in the bottom 10th and the Rainiers won one heck of a ballgame.