The VSLM's added pitching to some instant offense and came out with a win, but the rest of the org wasn't so lucky, featuring some ugly, unfortunate pitching performances.
Rk: VSL Mariners 3, VSL Cardinals 1
Jean Tome: 4 IP, 2 H, walk, 6 K, wild pitch
Edlando Seco: 3.2 IP, 2 H, (1 R) 0 ER, 3 walks, 3 K, 3 wild pitches, balk
Mayckol Guaipe: 0.1 IP
Jose Jimenez: 1 IP, 1 H
Cesar Del Rio: 1-4, 3 run HR, 2 K
Five hits for the VSLM's in this one, but five hits as well for the VSL Cards, who probably don't have an Albert Pujols or Chris Duncan in their lineup, and probably have a deeper pitching staff since it takes far less to be a successful VSL pitcher than it takes to be a successful MLB pitcher. But the difference came in the 7th, when the VSLM's do what they always do: get some guys on base and hope for the best. This time it paid off when catcher Cesar Del Rio took Carlos Noguera deep for a 3 run bomb that ended up making all the difference. Go figure in a smallball league that the difference was some old fashioned 1990's 'sit back and play for the 3 run bomb' offense.
Also, pretty good start to the season for Jean Tome, who after 4 appearances, 2 starts, has 15 Ks (to 4 walks) after 14 innings.
A: They played two in Appleton!
Game 1: Quad Cities 13, Wisconsin 5, 7 innings
Tony Butler: 4 IP, 12 H, 10 ER (2 HR), 2 walks, 2 K, wild pitch
Robert Harmon: 3 IP, 3 H, (3 R) 2 ER (HR), 2 K, hit batter
Danny Santin: 1-4, RBI (.193)
Carlos Peguero: 1-4, double, R, RBI, K (.248)
Trevor Lawhorn (Welcome to the lineup!): 2-4, double, R
Alex Liddi: 1-2, double, R, walk, K (.229)
Kalian Sams: 1-3, solo HR, 2 K (.206)
I wouldn't want to say that they came in with a 'take this game off' mindset, though after the 1st inning, they probably switched on the autopilot. Tony Butler definitely did a better job of throwing strikes... and those strikes got absolutely hammered. He made it as far as the 4th, turning in by far his worst performance by allowing TEN RUNS, two home runs. The T-Rats kept swinging and tacked on some late runs, but at 12-1 in the middle 5th of a 7 inning front-ender, this game was in the bag.
Also, though it's been somewhat common knowledge for a couple days, I've been preoccupied enough not to mention it before now: Carlos Triunfel's thumb injury will keep him out of action for at least 2-3 weeks. Not sure of specifics beyond the fact it's a severe enough thumb injury to keep him out 2-3 weeks. I don't see any competitive reason for the org to fudge a timeline on a single A hitter, so I'd take them at their word unless proven otherwise.
Hence the recent arrival of Trevor Lawhorn, who will probably get plenty of time in the middle infield in Phenom's stead. Ogui Diaz is speedy and capable but not nearly good enough to play everyday. Think of him as their WFB. Lawhorn, however, should do a capable job while getting an extended look.
Game 2: Quad Cities 3, Wisconsin 2, 7 innings
Steven Richard: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 walks, 4 K, wild pitch, hit batter
Justin Souza: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, K, wild pitch
Joe Kantakevich: 1 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, walk
Andrew Barb: 1 IP, 2 K
Gerardo Avila: 2-3, K (.258)
rest of lineup: 1-21, 2 R, 0 RBI, 2 walks, 14 K
The bats weren't much better in game two against Brad Furnish and Tyler Herron. Furnish worked the first 4 and Herron worked the last 3, allowing 3 hits in all while neither T-Rats run was driven in. Both runs came on Brad Furnish wild pitches in the 4th (he threw three in all), to give the T-Rats an embarrassing 2-1 lead.
However, after a one out double by Brandon Buckman in the top 5th, Justin Souza threw a wild pitch to move him over to 3rd, allowing Chris Grossman to easily drive him in with a single and tie the ballgame.
In the top 6th, Joe Kantakevich came in as Kuo Hui Lo, who had sat out, replaced Leury Bonilla and played left field, as Gerardo Avila moved from LF to 1B. But the undoing of the T-Rats would not involve any of these guys. Luke Gorsett singled with one out, and William Sandoval flew to left for two outs. Daryl Jones drew a walk. Thomas Pham grounded to short, and Juan Diaz candyarsed it, allowing Gorsett to score the go-ahead run. You pretty much knew there would be no comeback in the bottom 6th, when Herron struck out the side without incident. Gerardo Avila did line a single with two outs and nobody on in the 7th and final frame, but Kalian Sams swung on and missed strike three to end the ballgame.
NEXT: The T-Rats get a much needed day off, before beginning a home series with Kane County.
Inland Empire 5, High Desert 4
Chris Tillman: 5 IP, 5 H, (5 R) 2 ER, 4 walks, 5 K, 2 wild pitches
Juan Zapata: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 walks
Paul Fagan: 2 IP, 3 H, walk, K
Aaron Cotter: 1 IP
Casey Craig: 2-4, RBI, K (.332)
Michael Saunders: 1-5, RBI, K (.283)
Jesus Guzman: 2-4, double, 2 RBI, walk, K (.288)
Omar Peña: 3-3, double, 2 R, walk
For whatever disagreements we had and have on the subject, Dave Cameron and I can agree on one thing with Chris Tillman: he isn't ready for High A ball yet.
The run Tillman allowed in the 1st was helped by a leadoff walk and a bad pickoff throw that moved the runner to 3rd. All it took was Blake Dewitt's grounder getting into center to score the run. Tillman did strike out his last two batters to finish the 1st.
But the 2nd indicated his lack of readiness more than anything. After a flyout, Tillman surrendered back to back line drive singles. Adam Godwin grounded to short but got on to load the bases when Jeff Dominguez misplayed it. Tillman then uncorked a wild pitch to bring in another run. Tillman got Ryan Rogowski on strikes, but walked Lucas May, then walked Blake Dewitt to force in another run... before uncorking another wild pitch to bring in another run. He did get Russell Mitchell on strikes to end the inning, but for his ability to miss bats, whatever factors are at play, nervousness, self doubt, bad mechanics, general struggles at the present time, what-not... are causing him to miss his spots as well, and in turn, miss the plate.
Tillman got some breaks in a 1-2-3 3rd, when line drives found his fielders for the 2nd and 3rd outs.
Gabriel Gutierrez led off with a lined single and got bunted over to 2nd. Then Ryan Rogowski smoked a triple to left to bring in another run. Lucas May drew another walk, but the next two batters flied out to end the inning. Tillman's best inning was easily his last, as he induced a popout, groundout and a called strike three all in order, and that was it for him. Five innings, five runs allowed, two earned, but thanks in part to errors by his own person. I don't know: he's showing enough to show that he CAN get High A hitters out, but not consistently enough to be effective. When Empire made contact, they consistently hammered the ball, indicating decent stuff with poor location. His preceding struggles before the sudden promotion indicate he's struggling with his mechanics, mindset and stuff in general... basically, a personal slump, a problem he'd have whether he's in Appleton or Adelanto. If anything, the promotion was a bad idea simply because his abilities and performance at the time did nothing to warrant it. It was a nonsense promotion.
Also, two struggling former starters, Paul Fagan and Aaron Cotter, worked some scoreless innings in relief and are showing progress. Meanwhile, the Mavs, down 5-3 after Tillman's exit, tried to come back but, despite a rally that plated a run in the bottom 7th, just couldn't get anything going.
NEXT: LOL Cibney Bello at 7:05 pm PDT.
AA: Mississippi 6, West Tenn 2
Joe Woerman: 4.2 IP, 12 H, (6 R) 5 ER, walk, 2 K
Travis Chick: 3.1 IP, 1 H, walk, 5 K
Brent Johnson: 3-5 (.286)
Charlton Jimerson: 2-4, double, RBI, walk, 2 K (.233)
Matt Tuiasosopo: 1-4, walk, K (.290)
Jeff Frazier: 1-5, double, R, K (.235)
Rene Rivera: 1-5, double (his 1st of the season), R, RBI, 2 K (.200)
Luis Valbuena: 2-3, walk, K (.200)
Like Chris Tillman, Joe Woerman also had a bad day, getting blitzed for 3 runs in the 1st, another in the 2nd, and though he did okay from there, he tired and got hit in the 5th, getting pulled with two outs. He threw strikes: it's just that the AA Braves hit those strikes hard.
Meanwhile, JoJo Reyes held the DIAMOND JAXX down, inducing 10 groundouts to go with his 5 Ks over 6 shutout innings. Jose Ascanio got lit up a bit for throwing high in the zone but only allowed two runs while recording 4 of his 5 outs via K, before the familiar Joey Devine shut it down, striking out 4 of the 5 batters he faced. In all, AA Braves pitching struck out 13 DIAMOND JAXX. The Braves have such a deep AA team it's ridiculous. Watch out for the Atlanta Braves in 3-4 years.
Lost in this was a surprisingly good long relief performance by Travis Chick, who went the rest of the way and allowed only two baserunners while striking out 5.
NEXT: Doug FISTER needs a good start like Raul Ibañez needs to start hitting. 5:05 pm PDT in Mississippi.
AAA: Iowa 5, Tacoma 4
Juan Doñe: 6 IP, 3 H, (3 R) 1 ER (HR), 4 walks, 2 K
Byron Embry: 0.2 IP, 1 H, K, hit batter. He's on YOUR All Star Ballot as a reliever!
Wife Vulture: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER (2 HR), K, BS, Loss. Nice work, assbag.
Gookie Dawkins: 2-5, triple, R, SB (.259). He's on YOUR All Star ballot as a 2B!
Jeremy Reed: 1-4, RBI, K (.282)
Adam Jones: 0-4, 2 K (.291)
WLAD: 0-3, walk, 2 K (.308)
Jeff Clement: 2-3, 2 run HR, solo HR, walk (.254). He's on YOUR All Star Ballot as a... DH?!
Oswaldo Navarro: 3-4, 2 doubles, K (.228). He's on YOUR All Star Ballot... which is hilarious for many reasons.
Tacoma completed the North American sweep of Mariners minor league teams, but they did have the lead in the middle innings. After the AAA Cubs tied the game at 3 in the top 5th, Jeff Clement hit his 2nd home run of the night in the bottom 6th for the 4-3 lead.
The Rainiers had a rally going in the bottom 7th, as Oswaldo Navarro led off with a double, and Gookie Dawkins smoked a grounder up the middle to move him to 3rd. But Jeremy Reed got called out on a dubious strike three, and he took verbal umbrage with home plate umpire DJ Reyburn, who kindly threw him out of the game. Then it's quite possible that Reyburn expanded his strike zone to the size of a pantry out of spite, as Adam Jones and WLAD both went down on strikes. What a striking coincidence.
Everyone's favorite domestically violent reliever came on to work the 8th and promptly surrendered a solo blast to Micah Hoffpauir to tie the ballgame. The AAA Cubs also got a two out double but couldn't cash in the run.
All three Rainiers batters in the top 8th hit the ball hard, but all three well-hit balls found fielders.
Wife Vulture came back out for the top 9th, and with one out, surrendered a go-ahead home run to Eric Patterson. Clay Rapada came out to close the 9th for Iowa, and aside from a bloop single from Oswaldo Navarro, the Rainiers went quietly to end the ballgame.
NEXT: The Rainiers get the day off, and with three teams taking today off (including the VSLM's), tomorrow's recap should be easy.