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4/12 Minor League Wrap-Up

I am pretty sore from yesterday's LL softball, which was a lot of fun.  This morning, I had another solid breakfast from Smith, along with an Irish Coffee to take the edge off.  I did not check the internet for news until I showed up here at Fuel to write the Wrap-Up.  Given the news about Bedard missing ANOTHER start because of that damn hip, I'm glad I started the day that way.

The org's teams could have had a better day yesterday.  The T-Rats lost two more games to weather, though there's some good news on that front.  The Mavs' luck ran out yesterday against Inland Empire, and the pitching had such an embarrassing day that a familiar, unconventional valve had to bail them out in the 9th.  The DIAMOND JAXX was the lone team that could say they had a good Saturday, capitalizing on some good fortune that followed some good hitting and a solid effort from the pitching.  The Rainiers, meanwhile, finally got a game in at the cold mile high tundra of Colorado Springs, and a couple of bad innings probably had them wishing they hadn't, as two pitchers had some terrible nights and one infielder's night ended painfully early.

On to the wrap-up!

A:  Two more postponed games on Saturday for Wisconsin.

The good news is that as I type this, a game with Dayton IS IN PROGRESS!!  And they are in the 5th inning, meaning they WILL get at least one game in!!!  WOOHOO!

A+:  Inland Empire 15, High Desert 4
Mavs:  6-4  Empire:  2-8

Anthony Varvaro:  4 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 6 walks, K, 2 hit batters
Joe Kantakevich:  one out, 6 H, 6 ER (HR), 2 walks, hit batter
Julio Santiago:  1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 walks
Austin Bibens-Dirkx:  2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 walks, 4 K, wild pitch
Leury "Latin Campaneris" Bonilla:  1 IP, 2 K
Johan Limonta:  2-4, R, walk, K
Carlos Peguero:  1-5, RBI, 2 K
Greg Halman:  2-4, solo HR, 2 RBI
Travis Scott:  2-5, RBI, K

Looks like Empire got tired of getting rivered by the Mavs, and finally decided to attack and make the lead big enough to disprove the postulate that No lead in safe in the Cal League.  Mission accomplished.  Not that Varvaro did much to stop him: his control was frighteningly bad at times, not that a strong wind behind him helped, but he walked 6 batters and hit 2 more.

Groundballs:  6 (plus 1 bunt)
Flyballs:  4
Line Drives: 1
Walks:  6 (plus 2 hit batters)
Strikeouts:  1

But no one had any idea how much worse it would get once Varvaro was yanked in the 5th, after he had walked and plunked the first two batters.  Joe Kantakevich, who had put in considerable work the last few days and certainly wasn't fresh, proceeded to watch the game get away.  Matt Berezay bunted to 3rd and Matt Mangini had no play, leaving the bases loaded... for Carlos Santana.  And with one swing, Everything's Going The Other Way, over the RF fence for a soul crushing GRAND SLAM.

But Joe Kantakevich must follow the Mariners In High Desert Way, i.e. "when you're getting pounded, show us your character and find a way out of the inning."  Kantakevich showed the Mavs the way to doom, walking Not That Eduardo Perez before Drew Locke lined a single and Thomas Giles lined another single to load the bases EXCEPT Greg Halman, who already bailed Varvaro's ass out on one place with an outfield DP assist, gunned down Drew Locke at 2nd for he first out of the inning, also taking away a runner in scoring position.  If Greg Halman learns how to bat against the offspeed and breaking stuff, he is going to be a beast.

Kantakevich paid the break off by plunking Fracisco Lizarranga to reload the bases.  Then with Ryan Rogowski up, Travis Scott passed a ball to cash in Doppleganger Eddie Perez and make it 8-2 Empire.  Rogowski then lined a single to right to cash in Giles and Lizarraga to make it 10-2.  Then JK walked Christian Lara.  Then Josh Bell lined a single to center to cash in Rogowski, 11-2 Empire, and that was enough for Kantakevich, who got two outs and allowed 6 runs along with 2 of Varvaro's run on the Santana grand slam.  The game was a wash from there, though Empire pounded Julio Santiago for two more runs in the 7th... and gave the gas pipe to ABD for two more runs in the 8th.

With the bullpen beaten, utility everyman Leury Bonilla, who had done this a couple times before last season, came in to pitch the 9th inning.  In a display of sad irony, Bonilla had the best Mavs pitching performance of the night, going strikeout, flyout, strikeout to the side.  Granted, the game was essentially over and Empire probably just wanted to finish up and celebrate the win, but still, weren't they trying to do that in previous innings against the Mavs bullpen?  And didn't they pour on more runs despite this?

Also, why don't the M's ever try this with Willie Bloomquist in blowouts?  It'd be like having a 12th pitcher without actually having a 12th pitcher.

Thanks to word from Churchill via Thingray a couple days back, we now know what's up with Triunfel and why he's been absent the last few days: he got beaned in the back and he apparently was sore from it for days afterward, so as a precaution with the man-child, he's day to day and they're sitting him for a few days to make sure a) it heals up and b) that the injury isn't anything more serious.  Plus, it gives youngsters Chris Minaker and Ogui Diaz extra reps in the middle infield and at the plate.  This hurts no one.

AA:  West Tenn 4, Huntsville 1
WTN:  5-4  HUN:  6-3

Chris Jakubauskas:  5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, walk, 4 K
Marwin Vega:  2.1 IP, 0 H, 2 walks, 2 K
Brandon Morrow:  two outs... better than his last two outs.
Jason Mackintosh:  1 IP, 1 H, K
Michael Saunders:  2-4, R, K
Adam Moore:  0-2, 2 R, 2 walks
Marshall Hubbard:  2-4, double, RBI
Jon Nelson:  2-4, 2 doubles, R, RBI
Mike Wilson:  2-3, RBI

Chris Jakubauskas' 1st inning was indicative of his night, surrendering a leadoff double and a sac bunt that moved the runner to 3rd... then taking a tapbacker, throwing home to Luis Oliveros to get the 2nd out and saving the run before getting out of trouble.

Jakubauskas got help in the bottom 3rd with the game tied at 1.  With one out, Michael Saunders bunted and beat out the throw from pitcher Brae Wright.  Mark Kiger bunted Saunders over for two outs.  Adam Moore drew a walk, and Marshall Hubbard lined a double to right to cash in Saunders and move Moore to 3rd.  Jon Nelson grounded to 3rd, but 3B Mat Gamel muffed it, allowing Moore to score.  Hubbard got greedy and turned from 3rd for home himself, but Gamel recovered and ran him down for the 3rd out.

With a 3-1 lead, Jakubauskas gave the DIAMOND JAXX a functional minimum and left with the same 3-1 lead.

Groundballs:  4 (plus 1 bunt)
Flyballs:  5
Line Drives:  3
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  4

Jo Nelson did knock in a run for real in the bottom 8th, doubling home Adam Moore with two down to tack on an insurance run and make it 4-1.  Marwin Vega had an improved outing, relieving Jakubauskas in the 6th and working into the 8th without allowing a hit, let alone a run.  Brandon Morrow got in some work and netted two groundouts to finish the 8th, before Jason Mackintosh finished the job in the 9th.

AAA:  Colorado Springs 10, Tacoma 7
TAC: 5-3  CSP: 5-4

Sean White:  5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER (2 HR), walk, 4 K
Andrew Baldwin:  two outs, 3 H, (5 R) 0 ER (HR), 3 walks
Philip Barzilla:  1.1 IP, 2 K
Eric Cyr:  1 IP, 2 H, walk, 2 K
Bronson Sardinha:  2-5, R
Mike Kinkaide:  pinch double
WLAD:  2-4, double, solo HR, 3 RBI, K
Jeff Clement (DH):  2-4, double, solo HR, 2 R, K
Bryan LaHair:  1-3, R, RBI, walk
Rob Johnson:  2-4, R
Matt Tuiasosopo:  1-4, double, 2 RBI, K

And so the Rainiers begin their ascent into the PCL's launchpads, starting with mile high Colorado Springs.  At this point, from the pitchers you are looking only for a minimization of runs via out facilitation, i.e. groundballs and K's.  This is where the limitations of the PCL's Feierabends and Rohrbaughs get exposed.  Likewise, you have to remember, when the Adam Jones and WLADs of the world go off in these parks, that these parks facilitate power numbers and that such performances may not necessarily be replicated in more neutral climates.

The Rainiers got two quick 1st inning runs off AAAA starter Josh Towers.  Bronson Sardinha shows off the offense-inflating capabilities of the mile high park by leading off with a single.  Yung Chi Chen got plunked pretty hard and had to leave for the Rainiers' resident Keystone Kop, Oswaldo Navarro.  Who thought that Josh Towers threw that hard?

Jeremy Reed grounded out to 1st to move the runners, and WLAD doubled the runners in to make it 2-0 right away.  WLAD did move to 3rd on a Clement groundout and Bryan LaHair drew an encouraging walk, but Rob Johnson bloomquisted to short to end the threat.

Sean White looked alright through, only getting into trouble in the 2nd by loading the bases with one out (with some help from another Tui error at 3rd) but escaping without damage.  However, that was as close as White got to damage until the 4th.  Sean Barker lined a single to lead off, and Joe Koshanky lifted a flyball over the RF fence to tie the game at 2.  White immediately retired the next 3 batters, but the damage was done.

White got two quick outs in the bottom 5th, but Seth Smith singled to left, Ian Stewart lined a single to center, and then Sean Barker smacked a flyball over the RCF fence to make it 5-2 Sky Sox.  Just like that.  White was done after that, and he wasn't especially horrible, showing us the groundball tendencies that led the M's to pick him up in last year's Rule 5 draft.  But as he showed us last year, he tended to make just a few too many mistakes, and this start is a prime example of how badly the PCL can punish any pitching mistake.

Groundballs:  9
Flyballs:  5
Line Drives:  4
Pop Ups:  1
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  4

But the Rainiers stepped up in the top 6th.  After two quick flyouts,  WLAD blasted a flyball over the LF fence to make it 5-3.  Then Jeff Clement doubled to left and Bryan LaHair blooped a pop up that got past 2B Douglas Bernier to score Clement and make it 5-4.  Rob Johnson did it wrong with a grounder, but said grounder snaked through the middle for a base hit.  Tui atoned for his earlier gaffe with a double to center past Cory Sullivan that cashed in both runners to give the Rainiers a 6-5 lead!

PHAT ANDY relieved White and Rob Johnson started his outing in the 6th by dropping a foul pop, then watching Edwin Bellorin double to center.  The finely named Christian Colonel doubled to left to cash in Bellorin and tie the ballgame.  Douglas Bernier's bunt popped straight up and into Rob Johnson's glove for the first out, but Cory Sullivan and Omar Quintanilla drew back to back walks to load the bases.  Seth Smith sac flied a runner home for the 2nd out to give the Sky Sox a 7-6 lead, and the Ian Stewart skied a ball over the RCF fence to make it 10-6.  Sean Barker walked, and Daren Brown had seen enough un-phat strikes from the phat rhymer Baldwin.  Philip Barzilla came in and got the 3rd out.  PHAT ANDY 29 may want to spend extra time in the studio, because his baseball career does not appear long for this world, given his 10.13 ERA does not include the 5 runs he allowed in this game (they were considered unearned due to the Johnson drop of the pop up).

Jef Clement did go yard in the top 8th off a tiring Josh Towers, but that was all the Rainiers would get down the stretch.