OPENING DAY in the Minors!
For the uninitiated: I will list line scores, followed by my best effort to coherently recap what happened. Since I usually cannot listen to or watch the games in question, sometimes I will miss details that one who was there would've caught. Anyone who was at the games or heard/watched the games are welcome to chime in and add or correct any details.
I always list the line stats for every pitcher that appeared in the game for each Mariner org's club, but for the hitters, I tend to only list players who make a significant contribution, whether an extra base hit, multiple hits, or knocked in a run. If a player of note is involved (like Triunfel, WLAD, or Tui), I try to list their line even if they didn't do much, and if a key prospect missed the game for whatever reason, I'll try to remember to mention it, but if you don't see a particular player listed, generally that is because said player didn't do much of note at the plate.
... well, the T-Rats will have to wait.
A: Wisconsin's opener in the Quad Cities got rained out. However, the forecast tomorrow in the Quad Cities is for partly cloudy skies giving way to afternoon sun that should remain until more storms roll in Sunday. So they should be able to get in two tomorrow. For the uninitiated, by the way... in the minors they play 7 inning games in doubleheaders to expedite play.
A+: High Desert 9, Lancaster 8
Kyle Parker: 5 IP, 6 H, (4 R) 2 ER (HR), walk, 3 K
Nick Hill: two outs, 4 H, 3 ER, walk, K
Austin Bibens-Dirkx: 1.1 IP, 1 H, walk, 3 K
David Asher: 1 IP, 3 K
Joe Kantakevich: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, K
Carlos Triunfel: 1-5, double, R, RBI
Johan Limonta: 2-3, double, 3 R, RBI, 2 walks, K
Chris Minaker: 2-5, double, R, RBI
Carlos Peguero: 3-5, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, K
Travis Scott: 1-3, solo HR, 2 walks
Kuo Hui Lo: 1-5, RBI, 2 K
Lancaster was everyone's nemesis last year, sporting one of the most powerful lineups in the Cal League, and that's saying something.
That said, it was peaceful and quiet until the 4th, where Triunfel blooped a one out double to left, Johan Limonta smoked a grounder through the hole into right, and Chris Minaker and Carlos Peguero bounced back to back ground rule doubles over the wall to cash in the first Mav runs of the season and make it 3-0.
But no lead is ever safe in the Cal League. Lancaster snaked in a run in the 5th, then unloaded one of those classic Jethawk cans of whoop ass on Kyle Parker in the 6th. Triunfel picked up where he left off defensively last year, never quite getting a grip on a Lars Anderson grounder, putting him on. Then Jon Still immediately homered to tie the game, Zak Farkes doubled, and Kyle Parker was pulled while he still had his dignity. Military Man Nick Hill came in, got a fielder's choice groundout, K'd Daniel Nava and it looked like the Mavs would escape with a tie ballgame.
Except Argenis Diaz smoked a grounder through the right side to score Zak Farkes. 4-3 Jethawks. Then Mickey Hall walked and Reid Engel, who knocked in the run last inning, lined a shot at Nick Hill that he could only deflect, scoring Diaz to make it 5-3 and putting runners on the corners with 2 down. Chih-Hsien Chiang ripped a grounder through the left side to cash in Hall, 6-3, as Engel took tow bases to keep runners at the corners. Lars Anderson smoked another ground through to left to cash in Engel, 7-3, and manager Jim Horner had seen enough, going and getting PositivePaul's favorite prospect Austin Bibens-Dirkx to put a stop to this mess... which he did by getting Jon Still to lift a harmless flyout to left to end the disastrous frame.
The Mavs immediately battled back. Limonta led off the bottom 6th with a walk and two batters later, Carlos Peguero doubled to center to cash him in and cut the lead to 7-4. Travis Scott walked, but Jethawks reliever James Russ put down Kuo Hui Lo and Matt Mangini like dogs on strikes to stop that.
Zak Farkes tried to start another rally with a leadoff double down the LF line, but ABD struck out 3 of the next 4 to silence that. In the bottom 7th, James McOwen lifted a flyball that LF Reid Engel misplayed to put him on 2nd. Greg Halman grounded him over and Triunfel's groundout cashed him in to cut it to 7-5. Chris Minaker singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd, but Carlos Peguero couldn't produce another hit, flying out to center to end the 7th.
David Asher relieved ABD and started 2008 with a bang by striking out the side. Travis Scott, after spending 2007 in Adam Moore's shadow, opened up on T.J. Large by ripping a meatball over the RF fence to cut the lead to 7-6. Large put down the next 3 in order, however, and Joe Kantakevich, an All Star in the MWL last year, got bitchslapped back to reality in the 9th. After striking out Jon Still, Zak Farkes, quickly proving to be a thorn in the side, doubled down the LF line, and Jorge Jimenez lined a single to right to cash him in, 8-6. After Daniel Nava poped out, the inning ended on a crazy play: Argenis Diaz grounded to 2nd, but Chris Minaker gives us 2008's first YIKES AND AWAY... horking the throw wide and sending Jorge Jimenez to 3rd... except he got greedy, turned for home and went for another run. Johan Limonta, playing 1B, recovered the errant throw, threw home and gunned him down at the plate for the 3rd out.
Jonathan Papelbon's brother Josh, the Ozzie to his Jose Canseco, the Jeremy to his Jason Giambi, the Mike Maddux to his Greg... came on to shut it down in the 9th. Did I mention that Lancaster is the Red Sox A+ affiliate? Aren't you surprised? I didn't think so.
So Greg Halman, who couldn't recognize anything that wans't a fastball to save his life last year... led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. PROGRESS!!! Triunfel grounded back to the mound, but Halman moved to 2nd with 1 out. Johan Limonta then doubled to center to cash in Halman and cut it to 8-7. Chris Minaker, he who horked the previous throw, grounded to 1st... and 1B Lars Anderson muffed the ball to put Minaker on! Limonta took 3rd to put runners at the corners with one down, and Carlos Peguero lined a single to right to cash in Limonta and TIE THE BALLGAME as Minaker took 3rd. Travis Scott was up, and Little Pap wanted no part of him, putting him on intentionally to load the bases... for Kuo Hui Lo. Ogui Diaz pinch ran for Minaker at 3rd, representing the winning run.
Kuo Hui Lo lifted a flyball to center... out of the reach of Mickey Hall! Diaz scored and that was the end of quite the Opening Day contest for the Mavs.
AA: Jacksonville 6, West Tenn 3
Doug FISTER: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER (HR), walk, 4 K, wild pitch, 2 hit batters
Jason Mackintosh: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, walk, K, balk
Roman Martinez: 1 IP, 2 H, hit batter
Brandon Morrow: 1 IP, 2 K
Shawn Garrett: 2-4, R, RBI
Adam Moore: 2-3, 2 run HR, K
Michael Saunders: 0-4
Well, the 9th inning answered our question of whether Morrow was going to work out of the pen or start.
The DIAMOND JAXX did take the early lead when Adam Moore launched a 2 run homer to right in the 1st. Doug FISTER established the Iron FIST by plunking the first two batters, but since that's kind of like getting plunked by Jorge Campillo, can't say it made much more of a statement than, "Huh, well, he looked like a strike zone." FISTER uncorked a wild pitch and later allowed a run on a sac fly but allowed no more damage in the 1st.
The DIAMOND JAXX did build a 3-1 lead, but FISTER gave it away in the 4th when Lucas May's one out double was followed by a game tying home run from... Rene Rivera?!
Wait, no... wait. RENE RIVERA?! THAT Rene Rivera? The waste of space who OPS'd Ichiro's batting average for this very West Tenn team last year? I'm sorry, but that's just fucked up. What kind of sadistic maker imposes that kind of karmic butthurt on somebody? Somebody test him.
Anyway, FISTER gets out of it without further damage and we're tied at 3. Dougie Fistball eventually leaves with a no-decision, but Jason Mackintosh definitely got a decision after allowing a leadoff walk to Juan Gonzalez (no, not THAT Juan Gonzalez), then loading the bases from back to back infield hits before ceding to Roman Martinez. And we may want to hold off on any ideas of Roman making the bigs for now, because Ivan DeJesus lined a single to right to cash in Juan and keep them loaded. Then Greg Jacobs lined a single to right to score another and keep them loaded. Then Lucas May sac flied to right to cash in another and make it 6-3, a lead the Suns did not relinquish. To Roman's credit, he did plunk Rene Rivera immediately after, but he tosses about as soft as FISTER does. He did get an inning-ending double play right after that.
The DIAMOND JAXX showed they were already in midseason form by going down quietly in the 8th and 9th.
AAA: Tacoma 2, Sacramento 0
Ryan Feierabend: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 walks, 7 K
Jake Woods: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Cesar Jimenez: 1 IP, 2 K
Yung Chi Chen: 2-4, double, R, RBI
WLAD: 0-3, sac fly RBI
Jeff Clement: 1-4, K
Matt Tuiasosopo: 0-3, K
Maybe it's because the A's have left their AAA club bone dry, but Rainiers pitching dominated the River Cats, allowing only 5 hits in a game that was never in doubt once the Rainiers scored in the 4th and 5th. Ryan Feierabend coasted to 6 shutout innings and left after 89 pitches so Mystic Tan and Cesar Jimenez could get some work in.