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4/9 Minor League Wrap-Up

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Who knew it snowed in Wisconsin through half of April?

Who knew Ricky Orta would jump off to a hot start in a rebound year following an injury-plagued 2007?

Who knew the DIAMOND JAXX, in 2008 their home opener, would need a fire extinguisher for their gas-can relief corps, plus all the offense they could manage against the renovated Huntsville Stars?

Who knew it would take WLAD this long to hit his 1st home run, or that it would be such a big one?  And who knew the best pitching performance in Tacoma in this short season would come from a converted knuckleballer who doesn't have an ulnar collateral ligament?

On to the wrap-up!

A:  Wisconsin's scheduled game and doubleheader makeup game were both postponed by SNOW.  AGAIN.  PUT A ROOF OVER FOX CITIES STADIUM.

Heh.  To wit, I wonder how feasible it would actually be, let alone how much it would cost, to create a cheap, low-grade roll-over or convertible-style 'retractable' roof.  Kansas City had a similar idea for a roof they would keep in the parking lot and roll over Arrowhead and Kaufmann Stadiums when needed, but they scrapped it.  I guess they figured the teams were so bad at the time that if the weather didn't keep the fans away, the crappy play probably would.

A+:  High Desert 3, Rancho Cucamonga 1

Ricky Orta:  7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5 K
Aaron Cotter:  2 IP, 1 K, 3 K, hit batter
Chris Minaker:  2-4, R
Greg Halman:  2-4, double, R, 2 RBI
Matt Mangini:  1-4, RBI, K

The Quakes got their only run of the game in the bottom 1st off back to back to back two out singles.  But Ricky Orta held down the fort after that, and the Mavs paid him off in the top 8th by capitalizing on a wild pitch and a fielding error to score two and take the lead for good, off a Greg Halman double and another run on a Matt Mangini single.

Orta:

Groundballs:  9
Flyballs:  4
Line Drives:  5
Pop Ups:  2
Walks:  0
Strikeouts:  5

AA:  West Tenn 9, Huntsville 6


Doug FISTER:  5 IP, 4 H, (2 R) 1 ER, walk, 4 K, hit batter
Brandon Morrow:  1 IP, 1 H, (1 R) 0 ER, K, wild pitch
Marwin Vega:  1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 walks, wild pitch
Craig James:  1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Michael Saunders:  1-4, double, R, K
Adam Moore:  2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI
Shawn Garrett:  1-2, double, 2 R, 2 walks, K
Marshall Hubbard:  1-4, solo HR, 2 RBI, K
Jon Nelson:  3-4, 3 RBI, K
Ronnie Prettyman:  2-4, triple, 2 R, K
Luis Valbuena:  2-4, solo HR, K

I'm just glad Huntsville did something about their bush league 7th rate logo and got on the MiLB logo-changing bandwagon this offseason.

So, anyway, home opener for the DIAMOND JAXX!  They just beat up on Steve Hammond over his 4 innings and chased him after 4 with a 6-0 lead.  Meanwhile, the IRON FIST got in his five innings and other than the 2 runs he allowed in the 5th, he was solid.

Groundballs:  6
Flyballs:  4
Line Drives:  4
Walks:  1 (plus 1 hit batter)
Strikeouts:  4

FISTER left with a 6-2 lead, but Marshall Hubbard padded it with a two out solo shot in the bottom 5th to stretch it to 7-2.

Huntsville got a run in the 6th when Mat Gamel reached on a Mark Kiger fielding error at SS, then took two bases when Brandon Morrow uncorked a wild pitch, which is about as shocking as seeing rain in Seattle.  Gamel eventually scored on a groundout to cut the lead to 7-3.

Luis Valbuena continued his hot start by leading off the bottom 6th with a line drive solo bomb off Dave Johnson to make it 8-3.  The side went down in order after that, and in the top 7th, Huntsville led off on Marwin Vega with back to back singles, squeezed in a run on two groundouts and got another on a Vega wild pitch to cut the lead to 8-5.

Vega didn't look better in the 8th.  He walked the leadoff hitter, and though he got a GIDP, he then walked the next two batters.  Craig James came in and got a groundout to escape that threat.

In the bottom 8th, Ronnie Prettyman led off with a triple (!!!), and scored when catcher Angel Salome passed a ball with Luis Valbuena at the plate.  The side again went down in order, and Huntsville had 3 outs left down 9-5.  West Tenn made several defensive shifts and lifted Marshall Hubbard (1B) for Josh Womack, who played CF.  And then Ryan Crew led off with a double right past Womack.  Scott Steinmann: Expert tactician.

Adam Moore passed a ball to move Crew to 3rd, and Crew eventually scored on a groundout.  Mat Gamel maintained suspense with a single but Matt LaPorta grounded to 3rd to end the ballgame.

AAA:  Tacoma 5, Fresno 1

R.A. Dickey:  8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, walk, 7 K, wild pitch
Scott Shoemaker:  1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Jeremy Reed:  2-3, double, R, walk
Greg Norton:  1-3, R, RBI, walk, 2 K
WLAD:  1-3, GRAND SLAM, walk
Jeff Clement:  1-3, walk, K

WLAD's slow start sure took a big step forward in the 5th, when he launched a 2 out Grand Slam over the LF wall off Matt Palmer to make it 5-0 Rainiers, and the Grizzlies weren't getting anything off the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who rtired the first 12 batters he faced, didn't allow a hit until the 7th (and only after Scott McClain's blooper fell in front of WLAD), worked 8 strong innings and kept the Not Good Enough For The Giants off balance and unable to string much of anything together.

Dickey did need help to escape the 8th, though: after Julio Cordido singled with two out, Todd Jennings lined a double to left that scored Cordido, but Jennings got greedy and a wonky relay of throws allowed Jeff Clement to throw Jennings out at 3rd.  Still, quite the dominant outing by Dickey, and you have to wonder how much long Cha Seung Baek is for the bullpen... though it may be better for Dickey to continue to develop his knuckler with guaranteed work every 5 days instead of spot work here and there in games out of hand.

Groundballs:  10 (plus 1 bunt)
Flyballs:  4
Line Drives:  3 (all in final two innings)
Pop Ups:  1
Walks:  1
Strikeouts:  7

And that was that.