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Midshipmen’s Log 6/21/22: tough week in Modesto; Everett, Arkansas, and Tacoma hold serve

A split is basically a win with these six-game series

Darren McCaughan was excellent this week
Jeff Halstead

Welcome back for another installment of the Midshipman’s Log. This week a fair number of the teams started off strong and then petered out over the weekend, perhaps in homage to the big league club. Or maybe they just didn’t feel like working on the weekend. Minor-leaguers, they’re just like us!

Modesto Nuts (29-34) drop series to Lake Elsinore (SDP) (38-25), 2-4

Lake Elsinore is one of the Cal League’s best teams and Modesto is...not, so this feels like the likeliest outcome for the series even though it wasn’t the one I was hoping for after an enormous win to kick off the series. Modesto looked utterly dominant in Game 1, winning 17-3 on a bullpen day for the Nuts. The top of the lineup did a ton of damage in this one: Jonatan Clase had two walks and stole three bases from the leadoff spot, Edwin Arroyo pitched in three more hits including a triple from the two-hole, Robert Pérez Jr. had another three hits including a double from the four-spot, and Ben Ramirez and Randy Bednar combined in the 5-6 spots for five total hits and six RBI. Every Modesto batter recorded at least a hit, although curiously, none of them homers; the Nuts batters just stacked and stacked and stacked their hits. The 2022 Mariners could never.

Unfortunately, Game 2 didn’t go as well, with Modesto’s pitching staff giving up ten runs, six of which were charged to starter Jordan Jackson—although only four earned, and he did strike out seven over five innings of work, so we will chalk this up to a developmental start. Also, Sam Carlson pitched another inning and allowed a run but struck out the side, so hooray for that. Walking Cabrera paced the offense with a three-hit day including a double.

Game 3 was winnable but the Nuts just couldn’t string together clutch hits, and the bullpen faltered in support of starter Joseph Hernández, who was going along well before he got into trouble in the fourth inning. Reliever Yeury Tatíz couldn’t keep an inherited run from scoring, but the big damage came in a three-run eighth inning. Modesto rallied back for their first two runs of the day off a Ben Ramirez homer in the bottom of the ninth, but it was too little, too late. Jonatan Clase had a triple in the losing effort.

Starter Michael Morales gave up four runs in 3.2 innings in Game 4 but Modesto was able to secure the win anyway, getting on the board immediately in the first inning with two runs and tacking on another three in the fifth, three more in the seventh, and one more for good measure in the eighth. Harry Ford was part of that fifth-inning rally with his fifth home run of the season en route to a four-hit day, and Ben Ramirez had a double and another three RBI. Robert Pérez had his 13th double and 59th RBI of the season.

Modesto got boatraced in Game 5, 12-2, but not for lack of trying from the top three in the lineup (Clase, Arroyo, Ford). Clase had a three-hit day with a double, Arroyo had two hits including a double, and Ford had just one double but also walked twice. Unfortunately, the rest of the lineup didn’t pull their fair share, and starter William Fleming had another rough outing, giving up seven runs on nine hits in just 4.1 innings of work.

Also Clase’s double came with a side of #WholesomeContent:

Game 6 would also be a loss on another bullpen day. Harry Ford tripled and Edwin Arroyo doubled but the rest of the lineup wasn’t able to string hits together and Modesto lost, 3-7.

Next up Modesto heads to Fresno, who, as a former Triple-A affiliate, have a beautiful TV feed.

Everett AquaSox (30-32) earn split with Tri-Cities Dust Devils (28-31), draw ever-closer to .500

Everett, hot on the heels of the big ‘ole sweep over Hillsboro, came home to face the Tri-Cities Dust Devils. A split over six games is perfectly fine in my book - especially considering the run they’ve been on for a while. The offense was more or less consistent throughout the series, while the pitching seemed to either be lockdown or implosive, a theme this year.

Game One saw the Frogs hop out to an early lead, putting up all five of their runs by the end of the third inning. Early runs in a bullpen game never hurts, and this was certainly one of those. Five pitchers saw the mound - Brendan McGuigan, (innings 1-2), Evan Johnson (innings 3-4), Blake Townsend (innings 7-8) and Isaiah Campbell (9th inning) combined for seven perfect innings, while Max Roberts had a tougher time with his two innings, giving up four runs. First baseman Dariel Gomez, the team RBI leader (30), put up a pair in the third, as did catcher Andy Thomas, adding onto the single RBI that second baseman Justin Lavey delivered an inning earlier.

Game Two saw some good and some bad. The Good: Everett won 5-4, extending their franchise-high win streak to nine games. It was The Gomez/Thomas Show Part 2, as they again combined to drive in four of the five runs for the team. Thomas delivered another three RBIs, including a go-ahead two-run dong in the sixth inning.

Gomez contributed an RBI single in the first (as did Thomas), scoring Alberto Rodríguez (my beloved), who had a pair of hits of his own (such a nice boy).

The pitching staff also performed well: four pitchers combined for seven innings of three-hit ball, collectively giving up no runs - Jarod Bayless gave up the only runs of the night on a two-run homer.

The Big Bad: Bryce Miller was hit by a comebacker on his forearm in the second inning. He stayed in to finish the inning but was pulled after that, reportedly as a precaution. He should be slated to start tonight, so we’ll see what happens there. Hopefully Miller is okay, as he’s been one of the two best pitchers on the farm this season.

Game Three had a little more bad than good, as the Frogs dropped it 4-10. The pitching was not great - starter Jimmy Joyce had 3.2 good innings before imploding with two outs in the top of the fourth. He embraced the three-true outcome pitcher approach, striking out 8 while walking five, and giving up a three-run home run. The rest of the pitching staff didn’t do much to stop the bleeding, as three subsequent relievers each gave up at least a run.

The offense, steady as ever, pitched in four runs - Gomez, again, contributed some RBIs, this time on a two-run home run that unfortunately came only once the game was lost.

Game Four, or as it’s known, the Juan Mercedes game. Calling it now - Mercedes will likely be headlining the Team of the Month for the farm for June. The 22-year-old starting pitcher from Villa Tapia in the Dominican Republic has had a somewhat tough time since coming stateside.

But over his last 22.2 innings, spanning four starts, he’s given up zero runs, six hits and two walks, while recording 25 strikeouts (cue the “is that good?” meme). The dude is h o t, and hopefully this means he has turned a corner in his development. This includes a sterling start in Friday’s game, as he went seven scoreless, giving up three hits, no walks and striking out seven.

Unfortunately, the offense put up only four hits behind him, including only getting An Baserunner into scoring position, so a two-run shot in the eighth was all Tri-Cities needed to take the win.

Game Five saw another excellent start, this time from Prelander Berroa. Berroa threw five scoreless innings, earning the win as he racked up eight strikeouts against just two hits. The mid-season acquisition has continued a strong season in Everett - after a rough first two outings after the trade, he has buckled down, giving up just one run in his last five outings.

The offense was all very condensed in this game: all eight runs were scored between the bottom of the fifth and the bottom of the sixth. Victor Labrada led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo blast before Noelvi and Berto were caught stealing and struck out, respectively. But, Everett put together a two-out rally, taking advantage of a fielding error on a Thomas ground ball and a double by Gomez to put two on for Charlie Welch. Welch then took a 3-2 pitch for a ride, hitting his seventh home run of the season to give Everett a 4-0 lead.

An unfortunate double-error by Dariel Gomez set the stage for a pair of unearned runs, while a passed ball allowed the Dust Devils to pull within a run in the top of the sixth. However, a Lavey solo home run in the bottom of the sixth gave the Frogs all they would need to hold on. Isaiah Campbell, closer (?) earned his third save of the season.

Game Six was a tough loss as the Frogs got behind, came back, only to watch the game slip away yet again. An early four runs off starter Michael Flynn put the Frogs in an early hole, down 4-0 after two innings. The offense managed to put together four runs of their own in the sixth inning, on just three hits, no less! Alas, it was not meant to be. A pair of solo home runs off of Luis Curvelo in the eighth inning finished off the game for Everett. This brings Everett down to 0-2 for the season on parental celebration days, as they also lost on Mothers Day this year.

Up Next: The Frogs travel across the state to face the Spokane Baseball Team (32-29). Everett’s league-worst pitching staff will be put to the test by the Colorado Rockies’ affiliate’s league-best bats (man, that sentence is bad).

Arkansas Travelers (34-29) split series with NW Arkansas (31-31) as offense dominates

Taylor Dollard continued to show why he is the best pitcher in minor league baseball and the offense, headlined by Joe Rizzo, had a couple of monstrous showings as the Travs series winning streak comes to an end. Still, The Travs are playing much better baseball as of late as the first half of the season winds down.

Game One: Late rally falls short as Travs lose 7-5 in series opener

Stephen Kolek dug the Travs into an early hole, but Joe Rizzo and company nearly dug themselves out of it. Rizzo’s solo shot in the first was the Travs’ only run until the seventh inning.

Facing a 7-1 deficit in the seventh after a rough outing by Kolek in which he went 4.2 innings and gave up seven hits and six runs, the Travs offense started clicking again. They scored twice in the seventh, one of which came on a DeLoach home run.

Still down by four, Rizzo sent his second home run of the game over the right-field fence to make it a 7-5 ballgame.

Unfortunately, they went down without getting anything going in the top of the ninth to drop the series opener.

Game Two: Joe Rizzo stays hot, powers Travs to 5-4 win

In case you thought it was just you, since the beginning of May, Seattle has had seven days with above-average temperatures, three at average, and 40 below average. I don’t have the exact stats in front of me, but the Mariners also having 40 below-average days since May 1st also sounds pretty accurate. S/o Anthony Edwards for always coming through with the fun #wawx facts.

Since May 26th, Joe Rizzo is hitting .320/.388/.680 with a 161 wRC+. That is a long (and convoluted) way of saying that Joe Rizzo has been considerably hotter than the weather (and professional baseball team) in Seattle over the last few weeks. Rizzo’s hot streak continued on Wednesday, almost single-handedly carrying the Travs to a victory.

Rizzo’s single in the top of the seventh put the Travs ahead 4-3. Rizzo added the crucial insurance run with a solo home run off Jonah Dipoto in the top of the ninth. The naturals scored one in the bottom of the frame, but Rizzo’s bat was just too much for them to overcome.

Game Three: Offense explodes for 18(!) runs, Emerson Hancock continues to impress

Not to be too much of a downer, but in their 11-game homestand, the Seattle Mariners scored 28 runs or approximately 1.5 runs per game. That, folks, is not great. On Thursday night, the Arkansas Travelers averaged two runs per inning, slightly better, IMO. They had more runs than the Ms put up if we include Friday’s offensive explosion, but more on that in a minute.

The Travs immediately gave Emerson Hancock plenty of cushion to work with. They scored two in the first on Jake Scheiner’s double. They added four more in the second when Jack Larsen cleared the bases with a triple.

In case six runs weren’t enough of a cushion, the Travs added seven (7!) more in the third inning. Joe Rizzo brought in one, a bases-loaded walk brought in another, and Scheiner’s second double of the game cleared the bases to make it 11-1. Just wanting to ensure that Emerson had nothing to worry about, Zach DeLoach sent a shot over the center-field wall to extend the lead to 13-1. An incomprehensible number when the Travs were stuck in a rut last month.

Hancock continued his hot streak with another solid five-inning outing. He gave up a solo shot in the second but otherwise was nearly untouchable. He allowed three hits over his five innings while striking out three and walking just one. Ideally, you would like to see him back out there for the sixth inning with a 12-run lead and having thrown just 77 pitches through five, but it is hard to get too upset over a team being too cautious with one of their best prospects coming off multiple injuries. The important part is that Hancock continues to dominate when he is on the mound.

Game Four: Taylor Dollard does the thing again; Travs offense pours on more than enough

We have gotten to the point in the Taylor Dollard experience where I have friends sending me tweets about how good his latest outing was. The brand is incredibly strong. Although, not quite as strong as the run that the best pitcher in minor league baseball is currently on.

Dollard dominated the Naturals lineup, giving up just one run to the first batter of the game on Dollard’s first home run allowed this season. He gave up just two more hits the rest of the game and struck out four over his six innings. It is June 21st, and Taylor Dollard still has an ERA under one on the season. I have run out of words to describe just how brilliant Dollard has been this season.

The offense, seemingly forgetting they have the best pitcher in the world going for them, once again exploded for a double-digit outing. The Travs had five home runs on Friday evening, including two for Cade Marlowe. 31 runs across 18 innings isn’t too awful; perhaps the big league club can take some lessons from what is going on down in Arkansas lately.

Game Five: Early walks doom Travs as offense can’t dig out of an early hole

Congratulations to Connor Jones for his second outing this season without allowing a single hit. Unlike the seven-inning no-hitter earlier this year, Jones wasn’t exactly on his A-game. The 27-year-old veteran allowed six runs without allowing a hit, which is a super impressive feat. Jones’ six walks over an inning plus and a Ben Onyshko pitch that caught too much of the plate for a three-run home run ended this one pretty early for the Travs.

The Travs offense, tired from the previous two offensive explosions and sensing this one was already out of reach after the second inning, did not score a single run in the 9-0 drubbing.

Game Six: Offense tired from a busy week of work, takes the whole weekend off to relax

I get it; I would be exhausted too if I scored 31 runs over 18 innings. I can’t get on the Travs offense too much for taking the weekend off. They couldn’t get anything going on offense on Sunday to close out the series. They were not helped by a brief start by Stephen Kolek. He went just 2.2 innings and allowed four earned runs on 79 pitches. The loss snaps the Travs four series win streak and drops them to three back of the Tulsa Drillers with just a few days left of the first half of the season.

Up Next: The Travs close out the first half of the season at home against the Frisco Roughriders

Tacoma Rainiers (26-39) split series against Sacramento River Cats (27-39)

The Rainiers continue to scuffle as the big-league club continues to siphon off anyone who looks like they might be in a halfway decent hot stretch. Tacoma opened the series with a 3-1 win in Game 1 behind a strong start from Tommy Milone, who would be disappeared off to Seattle later in the week but was able to give the Rainiers six shutout innings first. In other Seattle bullpen-relevant news, Ken Giles and Matt Brash also worked scoreless innings, and Brash recorded two strikeouts. Mason McCoy homered and Justin Upton doubled, showing some of that renewed timing Jerry Dipoto praised before engaging the yank cord to bring Upton to Seattle. In less-fun news, Evan White struck out three times in his only appearance this series and Jarred Kelenic, still dealing with a hamstring injury, didn’t play.

Tacoma kept the good times rolling in Game 2 behind an absolutely sterling start from Darren McCaughan, who went 7.1 innings and surrendered just one run while striking out 11, for which he was awarded Player of the Week honors from the Mariners. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him get another shot with the big-league club when the Mariners rotation falters again. Misiewicz got the other two outs in the eighth without damage, striking out one. No Kelenic again for the offense but no problem, as now-recalled Kevin Padlo hit a two-run homer and Upton had two more hits.

The Rainiers notched another win in Game 3 but it was a nail-biter, 6-5. Tacoma got off to a fast start, scoring two runs each in the first two innings, and Erick Mejia and Marcus Wilson hit back-to-back solo homers in the fifth inning. Ken Giles got lit up in his inning, though, giving up three runs and only recording one out and needing Danny Young to bail the Rainiers out of trouble. Matt Brash locked down the save with a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. Also, Kelenic returned to the lineup and hit a double.

Things went south fast after that, with the Rainiers dropping the final three games of the series. The offense had a total power outage in Game 4, mustering up just one run on a Rainiers bullpen day and losing 7-1. In Game 5, the normally resilient Daniel Ponce de Leon got lit up for five runs in his start, and while the offense collected 12 hits, they turned into just two runs. Finally, Tacoma got blown out to close up the series, 12-1, on another bullpen day. Kelenic returned to the lineup but went 0-for-4; Sam Haggerty provided the team’s only run with a homer.

Up next: Tacoma heads to Texas to take on the Sugar Land Space Cowboys and their nightmare logo. Hopefully John will be back to do the MSL then so I don’t have to look at that faceless space cowboy.