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Midshipmen’s Log 7/19/22: Modesto and Tacoma split series, Everett wins, Arkansas...gets swept

Well, some of the teams on the farm had a good week...

Noelvi O’Clock

This week the minors clubs, like their major-league counterparts, are on summer break, but here’s how they fared in their last series before the break:

Modesto (42-45) engages best case scenario, splits series with Lake Elsinore Storm (52-35)

I was hard on Modesto last week because they dropped a series to the lowly Stockton Ports, setting them up poorly to face the league-leading Storm this week, but Modesto acquitted themselves pretty well against the Storm (Padres affiliate), managing a series split. They opened with a decisive Game 1 win where the five runs Michael Morales gave up over five innings didn’t hurt the team, especially after shutdown innings from Blake Townsend and Jorge Benitez, as the Nuts racked up 14 runs against Storm pitching. Edwin Arroyo was, as he often is, the star of the show, with a three-hit, five-RBI day; Harry Ford also had three hits, and each of them added two doubles to their season totals.

Modesto then went on to lose a squeaker in Game 2, 4-5; Sam Carlson had a shaky start, giving up four of those runs over the first four innings, but the Nuts offense valiantly tried to pull out a win nonetheless. Harry Ford checked in with another double, Jonatan Clase tripled, and Brett Rodriguez homered in the loss.

The Nuts also lost Game 3, by the exact same score; this time it was a late-inning bullpen meltdown that cost the Nuts as Modesto had been in the driver’s seat all game thanks to a strong start from Jordan Jackson. Both Harry Ford and Jonatan Clase homered in the loss; Arroyo, after going 0-for-5 the day before, rebounded with a double; and Walking Cabrera had a triple, but the Nuts offense couldn’t overcome a four-run seventh inning meltdown from Brayan Perez.

Modesto changed things up in Game 4 by getting the doors blown off, losing 13-4, and honestly, just the less said about that game, the better. Happily, the Nuts rebounded to win their next two and salvage a split in the series. They roared back in Game 5 with an 11-1 win, on what was theoretically a bullpen day but turned into Bryan Woo Day, as he gave the Nuts 4.2 shutout innings. Meanwhile, the Nuts offense banged out 14 hits, including a three-hit day from Arroyo, who homered, as did Cabrera, who also had a double. Jonatan Clase stole his 30th base of the season.

Modesto put a bow on the series with a Game 6 victory where the offense again overcame Michael Morales and a Big Inning (this time it was a three-run third inning); the Nuts went homer-happy in this game, with Robert Perez Jr. hitting his 19th of the season but his first in a while, along with Colin Davis and Amador Arias. Edwin Arroyo added another pair of hits to his league-leading total and headed into the break sporting a gaudy .318 average.

Up next: a weekend series against San Jose, an off-day on Monday, and then the next series starts against Fresno at home.

Everett AquaSox (43-43) head into break strong with series win over Tri-City Dust Devils (37-47)

It was a good week for the FrogBois, facing one of the weaker teams in the league in the Dust Devils. Everett squeaked out a win in Game 1, winning 1-0 after a strong start from Prelander Berroa, who lasted five shutout innings and recorded seven strikeouts and just two walks. We call that growth. Victor Labrada collected the game’s only RBI on a triple. The Dust Devils took their revenge in Game 2, soundly beating the AquaSox 7-1 on a bullpen day.

Everett bounced back in a Game 3 win, 6-2, behind a strong start from Jimmy Joyce. The Sox offense was driven by Noelvi Marte, who had a three-RBI, four-hit day with his 14th homer of the season.

Even without the red-hot Marte in the lineup, Everett collected another win in Game 4, 4-1, with the top of the offense (Mike Salvatore, Andy Thomas, Alberto Rodriguez) doing the heavy lifting. Salvatore homered, his first of the season. Isaiah Campbell collected his ninth save of the season in a no-hit, two-strikeout inning.

The Sox dropped a close one Game 5, 3-4 in extras, in a game most notable for a rebound performance for Bryce Miller, who’s struggled ever since getting hit with a comebacker a month ago. We’ll take the loss in exchange for Miller—6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 10 K—looking like his old self again.

A 3-1 win in Game 6 put a bow on the series for the AquaSox and brought them up to .500 ball, hooray. Alberto Rodriguez was the hitting star here, with two hits including a triple (?!), and Dariel Gomez hit his 17th homer of the season. Prelander Berroa had another fine outing, going four innings and striking out five while walking just one.

Up next: a weekend series at home against the Eugene Emeralds, followed by an off-day Monday and then a trip across the border to face Vancouver, so expect to see some big-time roster shuffling.

Arkansas Travelers (43-44) get confused, accidentally go with “bad vibes only” as they get swept by the Wichita Wind Surge (46-40) leading into all-star break

I am sorry if you got deceived by the last couple of weeks, but it turns out that, actually, not all baseball teams go into the all-star break on a scorching hot streak. The Travelers saw what was going on in Seattle and decided now was a good time to go on their worst run of the season while more eyes were focused on the Pacific Northwest.

Game One: Travs transport to PCL, lose a shootout 10-8

The Travelers did not put themselves in an advantageous position on Tuesday night. Connor Jones allowed seven runs over his 2.1 innings of work. Jones has been a central weak spot for the Travs rotation over the last month. Since June 18th Jones has an ERA of 22.03 and a FIP of 8.59. It is bizarre after he had a 1.18 ERA from May 12th to June 12th. Jones clearly has the stuff when things are working, but nothing is working for him right now, and I wonder if some sort of change or rest is necessary for Jones to return to what he was doing in May.

Even with that early hole, the Travs managed to dig all the way out of it by scoring seven unanswered runs to tie it up 8-8 in the seventh inning. Zach DeLoach led the charge for the Travs bats with a grand slam to instantly put them back in the ball game.

But because apparently the Mariners and Travelers can’t both be good at the same time (a weird rule from the universe, but whatever, I guess), Michael Stryffeler, who has consistently been one of the best relievers in the Texas League this season, picked up his first loss of the season on an immediate home run by Andrew Bechtold to open the bottom of the tenth inning.

Game Two: Like I said, Travs transport to PCL lose *another* shootout, this time 16-12

It’s never a great sign when you have a nine-run inning and still lose fairly decisively. This is by far the weirdest series I can remember the Travelers playing this season. Once again, Arkansas dug themselves an early hole thanks to another bad outing by a starting pitcher. On Wednesday night, it was Stephen Kolek who had the shovel. He allowed 11 runs over 2.2 innings. If you can explain what went wrong with the Arkansas pitching staff this past week, I would love to know.

The Travs at least managed to make it look much closer than it appeared with a nine-run and nine-hit fifth inning to make it 15-9. Tanner Kirwer went deep to cap off the game and make it look like a respectable final score of 16-12, but when you’re down by 14 at one point and never really within striking distance, idk what it’s good for other than making the run differential a little bit better.

Game Three: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Travs pitching struggles in 11-5 loss

This was just not the series for Arkansas starting pitching. I don’t know if something was in the water or what, but every single one struggled against the Wind Surge in a way that I don’t remember seeing this season. Stoudt continued the recent slide by allowing six runs over his four innings of work. In case you thought the bad vibes only impacted the starting rotation, Patrick Weiman proved otherwise during his two innings of work in which he allowed four runs to firmly put things out of reach.

Game Four: Bullpen day dooms Travs in 9-2 loss

The cool thing about Emerson Hancock getting an invite to the Futures Game is that it was a chance for Hancock to prove that he belongs on top-100 lists after falling off many of them because of injuries early in his career. Hancock shined down in Los Angeles with a perfect inning as he struck out the side.

The not-so-cool thing about Hancock going to the Futures Game is that it left the Travelers rotation in a bit of a bind without one of their best pitchers. It would not have been as much of an issue if the rest of the rotation went deep into games to preserve the bullpen. That was decidedly not the case as the starting pitcher went into the fifth inning only once during the six-game series. A gassed bullpen paired with being down a starter is not a great combination.

In fairness, the bullpen did do an admirable job through the first few innings. It was a 2-1 ballgame after Ben Onyshko exited the game in the fifth. Unfortunately, Jake Haberer did not have it working as he gave up five runs in his one inning of work to ruin any hope of a late Travs comeback. The positive is Joe Rizzo continued his ascent up the home run leaderboards with his 17th of the season.

Game Five: Dollard struggles, Travs fall on the second walk-off of the series

You know things are going bad when even Taylor Dollard has a bad outing. Saturday was Dollard’s second sub-par outing in his last three turns through the rotation. It isn’t a huge cause for worry yet, but it is not as fun as when he had a sub-one ERA for the first two months of the season. Dollard went 4.1 innings and gave up three earned runs. Definitely not a terrible outing, but the worst of Dollard’s season.

Even with Dollard’s struggles, the Travs were in it until the game’s final pitch. Riley Unroe gave Arkansas the late lead with a two-out triple in the top of the ninth inning to make it 5-4, before later coming around to score on a wild pitch.

However, that lead was short-lived as Edouard Julien, who you may remember from the last time he destroyed the Travs, hit a three-run walk-off home run off Stryffeler to ruin the Travs’ best chances of taking a game this series.

Game Six: Travs start all-star break early, lose 11-1

After dropping the first five games of the series and with a four-day break sitting right in front of them, I can’t blame the Travs too much for not winning on Sunday. Basically, everything that could go wrong did go wrong on Sunday. Connor Jones gave up six runs over his 2.1 innings of work. Devin Sweet and Braden Shipley followed that up with rough outings of their own. The offense could only muster one run on five hits. The only silver lining that the Travs can take from Sunday, and the whole series, is that it is in the rearview, and they get a few days off to gather themselves and get back on track.

Up Next: The Travs host the Frisco RoughRiders for a three-game set starting Friday night, then an off-day on Monday, then a full series at Tulsa starting Tuesday.

Tacoma Rainiers (38-51) dodge trouble, split series with Oklahoma City Dodgers (52-38)

After losing Game 1 of this series 15-4 against the OKC Dodgers, who have as many losses as the Rainiers have wins, it didn’t feel...great, but R boys acquitted themselves well over the rest of the series. The less said about Game 1’s bullpen blowout loss the better, but we have to make space for the only thing that matters about that game: Kyle Lewis and Jarred Kelenic each homered.

Things didn’t improve much in Game 2, when the Rainiers were again blown out 8-1; Daniel Ponce De Leon’s final start as a Rainier (he opted out of his contract on July 15) was a forgettable one, as he surrendered all eight of those runs in just 4.1 innings. Meanwhile, Jon Duplantier and Beau Burrows combined to shut down the Rainiers offensively all game.

Tacoma clawed back in Game 3 with an 8-5 win behind a strong start from Darren McCaughan; Kevin Padlo led the way with three RBI on two hits, but Jarred had himself a three-hit day, which we love to see. Kyle Lewis returned in Game 4 to help the Rainiers along to another win, this time 7-3, courtesy of a three-run homer.

Saturday was George Kirby’s first start in Tacoma and things...did not go great, as he surrendered four runs on five hits in just two innings. Drew Steckenrider also had a rough go of things, giving up three runs in just one inning en route to a 8-4 Rainiers loss in Game 5. However, Tacoma rebounded to salvage a split in Game 6, thanks to Konner Wade spinning a gem, giving up just three runs over seven innings. Tacoma took advantage of some shaky command from Dellin Betances to hang four runs on him in a 6-3 victory.

Next up: a three-game weekend series at Salt Lake to come out of the break, then the next full series is at home against the El Paso Chihuahuas.