Albuquerque 7 @ Tucson 9
The Sidewinders bats exploded Wednesday, pounding out 12 hits and scoring at least one run in each of the first seven innings, but the bullpen still made it a nail biter, surrendering five eighth inning runs before finally downing the Isotopes.
With first baseman Conor Jackson getting a day off Manager Chip Hale's lineup was juggled, the most notable change being third baseman Brian Barden getting his first look of the year at the five hole. Barden, who has spent the majority of the season hitting #2, apparently took the challenge of producing runs seriously, collecting just his second three RBI game of the season including a fourth inning solo home run, his fourth of the year.
Alan Zinter did his best Conor Jackson impression going 2-3 with a home run, two runs scored and a walk. Zinter, who celebrated his 37th birthday last week raised his average to .269 on the year.
Speaking of birthdays, we were hoping to report a big day for Scott Hairston, as the young outfielder celebrated his 25th birthday, but he too had the day off. Happy Birthday Scott.
Josh Kroeger's birthday isn't for another three months, but it didn't matter as he went 2-5 with a home run and three RBI of his own. Kroeger is hitting just .246 this season, but when he's at home in Tucson Electric Park it's a different story. On the season Kroeger is hitting .300 at home, and has twice as many extra base hits, and nearly twice as many RBI as he has collected on the road.
Edgar Gonzalez got the win, running his record to 5-1 by throwing 6.1 innings of two run ball. He turned the ball over to Winston Abreu and Randy Choate, who nearly cost the Sidewinders the game. In a combine 1.1 innings the two relievers gave up four hits, including back to back homers off Choate in the eighth. With two out in the frame closer Brandon Medders came on and put out the fire, tossing 1.1 innings of scoreless relief to earn his fifth save of the year.
Birmingham 8 @ Tennessee 4
Tony Pena was better Wednesday than he had been in his last start, but that didn't take a whole lot. In Pena's last start he lasted just 1.1 innings, giving up six earned runs on six hits and a walk. Wednesday he lasted four innings, gave up seven hits, walked two, and allowed six to cross the plate. Pena also gave up his first home run of the season, a three run shot in the third inning.
The bullpen pulled together to try and keep the Smokies in the game. Four pitchers combined for five innings of one run baseball, but the bats could never put it together. Sergio Lizzaraga threw two perfect innings of relief work, not allowing a base runner and striking out two. Casey Daigle came on to pitch the ninth and failed to allow a run for the 10th straight time, a streak that dates back to April.
Jarred Ball is taking to this idea of playing everyday. He's started the past four game and responded by going 7-13, including a 3-4 Wednesday that included a home run, and while Ball's strikeout numbers (39 in 114 at bats) still leave something to be desired, his patience has certainly improved, he's already drawn 30 walks this season, compared to 45 last year in 472 at bats.
Adam Haley got the start at second base and hit his first home run of the season during his 2-4, three RBI performance. Jerry Gil started his second straight game at shortstop and collected his first two hits of the season, going 2-4 on the day.
Lancaster 5 @ Lake Elsinore 3
Jon Castellanos was good, and his bullpen help was great Wednesday as the JetHawks scored four in the seventh in route to the win. All three runs Castellanos gave up in his five innings of work came via two home runs in the fourth and fifth inning. Castellanos left after the fifth and Ryan Coffin was the first of three JetHawk relievers who would hold the Storm at bay. Coffin, who had given up nine earned runs in his last three appearances (3.2 innings) didn't allow a runner in the sixth, striking out one. Next up was Billy Biggs, who gave up two hits but no runs in his two innings of work, getting the job done and passing the ball off to closer Dustin Glant. After a near perfect April where Glant collected five saves and a 1.00 ERA May has been a tougher road, his ERA for the month was in double digits and he'd given up runs in three of his last four outings. On Wednesday though Glant was perfect, setting down the Storm hitters 1-2-3 in the ninth to collect his 10th save of the season.
In the seventh inning the JetHawks took advantage of Storm miscues and rushed four runs across the plate. After a walk and a single a Storm error loaded the bases. Jay Garthwaite walked to force in a run and then Chris Carter and Jeff Cook had back to back singles to plate three more. Cook has been on a RBI barrage, driving in 10 in his last nine games, while Carter has had at least two hits in four of his last six.
Outfielder Brandon Simon made his Lancaster debut Wednesday, going 0-4 with two strikeouts.
Burlington 1 @ South Bend 4
A. J. Shappi threw his second complete game of the season, giving up six hits, a walk, and one run. His 68 innings pitched is once again tops in all of the minor leagues and his 7 wins ranks second in the Midwest League. While Shappi did give up two doubles, he hasn't given up a home run in his last five starts (36 innings).
Augie Murillo was just 1-4 on the day with an RBI, but it didn't quell his numbers. Murillo continues to lead the Midwest League in batting average (.354), home runs (9), RBI (32), hits (62), runs scored (37), and slugging percentage (.600). He will undoubtedly spend all day in the batting cage though, as he is just second in the Midwest League in extra base hits (23, one behind the league leader).