Tucson 8 @ Omaha 10 in 10 innings
Russ Ortiz continued the Rehab Tour '05 in Omaha Monday and while he was far better than his two and a third inning, 11 earned run showing in Lancaster Wednesday he also made sure no one mistook him for the guy who won 20 games with Atlanta a couple years back. Ortiz allowed seven runs, six earned, on seven hits, three of which left the building. In three rehab assignments between Tucson and Lancaster Ortiz has gone 11.1 innings, allowed 26 hits, 24 earned runs, and six homers. A recent memo from Jeff Moorad read in part, "Has anyone seen $34 million dollars I misplaced?"
The bullpen however did its job, keeping the Sidewinders in the game until the bats awoke. Lefty Randy Choate ran his streak of consecutive scoreless appearances to 15 with an inning of perfect relief, he last allowed an opponent to cross the plate in June. Likewise Jason Bulger threw a scoreless frame, while Matt Herges allowed one run in his one inning of work. The run was the first Herges had given up in his last 13 outings.
In his third outing since returning to Tucson from the Diamondbacks Brandon Medders took the loss in the bottom of the 10th inning. Medders allowed two runs, only one earned, after second baseman Keoni DeRenne booted a grounder to open the inning, and the next hitter homered over the left field fence. It was only the third homer Medders has allowed with Tucson this season, and the first since May 7th.
DeRenne was having a fantastic game until the error, he was 3-5 with a double, a run scored, two stolen bases and three RBI on the day, his first three RBI day this season. The entire top of the order was hitting, with five of the first six in the Sidewinders lineup collecting multiple hits. Right fielder Carlos Quentin was the one left out, as he feels the difference between hitting behind Conor Jackson, and hitting ahead of Jesus Cota. Quentin was 1-4 on the day but drew two walks as well.
Brian Barden just continues to produce. Hitting fifth in the order Barden was 2-6 with a double, his 11th home run, and four RBI. Though Barden is usually thought of as more of a contact hitter, the five spot has been great to him this season. Despite having only 27 at bats there this season, he's hitting .370 and has as many homer there (3) as he has had in the #2 spot in the order, where he has more than 180 at bats.
With a less power laden lineup than usual Sidewinders manager Chip Hale turned to speed to help things out. While DeRenne's two stolen base day was nice, Josh Kroeger turned two singles and a walk into three doubles by swiping three bases on the day.
Though Jesus Cota is hitting well in Tucson, crushing at a .333 clip through his first 11 games, the power and production one expects out of a clean up hitter, and corner infielder, is just not there. Through Monday Cota had only two extra base hits, a double and a homer, and just five RBI.
Montgomery 5 @ Tennessee 7
Tony Pena just does what needs to be done lately. The right hander continued to pitch well enough to win, allowing five runs (four earned) in seven plus innings to earn his seventh win of the season, and fifth in his last six starts. Pena surrendered 10 hits, two of which were homers, but walked only one and struck out five.
After Pena gave up a two run homer to the second batter he faced in the eighth inning, Smokies manager Tony Perezchica turned the ball over to his bullpen, and they did exactly what they were supposed to do, shut down their opponents. Justin Wechsler gave up just one hit in finishing the eighth, and in the ninth lefty Doug Slaten struck out the only batter he would face before handing the ball to Casey Daigle who walked one and struck out one in route to his 17th save of the season.
It was a team effort offensively, as every Smokies hitter reached base at least once and seven different Smokies scored their seven runs. Chris Carter raised his season average to .342 with a 2-3 day that included his second homer of the year, a solo shot in the fourth. Carter has had at least one hit in nine of the 10 games he's played in since joining the Smokies.
Second baseman Dan Uggla also homered Monday, his 17th, and Jarred Ball bounced back from an 0-4, four strikeout showing Sunday to go 3-4 with two RBI on Monday. For Ball it has been a roller coaster season, beginning with two months that saw limited playing time, then a torrid June where he hit .359, but he followed that with a July so bad he needed a four hits the last day of the month to inch his batting average above .200. He's off to a hot start this August, hitting .391 with six RBI in six games.
Anyone wondering why Ball has come back strong need look no further than the on deck circle. After initially experimenting with Stephen Drew in the #2 slot in the order Drew has now been moved back to the three spot in the lineup, and when Stephen Drew is hitting behind you, you can bet you're going to be seeing more than your share of fastballs. Drew was just 1-4 on Monday, and hasn't had more than one hit in a game since his 3-3 debut in Double-A.
That leaves Drew's batting average at an anemic .222, but if Drew's average is anemic, catcher Miguel Montero's batting average is anorexic. Montero, who was promoted immediately following the Futures Game in July, started hot and was hitting .333 as recently as July 24th, but since then he's been on a miserable slide, going just 5-41 with one RBI in his last 11 games.
Lake Elsinore 10 @ Lancaster 12
For the second straight outing Chad Scarbery was less than impressive, allowing six runs in four innings, and Alex Cremidan allowed three more in the next inning and a third, but after that the JetHawk bullpen absolutely slammed the door on the Storm, pulling out the victory in an offensive showcase. While Matt Wilkinson grabbed the save, and Sam Smith bounced back from a tough string of outings, it was Micah Owings who really impressed. Owings went two innings for the second straight outing and didn't allow a hit while striking out three. The Diamondbacks have told Owings he will be pitching on a very limited schedule in order to protect an arm that has already thrown 170 innings this year in college, but they have to be pleased with his progress so far.
When you score 12 runs offensive stars aren't hard to come by, but the number '5' always seems to stick out. First baseman Edgar Varela's fives came in the form of hits, as he was 5-5 on the day with a double, two RBI and three runs scored. While second baseman Danny Richar's five came in the form of RBI, four of which came on sixth inning grand slam that pushed the JetHawks to a lead they would not relinquish. Richar, who has struggled mightily in the field this season, seems to have hit his stride at the plate at roughly the same time he was moved from shortstop to second base. While Richar's season average sits at a solid .294, he's hitting more than 20 points higher when he plays second base.
The newest JetHawk, shortstop Kenny Perez, who came over from the Red Sox organization as part of the Jose Cruz Jr. trade, was 2-5 with two runs scored on the day. Perez will be eligible to become a sixth year free agent at the end of the season, and so the rest of this year should be an extended audition for the youngster, who will likely look for another organization at which to patrol shortstop, since the Diamondbacks appear to be stocked with them.
Left fielder Alex Frazier improved the on base percentage the hard way Monday. In addition to going 2-3 at the plate with two runs scored Frazier was hit by a pitch twice as well. Way to take two for the team.
Lansing 0 @ South Bend 5
The Silverhawks sent 11 men to the plate in the first inning, capping off the five run inning with a Mark Reynolds home run and knocking Lansing starter Russell Savickas out of the game after recording only two outs. The Lansing bullpen would step up and throw 7.1 innings of scoreless relief, but those five were more than South Bend starter Ross Ohlendorf would need, as the big right hander was dominating Monday night.
Ohlendorf threw a complete game five hitter, walking only one and striking out four. Ohlendorf would run into trouble in the eighth, as the Lugnuts loaded the bases with two out, but otherwise Ohlendorf coasted, at one point retiring nine straight and picking up his eighth victory, and first complete game, of the season. Ohlendorf talked to FutureBacks.com earlier in the season about how even though he was among the league leaders in strikeouts he knew that to be effective he needed to keep his pitch counts lower and get ground balls. Mission accomplished, Ohlendorf retired 19 hitters on ground balls, five via the K, and four in the air.
No South Bend player would log more than one hit in the game, and in fact only Emilio Bonifacio and Wilkin Castillo would manage hits after the first inning, but it hardly mattered. Cesar Nicolas' first inning drove home a run, giving him a RBI in six straight games. During that streak Nicolas has driven in a total of 12.
Right fielder Carlos Gonzales also continued to be a consistent producer. His first inning single also drove home a run, and he would score on Nicolas' double, giving him 14 runs scored in his last 12 games.
Yakima 2 @ Tri-City 6
Last time out right hander Chris Kemlo was tagged to the tune of five earned in just 2.1 innings, and though he lasted 5.2 on Monday the song remained the same as Kemlo allowed six earned on 11 hits and three walks, taking his second straight loss. Kemlo, who had been a reliever while pitching in the Yankees organization and is starting for the first time as a professional this season (he was a starter in college) may be hitting a little dead spot with his arm, as he's just passed the 50 inning mark for the first time as a pro.
Kemlo also got virtually no help from his offense, as only five Bears managed to reach base, on four singles and a walk. Left fielder Brandon Burgess extended his modest hitting streak to four game, but also struck out twice. Right fielder Leyson Septimo and catcher Josh Ford both singled and scored a run, shortstop Juan Olivares drove in a run with his single, and the only other baserunner came when center fielder Kevin Williams walked. Williams then stole a base for the third consecutive game, but the offense was stagnant, notching just the four singles, and striking out 12 times.
Missoula 5 @ Great Falls 6
Matt Green allowed seven hits and four earned runs in his four innings of work for the Osprey, but it was reliever Lorenzo Church who would take the loss after allowing two runs (one earned) in three innings of work.
The Osprey would notch five doubles in the game, two by left fielder Osvaldo Diaz, who also drove in a run, but they left nine men on base, including six in scoring position, and couldn't complete the come back. Catcher Jake Elder has been hot, his 2-4 day gave him a .400 average (8-20) with three runs scored, two doubles, and four RBI in his last five games.