Stephen Drew Returns; Koley Kolberg Strong

Stephen Drew Returns; Koley Kolberg Strong

Andy Green starts and finishes with homers, but a Mike Koplove implosion dooms the Sidewinders, and Corey Myers adds pitcher to his list of positions; Enrique Gonzalez is stellar but it takes extras, and the return of Stephen Drew to finish in Tennessee; Matt Chico finally falls short in Lancaster; Koley Kolberg is getting borderline ridiculous in South Bend; Strikeouts and defense prove the undoing of the Yakima Bears.

Sacramento 16 @ Tucson 9

After making two appearances out of the bullpen, in order to get mandatory work in for rehabbing relievers, lefty Bill Murphy has returned to the starting rotation and had difficulty.  Though he pitched 6.0 and 6.2 innings in each of the two 'relief' outings, he lasted just 4.2 innings in his return to the rotation and Wednesday was even worse.  In just three innings Murphy allowed a season high seven earned runs on eight hits and five walks.  It was the third time this season Murphy had walked as many as five in one game, and once again highlighted Murphy's biggest weakness, his control.

Still the offense kept the Sidewinders in the game, and Murphy out of the loss column, but things eventually got so out of control that the last man Tucson manager Chip Hale called on out of the bullpen was catcher/first baseman/third baseman Corey Myers.  Prior to the position player Hale made the call to the pen five times with drastically different results.  Brandon Medders looked as if he'd stopped the bleeding, pitching a perfect fourth and striking out one, then Matt Herges came on for his longest appearance of the year, allowing just one run on three hits in three innings of work.  By the time Herges left the game the Sidewinders had fought back to tie the game, but when Javier Lopez checked in to start the eighth inning the wheels started coming off.  Lopez walked two of the first three batters he faced and then allowed a double to right center that would score two runs, and chase him from the game.  Kerry Ligtenberg would enter and retire the next two hitters to end the eighth, but in the ninth Mike Koplove came in and the game would spiral out of control.  Koplove retired the first hitter of the inning on a comebacker, but would then proceed to give up a walk and three straight singles.  He would strike out the next hitter but then walk two straight with the bases loaded before mercifully being lifted for Myers who allowed two hits before recording the final out.  All told Koplove would walk three, allow three hits and six earned runs.

Andy Green was a force as usual, acting as the designated hitter Green was 2-3 with two walks, and four runs scored.  Green hit two home runs, both solo shots as he led off the first and ninth inning.  His 117 runs leads all of the minor leagues by a full 20 runs scored.  Third baseman Brian Barden had his second straight three hit night, going 3-4 with two doubles, two RBI and a runs scored, and Josh Kroeger, getting the start in right, contributed two RBI as well, going 2-4 with a run scored.

Tennessee 4 @ Montgomery 3 in 11 innings

Enrique Gonzalez had yet another strong outing, but earned the no decision, as the Smokies bullpen couldn't hold, and their bats didn't come alive until late.  Gonzalez went 6.2 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs, only one earned, while striking out a season high nine.  It was the sixth straight start where Gonzalez has gone at least 5.2 innings and allowed three runs or less, and the fourth start in his last five where he struck out seven or more.  The bullpen came on to provide stellar work for most of the rest of the night.  Lefty Doug Slaten came on to get the last out of the seventh inning for Gonzalez, finally doing it via the strikeout after walking two, but running his streak to 17 out of his last 18 scoreless appearances.  Mike Schultz and Bill White combined for a perfect eighth inning, and the Smokies turned the ball over to closer Casey Daigle with a one run lead in the ninth.  A lead off single and subsequent sacrifice put the tying run in scoring position, but Daigle got the second out of the inning on a strikeout before Jason Pride came up and tripled home the tying run.  Daigle would get the next hitter looking, and go on to pitch two more perfect innings, eventually earning the win after blowing his fourth save of the season. 

Third baseman Adam Haley ran hit hitting streak to nine game with a 2-4 day, and Chris Carter, starting as the DH, was 3-4 with a two run homer, but all eyes were on the young shortstop, Stephen Drew, in his first game back from injury.  Drew was making his first appearance in more than a week after tweaking his quad legging out a double in the first inning of a game August 9th.  The line in his return was an uninspiring 0-4, but as usual Drew would have a huge impact. 

Drew led off the top of the 11th inning, drawing a walk.  After a fly out Carter singled, and Drew showed the quad was back at full strength, going first to third easily.  Catcher Miguel Montero, who was 0-5 on the day, then hit a slow bouncer to shortstop, and digging hard, beat the relay throw to avoid the double play.  Drew scored what would end up being the game winning run.

Lake Elsinore 9 @ Lancaster 8

Coming into Wednesday night it appeared Matt Chico was unstoppable.  The lefty had won his last five starts, allowing just five runs total, and seemed at the top of his game.  Though Chico took a no decision Wednesday, and didn't appear to have his 'A' game one scout in attendance said this might have been as good a start as he's seen Chico make.

"He didn't have perfect location with the fastball, and the curve wasn't snapping the way is usually is, but he battled.  One of the problems he had in Tennessee was that if he didn't have the good stuff he just seemed to give up, here he was battling."

Chico allowed four runs on seven hits, two home runs, in five innings pitched, striking out seven.  It was the fourth time in six starts Chico had struck out at lest seven opponents.  Kyle Bono came on after Chico and after starting strong he struggled as well.  Bono coasted through a 1-2-3 sixth inning, and appeared to have the first out of the seventh on a routine ground ball to Kenny Perez, but Perez booted it, and Bono, and the JetHawks squad, seemed to lose concentration.  Bono threw a wild pitch, then gave up a RBI single.  Phil Avlas then threw the ball into center field when Juan Ciriaco stole second, allowing another run to score and sending Ciriaco to third.  Bono then walked another hitter, threw another wild pitch allowing another run to score.  Bono would get the next hitter to ground out, and then be pulled in favor of Micah Owings

In Owings last outing he tasted his first real adversity, allowing four hits and two earned runs for the first time since being drafted by the Diamondbacks this season.  Wednesday things didn't get much better.  He gave up a single to the first hitter he faced, then got the last two outs of the seventh, but in the eighth inning he gave up hits to three of the four hitters he would face, scoring two runs, before giving way to Reuben Kerbs.  Kerbs retired the only hitter he faced, before Dustin Glant came in to get the final out of the eighth, and then pitch a scoreless ninth.

The damage was done though, as the Elsinore bullpen was solid.  The JetHawks bats were hot early, scoring two in the first after Steve Garrabrants and Jeff Cook both doubled, and three in the fourth as Avlas and Danny Richar both had doubles.  Three different JetHawks had two hits (Garrabrants, Cook, and Avlas) and the JetHawks took advantage of both Lake Elsinore errors, one in the fourth and another on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth that would lead to two more JetHawk runs.  After the sixth though the JetHawks would manage only two baserunners, on a walk in the eighth and a solo homer off the bat of Cook in the ninth.  Cook's homer (his 17th), would pull Lancaster within one, but that would be as close as they would get.

Peoria 2 @ South Bend 4

Koley Kolberg has got to be wondering what he needs to do to earn a win.  For the second straight start Kolberg would allow only one earned run but receive a no decision.  Wednesday Kolberg would allow seven hits and strike seven out in his seven innings, but an unearned run, and quiet bats from his South Bend squad, would leave Kolberg without a win.  Both runs would score in the first, after an error allowed the Peoria lead off man to reach base ahead of Ryan Harvey, who would crush a homer to left field, and give Peoria a 2-0 lead that would last five innings. 

In the sixth two consecutive singles, plus a throwing error, would put two runners in scoring position with nobody out, and another single and then a sacrifice fly would bring them home to tie the game.  With Augie Murillo (1-4 with an RBI) on second DH Orlando Mercado (2-3 with a walk and a RBI) would single to left, and Murillo would be sent but Peoria left fielder Drew Larsen would throw Murillo out at the plate to keep the game tied. 

That's the way it would stay until the eighth inning.  A lead off walk to Emilio Bonifacio (1-3 with two runs scored), followed by a sacrifice bunt from Wilkin Castillo (1-2 with a walk and a run scored), would put the lead run in scoring position.  After Murillo struck out swinging Peoria elected to intentionally walk right fielder Carlos Gonzales (0-3), but unfortunately that was followed by an unintentional walk to Cesar Nichols to load the bases and then a very unintentional walk to Mercado that would plate the lead run.  Pitcher Jerry Blevins, clearly rattled, would then throw one to the backstop, allowing an insurance run to score. 

With a two run cushion closer Matt Elliott notched his 31st save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included a strikeout.  Elliott has struck out at least one hitter in eight of his last nine appearances.

Yakima 3 @ Everett 5

Lefty Ryan Schreppel took the hill for the Bears but it appeared the defense decided not to take the field behind him, as the Bears committed three errors, leading to three unearned runs, and Schreppel suffered his second loss of the season.  Schreppel allowed seven hits, and five runs, though only two were earned, while walking one and striking out a season high five.  Despite 2.1 innings of scoreless relief from Craig Pfautz and Jason Urquidez the Yakima bats were stymied.

The Bears struck out 15 times as a team, with DH Manny Del Campo K-ing on all four of his at bats, and only one Yakima hitter, shortstop Juan Olivares, managed more than one hit on the day.  Olivares 3-4 day continued a mini hot streak he's been on, putting him on an 8-17 tear over his last four games, but he scored only one run, as the rest of the Bears managed only four hits combined.  Two of those, one each off the bats of right fielder Jaen Centeno and third baseman Lester Contreras left the yard, but those dingers accounted for all three runs the Bears would score.

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