Nippert and Chico Stellar; Ciriaco Streaks to 12

Matt Chico has been untouchable in LNC

Mike Gosling and Carlos Quentin fuel a win in Tucson; Dustin Nippert cruises through six shutout innings, and Chris Carter goes yard again in Tennessee; Matt Chico is loving the California lifestyle in Lancaster; Ryan Schreppel puts together his best outing yet, and Michael Biguenet scores early and often in Yakima; Jason Neighborgall's strugges continue, despite a Juan Ciriaco granny, in Missoula.

Tucson 10 @ Colorado Springs 3

Michael Gosling gave up two first inning runs but then settled down to throw a solid game, going 6.1 innings, scattering 10 hits and walking only one, while giving up just one more earned run after the first frame.  It was his longest outing since returning to Tucson from the Diamondbacks, his six strikeouts were also a high since his return, and the win was his first since coming back to Triple-A. 

Mike Koplove didn't allow an earned run after coming on in the seventh to replace Gosling, but he did allow one of the two inherited runners to score after giving up a single to the first hitter he faced, something Koplove is specifically working to avoid in his time in Tucson.  After Koplove, Javier Lopez and Randy Choate both worked scoreless frames.

Top to bottom the Sidewinders lineup was producing Tuesday.  Andy Green reached base twice and scored a run, Keoni DeRenne, getting a rare start at shortstop, extended his hitting streak to five games by going 2-5, Josh Kroeger scored three runs during his 3-4 day, and Jesus Cota had his best day since being promoted to Triple-A, going 3-5 with a double, a run scored and two RBI. 

The Sidewinders used a pair of four run innings to power their way to victory, and center fielder Carlos Quentin was neck deep in both of them.  In the third inning Quentin doubled after back to back singles by DeRenne and Kroeger opened the inning, plating both, and in the eighth Quentin laced a triple to left that once again brought home DeRenne and Kroeger.  It was the second time this season Quentin had four RBI in a game, though he's also had a five, and a six, RBI game this year.

Third baseman Brian Barden also continued his torrid pace, going 2-4 with his 13th home run of the year and his 77th and 78th RBI.  Barden has hit in six of his last seven, and during that span has gone 13-32 with two homers, four doubles, seven runs scored and eight RBI.

Tennessee 15 @ Birmingham 5

When your offense puts up 13 runs in the first four innings, it stands to reason that as a starting pitcher you tend to relax, so it was no surprise that Dustin Nippert cruised through his six inning stint Tuesday, allowing just four hits and zero earned runs in route to his eighth win of the season.  Rumors have started flying about Nippert being one of the lucky few who makes the jump from Double-A to the bigs when rosters expand September 1st, and right now it would be hard to make a case against him.  In Nippert's last five starts he's 3-0, and in 35.1 innings he's allowed just 23 hits, walked nine while striking out 24 and given up just three earned runs.  That's more than seven innings a start, with an ERA of 0.76.

Right hander Justin Wechsler struggled again, allowing three hits, two walks, and four earned runs in his lone inning of work.  It's been a tough year for Wechsler, one of the Diamondbacks more highly thought of relief prospects coming into the season.  Tuesday was the fifth time this season he's allowed four earned runs or more in an outing, and it's led to a 6.70 ERA this year.

All but one of the Smokies starting lineup had a hit Tuesday, and seven of the nine had at least two as the bats were hot in Tennessee.  Shortstop Stephen Drew got himself back on track with a 2-5 day that included a double and two RBI, but he was caught stealing for the third time in five attempts since moving to Double-A.  Jarred Ball broke out of a mini 1-18 slump coming in with a 2-5 day that included a RBI and a run scored, and the meat of the order was at top form.  Second baseman Dan Uggla scored three times and had a homer, and DH Chris Carter did the same.  First baseman Jaime D'Antona was 3-5 with three RBI, and catcher Matt Morgan had a career day, going 3-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and four RBI.  In his last four games Morgan has turned it on, going 7-15 with four doubles, three runs scored and eight RBI.

Lancaster 10 @ Bakersfield 1

Pitchers hate the California League, or at least they are supposed to.  The gusting winds and high, dry, desert air typically make pitchers crazy, as they watch lazy fly balls clear the fences. 

Try telling that to Matt Chico.  Since being moved back down to Hi-A Lancaster at the beginning of June Chico has reestablished himself as a lefty prospect to watch, and Tuesday simply made that even more clear.  Chico was nearly flawless in his seven innings of work, allowing four hits and striking out eight without walking a batter.  He started by retiring the first 11 hitters he faced, and then in the fifth inning, when he finally ran into trouble, Chico bore down.  Back to back singles opened the inning, and then an error on third baseman Jay Garthwaite loaded the bases with nobody out.  Chico reached back to strikeout the next hitter, then got a fly ball to center that wasn't long enough to get the runner home, and finally a weak ground out to third to end the inning.  It would be the closest the Blaze would get to scoring on Chico, who has now gone seven innings in four of his last seven starts.

Of course, it's always easier to pitch with the lead, and the JetHawks gave Chico one right away when left fielder Alex Frazier doubled home shortstop Kenny Perez in the top of the first.  In the second Lancaster would add two more on a Danny Richar two run homer, his 15th of the year, fifth this month, and third in the last five games.  In the third the JetHawks would strike again, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman then getting a two out double from first baseman Javier Brito

The JetHawk bats would be silenced until the seventh inning when center fielder Steve Garrabrants (2-5, two runs) would lead off with a single, followed by a Perez (2-4, BB, three runs) single, then right fielder Jeff Cook would double to score Garrabrants, followed by a Frazier three run homer to put the game out of reach. 

Catcher Phil Avlas had himself a day, going 3-5 with three doubles and a run scored.  During his current five game streak Avlas has been on fire, going 10-19 with six doubles, a triple, four RBI and eight runs scored.

South Bend was off Tuesday

Eugene 1 @ Yakima 5

The stellar pitching continued Tuesday in Yakima, as left hander Ryan Schreppel had his best game this season.  Schreppel worked 6.2 innings, walking three and allowing just two hits and one run, unearned, as he evened his record at 2-2 on the season.  Schreppel also set a new high water mark for himself in strikeouts, K-ing nine on the day.  The bullpen stepped up nicely in relief of Schreppel, as Enmanuel Duran and Greg Thompson both worked scoreless stints.

The old adage is 'the bottom rolls the top,' meaning the bottom of the order gets on, letting the top of the order roll them home, and that was taken to heart by the Bears #9 hitter Tuesday, catcher Michael Biguenet.  Biguenet was 2-3 with a walk on the day, and put himself in position to be brought home, which the top of the order did gladly, scoring him all three times he reached base.  In the third inning Biguenet led off with a single and was driven home on a single by first baseman Trey Hendricks (1-4).  In the next inning Biguenet walked and scored on a single by center fielder Leyson Septimo (3-4, two RBI), and after Biguenet's sixth inning single it was the shortstop, Juan Olivares who would use his only hit of the day, a triple, to bring Biguenet around. 

Missoula 6 @ Idaho Falls 14

There will be work to do for Diamondbacks third round draft pick Jason Neighborgall this fall.  For the second straight outing Neighborgall couldn't find the plate, and he never officially recorded an out in Tuesday's start, though there were official stats for his start.  Neighborgall walked the first four men he faced, then a Ricardo Cruz error allowed another run to score, and after two more bases loaded walks Neighborgall was mercifully lifted, with a final line that read, seven hitters faced, six walks, five runs, three earned.

The bullpen came on, and though Lorenzo Church was able to get the next hitter to ground into a double play, and record the third out of the first inning on the next hitter, he too would run into trouble.  Church allowed three hits, three walks, and five earned runs in his 3.1 innings pitched, and the next man out of the pen, right hander Peter Duda, would also find the plate smaller than usual, walking three and allowing five hits and four runs, only two earned, in his 3.1 innings.  Only right hander Vince Evans would come out unscathed, allowing just one hit and no runs in his 1.1 innings.

The Osprey bats were never able to recover from the early deficit.  Only shortstop Pedro Ciriaco would shine, going 2-4 extending his hitting streak to 12 games with a single and an eighth inning grand slam that followed three walks to load the bases.  It was Ciriaco's first professional grand slam, and his second home run of the season. 

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