Portland 4 @ Tucson 7
In what very well might be a preview of the 2007 pennant race, Edgar Gonzalez
defeated Tim Stauffer. Both Gonzalez and Stauffer have spent time at the
big league level this year, and both are candidates to be brought up as rosters
expand today, but Gonzalez looked much closer to Major League ready on
Wednesday. Gonzalez, who moved to 3-1 with an ERA of 3.00 in the month of
August, went 7.1 innings, scattering 11 hits and allowing just three earned
runs. Gonzalez was cruising up until the eighth inning, when the Portland
bats finally started to figure him out.
After getting the first out of the inning, Portland strung together three
straight hits, scoring one and leaving another in scoring position. Chip
Hale had seen enough, and handed the ball to recently demoted reliever Greg Aquino. Aquino allowed a single to the first hitter he faced, allowing
another run to score, and then two batters later an error on shortstop Sergio Santos allowed the second of his inherited runners to cross the plate. He
would get the next hitter to end the inning, and allow a single in the ninth,
but finish strong and get Gonzalez the victory.
The win was Gonzalez's fifth in his last six decisions with Tucson, and it
was the third time in his last five starts he had gone at least seven innings.
It was Aquino's third appearance since being set down, and the first time he
allowed a hit, he has not been charged with an earned run.
The bats were hot, in particular those of three players making their case for
a 40 man roster callup. Second baseman Andy Green was 2-5 with a run
scored, right fielder Josh Kroeger had two hits for the third straight game,
scoring twice and driving in one, and as usual the center piece of the offense
was Carlos Quentin. Once again playing center field Quentin was 3-5 on the
day, with a double, a RBI and two runs scored. Of late it seems the tide
has turned against Quentin getting a call up, since he is not already on the 40
man roster and the thus the Diamondbacks may not want to 'waste' a trip to the
bigs on a September call, but after hitting .333 with 12 extra base hits in
August, his numbers, and the potential benefit he might have on a big league
club in a pennant race, are becoming hard to ignore.
Huntsville 5 @ Tennessee 4 in Seven Innings
The Southern League is just one of the many organizations decimated by
Hurricane Katrina, with both Mobile and Mississippi likely playing the rest of
their season on the road. Tennessee's game Tuesday was cancelled due to
the inclement weather, but today under sunny skies the two clubs played a double
header, with the Huntsville taking the opener.
Adam Bass started for the Smokies, having won his last three decisions, but
he wasn't sharp, allowing eight hits and five earned runs in six innings, and
taking the loss. Anthony Gwynn got things started right away for
Huntsville, hitting a solo home run to lead off the game. That set the
tone, and a second solo shot in the next inning would continue to put the
pressure on Bass, but it would be a series of singles that would do the damage
in the third. After getting Gwynn on strikes to start the inning,
Huntsville would get two straight singles, followed by a walk and another
single, plating one run. After getting his second strikeout of the inning
Bass appeared on the verge of getting out of the inning allowing only one run
but Jeff Winchester would follow with a two out, two RBI single that would give
Huntsville a 5-2 lead.
Since minor league double headers are seven inning games, getting an early
lead is key, and it put the pressure on the Smokies' bats. After
spotting Huntsville to a 2-0 lead the Smokies were able to tie the game in the
second on Stephen Drew's third Double-A homer of the season. Drew, who's
batting average had briefly fallen below the Mendoza Line, has come back and
started showing signs of life. Though the average is still just .205,
after Game One of the double header he had hit in four of his last six,
including two homers in his last four games.
Like Drew, Dan Uggla will be heading to the Arizona Fall League, and he tried
to help the Smokies answer back in the bottom of the third. Uggla hit his
21st homer of the year in that frame, a solo shot that brought the Smokies back
to within two. The bats would be silence until the bottom of the seventh,
when Marland Williams led the inning off with a double, and came home on a pinch
hit single by Jarred Ball. Ball would move to second on a Adam Haley
ground out, but with the tying run in scoring position Uggla would hit a lazy
fly ball to Gwynn in center, ending the game.
Huntsville 0 @ Tennessee 3
After the Smokies dropped game one it appeared lefty Clint Goocher took it
personally. Goocher allowed just three hits and a walk in 6.1 innings,
blanking Huntsville breaking a personal six game losing streak. It was the
first time in Goocher's last 11 starts that he had gone as many as six innings,
and he was impressive doing it. Only once did Huntsville truly threaten to
score. In the third inning with one out Goocher allowed a single, and then
after getting the second out of the inning Nelson Castro doubled, but when the
runner at first tried to score he was gunned down on a perfect throw by center
fielder Marland Williams.
In the seventh Casey Daigle came on with one out and nobody on base to record
the final two outs of the inning.
This time it was the Smokies turn to strike first, as Jarred Ball led off
with a walk, stole second, and then third, and scored on a Chris Carter ground
out, putting Tennessee up one. In the sixth inning the Smokies would add
two insurance runs. Goocher led off the inning with a double, his fourth
of the year, followed by a Ball walk. Adam Haley attempted to sacrifice
both men over, but Goocher was thrown out at third. Dan Uggla was next,
and loaded the bases on a catcher's interference call. Once again it was
Carter who came through with a sacrifice fly to left to score Ball, and then
Stephen Drew singled up the middle to score Uggla.
For Carter, it was a classic example of producing for the team, rather than
for his own numbers. Though he was officially 0-2 on the day, he grabbed
two RBI, and never wasted an at bat. For Ball meanwhile, his day was also
just as the Smokies would script it. Though officially he was 0-1, he
walked twice, stole two bases and scored two runs, almost exactly what you would
ask of a lead off hitter.
Inland Empire 10 @ Lancaster 2
Jon Castellanos struggled, and the defense struggled behind him, as Lancaster
fell to the 66ers. Castellanos failed to pitch at least five innings for
the first time since June 11th, allowing six runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings.
Only four of those runs would be earned though, as a third inning error on
center fielder Steve Garrabrants would allow two unearned runs to cross the
plate. Castellanos' record fell to an impressive 9-3, but home runs remain
a problem for the right hander. Wladimir Balentien hit a sixth inning,
three run shot that put the game away for Inland Empire, and was the 24th homer
Castellanos has allowed in just over 155 innings this season.
Reliever Alexander Cremidan continued to struggle, allowing three earned runs
in his 1.2 innings, the third time in his last seven outings he's allowed at
least three earned.
The offense struggled to get the 'big hit' all day, as they were blanked for
the first eight innings. Shortstop Danny Richar finally broke through in
the bottom of the ninth inning, stroking a lead off home run, his 18th on the
year and 8th in the month of August. The JetHawks would add another later
in the inning first baseman Edgar Varela (2-4) slapped his second double of the
day to center, and came home when right fielder Jay Garthwaite singled for his
only hit Wednesday. Just making contact was a challenge for the JetHawks,
as the team combined to strikeout 14 times on the afternoon.
Still, it was a day of celebration, as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes loss
clinched a playoff birth for Lancaster. The JetHawks are now guaranteed at
least a wild card spot, though with a weekend series approaching against the
High Desert Mavericks, who lead the JetHawks by 3.5 games in the South Division,
they could still advance as the division winner.
South Bend 8 @ West Michigan 4
Steven Jackson continues to ride a winning steak, running it to four straight
decisions, as the Silverhawks topped the Whitecaps Wednesday. Jackson
allowed four hits and three walks in five innings, giving up just two earned
runs. The bullpen then came on and pitched well enough to hold the victory
for Jackson. Ryan Coffin was first up, pitching one scoreless inning
despite a walk and a hit, then came lefty Todd Stein, who allowed two hits and a
run before being lifted after getting just one out in favor of Josh Perrault.
Perrault worked 1.2 innings, also allowing one run, before turning the game over
to lefty Hipolito Guerrero, who finished the game out with a scoreless ninth
It was the bats that would carry the Silverhawks this night. Every
position player got at least one hit, with the bottom of the order producing
well. Center fielder Brandon Simon collected his first four hit game of
the season with the Silverhawks out of the number nine spot in the order, but
six, seven, and eight did the major damage. Just a day after having his 13
game hit streak snapped, catcher Wilkin Castillo was 3-4 with a walk, a solo
homer, and three runs scored, while DH Orlando Mercado had a pair of double, and
a pair of RBI in his five trips to the plate. Shortstop Mark Reynolds had
only one hit in his five trips to the plate, but it was a big one. His
third inning double plated two runs and gave him hits in eight of his last nine
Spokane 3 @ Yakima 1
Starter Adam Howard had his shortest outing since joining the Bears, lasting
only two innings, and despite solid work from the Yakima bullpen, the bats never
came alive as the Bears dropped one to Spokane Wednesday. After Howard
left the game Kyler Newby came on and was brilliant, allowing two hits, a walk
and no runs in his three innings while striking out four. The stint
lowered Newby's ERA to a sparkling 2.46 and his opponent's batting average to a
miniscule .186. Next out of the pen was lefty Craig Pfautz, who took the
loss for the second time in his last three appearances. Pfautz allowed two
hits, a walk and two earned runs in his 1.2 innings pitched, and is now 0-4 in
August. Matt Fowles came on after Pfautz and struggled, allowing his one
inherited runner to score (it was charged to Pfautz) and giving up three hits
and three walks, but pitching around them to get through his 1.1 innings
unscathed. Jason Urquidez came on to finish things out with a scoreless,
but exciting ninth inning that featured a strikeout/wild pitch and an error on
Urquidez that put two men on, though neither would score.
The offense just couldn't get going for the Bears, as only center fielder
Leyson Septimo managed more than one hit, going 3-4 and scoring the lone Yakima
run in the fifth when left fielder Juan Olivares tripled him home. Jo Jo Batten, who is in just his fourth game with the Bears after spending two months
in Rookie League Missoula, was 1-4 with a double, but made a crucial error that
allowed a run to score.
Missoula 4 @ Billings 5
It was a tough day for starter Anthony Cupps, who lasted four innings and
gave up three runs, taking the loss, but a positive one for pitcher Jason Neighborgall. After Cupps checked out Neighborgall, who has allowed 12
earned runs in his last 3.1 innings pitched (four appearances), pitched two
scoreless frames, and while he did walk three of the 10 hitters he faced, he
struck out three as well. The third round pick out of Georgia Tech has now
walked 40 batters in 19.1 innings this season.
Center fielder Travis Tully continued his good work out of the lead off spot,
going 3-5 with a run scored, he's now hit in 16 of his last 17 games. He
would be the only member of the Osprey to collect more than one hit on the day,
with the big blast coming off the bat of right fielder Will Crouch, who's eighth
inning two run home run brought the Osprey back to within one run, but they
would get no closer.