Do you think that Tucson misses Stephen Drew and Carlos Quentin? The Sidewinders had just rattled off a nine-game stretch in which they scored four or fewer runs in every game. They went 1-8 in those games. The club finally broke through with six runs in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader with Tacoma, and have now won two straight. Interestingly, each of the Sidewinders past three wins have gone to reliever Randy Choate. After those three wins in five days, Choate is 6-0 with a 2.21 ERA in Triple-A this year.
The Smokies have gone 18-7 over their past 25 games to vault into first place in their division. It has been a total team effort to help offset the loss of Micah Owings and Miguel Montero due to their promotions. But if there's been one standout on offense, it's 3B Jamie D'Antona, who has hit an unreal .462 during the month of August. On the pitching side, Matt Chico had not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts for the Smokies prior to his trade to the Nationals organization. That's 10 quality starts in 13 appearances.
The Jethawks had scored an unbelievable 70 runs in the seven games before Thursday's loss to Rancho Cucamonga. Oddly enough, the Cucamonga starter who stymied the Lancaster offense had brought a 5.77 ERA into the game. Nevertheless, the Jethawks now have seven players hitting .300 or better, eight players with double digits in homers, and lead the California League in virtually every offensive category. You can't attribute all of that to a hitter-friendly park.
South Bend Silverhawks
The Silverhawks have won eight of their last ten games, vaulting them to within 2.5 games of the division-leading Whitecaps. Converted reliever Vince Bongiovanni turned in two five-inning one-earned-run starts in that stretch. He did average a walk per inning over those two starts, however, and is still finding himself in his new role. Catcher Orlando Mercado has gotten several big hits for the Hawks, and has batted .333 with eight homers since the start of July.
The Bears take a 1-10 slide into the weekend. The one win came on a fantastic start by Cesar Valdez (6IP 2H 1 ER 7K 1BB). But the club may continue to struggle after 3rd round phenom Cyle Hankerd got promoted all the way to Hi-A Lancaster earlier in the week. Hankerd hit an unreal .384 for Yakima, and no other Bear is hitting over .271 right now. The team will have to lean heavily on eighteenth rounder Brad Miller, who leads the team in both homers and RBI by wide margins.
Osbek Castillo and Hector Ambriz combined for a team record-tying 17 strikeouts in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Great Falls. The 25-year old Castillo is showing that he may be too old for Rookie ball and the 5th rounder Ambriz may be due for a promotion as well; both pitchers sport a sub-2.00 ERA and fantastic peripheral numbers. Offensively, Ricardo Cruz clubbed his team-leading eight homer on Thursday, and Tyler Jones is hitting .355 for the month.
Read more from Keith Glab at BaseballEvolution.com