The 2011 Minor League Baseball season kicked off on Thursday night, and the Colorado Rockies' affiliates combined for a 2-2 record on Opening Night.
If you are new to Purple Row this season, we have a daily Pebble Report to track how the possible future Rockies are doing. You'll find a link to each game's box score to catch up on what was not included in the report.
Colorado Springs (0-1), L 14-18
This was one of those games that makes you wonder if a humidor should be installed at Security Service Field. Colorado Springs' Opening Day pitcher became John Maine once Greg Reynolds received a call-up due to Ubaldo Jimenez's injury. It wasn't pretty for Maine. He made it through only three innings, allowing four runs in the second and third frames. He allowed solo home runs in both innings, and allowed an Anthony Rizzo RBI double and a sac fly in the third. He walked four batters as well. Maine threw 35 strikes in 75 pitches.
Jim Miller got singled to death in the fourth inning when he allowed three runs on five hits and two walks. However, things could have been worse had Charlie Blackmon not made a throw to home plate to assist Jordan Pacheco on the out. Bruce Billings held Tucson off the board in the fifth, but wound up with three runs allowed in the sixth inning. That's because Eric Stults relieved him with one out in the inning. A Bobby Kielty single scored the first inherited runner while a fielding flub by Eric Young Jr. allowed two runs to score. Stults would pick up two unearned runs, one on a walk and the other on force out. In total, Stults wound up allowing five runs.
Mat Daley pitched the only scoreless appearance with his two-thirds of an inning pitched. Sean White pitched the last two innings of the game and allowed three runs. The entire pitching corps in the game walked 11 batters.
The Sky Sox offense got to starter Wade LeBlanc as well, tagging him for nine runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Six of those nine runs scored on home runs: Jordan Pacheco's solo shot in the fourth, Charlie Blackmon's two-run blast in the fifth and Josh Fields's three-run homer in the same inning. The offense got to four of the five Tucson relievers used in the game. Cole Garner went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI.
Tulsa (1-0), W 3-2
Despite being out hit, 10-5, the Tulsa Drillers emerged with the 3-2 victory on the strength of Juan Nicasio's start and solid bullpen relief. Nicasio's only blemishes came in the fifth inning when he surrendered a leadoff home run to Federico Hernandez and then saw Wladimir Sutil hit a single to right fielder Bronson Sardinha, who picked up a fielding error, and saw the runner on second score. But other than that, Nicasio looked pretty good out there. He struck out seven in five innings, and according to David OhNo, was throwing gas out there, even if the stadium gun was being a bit generous.
Four other relievers appeared in the game. Casey Weathers pitched the eighth inning, struck out one, allowed two hits, and picked off a runner at first base. Adam Jorgenson picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth.
Modesto (1-0), W 8-0
Maybe it's just early season exuberance (yeah, it probably is), but starter Chad Bettis is showing why the Rockies want to keep him as a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter instead of as a reliever right now. Bettis didn't allow a hit through 4 2/3 innings, though he did walk three batters. He exited after the fifth inning, having faced three over the minimum and striking out five. He induced eight ground outs with no fly outs.
Alan Deratt, Chad Rose, and Coty Woods held Stockton to just three more hits over the final four innings of the game.
1B Mike Zuanich hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and finished 3-for-3 with two RBI on the night. The home run hit a metal sign that gave a lucky fan and Zuanich a split of $500. 3B Nolan Arenado doubled and had an RBI. SS Josh Rutledge picked up two hits and scored two runs.
Asheville (0-1), L 2-4
It wasn't the most auspicious of starts for the Asheville Tourists on Thursday night. Edwar Cabrera allowed four runs in the bottom of the first. He gave up a home run to the second batter of the inning and then put men on via a HBP, a single, and a walk. Without two out, he allowed a Jacob Skole three-run double, but then saw the third out come at third base when a Kyle Parker-Russell Wilson-Helder Velazquez relay sent Skole back to the dugout to end the inning.
Parker had a start that probably should have been expected, given his time off from baseball. He struck out looking, was hit by a pitch, struck out swinging, and finished things off with a ground out. He made a fielding error in the seventh inning. Fellow and former ACC competitor to Parker, Russell Wilson struck out in all four at-bats.
Catcher Bryce Massanari went 2-for-4 with a double and scored a run on a wild pitch in the second inning. Tyler Massey drove in Corey Dickerson in the sixth for the team's only RBI. Center fielder Rafael Ortega had a double and a walk, but was thrown out trying to steal second. The Tourists were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.