AAA Colorado Springs: L 12-9
The Sky Sox got busy early against major league veteran Jeff Suppan, who started the game for the Omaha Stormchasers, scoring eight runs off of him (seven earned) in the first three innings, including four in just the first inning. After that, the offense production was relegated solely to second baseman Brad Emaus, and it wouldn't be enough to sustain the second game in the last five with no starting pitcher for the Sky Sox.
Center fielder Eric Young Jr. and left fielder Willy Taveras each had three hits on the night, as did the aforementioned Emaus, whose two solo home runs in the fifth and seventh innings were the only runs the Sky Sox scored after Suppan left the game. Right fielder Charlie Blackmon and first baseman Mike Jacobs each had two hit games, and designated hitter Eliezer Alfonzo, who has been on fire since being promoted from Extended Spring Training last week, hit his third home run of the season. Only catcher Jordan Pacheco did not get a hit (though he walked once).
The Sky Sox' starting pitcher was Andy Graham, who has been the spot-starter extraordinaire since being activated from the disabled list. For the second time in the past week, Graham, generally a relief pitcher, has filled in the hole fifth starter spot created with Billy Buckner and John Maine both on the disabled list. He did better this time, eating one third of the game while giving up only one earned run on three hits and three walks.
The Sky Sox are still carrying nine relief pitchers on their roster, one of the things that makes these 9 inning all-bullpen games a bit less difficult on the team. Jesus Colome, Bruce Billings, Eric Stults, Matt Daley, Rex Brothers and Jim Miller all threw in the game, though only Brothers would not allow a run in his 1 and a third innings. Miller and Stults (who was credited with his second blown save of the season for pitching when the Stormchasers took the lead) gave up one run each, Colome gave up two, but it was 40 Man Roster players Billings and Daley who had the worst outings, giving up four and three runs respectively. Daley was stuck with the loss, his first decision of the season. The Stormchasers did this damage on 19 hits with no home runs.
A note: Ian Stewart has finally arrived with the Sky Sox, and should be activated soon, probably tomorrow.
AA Tulsa: L 5-4
The Drillers were hit with a heartbreaking loss to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Despite home runs from three different prospects (Wilin Rosario's 6th, Ben Paulsen's 4th and the always productive Tim Wheeler's 12th), the bullpen couldn't hold the game down in the end. Paulsen's and Wheeler's solo shots gave the Drillers the lead in the eighth inning after reliever Daniel Turpen had surrendered a go-ahead run in the top of the inning. Closer Adam Jorgenson gave the lead back to the Naturals on a two run double, and with the Drillers failing to retaliate at the bottom of the inning, was struck with his first blown save and first loss of the season.
Starter Rob Scahill pitched well allowing just two earned runs over seven innings pitched. Left fielder Michael Mitchell had a two hit game, as did Wheeler, who had a RBI triple in addition to his home run. Wheeler now has 12 home runs and 35 RBI, and is amongst the organizational leaders in OPS, making his case to be in your top tier of PuRPs votes this season.
For the Nuts and Tourists, click the jump.
A+ Modesto: L 7-4
Another Tyler Matzek start, another scary line. He gave up six earned runs to the Bakersfield Blaze in four and a third innings pitched. As usual, walk and strikeout numbers were on the high side with five apiece. Watching Matzek pitch right now must be... an experience. Effectively wild, to dramatically ineffectively wild, back again and so forth. If there were ever a definition of a work in progresss... The game represents Matzek's third loss on the season. He has no wins. Breakout long reliever Leuris Gomez allowed a solo home run to deepen the deficit in his two and two thirds innings of relief, but was generally effective, as was Mike Marbry behind him.
The offense was led, as I have typed in many a Pebble Report this year, by designated hitter Mike Zuanich, the only Nut with more than one hit, an extra base hit, and any RBI (he had three). A few other players, including prospects Delta Cleary Jr. and Josh Rutledge, scattered singles. Another high night in strikeouts for a Rockies minor league team with 11 Ks.
A Asheville: Game One L 2-1
Starter Josh Mueller pitched very well with just four hits and a walk over five innings pitched, but an unearned run in the fifth inning who reached base on a throwing error from third baseman Helder Velazquez (his seventh error on the season) would prove to be the difference maker. Mueller would be left with his second loss of the season. The Tourists lineup struck out ten times during the double header shortened seven inning game, and only gathered three hits, singles from center fielder Rafael Ortega, catcher Bryce Massanari and first baseman Mark Tracy, though left fielder Corey Dickerson did walk twice. Ortega and right fielder Chandler Laurent also each worked a walk. Kyle Parker's slump continued as he went 0-3 with 2 strikeouts.
The second game saw more hits but fewer runs between the Tourists and Lexington Legends. The Tourists lineup was again bitten by the strikeout bug, twelve this time, but smooth pitching from starter Edwar Cabrera (despite six hits and six walks given up over six innings) and Bruce Kern (who secured his third save of the season with a clean seventh inning) allowed the one Tourists run to be enough for the win. All thirteen hits between both teams in this game were singles, and the only Tourists batter with more than one was shortstop Joey Wong, who batted in the only run of the game, Russell Wilson, who had singled earlier in the seventh inning. Wong was also the only Tourists batter with no strikeouts during the game. Velazquez, now at first base, made yet another error to bring the tally to eight, but this time it was inconsequential.