AAA Colorado Springs -W 6-0, (13-9, 2nd, 1.0 GB)
The 2012 Sky Sox pitching staff has already thrown three times as many shutouts as the 2011 squad did, and we're not even done with April yet. Tyler Chatwood (4.0 IP), Edgar Gonzalez (1.0 IP), Jared Wells (2.0 IP), Zach Simmons (1.0 IP), and Mike Ekstrom (1.0 IP) mowed right through the Fresno lineup and combined for nine shutout innings as well as an impressive 9 K / 1 BB ratio.
Offensively, the production was also spread around as Brendan Harris, Matt McBride, Andrew Brown, and # 20 PuRP Tommy Field each had two hit games; with both Harris and Field going deep in the third inning off Fresno starter Brian Burres. McBride's two hits give him six multi hit games in his last nine starts and he now leads the team in batting average (.383), OBP (.407), OPS (.975), extra base hits (10), and RBI (19). This may speak as much about disappointment of the rest of the Sky Sox offense as it does to McBride's success, but it also illustrates how the final piece to the Ubaldo Jimenez trade may have more value than most fans first thought.
AA Tulsa -W 5-1, (15-6, 1st)
Speaking of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, #18 PuRP Joe Gardner took the mound for Tulsa last night and twirled his finest start of the season yet, at least on paper anyway. Gardner's line of 6.0 IP, 5 H, 5K's, and 1 BB looks solid but he was also the beneficiary of four lineouts in this game. Another reason not to be too bullish about this outing is that only three of the 18 outs Gardner recorded came via groundouts, something that's supposed to be his bread and butter. He still got results though; now let's see if it's repeatable.
The Driller offense meanwhile scored in two innings. First, on # 26 PuRP Ben Paulsen's solo home run in the second inning that tied the game, and later on a four run rally in the 6th that would win the game. That frame also began with the bat of Paulsen, this time a with a double, and later blossomed after RBI hits from pinch hitter Kiel Roling and #9 PuRP Josh Rutledge. (#2 PuRP Nolan Arenado had a mostly uneventful night going 1-4 with a single but that hit does give him a seven game hitting streak. )
High-A Modesto - L 7-0, (9-13, 4th, 5.5 GB)
The Nuts four game winning streak is history as they reverted back to their old ways Friday night. Starter and #27 PuRP Josh Slaats struggled to find his command as he walked four and only struck out one on his way to the loss. Craig Bennigson, who came in to relieve Slaats wasn't much better as he gave up seven hits in just two innings while also allowing three runs.
The Modesto bats were kept quiet for the most part as not a single player had more than two total bases on the night. Both #15 PuRP Rafael Ortega and Juan Crousset did manage to record multi hit games though. The only other important thing that happened in this game was #19 PuRP Cory Dickerson notching another hit (meaning he's still hit safely in all but one game so far this season) but he also had two strikeouts giving him six of those in the last four games.
Low-A Asheville - W 7-3, (14-7, 2nd, 1.5 GB)
Ashville's offense continues to be productive almost anywhere you look. Take this game for example, every Tourist reached base at least once. The big blow came off the bat of Harold Riggins who launched a three run shot in the 7th giving Ashville a comfortable late inning lead. For Riggins, it's his third home run in his last seven games and it raises his OPS to a team leading 1.075.
On the mound, Alex Gillingham turned in his most effective start of the season going seven innings, recording seven strike outs, and only giving up two runs on his way to a win.