This photo is just two months old and yet there's already multiple players in it who are no longer on the Drillers - Such is the ever changing landscape of the minor leagues.
Rockies affiliates saw all of these things happen on Friday.
AAA Colorado Springs – W 7-3, (64-56, 2nd, 7.0 GB)
There’s an old adage which states that batters who walk to first often come running home; and boy did the Round Rock Express pitching staff learn that the hard way last night. #9 PuRP Tim Wheeler, the first Sky Sox batter of the game, walked to open the action. #15 PuRP Charlie Blackmon, who was on base three times in this one, got the scoring started later in the inning with an RBI triple. (Blackmon would also score on a sac fly) The next multi run frame came in the fourth when Brandon Wood singled home a pair for one of his three hits on the day, but it was the first hit of the inning for Colorado Springs as both Charlie Culberson and Hernan Iribarren earned free passes to start the inning. In the 7th, the Sky Sox would once again score two runs as Andrew Brown belted his team leading 23rd home run of the season (nobody else has more than 10), and once again, this inning began with a walk.
Meanwhile, Sky Sox starter Cory Riordan didn’t walked anyone as he cruised through 6.2 innings while only allowing one run. It’s the second straight solid outing for Riordan who now has a 21 to 3 K/BB ratio since being called up from AA Tulsa in mid July.
AA Tulsa – W 4-3, (20-27 (Second Half), 3rd, 11.5 GB)
#22 PuRP Joe Gardner posted a line very similar to Riordan’s. 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 K’s, and 0 BB. It’s only Gardner’s second start since being put back in the rotation but it still marks the continuation of a hot streak the sinkerballer has been on. He has not walked a single batter in his last 19.1 innings of work, and has a 1.42 ERA in the 25.1 innings he’s pitched since the disaster on July 9th when he gave up nine runs in two awful innings.
The Drillers offense got off to a fast start in this one plating three runs in the first two innings before cooling off and needing an 8th inning rally to break a 3-3 tie. #14 PuRP Corey Dickerson recorded a pair of hits, Jimmy Cesario went 2-4 including a big double to lead off the 8th, and #26 PuRP Ben Paulsen was credited with all the Tulsa RBIs in the game.
High-A Modesto – W 8-5, (26-21 (Second Half), T-1st)
Just like Riordan and Gardner, Modesto starter Josh Mueller was making his second start since being inserted into his respective rotation, and just like Riordan and Gardner he helped lead his team to a win. Mueller went 5.0 innings allowing just one earned run (a solo home run in the 5th) and lowered his ERA to 4.44.
On the other side of the ball, several Nuts had good nights. Delta Cleary Jr. led the team in RBIs and started the scoring with a solo shot in the first while both Juan Crousset and Brett Tanos also recorded multi hit games. #10 PuRP Kyle Parker went 1-4 on the night and posted his fifth straight game without drawing a walk. It’s the most games Parker has gone without earning a free pass since late May.
The Tourists had to play a doubleheader Friday against the Hickory Crawdads and the teams didn’t take long to get the first matchup out of the way as they completed the first game in just one hour and 41 minutes. While it is standard practice to only play seven innings per game in minor league double headers, this one still breezed right along. One of the big reasons for this was the lack of walks, as in none. Both staffs didn’t issue a free pass all game and neither team was able to record more than five hits. At the same time, no player on either side had a multi hit game. Tourists starter Vianney Mayo was good (5.2 IP with just 2 ER), but Hickory’s starter Andrew Faulkner was better (5.2 IP with 0 ER).
In the second game, the Tourists turned the tables as #7 PuRP Tyler Anderson continued his strong second half. After not striking out more than six hitters in any start all season through July, Anderson has now fanned at least that many in each of his last two. His six innings of one run baseball also extended his streak of games in which he’s allowed two runs or less in at least five innings of work to eight games. In those starts, Anderson has now thrown 49.1 innings while posting a sparkling 1.45 ERA.
The offense also had some positives in this game. #3 PuRP Trevor Story had a double and a walk to move his OPS to .848 on the season while Jordan Ribera went 2-3 including an RBI double in the 2nd, and a solo home run in the 6th. Ribera now has a nine game hitting streak, a 1.193 OPS in the month of August, and three homers in the last six games.
Tri-City – L 10-4, (8-9, (Second Half) T-2nd, 4.0 GB)
This matchup on paper looked like a loss for the Tri-City going in as they were facing Blue Jays prospect Taylor Cole who had given up just one earned run in 35 innings of work this season coming into the game. It did indeed end up being a loss, but they way the Dust Devils got there was quite unexpected. Tri-City actually led this game at the end of four innings as they grabbed three runs in the first off Cole with RBI singles from both Tom Murphy and Francisco Sosa (who has now had two hits in five of his last eight games) and a sac fly from Matt Argyropoulos. The game came off the tracks for Tri-City in the 5th though as a (#12 PuRP) Rosell Herrera error and a minor meltdown by starter T.J. Oakes allowed six of the first seven batters to reach in the inning. The Canadians would go on to score five in the frame and the Dust Devils never recovered. (One other odd note about this one: Starter T.J. Oakes faced 24 hitters and didn’t walk of strikeout any of them. Every ball off him was put in play).
Grand Junction – SUSPENDED, (4-8, (Second Half) 4th, 4.5 GB)
The Grand Junction Rockies and Ogden Raptors started a game Friday night but didn’t get very far. Matt Wessinger and David Dahl were retired to lead things off but Ashley Graeter and Jeff Popick both singled with two down in the inning. That’s when the skies opened up and rain shutdown play for the rest of the night. These two teams will pick up right where they left off at 5:30 local time today (and play all nine innings) before playing another seven inning game immediately following the conclusion of the first one.
DSL Rockies – W 7-5 (10 Innings), (35-24, 1st)
In the most closely contested game of the day, the DSL Rockies needed a run scoring wild pitch and an RBI single from Jose De La Cruz in the 10th to claim victory over the DSL White Sox. Starter David Martinez was solid going 5.0 innings and only allowing one run while second baseman Luis Jean had the best day at the plate getting on base four times with three hits and a walk.
Odd Fact of the Day: The starting pitchers for each of the top four levels in Colorado’s organization yesterday were making their second start for that team since being placed in their current role - Tyler Chatwood (MLB), Cory Riordan (AAA), Joe Gardner (AA), and Josh Mueller (High A). This alone goes a long way into illustrating how much shuffling there has been throughout the system when it comes to Rockies pitchers this season.
Looking Ahead: Jhoulys Chacin is expected to make a rehab start for AAA Colorado Springs tonight, and if all goes well, he could be called up as early as late next week. (Fingers crossed)