I was expecting an outstanding start from a pitcher making his season debut on the farm last night, and I got it. It just wasn't from the pitcher I was expecting.
Tyler Matzek (#14 PuRP) made his AAA debut Saturday for the Sky Sox and in a flash reminded us all why there was once anticipation surrounding every one of his starts. The 2009 first round pick struck out eleven and walked two in five innings of work while only surrendering one run on 83 pitches. The eleven punch outs was one shy of the record in a Sky Sox debut set by Jeff Francis back in 2004. However, it took Francis a full seven innings to accomplish that feat.
This was by far the most overpowering outing we've seen from Matzek in a long, long time. Last year in Tulsa, the big lefty made 26 starts and only struck out more than six hitters once. (On a July 24th game against Springfield, he managed to sit down eight) We'll have to watch Matzek's next few starts closely to see if this is an anomaly or the start of something awesome.
Offensively, Josh Rutledge went 3-4 and also worked a walk in an effort to show the club he didn't like getting left off the 25 man roster. Kyle Parker (#5 PuRP) recorded a hit and two more RBIs as part of a five run first inning, and Ryan Wheeler and Drew Garcia both recorded a pair of hits on the day.
Jon Gray (#1 PuRP) made his first start of the season for the Drillers and things did not go smoothly in the early innings. Gray allowed a run in the first, another in the second, and two more in the third. (One of the four runs was unearned, but it was Gray's own throwing error which helped contribute to the damage) However, our prized prospect did exactly what we would want him to do after getting knocked around a little in the early going - Fight back.
Gray settled down, retired eight of the last nine hitters he faced, and strung together three scoreless innings to finish his outing. When the dust settled, he managed six innings total on a reasonable 88 pitches. It wasn't the start we were hoping for, but Gray did show an ability to get better as the game went on, which is an important trait for a potential ace to possess.
Eight of the nine Drillers in the starting lineup had a hit, but only Ryan Casteel (#11 PuRP) was able to record a multiple hit day as part of his 2-4 effort. It wasn't enough to win the game though as Ryan Arrowood gave up three runs in just a third of an inning after Gray was listed.
Yet another first round pick will be on the mound tonight making his season debut as Tyler Anderson (#10 PuRP selected 20th overall in the 2011 draft) will be on the hill.
The Nuts were roasted by the bats of the Bakersfield Blaze on a 12 run attack which included 16 hits. Andrew Brown started the game for Modesto and allowed seven runs in 4.2 innings and struck out two. Peter Tago then entered the game and quickly surrendered four more runs in his inning of work split over two frames.
There was one piece of good news from this game however as Rosell Herrera (#4 PuRP) went 2-4 with a pair of singles.
Antonio Senzatela (#29 PuRP) looked to be on his was to an excellent outing as he twirled five scoreless innings to start the game, but he then ran into trouble in the sixth where he gave up three runs and was chased to the showers. His final line ends up looking somewhat mediocre as he gave up five hits and two walks while only striking out two.
Offensively it was the quietest night we've seen so far from the celebrated top third of the Tourists lineup. David Dahl (#3 PuRP) and Ryan McMahon (#7 PuRP) went a combined 0-8 at the plate with three strikeouts. However, Raimel Tapia (#16 PuRP) and Correlle Prime (potential future top 30 PuRP) each went 2-4, and one of Prime's hits was his first home run of the season.