Colorado Springs: Unless the franchise is fighting for a playoff spot like our Tri-City affiliate, it's hard to put much stock into performances this last week, as most players are getting ready for instructional league play or just for some needed time off. Exceptions to this rule would be players with something to prove after disappointing seasons or those recently called up to a higher level. It's in this latter context that Michael Paulk's play -with two more hits yesterday, including a double- carries some weight that might not necessarily be there with other players.
I do suspect several Sky Sox players are still trying to leave last impressions with the big league club just in case they decide it might be good to have one more guy riding the pine this last month. So good days by Doug Bernier, Jayson Nix and Omar Quintanilla in yesterday's six to four win, for instance, probably show that they have something to play for as well.
Tulsa: Then again, I'm impressed when players who don't have much left to play for or much energy left to play with push hard anyway, and so kudos should go to most of Tulsa's squad in yesterday's eleven to nothing blowout of Wichita. Aaron Rifkin had four hits, including two doubles and a homerun, and five other Drillers had two hits apiece in the romp. Jon Asahina walked six in five innings and had two wild pitches, but he only allowed three hits to get through it unscathed.
Modesto: Casey Weathers made his Modesto debut and walked two guys in just one inning. Luckily he also struck out two and induced a weak grounder for the other out to maintain a 0.00 California League ERA. He pitched the seventh inning of what was then a three to two Nuts deficit in relief of Chaz Roe, with Jon George being called on to pitch the last two frames once the Nuts tied things in the eighth on a Neil Wilson homerun. George got through the bottom of the eighth alright, but allowed a double and walk-off single in the ninth to lose the heartbreaker.
Roe was undermined by poor defense and poor control. In the first inning, he walked three batters and he and Wilson allowed three stolen bases, but luckily got through it with just one run allowed. In the third, a fielding error by Eric Young Jr and a passed ball by Wilson helped two more runs cross the plate. The game was kind of a strange mix of good and bad for several players. Young finished with three hits and stole three bases to try and make up for his two errors, while Wilson and Jose Valdez each drove in runs later in the game after costly GIDP's with runners in scoring position early.
Asheville: A two-run Geoff Strickland double off the less famous pitching Papelbon (Josh) capped a three run ninth inning, as the Tourists beat Greenville five to two. Andy Graham continued his up and down season with his first quality start in a month after three not so good ones. Jay Cox had two doubles and two RBI, and Daniel Mayora had two hits and scored the go-ahead run.
Tri-City: For eight innings, the only scoring the Dust Devils could muster was off a Darin Holcomb double and two out single by Kevin Clark in the fifth inning. The pitching held that slim one to nothing lead and it looked like Riquy Pena would get an opportunity for another save until the floodgates opened in the top of the ninth.
Phillip Cuadrado hit a grand slam following the first of two Helder Velazquez doubles in that frame, a Brian Rike single and a walk to Holcomb. Lars Davis made it back to back HR's with a solo shot after Cuadrado. A Clark single, Jordan Pacheco force out, Brian Lapin triple and Michael Mitchell sac fly added two more runs before Velazquez doubled again and Rike hit both of them in with another homerun. After Holcomb flew out the damage had been done, nine runs on eight hits and a walk, six of the eight hits were for extra bases including the three HR's. Needless to say, Tri-City's closer Pena got through the ninth without allowing a comeback.
Connor Graham led the pitching effort that held Yakima in check before the onslaught, and should be commended for his five inning, four hit, one walk performance. The Rockies seem to be resting Graham's arm after the college season, as he's pitched well enough to go deeper into games.
Casper: The Rockies lost four to three to Ogden. David Christensen hit his eighth HR of the season and Scot Robinson and Zack Murry each had two hits.