The Sky Sox (44-54, 11 GB) lost their fourth straight game despite a late offensive outburst that saw them score all nine of their runs from the sixth inning on.
The primary reason: a leaky bullpen. Juan Rincon entered the game with two outs in the sixth, a 2-0 deficit, and two inherited runners. The score when he left the game with no outs in the seventh was 7-0 with two runners on (both of which later scored). In other words, Rincon allowed five runs (three earned) and got just one out in the process.
Nick Bierbrodt and Matt Daley didn't help much either, with each allowing multiple runs (all coming via the longball) in their innings of relief. Rincon's misadventures made the start of Josh Muecke (3-5, 6.09) look much worse, as he officially allowed four runs on six hits in 5.2 IP with six punchouts.
Offensively, the Sky Sox were led by 2B/SS prospect Chris Nelson (2004 1st round), who hit his eleventh homerun of the year (a solo shot in the seventh) and had three of the team's twelve hits. Coming into the season, there wasn't a whole lot of confidence in Nelson due to his injury history (he hadn't had a full season since 2007) in the PuRPs list voting. In fact, I was the only person with him coming in the top ten of all the lists. With his great first season at AAA (.346/.403/.587, 11 HRs) as a 24 year-old, Nelson should be considered to be among the top five PuRPs in the fall list.
Another player that had a great night offensively was another 2004 draft pick, 13th round OF Matt Miller, who went 2-4 with his ninth HR of the year and four RBI. The 27 year-old Miller gets a lot less prospect fanfare (and to fair, his "tools" are nowhere near Nelson's), but you can't ignore his results (.340/.422./470 this year). Miller has hit well at every level for the Rockies, but is the victim of a numbers game in an organization with probably the deepest outfield in MLB. Miller may get a look next year if the Rockies let Brad Hawpe walk/put him at 1B, but it might be Cole Garner or another veteran that gets that call instead.
In other news, Eric Young Jr. and Troy Tulowitzki were both on AAA rehab assignments. They combined to go 0-6 on the night as DH and SS respectively, with Tulo turning two DPs.
The Drillers (16-10, 2.5 GB 2nd half) got, well, drilled by nine last night. Brandon Durden (4-7, 4.73) took the loss, getting knocked around for six runs on eleven hits in five innings. In addition, Craig Baker (1-1, 10.91) managed to turn in a worse relief outing than Rincon, getting nobody out and giving up six runs (five earned). It's been a strange year for Baker, who got some support for a spot on the PuRPs list this year based upon his strong 2009. After allowing a .212 average in 2009, he's allowing batters to hit .389 this year, which is obviously not good.
The Tulsa pitching struggles were overshadowed as far as I'm concerned by the continued power surge of 21 year-old catching prospect Wilin Rosario (2006 DR). Rosario went 2-4 with 2 HRs (17) and 3 RBI on the night. The two HRs made it an incredible 7 in his past 11 games. The fact that Rosario is doing this (.283/.336/.558) against players 2-3 years older than him while handling his duties behind the plate (very strong throwing arm for one thing, though his game-calling skills according to some reports still need a little work) illustrates why I put him 4th in my PuRPs list and in my elite tier. He could pushing for the MLB level as soon as September 2011, though my bet would be on 2012/13.
A Ball and lower reports below the fold
High A: High Desert 5, Modesto 1
Not a whole lot to see here. Dan Houson (5-6, 5.68) took the loss despite striking out 10 men in six innings, giving up all five runs and not getting much in the way of offensive support. With the loss, the Nuts fell to 14-14, 3 GB in the 2nd half.
Low A: Asheville 13, Hagerstown 4
The Tourists (16-11, 2 GB 2nd Half) got the sticks working in a big way late in this game. The game was 3-2 entering the seventh, but after Asheville was done hitting it was 11-2. PuRPs Eliezer Mesa and Delta Cleary each had three hits to lead the charge while PuRP Nolan Arenado (another prospect with helium despite a recent cold spell) smacked his fourth HR. Johnathan Vargas (3-7, 6.46) took the win with five innings of two-run ball.
Low A Short-Season: Tri-City 7, Boise 2
2010 2nd round RHP Chad Bettis (a future PuRP) continued his strong start to his professional career (3-0, 1.73) with 5.2 IP of one run ball. The 21 year-old Bettis struck out four, gave up six hits, and had a 10:2 GB/FB ratio. Offensively, catcher Bryce Massanari led the way, going 4-4 with a solo HR, while 2B Russell Wilson (the NC State QB) was 2-4 with a triple. Tri-City improved to 15-18, 3.5 GB with the win.
Rookie: Great Falls 8, Casper 4
The Ghosts (15-16, 4 GB) fell behind 5-0 early and couldn't recover. Alejandro Barraza (0-3, 6.10) took the loss, going three innings and giving up seven runs (only three of which were earned) on five hits. Offensively, 19 year-old Rafael Ortega, a player that I'm following with great interest, led Casper with a 3-5 night and his 2nd homer.