It's no secret that the Rockies need a shakeup at the big league level -- particularly, in their starting rotation, which includes at the back-end one of the five worst qualified starters in Major League Baseball. After a terrific run of starts that re-solidified his place as one of the more intriguing left-handed pitching prospects in the game, Tyler Matzek appeared to be knocking on the Rockies' door.
While one bad outing shouldn't change that, it just might; Matzek picked perhaps the most inopportune time to have one of his worst starts of the season, giving up eight earned runs and failing to get out of the fourth inning in Triple-A Colorado Springs' 9-8 loss on Sunday.
Matzek started the game about as well as possible, striking out New Orleans leadoff hitter Josh Rodriguez. However, the wheels immediately began to came off, as Matzek surrendered a homer to light-hitting infielder Zack Cox as part of a two-run first inning for the Zephyrs. The 23-year-old southpaw's struggles continued in the second. He walked the leadoff hitter and a few batters later, gave up a two-run homer to Rodriguez.
New Orleans wound up getting nine runs on nine hits and four walks against Matzek, who struck out only two batters and threw just 45 of 86 pitches for strikes.
Despite facing a 9-4 deficit entering the sixth inning, the Sky Sox made it a game by getting a pair of runs in each of the following two frames. Ben Paulsen was one of five Colorado Springs players who had two hits. One of those was a home run, Paulsen's 10th of the season. Michael McKenry had three hits, including a double, to lead the Sky Sox.
Chad Bettis worked two very solid innings of relief, striking out three batters while working around a pair of hits. Bettis' ERA is down to 1.86 and he has 17 strikeouts in 19.1 innings of relief while allowing only 11 hits and boasting an impressive ground-out/air-out ratio.
Winkler takes another step forward
Daniel Winkler was about as dominant as one can get through five innings on Sunday before running into some trouble in the sixth. Fortunately, Tulsa's late rally prevented its top starter from taking a loss.
Winkler cruised through the first five frames, holding Midland scoreless while allowing only two hits and striking out five. However, with two outs in the sixth, Winkler surrendered a pair of line-drive singles and a walk to load the bases. Already at 99 pitches, Winkler was pulled in favor of Nelson Gonzalez, who allowed runners to cross the plate on a balk and a wild pitch. Both runs were charged to Winkler.
Winkler's ERA shot up to 1.49 in 11 starts. He has 68 strikeouts and just 16 walks while allowing only 33 hits in 66.1 innings. In other words, he's still about as impressive as it gets, and his terrific outing on Sunday didn't do anything the change that.
The Drillers' offense ensured Winkler's record remained at 5-2 by plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth. Jose Rivera's two-out triple scored Joey Wong, who drew a one-out walk. Then, Delta Clearly struck out on a pitch that would have ended the inning had it not got by Midland's catcher. Instead, Cleary reached first and Rivera crossed home with the go-ahead run.
Taylor Featherston led Tulsa with two hits, including a double, and an RBI.
Tapia steals home in Tourists' win
Raimel Tapia had two hits, a walk and a couple of runs scored on Sunday, but it was how he scored Asheville's first run in the team's 7-6 victory that was the big story.
With two outs in the top of the fourth and Max White at the plate, Tapia took matters into his own hands after the previous two batters were unable to even advance the runners after the Tourists created a two-on, no-out situation. Here's the account from Baseball Prospectus' Ryan Parker, who had several good tweets from the game that you should definitely go read:
Tapia steals home. Broke while the pitcher was set (lh) and pitcher didn't notice until too late. Tried to step off and tapia was there easy— Ryan Parker (@RA_Parker) June 1, 2014
The Tourists trailed by a run after Charleston plated a pair in the bottom of the fourth, but two-run doubles off the bats of Jose Briceno and Correlle Prime in the top half of the next inning fueled a six-run rally that was enough to give Antonio Senzatela a win. Senzatela allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings, striking out three without issuing a walk to improve to 6-1 with a 4.03 ERA.
Modesto shut out
Ben Alsup's quality start on Sunday went for naught as the Nuts went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners in a 3-0 loss to Stockton.
Alsup lasted 6.2 innings and gave up three runs on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out five. Kyle Von Tungeln doubled twice and walked in a perfect day at the plate. Rosell Herrera notched his first hit since returning from the disabled list and finished 1-for-4.