Record This Week: 4-2.
Overall: 11-8, first place by one game.
4/23: DH Jonny Gomes’ RBI single broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth- and in conjunction with Drew Stubbs’ subsequent two-run hit- gave the Bats a 7-4 victory over Toledo. Carlos Fisher, who blew a save by allowing a runner inherited from starter Ramon Ramirez (6.32, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) to score, ended up with the victory (W 2-0, 1.93, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 K). Pedro Viola pitched two hitless innings for save #1 (1.80, 1 BB, 2 K). Gomes finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI (the other ribbie coming on his second home run of the season). He’s now raised his average to .262. Stubbs, who’s also struggled all season so far, was 2-for-4 with the two RBI to raise his rate to .179. SS Chris Valaika picked up a homer (#2) and a single (.184) and 1B Danny Dorn two hits and a RBI (.195). 3B Adam Rosales smacked a double and triple to keep his average over .400 at .408.
4/24: Bats should have had this one. They led the Mud Hens 4-1 going to the bottom of the eighth, but Toledo scored one off Robert Manuel (5.19, 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) in that inning, two more off closer Josh Roenicke to tie in the ninth (BS #2, 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K) and the winning run in the tenth to beat Adam Pettyjohn (L 0-2, 4.66, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER)- final score: 5-4. Good news has Matt Maloney with a third straight strong start- 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K in 106 pitches, 71 strikes. His ERA is now 1.86. Valaika homered again (#3, 2-for-5, .204), 1B Kevin Barker was 3-for-5 (.229), and Rosales kept it going (.407, 2-for-5).
4/25: Norris Hopper started the Bats’ first with a bang by socking his second triple of the season, then immediately scoring on Valaika’s sacrifice fly. His next time up (in the 3rd), he lined a one-out single and then stole second a few pitches later. But Valaika grounded out and Rosales flied out to end the inning. Starter Sam Lecure did nicely at first, surviving back-to-back singles with two out in the third to keep the Mud Hens off the scoreboard. 3B Wes Bankston crashed homer #4 in the fourth to make it two-zip Bats. Lecure seemed to get stronger as he went along; his pinpoint control caught two Toledo hitters looking in a 1-2-3 fifth. It wasn’t until two outs into the seventh, after Sam walked his second man of the inning, that manager Rick Sweet pulled him in favor of Pedro Viola. Final line for Lecure: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 102 pitches, 60 strikes. Viola grounded out Jason Tyner to end the seventh and threw a scoreless eighth with a hit, walk, and two strikeouts (1.42). Manuel pitched a 1-2-3 ninth (4.66, 1 K). The Bats lineup added more runs here and there, thanks to solo homers from Barker and Gomes (both #2). Bankston also knocked in two in the eighth with a single to finish with three RBI (.349). Bats win, 6-0.
4/26: Homer Bailey got his revenge on Toledo after he was ejected in his last start on them for hitting a batter following the third of three Mud Hens homers in just two-plus innings. This time around, Bailey got a big early lead from his offense, then proceeded to whiff no less than 15 ‘Hens (tying the Louisville team record, held by Ken Hill in 1990) in 6.1 innings! He got all three men in the first (around a double), one in the second, two in the third (a solo homer to C Dusty Ryan and a walk in there), three in the fourth (all swinging), three in the fifth (also all swinging, with a single thrown in), two in the sixth, and the leadoff hitter in the seventh before a walk to Ryan that caused manager Sweet to replace him with lefty Ben Jukich for the rest of the Bats’ 10-3 rout (4.41, 2.2. IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). The bad news: Bailey racked up 118 pitches for that 6.1-4-2-2-2-15 line (W 2-2, 6.20). Barker continued his hot hitting with a pair of homers (#3 and #4, 3 RBI, 3-for-4) and so did Bankston (.354, 2-for-5, homer #5). 2B Danny Richar, still starting with new acquisition Drew Sutton sidelined by mono, was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI (.182). Hopper also knocked in four runs with a double and triple. Another note I picked up later: with the two-homer game, Kevin Barker now holds the Bats team record for career homers (71) as well as multi-homer games (7). You ask who held the previous records? Guess before clicking.
4/27: The Bats’ bats ON FIYAH! They brutally battered Indianapolis (PIT) starter Daniel McCutchen for four runs in the first inning of this one- Hopper led off with a single, Richar doubled to score one, Rosales doubled to score Richar, and one out later Bankston capped the burst by bashing a two-run bomb, #6. Meanwhile, Daryl Thompson looked far better in his second start, holding the Injuns to four hits and three earned runs over 5.2 innings despite exactly zero strikeouts (W 1-1, 9.31, 1 BB, 1 HR). Carlos Fisher came on to strand a runner and hold a 4-3 lead in the sixth, then the Bats added a couple of insurance runs- a Stubbs RBI double (2-for-4, .211) in the sixth brought in SS Luis Bolivar and Rosales (completing a perfect night in which he went 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBI) singled in Hopper an inning later. Bats win their third straight, 6-3, after Robert Manuel (3.86, 2 IP, 2 K) and Josh Roenicke (save #2, 1 IP) set down the last nine Indianapolis hitters in consecutive fashion.
4/28: Indy pounded on Ramon Ramirez (L 0-2, 7.65, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR) for a ton of early runs and the Bats’ three-run seventh left them two short of a comeback; Indians take it, 8-6. Good relief work by Jeff Kennard (3.86, 1.2 IP, 2 K), Pedro Viola (1.23, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) and Adam Pettyjohn (3.86, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K) left the door open. Stubbs led off this game and responded nicely, lashing three hits, including a double, and recording his first stolen base of ’09 (.256). Rosales is now at .431 after two more hits and two more RBI. (He also played SS this time around, interestingly.) And Gomes pounded a three-run homer in the first (#3). Chris Valaika started this game at 2B and was 0-for-4, dropping his average back down to .176.
Moves & Notes: Our Man Homer is the International League Pitcher of the Week for 4/20-4/26. Bailey struck out 18 in 12.1 innings, walked six, and won twice.
(4/28) INF Adam Rosales was recalled by the Reds after he extended his hitting streak to 11 games in the afternoon; he was in the Cincinnati dugout that night. C Brian Peterson was activated from the Billings roster to replace him. You may remember Mr. Peterson, who played in the Reds' system from 2001-2005 (best season 2004 at AA: .300/.365/.444) despite originally being signed and released by Cleveland. He spent 2008 at AA Bowie in the Baltimore system after signing late following a stint in the indy leagues.
Record This Week: 2-5.
Overall: 8-12, fourth place, 2.5 games behind Tennessee (STL).
4/23: All the runs in the game had scored by the middle of the second inning- it was Huntsville on top, 2-1, and that’s the way it stayed. SS Zach Cozart singled in CF Chris Heisey, who’d doubled, in the bottom of the first for the only Mudcats run. 3B Jose Castro reached base four straight times with three hits and a walk- but couldn’t score or drive in any runs (.389). Starter James Avery struggled with his control (L 0-2, 3.60, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K). Alex Smit turned in a nice stint (1.23, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K) and so did Derrik Lutz (1.23, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 3 K).
4/24: Carolina blew a 5-0 lead to fall behind 9-6, then rallied to tie before the Stars popped Federico Baez (L 1-2, 2.79, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K- it was Baez’ own throwing error that caused the unearned runs) for three in the top of the ninth to pull out a battle of field goals, 12-9. The Mudcats built their early lead on power, smashing four bombs off Stars starter Mark Holliman. Heisey led off the Carolina first with homer #4; C Chris Kroski connected the next inning for his first; 3B Juan Francisco hit a two-run shot as well in the second, his third; 1B Logan Parker launched a solo shot in the third, his second. SS Zach Cozart was 3-for-5 with two runs scored (.345) but committed two fielding errors, uncharacteristic of him. Heisey finished 3-for-6 with three RBI- he’s now hitting .340/.462/.698 in 15 games with four homers, nine RBI, and six stolen bases. At this rate he’ll be in Louisville by mid-May. Parker (2-for-2, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 RBI) raised his average to .292. Francisco finished 2-for-5 to crack the Mendoza Line at .203.
Relievers Ruben Medina (3.72, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Camilo Vazquez (9.00, 1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K) looked pretty decent, although starter Misael DeJesus couldn’t say the same (12.27, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K). That’s one fabulous start and two terrible ones for the 24-year-old.
4/25: Dallas Buck tried to keep his record perfect at the expense of the Tennessee Smokies (CHC), but they jumped him in the first inning for a run to take the early lead. They made it 2-0 in the second on a RBI hit by Smokies starting pitcher Chris Lambert (a throwing error on Cozart, his third in two games, didn’t help matters; he was then ejected shortly on the scoring play for reasons I don’t think I want to know). Dallas continued to walk the tightrope through six innings, serving up twelve hits and five runs (three earned, so it was technically a quality start) (L 2-1, 3.47, 0 BB, 4 K). He threw 67 strikes in 89 pitches, which may have the problem- too many grooved fastballs. The Mudcats got six singles and two walks and stranded all eight on base in the 5-0 loss.
4/26: Four straight losses, as the Smokies got three unearned runs in the seventh off hard-luck starter Travis Wood (L 0-3, 0.83, 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) and Derrik Lutz (0.96, BS#2, 0.2 IP, 1 H, 3-3 inherited runners scored) to turn a 3-1 deficit into what later became a 4-3 win. Carolina made three errors all told, including #6 of the year for Francisco and #5 for Cozart. Both of those miscues came in the fateful seventh. Juan did have a RBI double (.194) earlier. Frazier (.338) singled in one of the other Mudcat runs and 2B Eric Eymann brought home the third (.190).
4/27: Justin “Biff the Understudy” Mallett took the mound for the Mudcats as they looked to snap their losing streak. He wasn’t shelled (4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) but he was Smoked out by the fifth. Ruben Medina came on to strand a man in the bottom of the fifth and preserve a 4-4 tie, then throw a 1-2-3 sixth. Federico Baez set down six straight with two Ks (W 2-2, 2.31). In the top of the ninth, pinch-hitter Mike Griffin led off with a double. A sacrifice bunt attempt by Chris Heisey resulted in two Tennessee throwing errors on the same play (courtesy of their third baseman and rightfielder), and when the dust cleared Griffin had scored and Heisey went all the way to third! (Five Smokies errors in total on the day). Cozart grounded out. Francisco was intentionally walked, but Frazier popped up. Logan Parker then stepped up and delivered a clutch single to make it 6-4 Mudcats. Sean Watson would almost need that insurance run, as he loaded the bases with one out before getting a strikeout and a fly ball to center to end the game and the losing streak. First save for Watson, who sports a 1.13 ERA despite ten baserunners in eight innings. Heisey finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored (.373) and Parker was 4-for-5 with two RBI (.300) despite two caught-stealings. Francisco was also 3-for-4, raising his average to .224.
4/28: Carolina blew leads of 2-1 and 4-2 early in the game, but a Francisco two-run bomb (#4) in the fifth and two key insurance runs in the ninth helped them hold on to beat the Smokies, 7-5. Juan finished 3-for-4 with a single and triple in addition to the longball (.250, 2 R). Heisey drove in those ninth-inning runs with a single and also picked up his seventh stolen base. Starter James Avery used better-than-normal control to get through eight innings on just 97 pitches (W 1-2, 3.52, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR). Ramon Geronimo continues to struggle; he served up a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and now has an ERA of 10.12 on the year- with nine walks and three homers in eight innings.
4/29: Tennessee won the rubber match of the five-game series (standard in the Southern League) over the Mudcats, 8-4. Misael DeJesus was better than the last two times, just not good enough to win today (L 1-2, 9.92, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR; one was by the Smokies starting pitcher). Smit gave up one more unearned run later on (1.00, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) after Francisco’s seventh error of 2009 and a passed ball on Kroski. Camilo Vazquez walked three and permitted three earned runs in his one inning, exploding his ERA to 9.72. Nobody in the Carolina lineup could manage more than one hit save 2B Jose Castro (2-for-4, .345, R, RBI). The Castro RBI hit and a two-run error gave the Mudcats three in the ninth, but Cozart grounded out to end the game.
Moves & Notes: (4/25) RHS Jordan Smith placed on the 7-day DL; RHP Justin Mallett added from Louisville or Billings or whatever sheet of paper he was on at the moment.
Record This Week: 3-4.
Overall: 7-12, last place, five games out.
4/23: Jeremy Horst pitched well (L 0-2, 2.25, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) but was outdueled by Charlotte’s (TB) David Newmann, 2-1. Sarasota had three runners caught stealing and hit into three double plays, greatly reducing their scoring opportunities. 1B Yonder Alonso’s sacrifice fly in the top of the first scored CF Jeremy Reed with the Reds’ lone run. Interesting note: Ben Davis, the 32-year-old converted catcher, made his first game appearance as a pitcher and threw a 1-2-3 scoreless ninth with a strikeout.
4/24: Sarasota started promisingly enough, plating three in their half of the first on an Alonso sac-fly and RBI hits from DH Carson Kainer and LF Dan Perales, but it was straight downhill from there. When the dust cleared, Palm Beach (STL) had completed a 10-3 rout. Starter Jerry Gil wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t good enough, either (L 0-3, 6.94, 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 HB) and Daniel Guerrero was racked for six earned and eight hits in 1.2 innings of relief (8.71).
4/25: Palm Beach beat on starter Matt Klinker for two in the first, but the Reds fired back with two outs in third when Alonso doubled, scored on 3B Neftali Soto’s double, and C Devin Mesoraco drove him in with a base hit. This held until the fifth, when the Cardinals chased Klinker (4.79, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) by breaking the tie; Logan Ondrusek came on to stop the bleeding and hold the score at 3-2. Again the Reds retaliated, tying the score in the seventh after SS Justin Tordi and CF Jeremy Reed both singled with two out, moved up on a wild pitch, then Tordi managed to score on Alex Buchholz’ fielder’s choice grounder before Reed could be retired at third. On came lefty Joe Krebs for the eighth (Ondrusek didn’t give up a hit for 2.1 innings, cutting his ERA to 1.54.) He walked two, but got through it. After Alonso and Soto made outs in the Reds’ half, Mesoraco stepped to the plate and launched his first FSL home run, breaking the tie! On came Ben Davis to get two fly balls and a groundout for the save, and Sarasota wins it 4-3. Mesoraco’s two hits and a walk raised his average to .154 (yes, it’s been that kind of a start for him). Krebs got the win (1-1, 4.26).
4/26: Ben Davis struck out the final Palm Beach hitter in the top of the ninth to strand two runners and preserve a 5-4 Sarasota win! It was a fairly rough inning of work for Davis (save #2, 3.00, 1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K) but he got the job done. Enerio Del Rosario got the win in relief (W 1-1, 0.96, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K) of starter Travis Webb (4.70, 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K). 2B Justin Tordi, not known for his bat, lashed three straight hits and drove in a run (.200). Reed was 2-for-4 with a run scored, a RBI, and steal #4 (.268). Buchholz picked up two ribbies with a single and sacrifice fly and Kainer got the last one with a bases-loaded walk.
4/27: Zach Stewart headed Back Out There to see if he could miss a few more bats this time around, what with the eleven hits in five-plus (despite only 1 ER) last time around. But the Stonecrabs (TB) battered him for three in the first (only one earned). One alarming problem was Charlotte stealing three bases off the Stewart-Mesoraco battery in the first inning alone (!). Charlotte went on to score six runs in total off Stewart in the first three innings. Zach settled down to put up a zero in the fourth before departing with two outs in the fifth (2.89, 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). Two shaky outings in a row. Meanwhile, the Sarasota bats fought back. Down 6-0 in the third, they put up five runs, four coming on Yonder Alonso’s grand-slam homer- his fourth of the season. An out later Mesoraco walked and RF Denis Phipps tripled him home for the fifth run. The Reds then grabbed the lead in the sixth with three more. Mesoraco walked again to lead off the inning. Phipps singled. A passed ball moved both runners up. An out later, DH Jason Bour smacked a double to score two! Justin Reed then doubled in Bour to make it 8-6 Reds. Luis Montano allowed a run in the top of the seventh, but held the lead (W 2-2, 5.79, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB) for Logan Ondrusek (1.42, 1 IP, 2 BB, 1 K) and Phil Valiquette (save #2, 1.04, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) to preserve. Excellent comeback win for the S-Reds.
4/28: Jeremy Horst looked good (1.64, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) as the Reds and Stonecrabs were knotted through six, but the 2009 debut of righty Jeremy Freeman resulted in Charlotte breaking the tie in the seventh and then piling on six runs in the eighth (L 0-1, 1.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 1 HB) to finish with an 8-1 rout. Freeman, 22, pitched at Billings last year and had a 3.95 ERA and a fine 9/48 BB/K ratio in 41 IP, so this might have been level-jumpin’ jitters. Alonso singled in Reed, who’d stolen second (#5) after smacking his own single, for the Reds’ only run. Yonder also walked twice and now has nine walks to eleven Ks to go with his .227/.312/.485 line in 18 games. Reed’s two hits and walk pushed his average to .297.
4/29: I guess the Reds keep starting Jerry Gil to get him some innings after his conversion from position player, but his performances have not been strong in a starting role. Charlotte was merciless, bombing Mr. Gil for eight runs in three-plus (L 0-4, 10.20, 3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) and winning, 8-6, as they held off an extended rally that saw Sarasota score in five straight innings between the second and the sixth. Del Rosario (0.69, 3.2 IP, 1 H, 4 K) and Ondrusek (1.23, 2 IP, 3 K) did great relief work. Kainer hit his second homer and added a single and run scored (.260). Soto, slumping as of late, was also 2-for-4 with a run and RBI (.213). Mesoraco picked up a RBI double in his trek towards the Mendoza Line (.154).
Moves & Notes: (4/23) RHR Ben Davis was activated and INF Jake Kahauleilo placed on the 7-day DL with a left hand contusion. INF Kevyn Feiner (who apparently was not released) was added to the roster. LHR Jesus Carnevales was sent to Dayton. (4/26) RHR Daniel Guerrero was DL’ed with an elbow injury and RHR Justin Freeman added from Billings.
Record This Week: 4-3.
Overall: 5-14, last place, ten games back.
4/23: Make it 1-12; the Dragons were never in this game, as Great Lakes (LAD) led 2-0 after 1, 4-0 after 3, and 7-0 after 4. They finished with a 10-0 shutout. Eight hits and ten men left on base for Dayton. Curtis Partch (L 0-2, 8.03, 3.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) started.
4/24: DRAGONS WIN! DRAGONS WIN! The Loons hung a five-spot on starter Oscar Castro (7.50, 5.1 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 5 K) in the fourth, but Dayton BATTLED BACK with three in the fourth (two-run triple from RF Byron Wiley, RBI infield hit from 1B Carlos Mendez), one in the fifth (C Jordan Wideman’s sacrifice fly) and three in the sixth (two-run single by Wiley, balk) to TAKE THE LEAD and WIN 7-5! Mace Thurman (W 1-0, 2.61, 2 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 5 K) dominated in relief. Scott Gaffney struck out both men he faced (7.71) and Aguido Gonzalez punched out two of three in the ninth for the save (6.48). Wiley’s 2-for-3 night (4 RBI, BB) pushed his average to .345. LF Kyle Day scored three runs. Dayton supplemented their seven hits with seven walks and both Day and RF Brandon Menchaca recorded outfield assists (the latter at the plate).
4/25: Same old thing, sadly, as Dayton falls behind eight-nil at the hands of South Bend (ARI) and then does too little, too late in a 9-3 loss. Starter Leo Astorga may need some fine-tuning in extended spring training; he was blasted for seven more earned runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings to fall to 0-3 with a 18.90 ERA. Wiley continued a hot streak with two more hits and two more RBI (.375).
4/26: DRAGONS WIN AGAIN! Everything clicked on both sides of the ball for the Dragons, as they whomped South Bend, 8-1. Lefty Matt Fairel built on his dominant 12-strikeout previous start with seven more good innings (W 1-1, 2.61, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K). LF Tyler Stovall, an Ohio University product who’s struggled badly so far, smashed a three-run homer and added a RBI single (2-for-5, .148). 1B Humberto Sosa was 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a RBI (.228). Puckett hit a two-run homer in the eighth, #3. Mendez was 3-for-4; he’s now 5-for-11 in his first three games. CF David Sappelt, his hitting streak ended, started a new one with three hits (.292).
4/27: Rained out.
4/28: MAKEUP MADNESS! Dayton and Josh Ravin were whitewashed 8-0 in game one (L 1-2, 4.50, 5 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR) as the Dragons got just three hits, but the good guys ROARED BACK to take the nightcap, 6-3. Partch went five for the win (W 1-2, 7.27, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, but also 3 HB) and Gonzalez got save #2. Sappelt (#2) and Puckett (#4) hit solo home runs; C Kevin Coddington poked two more hits to put his line at .375/.412/.500 (12-for-32) on the season; and the Dragons D turned three double plays in the seven-inning extravaganza.
4/29: Lefty Oscar Castro stymied Beloit (MIN) through seven two-hit innings! (W 1-1, 5.21, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), Drew Bowman set down four straight (8.00, 2 K) and Scott Gaffney picked up save #1 (5.68, 0.2 IP) in the Dragons’ 2-1 victory. Coddington and Mendez both got a pair of hits (both .389), Sappelt did the same (.299).
Moves & Notes: (4/23-4/24) OF Tony Brown was placed on the 7-day DL retroactive to 4/22 with a strained right hamstring. RHR Mike Bohana was sent to the GCL. INF Carlos Mendez was added from extended spring training and LHR Jesus Carnevales came down from Sarasota. (4/27) LHS Matt Fairel was named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week (4/20-4/26) for whiffing twenty over two starts with just two runs allowed.