Record This Week: 5-2.
Overall: 18-15, first place by three games over Toledo (DET).
5/7: Rochester (MIN) went for the four-game sweep against the lost-four-straight Bats and Sweet Sam Lecure. And after Lecure started a 1-4-6-3 double play to escape the first inning, Drew Sutton- playing 3B in this one after starting at second for his first few games- stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the first and cranked a solo home run to give Louisville the early lead. Two more hits punctuated the Rochester second, but C Craig Tatum threw out a man stealing to kill the inning. Sweet Sam then just got stronger as he went along, permitting just a couple more singles and surviving more Bats fielding adventures (a throwing error by SS Chris Valaika, a throwing error by Tatum). Another nifty pitcher-started double play in the seventh erased a leadoff baserunner. Lecure seemed back to his old self after a couple of recent shaky outings, throwing seven shutout innings with no walks and nine Ks (W 2-2, 3.77, 5 H). Jeff Kennard did lose the shutout in the eighth, but Pedro Viola finished the ninth to lock down a streak-snappin’ 6-1 Louisville victory. 2B Danny Richar hit his first homer of the year, a two-run blast in the third (.235, 2-for-4, 3 RBI), and LF Jonny Gomes homered for the third straight game (#6). CF Drew Stubbs had two more hits, a RBI, and stolen base #8 (.282), and Tatum was 2-for-4 with two runs scored (.250).
5/8: A step back for Homer Bailey (L 3-3, 4.59, 6 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 114 pitches, 75 strikes) in the 23-5 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY) squad’s 11-5 thrashing of the Bats. Technically it’s a quality start, believe it or not, thanks to more Louisville defensive difficulties (an E-5 by 3B Wes Bankston that led to a three-run homer), but Homer had really poor control in the first inning, when all three of the earned runs scored with the help of three bases on balls. The good news: he settled down quite nicely, setting down the Yankees 1-2-3 in the third, fifth, and sixth. Louisville stayed close by scoring in each of the first three innings itself, but four runs in the eighth off the relievers Ben Jukich (4.63, 1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) and Josh Roenicke (5.23, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) iced the game. The Bats actually outhit the Yankees 13-10, but stranded 11 runners and went 1-for-17 with men in scoring position. Five hitters got two hits apiece: RF Norris Hopper (.304), Stubbs (.297, 2 BB, steal #9), Gomes (.264), DH Kevin Barker (.235, also homer #5), and 1B Danny Dorn (.210, also E #2).
5/9: Daryl Thompson continues to improve a little bit each time- in this one he held the heavy-hitting Yankees to just two runs on seven hits through six innings. He also missed a few more bats and showed good control (6.23, 1 BB, 4 K, 106 pitches, 68 strikes). Louisville scored one in the fifth when C Wilkin Castillo bunted his way aboard, moved to second on a Danny Richar groundout and scored on Hopper’s single. In the seventh, then, the Bats grabbed the lead. Again Castillo bunted his way on (hey, he can’t do much at the plate any other way this season so far). This time he stole second (3) and moved to third on the Dunder Mifflins’ catcher’s throwing error. Richar walked and Hopper again came through by grounding a single to right to tie the score! Stubbs lashed a double to score Richar and move Hopper to third, but Drew Sutton grounded into a force at home and Jonny Gomes grounded to third to kill the chance at an insurance run. Pedro Viola, who seems to be getting better and better as time goes on, set down six straight Yankees (whiffing three) to slash his ERA to 0.73. On came Robert Manuel for the top of the ninth. The leadoff hitter smacked a single, then Dorn failed to handle a pickoff throw, allowing the runner to move to second. Next man flied out, putting the tying run on third with one down. The following hitter grounded right back to Manuel; he held the runner at third but the batter reached first. Robert then wriggled out of the jam by popping the next man up and getting Eric Duncan to fly out to Stubbs in center. Bats win, 3-2! Viola got the victory to go to 2-0; Manuel’s save was his third. Hopper’s two hits and two RBI raised his average to .311, while Stubbs’ two hits put him over the .300 mark at .308. Castillo’s two bunt hits raised him to .222.
5/10: Bats and Dunder Mifflins alike battled for ten long scoreless innings! Eight of those were inflicted on the D-Ms by Ramon Ramirez (5.34, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 114 pitches, 70 strikes), who had by far his best start of 2009. Funny that he did it against what might be the International League’s top-to-bottom best lineup. Anyway, Viola came on to whiff four in 1.1 innings (with one batter reaching on a WP, causing an extra out) and reduce his ERA another ten percent to 0.66. Josh Roenicke finished up (4.50, 1.2 IP, 1 K). Held to seven hits (three by Stubbs, who finished the game at .329- he also added stolen base #10) through ten and a third, Louisville rallied in the 11th when Kevin Barker poked a one-out single. SS Luis Bolivar walked to bring up Wilkin Castillo, 1-for-4 on the day. Castillo was facing D-M closer Mark Melancon, who’d just entered the game. Melancon had not allowed a single run in twelve innings; add to that a BB/K ratio of three to seventeen.
So, naturally, Castillo slugged a game-winning three-run homer. His first homer (he had six at the PCL launching pad of Tucson in ’08) and his first three RBIs of 2009. Incredible. Roenicke got the victory (1-0).
5/11: A third straight win (and back-to-back shutouts) as Matt Maloney struck out 10 D-Ms in seven four-hit innings (W 3-1, 2.89, 1 BB, 108 pitches, 72 strikes) and Louisville got two solo homers (#3 and #4) from 1B Danny Dorn (.204) and a bomb from 2B Danny Richar (#2). Carlos Fisher pitched two scoreless frames for save #2 (1.76, 2 H, 2 K). Stubbs doubled in three trips, walked, and stole bag #11 (third, no less).
5/12: Durham (TB) hosting the Bats, and Louisville wins a fourth straight by rallying for five runs in the top of the ninth to take it, 7-6! The crucial blow was a Jonny Gomes two-run double; he also hit a solo homer in the first (#7) and finished with three RBI (.250, steal #3). Drew Sutton drove in two runs despite going 0-for-3 officially and Stubbs was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a RBI (.333). He got that rib-eye on a scratch infield single in the ninth to make the score 6-4; Sutton’s groundout took it to 6-5 and set the stage for Gomes’ two-out, two-strike smash. Sweet Sam Lecure turned in a middling outing (4.19, 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 99 pitches, 62 strikes). Both Ben Jukich (4.74, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 K) and Jeff Kennard (3.97, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 K) both allowed Bulls runs, but Kennard’s timing got him the victory (1-0). Pedro Viola, interestingly, permitted just a single in the bottom of the ninth for save #3 (0.61, 1 K).
5/13: Payback for the karmic mortgage of the Bats’ win the day before, I guess. Louisville built a 3-0 lead early in this one on a Wes Bankston RBI single, a Dorn RBI double and a Luis Bolivar sacrifice fly, but Homer Bailey, who retired the first 12 Bulls batters he faced, served up a two-run homer in both the sixth and the seventh to give Durham the 4-3 lead they’d never relinquish. Bailey’s final line (L 3-4, 4.81, 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 86 pitches, 58 strikes) wasn’t stellar but reports were that he was touching 98 on the radar guns and had good control. Robert Manuel pitched the seventh and eighth (2.37, 1 BB, 1 K) but the Bats couldn’t push a run across despite a one-out double from Stubbs in the seventh as well as a leadoff walk to Kevin Barker in the eighth.
Moves & Notes: The April Reds Minor League Players of the Month were Adam Rosales (.431, .754 SLG, 4 HR, 12 XBH, 18 R) and Matt Maloney (2-0, 1.86). They get specially engraved watches from the Reds! (5/11) SS Chris Valaika was placed on the DL with a fractured right hand. A tough break for a prospect who was still struggling to adjust to AAA. C Brian Peterson once again returned to the Louisville dugout. Also, CF Drew Stubbs was named the International League Player of the Week for May 4-10. Stubbs hit .423 with five doubles and six steals. (Check ex-Bat Justin Lehr, now in the Philadelphia organization, as the IL Pitcher of the Week.)
In other news: Buffalo (NYM) signed free-agent C-INF Javier Valentin. LLM/WILY MO REUNITED AND IT FEEEEELS SO GOOOOOOD
Record This Week: 2-4.
Overall: 13-20, last place, 4 games behind Tennessee (CHC) and Huntsville (MIL).
5/7: Bad start for Justin “Biff the Understudy” Mallett against Mobile (ARI); the BayBears smacked three hits and picked up two walks and a hit batter in the first to amass four runs (a fifth was stymied when LF Todd Frazier threw out a runner trying to score from second on a single). Justin then settled down and put up five straight zeroes before his exit (L 0-1, 5.40, 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K on 95 pitches). Carolina chipped away at the deficit with a run in the fourth and a run in the sixth, both driven in by 1B Logan Parker (single, groundout). Mobile added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth off Camilo Vazquez (6.59, 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K). The Mudcats did get as close as 5-4 in the seventh when CF Chris Heisey crashed his fifth homer of the season with 2B Eric Eymann aboard; Heisey finished 4-for-5 and raised his average to .378. Still, the BayBears hung on to win it, 6-4. LF Todd Frazier was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a pair of outfield assists (nabbing a runner at second base later on in the game); he’s hitting a solid .278 with ten doubles despite no home runs. By the way, this loss made it eleven in the last fifteen games for the ‘Cats.
5/8: Jordan Smith returned from the DL to throw five scoreless (W 2-0, 3.27, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 63 pitches, 42 strikes) and Carolina beat Mobile, 5-1. Alex Smit followed with two hitless innings of relief (2.87, 1 BB, 2 K), Derrik Lutz turned in one (1.93, 1 K), and Sean Watson broke the shutout in his inning (4.61, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Eymann was 3-for-4 with three RBI to raise his average to .290 (he’d started slow after a fine 2008) and Frazier socked his very first Southern League homer (.286, 2-for-4, 2 R). Heisey remains unstoppable (.382, 2-for-4, R, RBI, BB, steal #8) and seriously can’t be long for the league if he keeps it up just a little longer.
5/9: Rain ended James Avery latest outing after 3.2 innings (3.41, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR). Then, when he was relieved by Federico Baez right after the delay, Mobile’s Brian Clifford smoked a two-run homer that gave the BayBears a 3-0 lead. Baez was saved from another run the next inning when Heisey and SS Zach Cozart teamed up to cut down a runner at home plate trying to score from first on a double (3.57, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). Carolina got on the board in the sixth when 3B Juan Francisco doubled home Cozart, who’d singled. Then, the next inning, Eymann led off with a single. RF Sean Henry doubled him to third. C Chris Kroski, off to a 5-for-50 start to the year, picked up one with a sacrifice fly. Then pinch-hitter Jose Castro stepped up and spanked a run-scoring RBI single to tie the game! Ramon Geronimo set the BayBears down 1-2-3 in the seventh (6.23, 2 K) and Lutz did the same in the eighth. Todd Frazier then doubled with one out in the eighth. After Mike Griffin popped up, Eymann came through with the clutch hit, scoring Frazier to give the Mudcats the 4-3 lead! Henry then singled, but Eymann was thrown out at the plate. So it’d be onto the ninth and Sean Watson. Watson allowed back-to-back singles, a sacrifice bunt, and then an intentional walk to load the bases with one out for pinch-hitter Chris Rahl. Rahl went after Watson’s first pitch and flew out to short center, leaving only the .208-batting Evan Frey between Sean and a save. Watson got ahead of him a ball and two strikes, but Frey drove a two-run single to center to blow the save and give Mobile the lead back. Watson got the next man on a grounder to third, but the damage was done (5.52, BS #3, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB). After both Kroski and pinch-hitter Shaun Cumberland were called out on strikes to start the 9th, things looked bleak. But Heisey walked, Cozart was hit by a pitch and Francisco came through with a game-tying single! Frazier struck out on three pitches and then got himself ejected and so did Logan Parker, who hadn’t even officially checked into the game! Catcher Chris Denove had to come in to play first base as righty Ruben Medina came in to pitch. Medina didn’t start well, allowing a leadoff single and then plunking the next batter. A sacrifice bunt lined everything up for Mobile C Orlando Mercado, hitting a cool .333 on the year. Medina got ahead of him 0-2, but the next pitch got through Kroski for a passed ball that gave Mobile the lead back at 6-5. Mercado then ripped his third hit of the night to make it 7-5. The next man smashed a double, but Henry threw to Francisco at third and Juan fired home to nab Mercado for the second out. Intentional walk brought up the pitcher’s spot and pinch-hitter James Skelton (picked by Arizona in the Rule 5 draft this past December, then kept by the D-backs in the minors after they worked out a deal). He flew out, sending things to the bottom of the tenth. Could Carolina rally to overcome poor relief work a second time? Alas, no, although Eymann had yet another hit (3-for-5, .311) before the game finally ended. Medina (L 0-2, 3.71, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER) took the defeat. Francisco was 2-for-5 with two RBI (.224). Cozart, who’d struggled badly in May (.176) picked up two hits as well (.272 overall).
5/11: Birmingham (CWS) smashed Misael DeJesus for five runs in the second en route to an easy 9-2 rout. DeJesus fell to 1-4 (10.36, 4 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 2 K).
5/12: Payback time for the Mudcats, as they amassed six runs in the fifth and four more in the seventh to pound the Barons, 12-5. Even better, Travis Wood was in fine form (W 2-3, 1.36, 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 104 pitches, 67 strikes). Eymann hit a two-run homer, #1, en route to a 3-for-4 evening (.325). Heisey was 3-for-5 with two runs scored (.374) and the light-hitting Kroski chipped in a single, double, and three RBI (.127, 2 BB). Frazier doubled twice, scored twice, and drove one in (.290). Carolina went 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position for the evening. Federico Baez served up three in the eighth (3.66, 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, E). Again Sean Watson struggled; he walked two and served up a run-scoring double before getting through the ninth (5.74).
5/13: Justin Mallett turned in a fine performance overall (L 0-2, 4.44, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, just 85 pitches) but Jordan Danks, younger brother of White Sox pitcher John, was 3-for-4 and scored both of Birmingham’s runs in a 2-1 win over Carolina. LF Mike Griffin got three of the Mudcats’ five hits (.286).
Moves & Notes: (5/8) RHS Jordan Smith activated from the DL; RHS Matt Klinker shunted to Billings temporarily.
Record This Week: 3-2.
Overall: 12-19, fifth place, eight games out.
5/7: LF Carson Kainer continued his recent hot string by singling and scoring on 2B Alex Buchholz’s base hit in the top of the first of Sarasota’s matchup with Jupiter (FLA). But starter Zach Stewart continued his trend of many, many hits allowed (39 in 26.2 IP coming into the game) by allowing four in the first inning as the Hammerheads tied things up at one (at least pheenom RF Mike Stanton went down swinging this time; he mauled the Reds in the last series the two teams played). Stewart then proceeded to allow precisely one hit the rest of the way as he fired a complete game (a major rarity in A-ball) five-hitter! He walked one and struck out six in evening his record at 1-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.27. Buchholz hit a two-run homer in the sixth (#2) to snap the 1-1 tie and give Sarasota the 3-1 victory. He’s now hitting .257 with 13 RBI. Kainer finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored (.305).
5/8: Jupiter scored all four of the game’s runs in the first off Jeremy Horst (L 1-3, 2.78, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR) as their pitchers shut the Reds out on seven hits. 3B Neftali Soto was 2-for-4 (.239) and Yonder Alonso extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single.
5/9: After Stanton rounded back into form by hammering a first-inning homer off Reds starter Jerry Gil, Sarasota took the lead back an inning later when Soto stepped up and hit a two-run bomb off Hammerheads starter Jeff Allison. Again Gil wasn’t fooling anyone for long, and when he departed with one out in the fourth down 5-4 (10.36, 3.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K), Enerio Del Rosario stepped in and held Jupiter hitless (he did permit one of three baserunners inherited to score, but that was it. 2.2 innings with 3 Ks lowered Del Rosario’s ERA to 1.37. Meanwhile, Sarasota fired back to tie the score at 6 in the eighth. Soto reached on a play that involved Jupiter’s fifth and sixth errors of the night, a fielding miscue followed by a bad throw. He ended up at second base. A passed ball moved him to third. RF Denis Phipps singled to score Soto, then C Devin Mesoraco reached on a bunt base hit. 1B Jason Louwsma bunted both runners over and then SS Justin Tordi managed a run-scoring grounder. Sarasota threatened in the ninth inning when Alonso walked and Soto reached on the *seventh* Hammerheads error to put runners on second and third, but Phipps struck out. Phil Valiquette followed Del Rosario’s lead by refusing to permit a hit in two innings of relief (1.98, 2 BB) and Ben Davis pitched a scoreless ninth to send the game to extras. Mesoraco led off the tenth with a single, but a forceout by Louwsma and a bunt popup/double play from Tordi ended that chance. Davis proceeded to strike out three straight (2.89, 2 IP, 1 H, 4 K). In the top of 11, only an Alonso walk with two outs troubled the bases. Joe Krebs came on to handle the bottom of the inning. Then, the 12th. Neftali Soto led off by drawing a walk, only his second in 114 at-bats. Kevyn Feiner pinch-ran and promptly swiped second base. Phipps drew a free pass as well, then Mesoraco bunted them both over. Louwsma then came through with the sacrifice fly to give the Reds the 7-6 lead. Krebs went back to the mound in the 12th and immediately served up a leadoff double before striking out the next man (W 2-1, 4.15, 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 K). On came Luis Montano to ground out the next man and strike Stanton out swinging to win it for the Reds! Luis got his first save of the season.
Alonso finished 2-for-4 with two walks (.279). Phipps and Mesoraco each added a pair of hits (.241 and .174, respectively). Jupiter committed seven errors, leading to three unearned runs.
5/11: Sarasota scored four in the eighth and one in the ninth, but fell one short overall in a 6-5 loss to Fort Myers (MIN). Buchholz struck out with the tying run on third to end the game. Starter Matt Klinker, just back from his winning spot start in Carolina, struggled badly (L 0-1, 6.28, 2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER). He’d be DL’ed the next day. Rafael Gonzalez’ first appearance of 2009 also went poorly (2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR). Soto did continue his hot-hitting ways, going a perfect 3-for-3 with a walk, run scored, and a solo homer (#4) to raise his average to .256. Alonso walked three times and went 1-for-2 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.
5/12: This time the Reds did their heavy hitting early on as well, scoring four in the sixth to break open a 2-2 game and five more in the ninth to put things out of reach. LF Dan Perales hammered a bases-loaded triple and RBI single to drive in four overall (.206), Mesoraco doubled and tripled and scored twice (.183, 2 BB) and Kainer topped .300 with a 3-for-5, three-run performance (.307, 2 2B). Sarasota’s defense turned in four double plays to back four pitchers: starter Travis Webb (4.50, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) and relievers Del Rosario (W 2-1, 1.23, 2.1 IP, 2 K), Valiquette (1.84, 1 IP, 2 K) and Davis (2.61, 1 IP, 1 K). Yonder Alonso did in fact extend his streak to 15 games- he went 1-for-4 with a RBI, run scored and walk. Neftali Soto extended his own streak to nine with two hits and two RBI; he’s at .357/.404/.643 in May.
5/13: Rained out
Moves & Notes: (5/11) RHS Matt Klinker returned to Sarasota. RHP Rafael Gonzalez, a mainstay of the Sarasota rotation in ’08 (5-12, 6.44, 22 GS, 102 IP, 130 H, 45 BB, 75 K), was activated. RHR Luis Montano and LHR Steve Otterness sent to Dayton. (5/12) Klinker was DLed with a sore right shoulder, necessitating the return of Montano. (5/13) As quickly as he appeared, Gonzalez disappeared to the temporarily inactive list. RHR Josh Beal was added from the piece of paper representing the Billings Mustangs.
According to the 5/13 Baseball America Prospect Report, Chris Heisey stood third in the Southern League in batting, first in OBP, and second in slugging.
Record This Week: 2-4.
Overall: 9-23, last place, 12.5 games back.
5/7: Matt Fairel started the first by serving up the fourth home run to Clinton (SEA) RF Denny Almonte in the three-game series with the Dragons. But Dayton came back with two in the bottom of one, one of those on the first MWL homer by LF Kyle Day. 2B Cody Puckett drove in CF Dave Sappelt with a sacrifice fly after Sappelt led off the first with a triple. Another LumberKings bomb tied the score at 2 in the third. Clinton then powered ahead 4-2 with a run in the fifth off Fairel, who turned in a quality start (3.45, 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 2 HR) and reliever Mace Thurman (4.91, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Again Dayton roared back with two in their seventh (RBIs from Puckett and Sappelt) to tie! The game went to extras after the Dragons blew their opportunity in the ninth; Sappelt, after singling and stealing second, was thrown out at home trying to score on 1B Humberto Sosa’s base hit. Mark James, making his first Dayton appearance, pitched brilliantly in relief for three-plus innings (3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K). Meanwhile, Dayton wasted more opportunities- back-to-back two-out hits in the tenth, a runner on second with two outs in the 11th, and bases loaded, one out in the 13th. Lefty Drew Bowman relieved James with one out and two on in the 13th and stranded both runners… but the Lumberkings got him in the top of the 14th for two runs (L 0-4, 7.20, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Dayton went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning and lost the marathon, 6-4. The Dragons stranded 15 runners and scored just four runs despite 13 hits, seven walks, two hit batters, and three Clinton errors. 3B Carlos Mendez led with three hits (.340) and Sappelt was 2-for-5 with a triple, walk, two steals (10), and a RBI.
5/8: Kane County (OAK), atop the Midwest League’s Eastern Division, rolled into The Inverse of Slaves to Citizens Ratio Field to face the 7-21 Dragons. Josh Ravin was able to get through the first two innings without incident (with the help of 2B Jose Gualdron and 1B Humberto Sosa teaming up to cut down a runner trying to score from second on a single), but the Cougars mauled him for three in the third. He managed to stick around until two more in the sixth sent him to the showers (L 1-3, 4.99, 5.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). Dayton did break the shutout with three in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-3 (RBI single by Puckett, bases-loaded walk to Sosa, sac-fly from RF Byron Wiley), but that was as close as they’d get. Kane County wins, 7-3. Sappelt left the game in the third inning, possibly due to injury, but he did not miss any additional time.
5/9: The only blemish on Curtis Partch’s pitching line through five innings was a solo homer in the second; Dayton had scored two in the bottom of that inning to lead 2-1. Sappelt poked a bases-loaded single to score both runs; apparently he wasn’t seriously hurt after last night. Mendez singled in Wiley in the fifth to make it 3-1. Then the long ball came back to bite Partch again, as a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth tied the score for Kane County at 3. A single and catcher’s interference on Kevin Coddington put the first two men on in the seventh. On came Scott Gaffney (Partch: 6.35, 6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR), who let both runners score to give the Cougars a 5-3 lead. Then Dayton fired back with four in the seventh! With one out, Wiley walked. Mendez singled him to third. 1B Stephen Chapman singled to make it 5-4, then stole second (#3). Tyler Stovall, on the batting average interstate all year, drew a walk to bring up Coddington. Kevin atoned for his earlier error by clearing the bases with a double to give the Dragons the 7-5 lead! A throwing error on the KC shortstop gave Coddington a free base, but when he tried to score he was erased in a 2-1-5 transaction. (Ah, A-ball.) Aguido Gonzalez came on and flashed some of the dominance that he showed in 2008 (when he posted a 0.98 ERA in 36.2 IP between Billings and Dayton) by striking out five over the final two innings to notch save #3 (4.80, 2 IP, 1 BB, 5 K). Gaffney got the victory (W 2-1, 3.86, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K). Coddington finished 2-for-4 with the three RBI (.359, also steal #1). A fine comeback win for Dayton- something we haven’t seen hardly at all in 2009.
5/10: Better to leave most of this one unremarked upon. KC wins it, 18-3. Byron Wiley did hit his first MWL homer, so that’s something.
5/12: Dayton led 2-1 through five, but West Michigan (DET) piled up five unearned runs off Bowman (L 0-5, 6.48, BS #3, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K, E) in the sixth and hit three solo homers off Jordan Hotchkiss in the ninth (4.15, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) to win easily, 9-4. Starter JC Sulbaran improved yet again (4.50, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR). Check him making the Baseball Prospectus daily Minor League Update for 5/13; apparently it's Kevin Goldstein's opinion that JC doesn't hit batters solely due to control failures. Nice. Puckett was a perfect 4-for-4 with two doubles to raise his average to .256 and Chapman, playing RF this time, hit his first Dragons homer. Apparently it went into the Great Miami River.
5/13: Another nice comeback win! Seriously, if the Dragons can do this a little more often, they’re going to be a much more competitive team later in the year when all the teams dominating the MWL now have lost their best players to promotion. Matt Fairel left training 1-0 despite dominating the Whitecaps for six innings (3.13, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K), but Dayton tied the score in the seventh on 2B Jose Gualdron’s first homer (.210, 3-for-3, 2 2B) and went ahead in the eighth when Puckett doubled (2-for-4, 2 2B, .264/.321/.438 now after going 6-for-his-last-8) and scored on Carlos Mendez’ infield single and a resultant throwing error. Mace Thurman, who’d been struggling a tad as of late, did a great impression of fellow lefty Fairel (W 2-0, 4.22, 3 IP, 1 H, 7 K) to wrap up the win.
Moves & Notes: Dayton’s internal Players of the Month for April: OF Dave Sappelt (.300-2-7-8, 24 H, 13 R) and LHS Matt Fairel (1-1, 2.61, 4 GS, MWL Pitcher of the Week 4/20-4/26).
(5/11) OF Brandon Menchaca was released after the signing of Stephen Chapman. RHP Luis Montano, a Midwest League All-Star in ’08 (12-8, 4.02, 26 GS), was sent back down from Sarasota after a 5.87 ERA in eight FSL appearances. Montano, 24, walked just 34 batters in 136.2 innings last year, so maybe he’s going to tutor a couple of Dragons hurlers in the art of strike-throwing. Luis is also a good example of how much of a pitcher’s league the MWL has become in recent years; it might even be more so than the Florida State League these days. LHR Steve Otterness was sent to Dayton, replacing LHS Leo Astorga (extended spring training). (5/13) Montano back to Sarasota.