Overall: Neither the Bats nor the Mudcats have really gotten untracked yet (they sport identical 8-18 records), although a blitz this week from Lynchburg and a solid effort from Dayton have righted the ship considerably at the lower levels.
AAA Louisville Bats
Record this week: 1-4.
Overall: 8-18, last place, 8.5 games behind Columbus (CLE).
4/29: RF Wladimir Balentien homered and DH Chris Burke singled in LF Todd Frazier to bring the Bats back to a tie from a 2-0 deficit, but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Chad Huffman led off the ninth with a homer off Chad Reineke (L 0-2, 3.00) to win it. Louisville got Frazier as far as second in the top of the inning after he singled and Balentien bunted him over, but Burke flied out and CF Chris Heisey was called out on strikes. Frazier finished 2-for-4 (.173) and Burke the same (.208, steals #5, #6, and #7). Justin Lehr finally looked a little more like he did in 2009 (6.64, 6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 95 pitches/64 strikes) and Logan Ondrusek threw two scoreless (2.25).
4/30: Matt Maloney returned from the DL (blister issues), but departed after 66 pitches and four innings (L 3-1, 3.05, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HR) down 4-0. Louisville got two back in the fifth when LF Todd Frazier reached on an infield single, Balentien doubled, C Corky Miller doubled in one, and Burke grounded out to score the second. Balentien singled his next time up, in the seventh, and scored on Burke’s double. SWB got a fifth run off Federico Baez in the seventh, however. Louisville had their chance in the ninth when Balentien walked with one out andwent to second on Miller’s single; Wladimir and pinch-runner Josh Anderson then executed a double steal. Burke hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-4, but SS Zach Cozart grounded out to end the game. Good relief work by Jesus Delgado (1.64, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Jon Adkins (3.00, 1 IP). Balentien didn’t make an out the whole night, going 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored (.118). Miller continued to hit far better than he usually does (2-for-4, .293) and Frazier headed towards the exit ramp of the interstate (.196, 2-for-4). Seven straight losses.
5/1: Make it eight; ex-Red Bobby Livingston fired eight shutout innings to outduel Sam Lecure (L 2-2, 2.67, 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 106 pitches, 61 strikes) and propel Buffalo (NYM) past Louisville, 1-0. Fellow ex-Red Elmer Dessens, still chugging along at 39, pitched the ninth for the save. He had to strand the tying run after pinch-hitter Josh Anderson rolled an infield single and moved to second on Burke’s sacrifice bunt. Cozart took a called third strike and Balentien lined to second to finish it.
5/2: This time the Bats were probably sure they had it; they’d scored two in the top of the 10th off the Bisons’ John Lujan to grab a 4-2 lead. Pinch-hitter Luis Terrero singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt; 3B Juan Francisco then made the Sweetball obsolete with a two-run bomb, #2 (he finished 3-for-5 to raise his average to .145). On came closer Jon Adkins for the tenth. He started well, whiffing the first man he faced, but the next two men reached with squib singles (one a bunt). Mike Jacobs grounded out, but longtime minor-league slugger Mike Hessman stepped up and smacked a two-run single, tying the score. Adkins left and on came Chad Reineke. On his fourth pitch to Chris Carter, the ex-Boston prospect (who was acquired when Wily Mo Pena was shipped to Washington in 2007) smashed a game-winning, two-run homer. Nine straight defeats. Adkins got the loss (0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5.59) and blown save. Starter Travis Wood went six solid innings (3.77, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 88 pitches, 61 strikes) and both Logan Ondrusek (1.50, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K) and Enerio Del Rosario (2.45, 1 IP, 1 H) turned in scoreless relief. The offense produced 14 hits (and also ten runners left on base), with everyone in the starting lineup save Frazier (who did score a run after he was hit by a pitch) collecting at least one knock.
5/3: Can Aroldis Chapman play stopper? As it turns out, he could, although really it was the Bats’ lineup that fixed just about anything a team can fix in one game. Aroldis got whacked for nine hits and six earned runs in five innings, but Louisville scored in eight of its nine at-bats and piled up 24 hits (a franchise record) in a 20-7 pounding (luckily, Buffalo blocked the kick after the third Bats touchdown). Chapman is now 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA; one walk and eight Ks give him a ratio of 13/30 over 26 IP. Ben Jukich worked the final four to get the hardway save (3.00). Now, the batting heroics:
-LF Juan Francisco, 4-for-5, 3 2B, 4 RBI (.189)
-C Corky Miller, 3-for-5, HR #3, 5 RBI, 2 2B (.306)
-1B Danny Dorn, 4-for-5, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2B (.268)
-2B Chris Valaika, 3-for-7, 3 R, 2B, RBI (.341)
-SS Zach Cozart, 2-for-5, 4 R, HR #3, 2 RBI (.250)
Even Chapman himself got in on it, going 2-for-2 with a walk, double, run scored, and RBI. Louisville still left another 12 men on base after going 13-for-25 with men in scoring position.
5/4: Unfortunately for Bats Nation, it’s back to the ol’grind for the good guys. Directly after a two-run triple by Todd Frazier in the top of the ninth gave Louisville a 4-3 lead, the Bisons strung together a four seeing-eye singles and a wild pitch to steal a 5-4 win. Jon Adkins fell to 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA with three blown saves. Starter Justin Lehr turned in a quality start (5.81, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 79 pitches/55 strikes) and Enerio Del Rosario set down six straight (2.16, K). Dorn was 3-for-4 with a run scored (.291) and Francisco 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI (.205). Buffalo starter RA Dickey, following up his “give up one hit, then retire 27 men straight” start by not allowing a hit until the fourth (he would have been perfect through three, but Frazier reached on a post-strikeout passed ball). He finished eight innings having surrendered six hits and two runs to lower his ERA to 2.31. Dessens, despite blowing the save, got his fourth win by pitching the ninth.
Transactions and Notes: 4/30 LHS Matt Maloney activated from the DL; LHR Lee Tabor down to AA. OF Chris Heisey up to Cincinnati. OF Luis Terrero up from Carolina.
Here’s a good April International League summary from HardballTalk.
AA Carolina Mudcats
Record this week: 2-5.
Overall: 8-18, last place, ten back of Tennessee (CHC).
4/29: Matt Klinker struck out nine in six innings, but the Mudcats got all of five hits and Mobile (ARI) cruised to a 5-0 shutout win. Phil Valiquette gave up his first run of 2010. Klinker fell to 1-3 despite a 2.76 ERA (6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 84 pitches, 54 strikes). Eleven straight losses.
4/30: MUDCATS WIN! MUDCATS WIN! Finally everything fell into place in the same game as Dallas Buck scattered nine hits over 5.1 innings (W 2-3, 6.29, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 85 pitches, 54 strikes) and the offense piled on five runs in the top of the ninth for insurance in a 10-3 trapping of the BayBears. C Chris Denove was 3-for-5 with five RBI (.366) and CF Denis Phipps and LF Sean Henry were each 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored (.269 and .288, respectively). Three double plays helped Buck considerably and RF Mike Griffin threw out a runner at the plate. The bullpen (Jerry Gil, Joe Krebs, and Jordan Smith) pitched 3.2 innings of one-run ball.
5/1: Back to the old ways. Mobile won 8-5 despite committing six errors. Tom Cochran took the loss (L 2-1, 2.86, 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR) but Lee Tabor certainly didn’t help much (1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER). Phipps was 2-for-3 with two more runs scored (.284, BB, RBI, steals #3 and #4) and 1B Eric Eymann (.270, 2-for-4, R, RBI) and newly-promoted CF Dave Sappelt (2-for-5, R) also contributed. Ex-Red Abe Woody, traded by the Reds to Arizona in 2006 for Jerry Gil, got the save. Abe, 27, is back in AA after a 7.67 ERA in the PCL in 2009. He was a 31st-round pick by the Reds out of Baylor in 2005.
5/2: Thirteen losses in fourteen; Mobile got two off Daryl Harang (L 1-2, 6.32, 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER) in relief to grab a 4-2 win. Good start for Daryl Thompson (3.63, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 94 pitches, 55 strikes). SS Kris Negron homered, #2.
5/3: Travis Webb made his AA debut in a day game. He left after 5.1 innings (5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) although BayBears starter Barry Enright dominated the Mudcats on two hits over seven shutout innings. Three of the four earned runs charged to Webb were let in by Jerry Gil after he departed. Mobile then expanded the lead to 6-0 in the seventh off a struggling-with-his-control Phil Valiquette (1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB). But Carolina came off the mat in the top of the eighth! They parlayed a pair of walks, a Negron RBI single, a forceout, another walk, a Henry RBI hit, a Denove bases-loaded walk, and a Sappelt two-run infield single into five runs! This cut the Baybears’ lead to one. In the ninth, ex-Red Abe Woody returned to the hill to pursue the save. He got the first two men out, but Negron scratched an infield hit. Up stepped Yonder Alonso as a pinch-hitter… but he grounded to second ending the game and sentencing the Mudcats to their fourteenth loss in fifteen games.
5/4: Off, thankfully.
5/5: Thanks to ace Matt Klinker (W 2-3, 2.29, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 82 pitches/58 strikes), three Chattanooga (LAD) errors, and good bullpen work (Krebs 1 IP, Medina 1 IP, J. Smith 1 IP => save #3), the Mudcats win for just the second time in 16 tries, 3-0. Phipps was 2-for-4 with a run scored, steal #5, and double (.281) and Denove 2-for-3 with run scored, RBI, and walk (.346). Klinker knocked in a run for himself with a fourth-inning infield single.
Transactions and Notes: 4/30: OF Luis Terrero up to Louisville. OF Dave Sappelt up from Lynchburg. LHR Lee Tabor down to Carolina. RHS Matt Klinker placed on the temporarily inactive list. 5/1: LHS Travis Webb up from Lynchburg; LHS Alex Smit transferred to Billings. 5/4: Klinker activated. LHR Daryl Harang down to Lynchburg.
High-A Lynchburg Hillcats
Record this week: 6-1
Overall: 13-13, second place, 2.5 behind Frederick (BAL).
4/29: The Hillcats survived a four-run Kinston (CLE) flurry to win 7-6 when Justin Freeman (save #3, 7.88, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) got the Indians’ Adam Davis to pop up to shortstop, stranding the tying run on second base. Jeff Jeffords was whacked for three earned while retiring only one batter (13.50). Starter Mark Serrano went six for the win (2-0, 3.94, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) and Lance Janke threw two hitless in relief (2.65, 2 BB, K). LF Kyle Day finished 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (#2, .275). C Devin Mesoraco continued his strong start, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, walk, and RBI (.300). He also stole two bases (!).
4/30: Nationals starter Marcos Frias didn’t get a single out, allowing all seven Hillcats batters he faced to reach base as Lynchburg rolled up six runs in the first inning. They went on to win, 8-2. Matt Fairel got his third win (3-0, 3.60, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR) and Jordan Hotchkiss, Jeremy Horst, and Scott Gaffney threw four shutout innings in relief. Mesoraco brought in two of those first-inning runs with his fifth home run, and DH Carlos Mendez was 3-for-4 with a run scored and RBI (.314). RF Jeremy Reed contributed two hits and two RBI (.146) and 1B Neftali Soto also drove in two.
5/1: Soto had a career game, slamming a pair of home runs and going 4-for-4 with three runs scored (.275, homers #2 and #3) as the Hillcats took their third straight, 7-2. 3B Alex Buchholz chipped in a 3-for-3 with two RBI (.267) and Mendez (.324, 2 R, 2B) and Mesoraco were each 2-for-4. Starter Scott Carroll lasted five and a third (2.70, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB) but it was lefty Drew Bowman who got the win in relief (1-1, 3.55, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K).
5/2: Potomac salvaged one of the three-game set by pounding the Hillcats’ bullpen for eight runs in four innings, winning 11-6. Lance Janke (L 0-3, 4.74, 2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER) took the worst of it. Mesoraco homered *again*, #6, driving in three and raising his season line to .310/.398/.610! (One downside: he committed three passed balls, running his season total to six.) Soto, moving from behind the plate to DH, was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI to pull his own line to .294/.337/.447. RF Byron Wiley picked up his first two High-A hits. Starter Curtis Partch lasted five innings (3.32, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K).
5/3: Righty Brad Boxberger has made four pro starts and dominated in three of them. He took his 1.89 ERA and 24 Ks in 19 IP into start #5 against Kinston. Boxberger quickly retired the Indians in order in the first, striking out two. Soto, on the tear of his professional career, singled in his first at-bat to push his average over .300, but was immediately erased by a Mendez double-play grounder. Brad gave up a double in the second (to the humorously named Abner Abreu), but got out of the inning unscathed. With two down in the Hillcats’ second, C Chris McMurray and SS Miguel Rojas both lashed singles, then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. After a walk to Justin Reed loaded the bases, a passed ball scored the game’s first run. CF Josh Fellhauer walked, then 2B Cody Puckett singled within the infield to make it 2-0 Lynchburg. Kinston then got no less than three hits and a walk off Boxberger in the third, but no runs thanks to a nifty 4-3 double play and a pickoff by McMurray. Brad then settled down to throw a 1-2-3 fourth and fifth. A Kinston batter bunted his way aboard with one down in the sixth, but a 4-6-3 double play ended the inning and Boxberger’s longest pro outing to date (W 3-1, 1.44, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K). The newly-promoted Nick Christiani took over and retired six straight; meanwhile, the Hillcats expanded their lead when Soto slammed his fourth homer in the seventh (finishing 2-for-4, .303) and Fellhauer got Rojas home on a grounder in the eighth. Lynchburg wins 4-1 (the Indians did break the shutout with a solo homer off Justin Freeman in the ninth). Rojas, who’d been struggling pretty majorly, was 2-for-4 with two runs scored (.235) and Reed (likewise) 2-for-3 (.169, steal #2).
5/4: Neftali Soto smashed his fourth homer in four games, a two-run blast, at the perfect time- the bottom of the ninth with the Hillcats down by one- and Lynchburg won a dramatic 6-5 victory! Soto now has five homers and a .309 average (2-for-5). Puckett also homered (#3). Mark Serrano didn’t quite make it five (4.35, 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). Jeremy Horst bailed out Drew Bowman by stranding two runners, then striking out five over 2.2 scoreless (4.15). Jordan Hotchkiss, throwing lights out so far this season with a 0.63 ERA over 14.1 IP, got the win with a scoreless ninth.
5/5: The Hillcats drew Indians phenom Kelvin de la Cruz in this series finale, and de la Cruz didn’t disappoint- he at one point retired 20 straight Hillcats batters as Kinston managed two runs in six innings off Matt Fairel (3.48, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K). Finally Mesoraco snapped that string with a single leading off the eighth, but Alex Buchholz immediately grounded into a double play to end that. Finally Lynchburg got a break in the ninth. Miguel Rojas reached safely when Kinston’s Donnie Webb misplayed a fly ball. Justin Reed stepped up and cracked a two-run homer, tying the score! Cruz then got Josh Fellhauer out before finally exiting the game (8.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 8 K). The reliever hit Cody Puckett with a pitch and gave up a single to Soto, but got Mendez on a comebacker (both runners advanced. Mesoraco was intentionally walked (1-for-3, .312) and Buchholz atoned for his previous sin by smacking a game-winning base hit! The victory went to a deserving Lance Janke, who threw three hitless innings in relief (W 1-3, 4.09, 1 BB, 1 K). That’s back-to-back last at-bat wins, just like their parent club likes ‘em. It’s also a three-game sweep over Kinston!
Transactions and Notes: 4/30: RHR Nick Christiani and OF Byron Wiley up from Dayton. OF Dave Sappelt to Carolina. 5/1: LHS Travis Webb up to Carolina. 5/4: RHR Scott Gaffney placed on the seven-day DL (retro to 5/3). LHR Daryl Harang down from Carolina.
Here’s an article from the local fishwrap explaining why Neftali Soto catches games in the pattern he does.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
Record this week: 3-2.
Overall: 13-12, fourth place, 4.5 games behind Lake County (CLE).
4/29: Pedro Villareal had his best outing of the year (L 0-2, 4.33, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) but Dayton was held to three hits as Lake County takes another one, 4-1. SS Didi Gregorius tripled, singled, and drove in the lone Dragon run (.267).
4/30: Josh Ravin went five for his first win (1-1, 1.82, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 HB) and CF Efrain Contreras drove in three runs off a single and two sacrifice flies; Dayton beat Bowling Green (TB) 6-2. Blair Carson went 2.2 scoreless in relief (0.00, 3 H, K) and Donnie Joseph came on to strand two and strike out three of five faced for the save (#4, 0.79). Kevin Coddington returned to the lineup as the DH, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored (.300).
5/1: The Dragons scored four runs in the first and then made ‘em stand up, winning 5-3 despite being outhit 12-8 by the Hot Rods. Brian Pearl left after three innings (4.50, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). Junior Martinez and Mike James struggled in relief, but Chase Ware came on to throw four one-run innings and get the victory (W 3-0, 2.89, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K). 1B Chris Richburg slammed homer #3 and DH Mark Fleury hit his first, a two-run blast.
5/2: Rained out.
5/3: Starter Justin Walker was branded with a four-spot in the top of the fifth, giving the Hot Rods a 5-2 lead. But the Dragons’ bats exploded, producing nine runs over the next three innings en route to a 10-5 Dayton victory. Walker got his first win of 2010 (1-2, 6.12, 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) and Doug Salinas, Ezequiel Infante, and Donnie Joseph finished up in scoreless fashion. Utility infielder Shane Carlson took advantage of his spot start at SS by going 3-for-3 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored (.256). 2B Henry Rodriguez, moved to leadoff from his typical #2 slot, was 3-for-4 with a double, run scored, and three RBI (.289). Coddington was 3-for-5 as well (.327). Josh Garton contributed a pair of hits and runs scored in his Low-A debut.
5/4: Lake County got its revenge, whipping the mistake-prone Dragons 8-3. Dayton committed five errors that led to five unearned runs. Loss to Jake Johnson (0-3, 5.79, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). Garton had another nice game at the plate despite a throwing error in RF, hitting a triple and a solo homer and scoring twice (.444). Didi Gregorius was 2-for-4 both at the plate (.276, steal #3) and in the field (errors #6 and #7).
5/5: This contest was suspended after three innings due to weather. Neither starting pitcher- Lake County’s Joseph Gardner or Dayton’s Pedro Villareal- permitted a hit. The game will be completed on Thursday 5/6 (or “next week” as far as this report is concerned.
Transactions and Notes: 4/30: C Kevin Coddington activated from the DL. OF Byron Wiley and RHR Nick Christiani promoted to Lynchburg. OF Josh Garton activated. Garton, 22, was a 12th-round pick by the Reds last year out of Volunteer State CC. He hit .205 with two homers in 37 games with Billings. 5/4: RHS JC Sulbaran activated from the DL. RHS Brian Pearl placed on the DL with a right elbow strain (uh oh).