Only a couple more to go!

Overall: Louisville took over first place not because they won four of seven, but because Columbus cratered. Carolina is sinking slowly with each passing week. Lynchburg drew within one of .500 with a third straight good week- they’ve crept to within three games of first with eleven to play. Dayton managed a four-game winning streak. Billings treaded water. The AZL Reds won three of five- they won’t win their division, but they have an outside shot at grabbing the wildcard if they win out.

AAA Louisville Bats

Record this week: 4-3.

Overall: 74-57, first place, 1.5 ahead Columbus (CLE). The Clippers ran aground!

8/19: The Bats make it three in a row at home over Syracuse (WAS), getting seven four-hit innings from Sam LeCure (W 8-3, 3.67, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 103 pitches/60 strikes). C Devin Mesoraco hit another grand slam homer in the second inning, giving Louisville the 4-0 lead. 3B Juan Francisco added a double and two-run bomb (#17, .290).

8/20:Rehabbin’ Aaron Harang’s struggles continue. His second start saw him allow nine hits and six earned runs in six innings as the Bats lost to Syracuse 8-1. RF Danny Dorn’s triple was one of three Louisville hits.

8/21: The Bats broke a scoreless tie in the fourth when, with two outs, RF Wladimir Balentien and Mesoraco both walked. 2B Wilkin Castillo followed with a double, scoring both runners (yes, Devin scored from first). Indianapolis (PIT) got a run back in the bottom of the inning off Matt Maloney on a double-play grounder, but the Bats made it 4-1 in the fifth when CF Dave Sappelt led off with a triple, then scored on SS Zach Cozart’s single. 1B Yonder Alonso followed with a base hit, then after Todd Frazier struck out, 3B Juan Francisco had an infield hit to score Cozart. Maloney was relieved by Jerry Gil with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth (3.35, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 92 pitches/58 strikes) but a 1-2 pitch was hit to left- where Frazier committed a bases-clearing error. Tie game. Gil quickly retired the next man. Alonso began the Louisville seventh with a double on an 0-2 pitch. Frazier atoned for his error somewhat with a double off the glove of the third baseman, scoring Alonso. After Francisco grounded out, Balentien dumped a base hit to left, making it 6-4. Mesoraco lined a base hit to center. He immediately left the game due to a left leg injury, leading Mike Griffin to come in as a pinch-runner. Castillo knocked in Balentien with a single (7-4). Eric Eymann then pinch-hit for Gil; he struck out, although a throwing error on a pickoff attempt moved each runner up a base. Sappelt then lined a two-run double, his fourth hit of the ballgame, to cap the rally! Phil Valiquette came on for the bottom of the seventh. He struck out the first batter, but gave up back-to-back singles immediately following. A groundout was followed by a bases-loading walk. Valiquette was lifted in favor of Danny Herrera (surprisingly), but this backfired as a two-run single cut the Bat lead to three. Herrera got ahead of the next man 0-2, but fired a wild pitch that moved both Indians runners into scoring position. Sappelt managed to glove a line drive to center to end the inning. Vailquette’s ERA jumped from 4.78 to 5.33. Herrera did manage a 1-2-3 eighth. Dorn singled with one out in the ninth, then Sappelt followed with his fifth hit of the day. A walk to Alonso loaded the bases, then Frazier drew a free pass to force in an insurance run. Aroldis Chapman struck out two in firing a scoreless ninth to wrap up a 10-6 win. Jerry Gil got his second win in as many Louisville appearances, this time for retiring just one batter. Sappelt’s 5-for-6 put him at 14-for-40 (.350) for seven games in AAA. Five other Bats had two hits apiece. Along with Columbus’ loss, this win put Louisville into first place by half a game!

Mesoraco turned out to be day-to-day. Not a serious injury.

8/22: Ben Jukich pitched well (4.37, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 99 pitches/62 strikes) and departed with a 2-1 lead, but Indy jumped on Carlos Fisher-struggling after going a couple of weeks in between outings- for three runs in the eighth (2.23, BS #3, L 1-1, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER) to win it, 4-2. Frazier (.255) and Valaika (.305) each had two hits.

8/23: Indy got single runs in each of the first two innings off Chad Reineke. The Bats did get a leadoff single from Sappelt in the fourth, although Valaika quickly grounded into a double play. Alonso followed with a double. Balentien battled through a Vottoesque ten pitches… but struck out to end the inning. Again Louisville threatened in the fifth; Reineke singled and moved to third when Sappelt’s grounder was E-6’d. But Valaika grounded out and Alonso’s hard shot was snagged by Indy SS Pedro Ciriaco, atoning for his earlier miscue. Inning over. A solo homer in the sixth made it 3-0 Indians (Reineke: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 93 pitches/54 strikes, 3.47 ERA). But Louisville roared back, tying the game in the eighth and scoring three in the ninth to win 6-3! Alonso hit a two-run homer (#11, 3-for-5 overall, .297) and C Corky Miller #6 (.291, 2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI). Enerio Del Rosario pitched the seventh (3.12), Valiquette the eighth (W 1-1, 5.14, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) and Chapman the ninth (save #8, 3.61, 2 K).

8/24: Balentien ran his August slash line to .467/.522/.785 by going 3-for-4 with a pair of homers in Louisville’s 5-1 win over Indy. He added a steal (of third base, too). Overall he’s at .289/.346/.551 with 24 homers, 75 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. Alonso added a single, triple, and two runs scored (.299). Sappelt was 2-for-4 with a triple and run scored (.340). It was Bullpen Day for the pitchers, as Jeremy Horst started and threw four shutout innings (2.35, 2 H, 4 K). Lee Tabor followed with two innings, earning the win (1-1, 4.26). Fisher again was scored upon in his inning (2.43) but Danny Herrera locked down the last two for save #5 (3.51).

8/25: Indianapolis managed to score six runs on just three hits! Five of these runs came at Matt Klinker’s expense in the first inning on a pair of homers. A walk and a pair of hit batters helped the situation for the Indians. Matt then allowed only one other hit over the next five innings (L 4-2, 5.49, 6 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 HR, 94 pitches/57 strikes) but the Bats never got their offense untracked. Indians win, 6-2. Phil Valiquette didn’t allow a hit in the seventh or eighth (4.80, 2 BB, 3 K). Francisco (#18) and Frazier (#16, 2-for-4 overall) hit solo homers to account for the Louisville runs.

Transactions and notes: 8/19: LHS Travis Wood back up to Cincinnati; RHR Carlos Fisher down to Louisville. 8/24: RHR Jordan Smith down to Louisville. INF Chris Valaika and RHS Sam LeCure recalled by Cincinnati. LHR Lee Tabor and INF Kris Negron up from Carolina. RHS Matt Klinker back from Carolina. 8/25: RHP Micah Owings cleared waivers, accepted his assignment, and was re-activated as a Bat. Negron and Tabor back to Carolina.

AA Carolina Mudcats

Record this week: 2-4.

Overall: 25-33 (second half). Last place, 11.5 games behind Tennessee (CHC).

8/19: James Avery pitched well (L 0-3, 5.79, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 89 pitches/55 strikes) but Carolina was held to seven hits, faling 6-1 to Mobile (ARI). RF Luis Terrero (.293, 2B, RBI) and SS Kris Negron (.275, 2B, R) were each 2-for-4. Negron is now hitting .406 in sixteen August games thanks to twenty hits in his last forty at-bats.

8/20: Mobile hit a pair of homers and scored four runs off Matt Klinker (W 7-6, 2.83, 6 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 88 pitches/57 strikes) but Carolina got a three-run homer from 2B Jake Kahauleilo (#11), five stolen bases from five different players, and three scoreless innings of relief- one each from Lee Tabor (4.38), Donnie Joseph (his AA debut) and Federico Baez (save #5, 2.86). All this added up to a hard-fought 6-4 win over the BayBears. Negron added a single, run scored, and two walks (OBP .366). He’s got an 18-game hitting streak!

8/21: Scott Carroll fired seven strong (3.59, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 88 pitches/62 strikes), but left a tie game. Ruben Medina came on in the eighth and gave up the tiebreaking run. Negron led off the bottom of the eighth with an infield hit (his second of the day), but CF Felix Perez immediately grounded into a double play and Terrero struck out. Medina left in the top of the ninth after he was hit by a line drive (L 3-1, 2.98, 1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER), so Joe Krebs finished up. RF Denis Phipps managed a one-out single in the Mudcats’ half of the ninth. With C Chris Denove batting (3-for-3, R, .322), Mobile closer Daniel Stange uncorked a wild pitch to move Phipps to second. Denove then walked on the next pitch. But the still-slumping Kahauleilo grounded into a double play to end the game.

8/22: Rained out.

8/23: Right-hander Jordan Hotchkiss, 24, a 31st-round draft pick in 2007 who rose from middle relief through most of his first two pro years to the surprise ace of the Lynchburg rotation this season (10-4, 2.30, 31 G, 15 GS, 113.2 IP, 86 H, 31 BB, 90 K) made his Double-A debut against Birmingham (CWS). He did serve up a two-run homer in the Barons’ second, although Terrero did get one of those back with homer #4 in the bottom of the inning. Terrero also drove in the tying run in the fourth when his sacrifice fly scored LF Sean Henry, who’d led off with a bunt single and stolen both second and third (15). They might have broken the game open, but Mike Costanzo was thrown out at home trying to score on an error and Jake Kahauleilo was picked off first to end the inning after singling in Denis Phipps (3-2 Mudcats). The running game giveth; the running game taketh away. The Barons got three in the fifth to chase Hotchkiss (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 94 pitches/61 strikes) and take a 5-3 lead, although Carolina got those two back in the bottom of the inning on a two-run Henry single. Brad Boxberger came on for the sixth, and that’s where it came apart. Birmingham got four runs, all earned, to take a lead they never relinquished (L 1-4, 10.65, 1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR). Justin Freeman pitched two scoreless and Donnie Joseph one, but the Mudcats didn’t seriously threaten again. Henry finished 3-for-5 (.298).

8/24: Birmingham hammered Abe Woody for four runs in the eighth to wipe out a 4-1 deficit and beat the Mudcats, 5-4. Carolina had a leadoff hit in the eighth and back-to-back one-out singles in the ninth, but couldn’t tie it. Ruben Medina followed Woody and allowed both of his runners to score- but didn’t get any blemishes on his record (BS #3, 2.91, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 3 K). Starter Travis Webb worked six (4.93, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). 1B Carlos Mendez was 2-for-4 (.245) and Costanzo 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double (.272).

8/25: Carolina scored five in the third to wipe out a 4-0 Birmingham lead, going on to win 8-5. C Chris Denove was 4-for-4 with a homer (#4), double, two runs scored, and two RBI (.341). Henry added two hits and two RBI (.300), SS Miguel Rojas two hits and two RBI in his SL debut and Kahauleilo two hits, two runs scored, a stolen base, and a RBI (.247). James Avery wasn’t sharp- but he did get the win (1-3, 6.04, 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4 K, 2 HR). Joe Krebs allowed one run in two innings (4.47), Freeman pitched the eighth, and Joseph the ninth for his first Double-A save.

Transactions and notes: 8/19: LHR Donnie Joseph promoted from Lynchburg. 8/20: LHS Tom Cochran placed on the 7-day DL; RHS Jordan Hotchkiss promoted from Lynchburg. 8/24: INF Kris Negron and LHR Lee Tabor up to AAA. RHR Federico Baez placed on the DL. RHR Abe Woody up from Lynchburg. SS Miguel Rojas promoted from Lynchburg. RHS Matt Klinker to Louisville. 8/25: Negron and Tabor returned from Louisville. Rojas back to Lynchburg.

High-A Lynchburg Hillcats

Record this week: 5-2.

Overall: 28-29, third place, 3 games out with eleven to play.

8/19: The Hillcats piled up five runs in the third to wipe out a 3-0 Myrtle Beach (ATL) lead- then hung on to win, 11-8. Justin Walker got through five for the win (3-1, 6.75, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR). DH Neftali Soto smacked four hits in five trips, scoring three runs (.259). 1B Chris Richburg was 3-for-5 with three RBI, two on a two-run homer (#5, .370). 2B Cody Puckett slugged a three-run homer (#14) and drove in four. SS Miguel Rojas was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two steals (11). Lynchburg stole a total of five bases on the night, including home once (courtesy of 3B Shane Carlson).

8/20: Pedro Villareal (4.15, 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) and Daniel Guerrero (W 2-1, 2.96, 4 IP, 3 H, 4 K) combined for eight shutout innings in the Hillcats’ 7-0 whitewash of Wilmington (KC). Puckett homered again (#15) and drove in three more runs. Lynchburg smacked twelve hits total.

8/21: Don’t look now, but the Hillcats have now won 12 of their last 17. They beat up the Blue Rocks again, 9-1. Puckett homered for the third straight game (#16) and went 3-for-4 with four runs scored (.273). He also recorded an assist on a tag play at home. Soto had a pair of doubles and two RBI (.261). Curt Partch worked eight innings to get the win (6-9, 4.78, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). The 26th-round pick from 2007 is finishing the year strong, recording four straight quality starts and five of his last six.

8/22: Wilmington fires back, beating Lynchburg on bullpen day 8-2. Ezequiel Infante started and lost (0-1, 6.75, 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 HR). Drew Bowman wasn’t much better (5.25, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 HR). Puckett did homer for the fourth straight game, pasting a solo shot in the fourth (#17).

8/23: Josh Ravin’s fast start at High-A has surprised everyone; it’s not that he’s never been effective in his several years at Dayton, it’s just that success was always very inconsistent. Now he’s come back from a long absence bumped up a level- and the challenge has worked so far (10.1 IP, 0 ER, 13 K in two starts). He started fast, whiffing four Winston-Salem Dash (CWS) hitters in the first two innings. The Hillcats whacked the Dash starter for five runs in the third- rally cappin’ courtesy of Soto, who poked a two-run single. Ravin worked two more scoreless innings in the meantime. He ended up going 5.2 (W 2-0, still 0.00, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K). Blair Carson came on to leave the bases loaded, then finish up for the save! The game was called with two outs in the eighth. Lynchburg wins 5-0.

8/24: Rained out.

8/25: MAKEUP MADNESS! The Hillcats and the Dash split the double-header, with Winston-Salem winning one game 5-0 and Lynchburg taking the other 1-0. Justin Walker served up four solo homers in four innings of the first game (L 3-2, 7.49, 4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). Pedro Villareal pitched five scoreless in game two (2.63, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K) but it was Jeff Jeffords who notched the win (W 3-1, 3.63, 1 IP, 1 K) after Richburg drove in RF Ryan LaMarre with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Nick Christiani got save #2 (3.64). LaMarre finished that game 2-for-2 with a double and walk.

Transactions and notes: 8/19: LHR Donnie Joseph up to Carolina. RHP Blair Carson back up from Dayton. RHS Jordan Hotchkiss promoted to Carolina. 8/21: RHR Abe Woody, 27, originally drafted by the Reds out of Baylor University in 2005 (31st round), was signed as a free agent. The Reds traded him to Arizona for (then) IF-OF Jerry Gil in October 2006. Woody had been let go by Arizona after posting a 3.71 ERA in 19 games in 2010. He’d pitched primarily in Double-A in his pro career with some brief, largely unsuccessful excursions to Triple-A. 8/24: RHR Abe Woody and SS Miguel Rojas to Carolina. OF Ryan LaMarre and RHR Doug Salinas promoted from Dayton. 8/25: Rojas back.

The Reds signed RHP Zach Ward out of the independent Northern League. Again. Ward was, of course, the Reds’ 3rd-round pick back in 2005. He was traded to the Twins for Kyle Lohse in 2006 after ripping through a 114-inning stretch in Dayton (7-0, 2.29 ERA); Cincinnati had already signed and released the guy again last season.

From BA’s blog on Cody Puckett: “Puckett doesn't look like a power hitter—he's a 5-foot-10, 185 pound second baseman. But stretches like this one reinforce the fact that Puckett is one of the better sleeper prospects in the Reds system. Puckett homered for a fourth straight game on Sunday, and during his hot stretch Puckett is 8-for-18 with three doubles and four home runs. The hot streak has raised his slugging percentage to .500 and has given him a solid shot at a 20-20 season. He now has 17 home runs and 17 stolen bases (in 20 attempts).”

Low-A Dayton Dragons

Record this week: 4-3.

Overall: 16-41, last place.

8/19: Dayton falls to Great Lakes (LAD) in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Tim Crabbe (L 2-6, 4.09, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). Tzu-Kai Chiu (2.51, 1.2 IP, 1 K) and Josh Smith (0.00, 1.1 IP, 1 K) pitched hitless relief. 2B Henry Rodriguez had two of Dayton’s four hits (.300).

8/20: Dayton held a 2-0 lead going to the bottom of the seventh, but the Loons scored five in the seventh and eighth off Jamie Walczak (6.43, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER) and Jason Braun (BS #2, L 2-1, 5.36, 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 WP) to get the comeback win. Four Dragons errors, 1-for-11 with men in scoring position, and Rodriguez getting picked off twice- all these things are the mistakes of a team that does not win more often. 1B Dominic D’Anna (.200) and LF Josh Garton (.237) each had two hits. Starter Daniel Corcino continues to pitch excellently; he permitted just one hit and one walk over 5.2 shutout innings (1.08, 7 K).

8/21: Dayton got four runs in the third on two-run homers by LF Kevyn Feiner (#2) and RF Ryan LaMarre (#5) to lead Lake County (CLE) 4-3 after five. Ricky Bowen pitched better than he has recently, striking out six over five innings (6.26, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB). Josh Smith relieved him in the sixth and struck out all three Captains he faced. He added a scoreless seventh (still 0.00). Rodriguez ripped a run-scoring triple and scored on C Mark Fleury’s sacrifice fly to give Dayton a three-run lead at 6-3. On came lefty Blaine Howell for the eighth; he walked one but retired the side (3.18). Could Doug Salinas close it this time? His last attempt saw him give up two game-tying runs. This time he had no trouble, whiffing three straight to notch save #6 (2.43). Bowen improved his record to 3-8.

With this win, the Dragons snapped a 24-game home losing streak.

8/22: LC grabbed leads of 1-0 and 3-1 off Jake Johnson, but the Dragons came back each time, leading 4-3 after three largely due to five walks (!) and a two-run double from Rodriguez. Johnson kept the Captains off the board in the fourth, but they got two in the fifth to lead for the third time, 5-4. But for the third time Dayton roared back, getting two of their own when Gregorius led off with a double, moved to third on a grounder, and, after Fleury walked, scored on LaMarre’s sacrifice fly. Fleury then stole second, went to third on the resulting throwing error, then scored on the wild pitch uncorked as Josh Garton was striking out. Garton reached first safely and then stole second, but didn’t get any farther. Johnson was replaced by right-hander Dan Renken, making his pro debut. Renken was the Reds’ 25th-round pick this year, out of Cal State Fullerton. He signed just before the recent deadline. Anyway, he retired the Captains without incident save a walk and hit batter. The Dragons then opened up some daylight, piling up four more runs on Gregorius’ two-run triple and Rodriguez’ two-run homer (#14). 10-5 Dragons. Jason Braun came on for the seventh- and turned in a 1-2-3 inning. CF Justin Reed’s two-run bomb made it 12-5 in the bottom of the seventh. Braun ripped through the eighth without incident (5.13, 3 K). Junior Martinez walked the first three batters he faced in the ninth, though, so he was lifted in favor of Jamie Walczak. He did let two of those runners in- but Dayton still wins handily, 12-7. And they did it with just nine hits. Why? Walks, of course- eight of ‘em. Johnson got the win (7-6, 4.40, 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Rodriguez is now hitting .302-14-71. Gregorius finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored (.268).

8/23: Clayton Shunick back to the hill to try and build on his excellent previous start. He gave up a single run to Lake County in the second. Feiner tied the score in the bottom of that inning by singling in Fleury. Dayton grabbed a 2-1 advantage in the third when DH Cam Satterwhite got LaMarre in with a grounder. Shunick fired a scoreless third, fourth, and fifth in preserving that lead. The (normally) light-hitting Feiner hit his second homer of the week in the Dragons fifth to make it 3-1 Dayton! Shunick got through the sixth (W 2-1, 3.07, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) then Tzu-Kai Chiu (2.35), Blaine Howell (2.92) and Doug Salinas (save #7, 2.38) each worked a scoreless inning to lock down the third consecutive Dragons victory.

8/24: Four wins in a row! Dayton scored eight runs in the third to sweep Lake County, 11-5. D’Anna drove in four runs with a pair of singles (.207). Garton was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored (.241). Gregorius was 3-for-5 with a double, steal #15, and run scored (.271). CF Alexis Oliveras slammed a three-run homer (#4). Tim Crabbe worked five for the win (W 3-6, 4.18, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K). Josh Smith (0.00, 1 BB, 3 K) and Dan Renken (0.00, 2 H, 1 K) each worked two scoreless.

8/25: South Bend ended Dayton’s winning streak, 7-4. Daniel Corcino struggled for the first time in four MWL starts (L 1-1, 2.95, 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K). Gregorius had two more hits, two more runs scored and another steal- #16 (.272). Fleury was 2-for-4 (.237).

Transactions and notes: 8/19: RHP Blair Carson re-promoted to Lynchburg. 8/24: OF Ryan LaMarre and RHR Doug Salinas also promoted to Lynchburg. 8/25: 1B Tommy Nurre activated from the DL.

Rookie-Pioneer Billings Mustangs

Record this week: 3-3.

Overall: 10-12 for the second half, three games out.

8/19: The Mustangs force a four-game split by pounding the Raptors (LAD), 11-2. Five-foot-eight catcher Tucker Barnhart, a 12th-round pick in 2009 out of high school in Brownsburg, IN, was 3-for-3 with four RBI and a pair of walks (.326). I’ve probably mentioned this kid a grand total of two times the whole year, but he’s done very well at the plate all season- putting up a .434 OBP in the PL at age 19. DH Yorman Rodriguez won’t stop hitting either- he was 2-for-5 with a double, three runs scored, and steal #6 (.357). 1B Donald Lutz hit homer #6. Lefty Tanner Robles tired too soon to get the win, but he did pitch well yet again (3.18, 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). Drew Hayes got the win in relief (W 1-1, 0.64, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). That was the first earned run charged to Hayes in fourteen innings. Mark Leonard retired the last eight Ogden hitters (4.30).

8/20: Orem (LAA) got the tiebreaking run off Kevin Arico (L 0-1, 2.08, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) in the bottom of the tenth on a solo home run to win it, 5-4. Billings had scored a run in the sixth and two in the eighth to pull into a tie. They blew a chance to move into the lead in the top of the 10th when 3B Oliver Santos grounded into a double play with two men aboard. Italian Luca Panerati fired three innings of shutout relief (0.00, 1 H, 3 K) following starter Jonathan Correa (6.23, 4 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR). Rodriguez refuses to stop hitting- he had three more hits- one a double- and scored two runs while driving one in. He also stole base #7. Yorman is batting .368/.367/.504 in 28 games- that’s one walk in 117 official at-bats.

8/21: Rodriguez staked Kyle Lotzkar to a first-inning lead by singling in 2B Billy Hamilton (who’d reached on an E-6 and stolen second- his 30th theft of the season). Lotzkar looked good, sliding out of a first-inning jam and then blitzing through the second with a pair of strikeouts. He did the same in the third. And the fourth. And the fifth (0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 9 K). Impressive. Pat Doyle came on and retired six more Owlz, then survived a pair of hits in the eighth (2.96, 2 H, 5 K). Lutz provided an insurance run by doubling in Hamilton in the top of the ninth (.277, 3-for-4, 2 2B). Porfirio Martinez got through the ninth for save #6 (1.74), giving Lotzkar the win. Kyle’s career was once in jeopardy due to the broken arm he suffered in 2008; seemingly no longer.

8/22: Billings fell behind early by a run, but a four-run outburst in the fifth put them up by three. RF Juan Duran drove in two of those (.258, 2-for-5). Santos also had two hits, a walk, steal #8, and a run scored (.275). LF Dayne Read was 3-for-5 with a run scored (.272). Stalin Gerson pitched well for five innings, allowing just the one run, but the Owlz nailed him and Leonard in the fifth for four runs of their own to grab a 5-4 lead. Rodriguez led off the seventh with an infield hit and made it as far as third in the seventh, but was stranded there. In the eighth Billings loaded the bases with two out but Yorman flied out. Drew Hayes held the Owlz (0.59, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) for a little while. Donald Lutz led off the Mustangs’ ninth with a walk. Immediately the speedy Theo Bowe was put in as a pinch-runner. After Duran took a third strike, Bowe was picked off. Jonathan Kaskow then flied out to end the game. Tough loss. Gerson’s ERA went up to 5.04 (5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Leonard was charged with the blown save and the loss.

8/23: Off.

8/24: Ogden (LAD) whoops the Mustangs, 13-3. RF Stephen Hunt did hit a solo homer, #1. Yorman Rodriguez drew two walks, giving him five on the year. Four are in his last three games. He’s now at .357/.373/.484. Billy Hamilton was just 1-for-5 (his average has dropped from a high of .340 down to .318 after a 4-for-27 stretch) but stole both second and third the one time he was on base- that’s 32 steals in 40 attempts.

8/25: Billings got four in the seventh to bust open a tie game and win, 6-2. LF Dayne Read smashed a three-run homer (#2, 2-for-4, 2 R, .279). Tanner Robles permitted one hit and two unearned runs in four innings (2.92, 2 BB, 4 K). Porfirio Martinez whiffed four in two innings (1.59). Pat Doyle ran his record to 4-0 with two innings (2.73, 1 H, 3 K).

Transactions and notes: 8/20: RHS Kyle Lotzkar up from the AZL Reds.

Rookie-Arizona League Reds

Record this week: 3-2

Overall record: 28-24, third place- 4 games out. Just one behind in the wild card race with three to play.

8/19: Off.

8/20: Eight more games to go in the AZL season. The Brewers took this one 6-3, scoring three off Lucas O’Rear (L 1-1, 4.38, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB) in the seventh. Juan Marizan came on to leave the bases loaded and give the Reds a chance to come back, but they couldn’t rally. 3B David Vidal continued a strong season with two hits and two RBI (.299) and 2B Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-5 to raise his average to .375. Yasmani Grandal made his professional debut as the Reds’ DH and went 1-for-2 with two walks and a caught-stealing.

8/21: The Angels starter, Australian Aaron Sookee retired the first 12 Reds in order, striking out six. Meanwhile, the Angels got five runs off Radhames Quezada (L 1-2, 5.32, 4 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). Nathan Driessen pitched a 1-2-3 fifth. Finally a walk to RF Jaron Matthews broke the perfect game, but not the no-hitter. Pretty good outing for a pitcher making his very first professional start (and coming into the game with a 6.20 ERA in twelve relief appearances!). The Angels made it 6-0 with a run in the sixth. Finally the Reds broke the no-hitter against Sookee’s relief help in the bottom of the sixth, with Torreyes doubling in C Danny Vicioso. Vidal grounded out to cut the deficit to 6-2. But the Angels piled on three more runs against Driessen in the seventh (3.92, 3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR). The Reds did get one back in their half of the eighth (Grandal singled, moved to second on Matthews’ single, then scored on a throwing error on a subsequent force play). Pat Quinn came on to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth (1.04, 1 BB, 2 K). Angels win easy.

8/22: The Reds stood at six out with six to play for this one, so it’s do or die from a division-winning perspective. Plus, there’s a wild card in the AZL (I think)- and it looks like the Reds are two behind the Dodgers there. Anyway, they need a win against the division-leading Brewers (31-18). Matthews hammered a two-run homer in the first inning (#7) to negate the Brewers’ two-run first, but they quickly fell behind again. The Brewers’ pitcher walked the bases full to start the Reds’ fourth, then CF Kurtis Muller and DH Adam Muenster got runs homer with a sacrifice fly and fielder’s choice grounder, respectively. El’Hajj Muhammad fired three shutout innings (1.52, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) in relief of starter Jose Amezcua (4.82, 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER). The Reds committed three errors in the first six innings, which didn’t help. Juan Marizan pitched a scoreless seventh and Joel Ernst a similar eighth. Finally the Reds broke the tie after Matthews walked, Grandal reached on an error (interference allowed Matthews to go all the way to third), and SS Junior Arias singled (.300, 2-for-3, 2B, BB) to make it 5-4. The Brewers weren’t done, though- they managed to string together three hits off Ernst to tie the score in the top of the ninth. The Reds couldn’t score, so off to extra innings it was. Ernst rolled through the tenth (2.20, 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K). Grandal led off the tenth with a double. Arias bunted him over and Muller was intentionally passed, then Muenster’s grounder sent Grandal racing towards home. He came in safely, winning the game for the Reds. Ernst got his first professional victory.

8/23: The Reds keep it going, blasting their complexmates the Indians 17-7. Wes Mugarian fell an out short of the win (5.19, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K). Vidal (.295, 3-for-4, 3 R, HR #6, 2 BB, 2 RBI) and Arias (2-for-5, 2 R, HR #6, 4 RBI) led the offense. 1B Maddox was 4-for-5 with a triple, walk, and three RBI (.267). Torreyes was 3-for-6 with three runs and two RBI (.365).

8/24:Off. The Reds can’t win their division, but they’re only one game back of the Dodgers for the wild card (27-24 vs. 28-23).

8/25: A big one- the division-leading Brewers in a must-win to stay in the wild card race. Just four to play with the Dodgers coming up on the 26th. This one was never in doubt, thanks to Ismael Guillon’s eleven strikeouts in six innings (W 3-3, 3.32, 1 H, 2 BB) and Maddox’ 3-for-5 with homer #6, three runs scored, and two RBI. Reds pound the Brewers, 10-0. Muller added three hits and two RBI (.328). Nathan Driessen allowed one hit over the final three to get the long save (3.42, 3 K).

Transactions and notes: The BA Prospect Hot Sheet for 8/14-8/20 mentioned INF Ronald Torreyes. An interesting paragraph at the other end of that link about both Torreyes (described as a little guy with surprising power and feel for hitting) but also mentions of Ismael Guillon, Junior Arias, and Jonathan Correa.

From BA’s blog: Kyle Lotzkar, rhp, Reds. Two years ago, Lotzkar could have made the case for having the best stuff in the Reds system. He was an impressive 2-3, 3.58 at low Class A Dayton as an 18-year-old. But he missed the second half of the 2008 season and all of ’09 with an elbow fracture. He's finally back on the mound, and the results are somewhat promising.
Lotzkar allowed two hits and one walk while striking out nine in five scoreless innings for Billings. It was his first start in the Rookie-level Pioneer League after eight outings in the Arizona League. Lotzkar has lost nearly two years of development because of injuries, and he has to prove that he can remain healthy, but it's a positive sign that he's finally back on the mound.