Both A-ball squads are starting to show some consistency; Bakersfield suddenly stopped playing a bunch of blowouts and started playing one-run affairs, but their W-L results have been very consistent so far. Dayton has evened out as well. Carolina just can't get it together, despite the generally okay performance of the veteran reinforcements they keep adding (excellent in the case of Quintin Berry). Louisville continues to hit pretty well, but they are suffering from inconsistent starting pitching.
AAA Louisville Bats
This week: 3-3.
Overall: 26-20, second place, six behind Columbus (CLE) and -2 games from last week.
5/19: The Bats erased a two-run early deficit with five runs between the second and third, but Durham (TB) scored in each of their final five trips to the plate and routed Louisville, 12-6. Matt Maloney was far too hittable (L 2-1, 4.45, 6 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 106 pitches/69 strikes). Jerry Gil got smacked around for four more runs (6.75, 2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR). 2B Chris Valaika had a three-run double (.290) and LF Yonder Alonso had a RBI double and a pair of walks (.331). DH Juan Francisco, 3B Todd Frazier, and RF Jeremy Hermida each collected two hits.
5/20: Louisville came storming back from a six-run deficit to take a 9-6 lead- then came close to blowing it, as Carlos Fisher allowed a run in the ninth before slamming the door (save #5, 4.15, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER) and finalizing a 9-8 win and a four-game series split. Scott Carroll was hit hard but stuck it out through the six-run Bulls second (W 2-1, 5.30, 6 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 96 pitches/67 strikes) and Danny Ray Herrera bridged the gap (3.86, 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K). Frazier’s three-run homer (#10) accounted for a third of the offensive outburst over the third and fourth innings; he also singled in the ninth and final run (2-for-4, .290). Francisco had a pair of doubles, two RBI, and two runs (.396), CF Kris Negron knocked in two with a double (.192) and Alonso had two more hits, one a RBI single (.333).
5/21: Bats off to Norfolk to face the Tides (BAL). This time the forces of evil played comeback, as Louisville blew leads of 1-0 and 5-3 en route to an 8-6 defeat. Dontrelle Willis left early after being hit in the foot by a batted ball (2.72, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) and Tom Cochran lost his Crafty in relief (L 5-1, 4.08, 5 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). Frazier homered yet again (#11) and added a RBI hit (2-for-5, .294) to run his total to 33, good for third in the IL. Negron had two hits and two runs scored from the leadoff slot to escape Mendozadom (.202)
5/22: Series even, as Louisville starter Chad Reineke outdueled Tides starter Rick VandenHurk, 2-1. Reineke is now 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, WP, HB, 102 pitches/72 strikes) but has just 27 strikeouts in 51.2 IP. In his defense, he was about a K per nine better than this current 4.75 in 2010- but that’s still not really enough to catch eyeballs at the big-league level. Carlos Fisher walked a batter but got three outs for save #6 (3.86). SS Zach Cozart hit homer #3 leading off the first; Norfolk tied it in the bottom half but the Bats broke the tie in the seventh when Francisco led off with a single and scored on Hermida’s double (with the help of an E-8) an out later.
5/23: Game three of the four-game set pitted Mike Leake against 31-year-old journeyman lefty Chris George, now with his sixth organization. As it turned out, however, the Reds ordered Rick Sweet to start Rehabbin’ Aroldis Chapman and have him work the first inning. Chapman did so without incident, taking just eight pitches to get two groundouts and a popup. Leake then came on, departing two innings later (?!) having been unimpressive again (4 H, 3 ER, 1 K, 1 HR). George didn’t last long either, exiting after three in a 3-3 tie. So the middle portion of the game was Jeremy Horst against another lefty journeyman, 36-year-old Mark Hendrickson. The veteran won this duel, though, as Horst retired the first eight men he faced but gave up both of his walks in the eighth as well as just one hit- a two-run homer. Jerry Gil then relieved him and gave up a pair of singles to give Norfolk their ending advantage of 6-3. Horst still pitched well in defeat (L 0-1, 1.73, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). Valaika hit a two-run homer (#2) and went 2-for-4 (.274) and DH Devin Mesoraco had a RBI double (.284).
5/24: Righty David Johnson has worked quietly in middle relief this season and throughout his pro career (just two games started in the Milwaukee organization). He drew the start here, though, in the Schoolkid Special against Norfolk and freshly-demoted right-hander Jason Berken (0-2, 7.94 in 15 G with Baltimore this year). The Bats got five hits off Berken in the first three innings, but failed to dent the scoreboard. They loaded the bases on singles in the second with no outs but Danny Dorn and Mike Griffin struck out and Kris Negron grounded into a force play. Zack Cozart led off the third with a base hit but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Johnson, meanwhile, worked a 1-2-3 first but the Tides’ Josh Bell led off the second with a solo homer. An out later, Johnson served up a single and walk. The runners executed a double steal and the lead runner scored when Mesoraco threw the ball into left field. Then, Norfolk’s Matt Angle- an Ohio State alumnus with all of seven homers in more than 450 minor-league ballgames (four of those in Low-A!) and a 2011 batting line of .178/.242/.187- slammed a home run leading off the third. 3-0 Tides. Several more hits and another run followed later in the inning, although Johnson avoided rout territory by stranding a pair of runners. A two-out double by Dorn in the Bats fourth went nowhere, but new pitcher Joe Krebs (Johnson: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER) turned in a 1-2-3 fourth. Alonso ended the fifth by grounding into a double play on the first pitch he saw. Norfolk made it five-zip in the fifth off Krebs.
Finally, the top of the sixth- BATS BAT BACK!
Louisville Top of the 6th
• Juan Francisco flies out to left fielder Kyle Hudson.
• Devin Mesoraco singles on a ground ball to left fielder Kyle Hudson.
• Jeremy Hermida doubles (10) on a fly ball to center fielder Matt Angle. Devin Mesoraco to 3rd.
• Chris Valaika singles on a line drive to right fielder Tyler Henson. Devin Mesoraco scores. Jeremy Hermida to 3rd.
• Daniel Dorn out on a sacrifice fly to center fielder Matt Angle. Jeremy Hermida scores.
• Michael Griffin doubles (5) on a line drive to left fielder Kyle Hudson. Chris Valaika to 3rd.
• Kristopher Negron homers (4) on a fly ball to left field. Chris Valaika scores. Michael Griffin scores.
• Pitcher Change: Armando Gabino replaces Michael Ballard.
• Zack Cozart singles on a line drive to left fielder Kyle Hudson.
• Yonder Alonso grounds out, pitcher Armando Gabino to first baseman Rhyne Hughes.
This tied the score at 5-5 heading to the seventh and the 2011 Bats debut of Justin Lehr. Krebs worked three innings of one-run ball (5.59; 2.25 in May after a 9.72 April). Lehr got the first out, but gave up a single, a double, and a RBI blooper to blow the tie. He did pick off a runner and induce a comebacker to hold it at 6-5 Tides, however. Griffin singled and Negron walked with one out in the eighth, bringing Cozart to the dish. THERE IT GOES! Homer #4 gave Louisville an 8-6 advantage! Lehr gave one of those runs back when he served up a solo homer to .201-batting utility infielder Nick Green in the bottom of the inning. Still, he tiptoed through the rest of the inning to hold the lead, and so it was left up to Jerry Gil. Remember what I said about Gil a couple of weeks ago? Well, give him credit- this time he went out there and turned in a 1-2-3 ninth- two swinging strikeouts and a first-pitch grounder to first to end the game. He made a winner of Lehr in Justin’s first appearance in Louisville this year (1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) and got himself save #4 (6.20). Cozart finished 3-for-4 to run his average to .282, while Mesoraco, Hermida, Valaika, and Griffin each had a pair of hits. Alonso was 0-for-5 to drop to .313.
5/17: INF Eric Eymann was released to make room for Juan Francisco. Eymann, 27, was hitting .186 in 59 at-bats this season between Carolina and Louisville. He was a 19th-round pick in 2005 out of Kansas State. He made midseason all-star teams in 2006 with Dayton and 2008 with Chattanooga, but his best season was the latter- he hit .299/.342/.436 with 71 RBI in 125 games. Eric was drafted as a shortstop but was moved to the infield corners and the outfield as he made his way through the ranks. 5/22: LHS Dontrelle Willis placed on the 7-day DL with a strained thigh.
The MONDAY OF MAJOR CHANGE (5/23): UT Todd Frazier and LHP Matt Maloney called up by the Reds; LHR Danny Ray Herrera designated for assignment and claimed immediately by Milwaukee. Herrera was assigned to AAA Nashville. LHR Aroldis Chapman activated for a rehab assignment. RHS Edinson Volquez demoted from Cincinnati. RHR Jordan Smith down from Cincinnati. RHP Justin Lehr promoted from Louisville. Finally, RHP Steven Jackson was signed as a free agent and activated. Jackson, 29, was originally picked in the 10th round in 2004 by Arizona (natch) out of Clemson as a big (6’5”/230#) dude who pitched primarily in relief his final year of NCAA ball. He was traded to the Yankees in the Randy Johnson deal in January 2007, soon after posting a fine 2.65 ERA in Double-A during the 2006 season. He struggled in 2007 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (4-8, 5.87, 18 G/11 GS) but was a little better in relief the following season (3-0, 3.17, 34 G, 54 K in 48.1 IP). The always-needy Pirates nabbed him off waivers in May 2009 and he spent most of the rest of the season with them, posting a 3.14 ERA in 40 appearances despite walking more batters than he struck out. When he failed to have the same luck in 2010 (8.74 in 11 G with the Pirates, 3.51 in AAA) he was let go as a free agent. The Dodgers signed him for 2011, but he struggled very badly as a starter at both AAA Albuquerque and AA Chattanooga, putting up a ten-plus ERA in five starts. So LA let him go… and a Bat he becomes.
5/24: OF Brian Barton activated from the 7-day DL. UT Todd Frazier back down from Cincinnati. RHR Carlos Fisher to the Reds, again.
Around the league: The Yankees called up OF Chris Dickerson on 5/17, having acquired him during spring training from Milwaukee for RHP Sergio Mitre. Dickerson took a fastball to the helmet in his first game in pinstripes, but was okay. Baltimore activated C Craig Tatum.
AA Carolina Mudcats
This week: 2-4.
Overall: 13-33, last place, 17.5 games behind Tennessee (CHC)- down 4.5 games (!) from last week.
5/19: THE LOSING STOPS HERE! For a day.
5/20: Matt Klinker to the hill against Chattanooga (LAD) to try and turn this around. Carolina grabbed a 2-0 lead thanks to back-to-back doubles from CF Quintin Berry and SS Miguel Rojas then a later forceout grounder from LF David Cook, but Cook was thrown out at the plate trying to score on 2B Jose Castro’s single to end the rally. An inning later they loaded the bases with one out, but 2B Cody Puckett’s hard liner was snared at third base and 1B Mike Costanzo grounded to first. Klinker then served up a grand-slam homer to Chattanooga CF Alfredo Silverio in the sixth, but the Mudcats were NOT DONE! They roared right back with three runs in their half of the sixth, loading the bases again with one out then plating two runs on a forceout/E-4 combo. Berry then doubled again to score Jake Kahauleilo with the go-ahead run. Justin Lehr withstood a dropped-foul-pop error by Costanzo in the seventh to get through the inning (4.97, 1 IP). Nick Christiani set the Lookouts down 1-2-3 in the eighth (2.18, 1 IP, 1 K) and Brad Boxberger did the same in the ninth to save his first of the year (1.62, 1 IP, 2 K). Berry finished an impressive 4-for-4 with a walk, running his Mudcat average over .300.
5/21: Daryl Thompson turned in his best start of the season (L 1-4, 4.44, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) but Carolina was stymied on six hits and a single run by five Lookouts pitchers. The bullpen wasn’t good (Freeman 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER; Joseph 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER) and Chattanooga won easily, 5-1. This game marked the return of 1B Neftali Soto, who missed a month with a broken bone in his wrist. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
5/22: Carolina got a 2-1 series lead as Kyle McCulloch held the Lookouts to three hits over six innings (W 1-1, 3.75, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 80 pitches/54 strikes) and Soto had two doubles (.270, R, RBI) to pace a 4-1 victory. The relievers were back to being good again, as Travis Webb (8.04, 1 IP, 2 K), Christiani (2.08, 1 IP, 1 H) and Boxberger (save #2, 1.31, 1 IP, 2 K) were excellent.
5/23: James Avery headed out to try and clinch the very first Mudcats series win of 2011! It didn’t happen, though, as Chattanooga permitted the Mudcats just seven hits (and 1-for-7 RISP), then whaled on Donnie Joseph (10.80, 1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB) in the eighth to make a close game a 9-3 rout. Avery worked 6.2 innings (L 3-6, 4.71, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR) but was too hittable. Carolina did get a couple licks in, as Soto (#2) and the slumping Puckett (#7, .208/.284/.338 in May) did hit solo homers. Quintin Berry kept hitting (2-for-4, 2B, RBI, assist at second, steal #9; .300/.451/.400 overall with 9/9 steals). RF Felix Perez raised his average to .223 with two singles and a second stolen base; he also recorded two outfield assists, one at second and one at home. A .261/.311/.348 May isn’t good, but it’s better than his .190/.253/.266 April.
5/24: Reds system debut for right-hander Brandon Hynick (see below for a lot more on him). Things started off promisingly enough, as C James Skelton homered in the third and Carolina added two more in the fourth to lead 3-1, but Chattanooga whomped Brandon (L, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR) and Justin Freeman for seven runs in the fifth. Lee Tabor, Donnie Joseph, Nick Christiani (1.99 ERA) and Brad Boxberger (1.25) shut them down from there, but the bats could produce nothing further. Carolina fails again to win a series. Skelton ended up 2-for-4 with two RBI (.188), Cook had a pair of doubles (.271), Castro keeps hitting (2-for-3, RBI, .302), and Soto was 2-for-5 (.283). But the Mudcats left ten men on base.
5/25: First and ten, do it again. Birmingham (CWS) rolled in to face Matt Klinker. A three-run homer in the first put the Mudcats in a hole; a two-run fifth punctuated by another bomb made it a 5-0 deficit. Klinker left down by that score (L 2-3, 4.24, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 91 pitches/61 strikes). Give Carolina credit, though- they didn’t roll over, picking up three in the seventh on a Berry two-run double, then a steal of third and a Rojas sacrifice fly. Neftali Soto capped a 3-for-4 night with a solo homer (#3) in the eighth, and with Travis Webb (7.50, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) and James Adkins (1.35, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB) doing scoreless relief work- the Mudcats went to the home ninth down just one. With one out, Berry singled sharply off the second baseman’s glove. With Rojas up, the ten-for-ten-stealing centerfielder took off for second… and was thrown out! One looking strikeout later, the game was over. Another just-not-enough loss. Soto is now hitting .320/.333/.680 for the season, thanks to four doubles and two homers among his 8-for-21 since missing that month of action.
Transactnotes: 5/19: RHS Dallas Buck released. One of the stars of Oregon State’s 2006 College World Series-winning squad, Buck, 26, hurt his arm late in the year and pitched through it- dropping to the third round in the draft due to concerns. This ended up being a case where the concerns were justified, as Buck’s pro performance never matched up to his college numbers. Injuries kept him from making more than 27 starts over parts of three seasons in the Reds’ system, and his ERA went from 4.82 to 6.41 to 8.50 this year.
5/20: The Reds acquired RHP Brandon Hynick, 26, from the White Sox organization for a player to be named later or cash. Hynick is a native of Middleburg Heights, OH, and went to high school at North Royalton. He was an eighth-round pick by Colorado in 2006 out of Birmingham-Southern College and dominated the low minors right out of the gate, posting an ERA of 2.39 in the Pioneer League in year one. Jumped to the California League for 2007, he dominated again, going 16-5, 2.52 over 28 starts and winning Baseball America’s “High-A Pitcher of the Year”. This was followed by a decent performance in the hitter-friendly Texas League in 2008 (10-7, 4.44, but a plummeting K rate- 97 in 172.1 IP- portended bad things.) Following a very solid 3.83 ERA over 26 starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2009, Hynick was traded to the White Sox along with cash for veteran RHR Jose Contreras late in the year. He won his only start remaining that year for Triple-A Charlotte, but then fell apart (1-4, 6.22, 10 GS, 59 IP, 79 H) in the first part of 2010 for the Knights and was demoted to Double-A Birmingham. He righted the ship, posting a 2.36 ERA in 11 starts. This year, he began with Charlotte again- but was hit hard (7.85 ERA in 7 GS, 51 H in 36.2 IP).
Also 5/21: OF Kyle Day was released to make room for returning 1B Neftali Soto. Day, 24, was a 12th-round pick by the Reds in 2008 out of Michigan State. He was a catcher in college but was swiftly converted to the corner outfield after going pro. He was a steady part-time performer most of the time, with his best season coming in 2010 for High-A Lynchburg (.276/.348/.429 in 95 games). He was 6-for-33 (.182) in 23 games for Carolina this year, primarily off the bench.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
This week: 4-2.
Overall: 25-21, tied for second, six games behind San Jose (SF)- down two from last week.
5/19: Bakersfield grabs a 2-1 lead in the ongoing series, spanking Stockton (OAK), 6-3. 2B Henry Rodriguez slapped three doubles and drove in two- the lone 2010 Dragons All-Star has kept it up in High-A, batting .308/.344/.456 with 33 RBI in 40 games. C Yasmani Grandal had a single, double, two runs scored, two RBI, and a walk (.285). He did commit his eighth passed ball of the season, however. Starter Josh Ravin ran out of gas after four, but did look decent (3.86, 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, WP, HBP). This meant Clayton Shunick (W 2-1, 1.75, 3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) picked up the win with some middle relief. Tyree Hayes set down six straight for save #1 (4.76, 3 K).
I must also point out that this game at Sam Lynn Stadium had a listed attendance of 312 fans. Intrigued by how a team can remain in operation when it draws so few, I clicked through a few other home games in the recent past- and those barely cracked a thousand. Wikipedia says the stadium holds 3,500; perhaps the ticket-takers are counting actual heads in the stadium rather than ticket sales? This website shows averages in the mid-900s per game in 2008 and 2009, the two most recent years available. Surely a High-A league does better than this! Anyone who knows is encouraged to post.
5/20: Bakersfield got a game-winning RBI single from Rodriguez in the bottom of the 11th to beat the Ports, 7-6, and win three out of four! The Blaze had gone up 6-2 with four in the bottom of the seventh on a pair of two-run homers by LF Josh Fellhauer (#4, 2-for-5, .358) and 3B Alex Buchholz (#2). But Scott Gaffney couldn’t retire a batter in the eighth, with Stockton scoring two off him (7.94) then plating his two remaining runners off Ryan Smith (0.00, 2 IP, 1 BB) to tie it at 6. Mace Thurman retired six straight over the final two for the win (2-1, 2.74, 3 K).
5/21: Modesto (COL) won the first game of this road series in the same fashion as Bakersfield had beaten Stockton the day before, getting the game-winner in the bottom of the eleventh to take it 5-4. Rodriguez kept his hot bat going (.313, 3-for-4, homer #5). The loss was pinned on Tyree Hayes (3-1, 4.88, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB). Starter Curt Partch worked five (6.75, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) but Tim Crabbe again pitched excellently in his second High-A appearance (4 IP, 2 H, 2 K).
5/22: DH Stephen Hunt may be returning slowly to earth (his average has dropped from over .500 down to a still-ridiculous .419), but his RBI single in the top of the ninth pushed the Blaze past the Nuts, 5-4. He was 2-for-4 with two RBI on the night. Gaffney took care of business in the bottom of the ninth to get the win and atone for the blown save (#2, W 1-3, 7.58, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER). JC Sulbaran didn’t strike out 13 like in his last start, but he did pitch with much greater economy, lasting seven innings- which I believe is the longest stint of his pro career (5.31, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HB). 1B Chris Richburg, author of 19 homers between Dayton and Lynchburg in 2010, has never really gotten off the ground in ’11 thanks in part to nagging injuries- but in this one he picked up four hits in five trips (.226, 2 R). SS Jose Gualdron had two hits and two RBI from the #9 slot (.250).
5/23: The Blaze won another nip-and-tuck affair, surviving four errors, two blown saves, two caught stealing, and a pickoff to defeat Modesto 10-8 in twelve innings! A sacrifice fly by Richburg and a bases-loaded walk (!) to pinch-hitter Rodriguez broke the tie in the top of the 12th. Ryan Smith blew his third save in four appearances (and he has a 0.00 ERA!) but also got his second win (2-0, 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and the returning Doug Salinas retired the Nuts in order in the bottom of the 12th for save #4 (8.56). Starter Lance Janke worked six (6.38, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). Fellhauer extended his hitting streak to nine with three hits and three RBI (.362). Grandal had two doubles, two walks, and three RBI (.294) as well as his fifth error in 37 games.
5/25: A fifth-inning Fellhauer RBI single was the series opener with San Jose (SF)’s only run until the seventh, when the Giants finally got to Pedro Villareal for the tying run. Pedro left with a man on first and two outs in the eighth, but phenom Gary Brown, the first man faced by Mace Thurman, reached on an error by Eric Campbell. The next man up smacked a two-run double to break the tie. San Jose went on to win, 5-1. Tough loss for Villareal, who has pitched very well both of his times out since a ten-run curbstomping by Modesto on the 15th (L 4-3, 4.34, 7.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K; 8 BB in 58 IP for the year).
Transactnotes: I failed to notice than on 5/17 the Blaze activated INF Carlos Mendez from the DL- and placed backup OF Welinton Ramirez on the restricted list, which implies that he’s retired. More news as I get it. 5/20: RHR Ruben Medina placed on the 7-day DL. RHR Ryan Smith activated. 5/23: RHS Josh Ravin placed on the 7-day DL; RHR Doug Salinas activated.
Another thing I missed that I should have been following: on 5/17, OF Stephen Hunt went 0-for-4. This ended his hitting streak at 20 games, easily the longest in the organization this season.
Low-A Dayton Dragons
This week: 4-3.
Overall: 24-22, fourth place, 3.5 games behind Great Lakes (LAD)- up a half-game from last week.
5/19: Tanner Robles gave up only three hits in five innings, but two were home runs. He also walked three, hit two, and uncorked two wild pitches. All of these extracurriculars pinned him with the L (2-4, 5.68) in Dayton’s 4-3 defeat at the hands of first-place Great Lakes. The Dragons mounted a comeback attempt down three runs in the seventh, but stranded men on second and third in that inning and then got only single runs in the next two innings. After SS Billy Hamilton walked to start the ninth, then stole second and third and scored on 1B Dominic D’Anna’s sacrifice fly (hey, HAMILTON HAVOC!), the Dragons had 2B Devin Lohman on second base with one out. But both DH David Vidal and 3B Frank Pfister struck out swinging to end the game. Dayton outhit Great Lakes 10-5, but stranded eleven baserunners. Vidal did hit homer #5 in the fourth. Hamilton was just 1-for-4 overall (.204) but actually stole three bases (32) and played an errorless game at short. Pat Doyle (2.08, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K), Jamie Walczak (2 IP, 1 BB, 2 K) and Dan Wolford (3.15, 1 IP, 1 H) shut the Loons out over the final four innings to make a comeback possible.
5/20: Four errors and some rough bullpen work behind starter Dan Renken (3.38, 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) enabled Lake County (CLE) to wipe out 3-0 and 5-3 Dragons leads and roll to a 9-5 victory in this series opener at Fifth Third Field. Two of those Es came from Hamilton, who now has 18 on the year. He did have some success at the plate and on the bases, though, reaching three times with a single and two walks, stealing bag #33 and scoring three runs (.207). D’Anna drove in three with two hits (.306) and DH Donald Lutz hit his eighth homer. Pat Doyle (BS #2, L 2-1, 2.70, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) took the defeat in relief.
5/21: D’Anna, batting .316/.372/.526 over his last ten, launched a two-run homer (#3) in the bottom of the eleventh as Dayton evened this series at one game apiece, 4-2. Dayton had blown a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth, as the Captains finally figured out Josh Smith (1.99, 7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 13 K) enough to take a 2-1 lead (Smith: 67 K in 49.2 IP, just 10 BB), but the Dragons tied the score in the bottom of the eighth when C Chris Berset singled and went to second on the hit’s accompanying E-7. Out came Hamilton to pinch-run some HAVOC. He stole third (#34) and scored on 2B Devin Lohman’s single. Lohman then swiped second himself (#8), but 2B Jefry Sierra flew out and CF Theo Bowe (2-for-5, 2 R, .368) grounded out. Drew Hayes (1.45, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K) and Dan Wolford (W 2-0, 3.00, 1 IP, 2 K) shut Lake County down until D’Anna could provide the blast.
5/22: Dragons win again, getting a clutch two-run single from RF Yorman Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth to take it, 3-2! Rodriguez (2-for-4, .223) has been quiet since his late-April outburst, going just .183/.279/.217 in May. His game-winner was preceded by singles from Lohman, Bowe, and Sierra. Hamilton whiffed for the second out (0-for-5, 2 K as the world’s speediest DH), but Yorman sent ‘em home happy. Win for Jamie Walczak in his second appearance since returning from Bakersfield the week before (W 1-0, 0.00, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 K). Righty Chad Rogers did fine in his first pro start, lasting four innings (2.65, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K). Jason Braun worked 2.1 (4.35, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K).
5/23: Fourth of four between LC and Dayton- could the Dragons win the series? Daniel Corcino was removed after a long rain delay in the third down 1-0 (2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) and the Captains had no problem with Pat Doyle (L 2-2, 3.77, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) who apparently had to be left in much longer than he normally would be. Dayton tied the score at 1 in the third but three LC runs in the fourth created a deficit that wouldn’t be closed. Lake County earns a split, 6-3. Bowe was 2-for-3 with steal #3, a walk, and RBI from the 9 spot. Hamilton was 0-for-2 officially, but he also drew two walks, scored a run and swiped three more bases (HAVOC!), giving him 37.
5/24: The Dragons head off to Great Lakes (LAD) to face the second-place Loons on the road- and they get great pitching and defense and one big inning from the bats, scoring a 6-0 shutout win. Dan Tuttle allowed five hits over six innings (W 4-1, 3.89, 3 BB, 4 K) and Blaine Howell (2.16, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 K) and Jason Braun finished up. C Tucker Barnhart didn’t make an out, going 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored (.296). He also picked a runner off second base. Duran doubled in two runs in the six-run Dayton seventh. Hamilton had a RBI double as well- and he didn’t steal third.
5/25: Tanner Robles walked six in five innings of work- but he was also near-unhittable, whiffing ten Loons and permitting just two hits (W 3-4, 5.15). He trailed for most of his outing, but the Dragons’ bats showed up in the fifth for three runs- the main blow a two-run triple by Barnhart. Jamie Walczak (2 IP, 2 BB, 3 K) and Drew Hayes (save #5, 1.31, 2 IP, 1 BB, 2 K) threw hitless ball over the final four, and Dayton added four more runs in the ninth to make it a comfortable 7-1 win. Bowe had a two-run triple and a pair of walks from the leadoff slot, while Hamilton batted second and went 2-for-5 with a RBI, run, and stolen base #38 (.204). Rodriguez had two hits and steal #14 (.232).
Transactnotes: 5/23: LHR Blaine Howell activated from the DL; LHR Ezequiel Infante placed on it.
More notice for RHS Daniel Corcino- he makes the team photo in the 5/20 BA Prospect Hot Sheet. Consensus seems to be that Corcino is basically Johnny Cueto Jr. Not a bad thing at all.