Louisville is starting to show signs of depletion, as they lost 3B Juan Francisco to a torn meniscus on the 6th, SS Zach Cozart to a callup on 7th, both Devin Mesoraco and Yonder Alonso to the Futures Game on the 9th, and LHS Dontrelle Willis to a callup on the 10th. We’ll see if they can stop a three-game losing streak after the break. Carolina took advantage of two makeup doubleheaders by winning four straight shortened games to even their second-half record! Bakersfield was mowed over by San Jose for four games and didn’t get a win until the final day. It was another Dragons week, though, as Dayton not only broke the professional sports streak of 814 consecutive sellouts (beating the record set by my beloved Portland Trail Blazers from 1977 to 1995) but also took four of six to expand their lead in their division to three games. Billings fell back into a first-place tie after splitting six. The AZL Reds are still win one, lose one.

AAA Louisville Bats

This week: 2-3
Overall: 49-43, second place, 9.5 games behind Columbus (CLE) . Up one from last week.

7/6: The Bats have actually played well against their first-place overlords, the 57-29 (!) Columbus Clippers, this season- winning nine of fourteen games. That hasn’t stopped the Clips’ lead from widening, however. In this one, ex-Red Justin Germano bedeviled the Bats on two hits and zero walks over six innings. Travis Wood pitched well again (3.32, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) but left trailing 2-0. Finally Louisville got something going in the eighth, getting RF Jeremy Hermida’s leadoff single and a couple of walks- but SS Zack Cozart struck out to end the inning. Jerry Gil shut the Clips out in the ninth, so there was one more chance:

Louisville Bottom of the 9th
• Dave Sappelt singles on a ground ball to center fielder Tim Fedroff.
• Yonder Alonso doubles (21) on a fly ball to left fielder Jerad Head. Dave Sappelt to 3rd.
• Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Kristopher Negron replaces Yonder Alonso.
• Devin Mesoraco walks.
• Jeremy Hermida doubles (18) on a fly ball to right fielder Ezequiel Carrera. Dave Sappelt scores. Kristopher Negron scores. Devin Mesoraco to 3rd.
• Zach Putnam intentionally walks Daniel Dorn.
• Todd Frazier out on a sacrifice fly to right fielder Ezequiel Carrera. Devin Mesoraco scores.

The Bats steal this one, 3-2. Gil gets the win to improve to 4-4 (4.31) and Brad Boxberger kept his ERA at zero with a scoreless eighth. Cozart’s hot streak has officially ended: he hit .377/.420/.549 in June, but is just 3-for-20 so far in July to drop his line to .310/.357/.467. Of course, he was called up.

7/7: The Post-Cozart Era begins with a win, as the Bats got three in the seventh and two in the eighth to break a scoreless tie and win it 5-2. Four Indianapolis (PIT) errors didn’t hurt either. LF Yonder Alonso slammed a two-run homer, #11, and both 1B Todd Frazier (.272) and 2B Chris Valaika (.239) had two hits. Daryl Thompson was the star of the day, however, as he fired seven innings of four-hit shutout ball to run his record to 2-0 (2.48, 2 BB, 6 K, 103 pitches/64 strikes). Dave Johnson and Nick Christiani both gave up a run, but Brad Boxberger came in to get the final out for his first Triple-A save.

7/8: It didn’t matter who the Bats ran out to the mound, the Indians whooped ‘em- whether it was Scott Carroll (L 6-4, 4.53, 6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) or Justin Lehr (5.94, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) or Johnson (4.50, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K). Indy rolled, 10-1. C Devin Mesoraco was 2-for-4 (.303, R) in his final game before heading to Arizona to play in the Futures Game.

7/9: Crafty Tom Cochran and two relievers held Indy to three hits, but Indians starter Sean Gallagher buzzsawed the Bats on one hit over seven and won a 2-0 shutout. Cochran worked five (L 6-2, 3.34, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K).

7/10: After losing game one, Indy made it three straight to take the four-game set. This one was 5-3, as 2B Chris Valaika got Danny Dorn home with a single in the top of the tenth, but Brad Boxberger was nailed for a pair of homers in the bottom of the inning to lose it (L 0-1, 5.06, BS #1, 2 H, 3 ER). Edinson Volquez walked four and struck out only three but also gave up only two hits (1.77, 105 pitches/61 strikes). Chad Reineke worked three in middle relief but gave up a game-tying eighth-inning home run (3.16, 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). Hermida hit homer #9, a two-run blast, and CF Kris Negron lashed three hits (.202, steal #9).

7/11: All-Star break.

7/12: All-Star break.

Transactnotes: 7/6: 3B Juan Francisco placed on the DL with a torn meniscus on his right knee. INF Mike Costanzo (.274/.360/.481 in 68 games with Carolina) was promoted to replace him. 7/7: Finally. SS Zack Cozart called up by the Reds. RHR Carlos Fisher got to go too. INF Paul Janish and RHS Edinson Volquez down. RHR Justin Lehr was activated from the DL. 7/8: Janish activated. 7/9: C Devin Mesoraco and 1B-OF Yonder Alonso made temporarily inactive. C Jordan Wideman up from Bakersfield as a temp. 7/10: RHR Carlos Fisher back down. LHS Dontrelle Willis called up by the Reds.

A Baseball Prospectus subscription-only article named Devin Mesoraco a “comeback kid”: “Gordon Beckham's teammate on the U.S. team at this weekend's Futures Game, Mesoraco was a first-round pick in 2007 who, like Beckham, didn't get going until his third full season. A career .240/.311/.368 hitter entering the 2010 season, Mesoraco transformed himself from a pudgy catcher to one that looks more suited to play linebacker in the NFL. The results have followed; in 188 games since, he's hit .305 with 35 home runs in 188 games. Now slugging .308/.385/.527 for Triple-A Louisville, he's ready now to begin his big-league career as the Reds catcher, but might need a trade for that opportunity to present itself before 2012.”

Around the league: I’m happy for Wily Mo Pena. I really am. I look at Juan Duran and I am glad he’s in Low-A ball and not on a 40-man roster like Wily Mo had to be with the Yankees. Ex-Red Jason Bour (23rd-round, 2007) , released by the Reds last April, was promoted from High-A Winston-Salem to Double-A Birmingham. Bour hit .284/.346/.486 in 59 games last season between the two levels, but was hitting .183/.233/.242 for the Dash at the time of his promotion.

AA Carolina Mudcats

This week: 4-1!
Overall: 9-9, second place, 2.5 games behind Chattanooga (LAD). Overall 32-56.

7/6: Rained out.

7/7: Surprised they didn’t make this some MAKEUP MADNESS, what with it being the final scheduled game of the series. Jacksonville (FLA) got a quick run off Kyle McCulloch in the first as a result of the right-hander hitting the first two batters he faced. Carolina got that run back in the second when C Yasmani Grandal, 3B Eric Campbell, and 2B Jake Kahauleilo singled to load the bases and McCullouch got a run home with a forceout grounder. But McCulloch served up a two-run bomb to the Suns’ Jim Negrych (career season high in homers: five) shortly after hitting a third batter to make it 3-1 Jax. That was the first hit for the Suns. Kyle did throw a 1-2-3 fourth, but in the fifth this guy drew a walk, stole second, and went to third when Grandal flung the ball into center field. A single made it 4-1 Suns. Manager David Bell pulled McCulloch in favor of Travis Webb with two on and two out in the sixth (L 2-4, 5.63, 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K). Mattison (yes, stache-guy) then grounded to short, but SS Henry Rodriguez botched it for a two-run error. The Mudcats did nab ‘Stache trying to go to second, but that play made the score 6-1. Campbell made Carolina’s third error of the game in the seventh to put two on with one out, but Webb got a couple of at-‘em-balls to escape. The Mudcats got one run back in their half of the seventh when CF Denis Phipps and LF David Cook hit back-to-back doubles, but Pat Doyle couldn’t keep the score the same in the top of the eighth, allowing seven of the eight batters he faced to reach. When the dust cleared, Jacksonville led 11-2 and poor Pat (a temporary fill-in from Dayton) had a 1-6-5-5-1-0 line. For humor’s sake, Bell brought on backup infielder Carlos Mendez to pitch the ninth. He went walk-hit batter-fly out-strikeout (becoming the first Mudcat pitcher to retire ‘Stache in the game)-wild pitch-single-fly out. RF Felix Perez led off the Carolina ninth with a single, but Mendez hit into a double play to end the game. Funny stuff. Anyway, Cook’s 3-for-4 (.266) was the offensive highlight.

7/8: It’s off to Huntsville (MIL) for the Mudcats as they open a four-game series (?). Usually series in the Southern League are always five games to account for the bus rides. Anyway, this was rained out.

7/9: MAKEUP MADNESS! Carolina’s bats boom for fifteen runs over fourteen innings, as they sweep the doubleheader 7-3 and 8-5! Grandal was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI in game one, while 1B Neftali Soto hit homer #14 and 2B Henry Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Matt Klinker scattered 12 (!) hits over a seven-inning complete game (W 5-5, 4.26, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Game two saw the Mudcats rebound from blowing a 3-0 lead with 2B Jake Kahauleilo’s three-run homer (#5) the big blow. CF Quintin Berry was 2-for-4 with a two-run double and solo homer (#2, .280). SS Jose Castro added two hits and two RBI (.309) and Perez was 2-for-4 (.245). Pedro Villareal left after three-plus (4.50, 3.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) but Donnie Joseph set down four of five to get his first win (1-1, 8.68, 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K).

7/10: Another rainout, so…

7/11: …MORE MAKEUP MADNESS! Carolina sweeps the series by taking both ends of this one as well, with both games ending 6-2. RF Denis Phipps homered in each end (#5 and #6) and had four total hits and four RBI (.304). Soto added #15 and LF David Cook #6 in game one, while Berry hit #3 in game two. Rodriguez had two hits and two runs in game one (.277) and Kahauleilo two hits, a run, and a RBI in game two (.218). James Avery picked up the win in game one (5-8, 4.31, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and Tim Gustafson the save (#1, 5.21, 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). Brandon Hynick won game two (W 1-1, 4.00, 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K).

7/12: Off.

Transactnotes: 7/6: INF Mike Costanzo up to Louisville. INF Carlos Mendez up from Bakersfield. 7/10: RHS James Avery activated from the temporarily-inactive list. LHR Travis Webb placed on the 7-day DL retroactive to 7/8.

High-A Bakersfield Blaze

This week: 1-5
Overall: 6-13 second half, fourth place, seven games behind Stockton (OAK). 41-48 overall.

7/6: Tzu-Kai Chiu is beaten up by Lancaster (HOU) for three runs in the eighth, snapping a 4-4 tie. 1B Stephen Hunt doubled in LF Josh Fellhauer with two outs in the ninth, however, and 3B Alex Buchholz followed with a RBI single. C Mark Fleury walked, but DH Chris Richburg lined out to second to end the game (7-6) and drop the Blaze to 5-9 on the half. Chiu pitched very well at Billings and Dayton last season (39.1 IP, 3 BB, 1.60 ERA) but now has a 5.56 ERA in 21 appearances with Bakersfield (L 1-2, 1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER). Hunt’s two doubles and two RBI put him at .330. SS Brodie Greene had two hits, two runs scored, two walks, and steal #22 (.279). CF Ryan LaMarre picked up bags #25 and #26 and Buchholz stayed over .300 with a 2-for-5. Starter Tim Crabbe hung in reasonably (3.55, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). Jamie Walczak walked three but allowed no hits and stranded two of Crabbe’s runners in the sixth (6.23, 1.2 IP, 1 K).

7/7: San Jose (SF) slaughtered everyone in the Cal League’s first half this year, as they lapped the pack with a 50-19 record. But even with a 6-9 start to the second half, the Blaze still didn’t provide strong competition. The Giants won their tenth game in eleven tries against Bakersfield, 6-3. Josh Ravin has really struggled since his strong April (2.49, 4 GS), going 5.50 in May, 5.48 in June and now 8.31 in two July starts after he failed to make it through the fourth (L 1-6, 4.92, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HR). The 23-year-old has always fought his control, and this year is no exception (50 BB in 71.1 IP), although his strikeout rate is up (74 K). SS Didi Gregorius socked his first High-A home run and Richburg was 3-for-4 with a double (.269, RBI).

7/8: Giants win again, 4-2, scoring everything they needed in the second inning. Just that bad inning for Mark Serrano (L 2-4, 4.37, 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR). Bakersfield managed two in the third, then got two singles and a walk the rest of the way.

7/9: San Jose committed five (!) errors, very unusual for the Yankees of the Cal League, but won anyway 2-1. The Blaze had men on base in four of the final five innings, but couldn’t push the tying run across. They left eleven men on base (having also drawn six walks in the game). Curt Partch pitched well in defeat (L 4-10, 5.58, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). The only Bakersfield run came home when Chris Richburg scored from third following an error on the Giants shortstop on RF Dayne Read’s stolen base. Read, up after raking in Billings, was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in his High-A debut.

7/10: Thirteen of fourteen and a four-game sweep, 11-1. Only light-hitting utilityman Jose Gualdron’s solo homer in the ninth prevented the ignominy of a shutout. Bullpen day didn’t go well- Mace Thurman was gone after one-plus (L 3-3, 3.75, 4 H, 4 ER) and Chiu was charged with five of the other seven runs while retiring just one batter (6.82). 26-year-old Derrik Lutz has missed most of the past two years after arm surgery; he returned to full-season ball for the first time since May 2009 with a scoreless inning.

7/11: Off.

7/12: The Blaze head home to the comfortable but old-person-smelling Sam Lynn Stadium to face Stockton (OAK) and clean up after the road sweep. Bakersfield took a 4-2 lead after scoring four times in the fourth- a rally capped by Fleury’s two-run single. AJ Means added a run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder and Gregorius singled in the fourth. Stockton tied the score at 4 off Clayton Shunick (1.99, BS #1, 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 K) then picked up the go-ahead run, an unearned tally coming when Fleury committed a throwing error, in the top of the ninth. So with one out in the ninth, Read stepped up and blasted his first Cal League homer to tie the game! Dayne went 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored from the #9 spot in the lineup. Doug Salinas took care of the tenth after bailing out Drew Bowman in the ninth (5.16, 1.2 IP, 1 K) and Derrik Lutz turned in a scoreless eleventh. Fleury walked with one out in the Blaze 11th, then stole second (4). An E-4 put Means aboard and moved Fleury to third. After Read walked, Fleury scored on a wild pitch to give Bakersfield their only win of the week! Lutz picked up the win in his second Blaze appearance. Starter Tim Crabbe worked five, allowing just four hits (3.55, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 HR). Fleury finished 2-for-4 with two RBI (.269) and LaMarre had two hits with three stolen bases (30, .286). So LaMarre passes Means, who hasn’t stolen a base since June. (He’s 3-for-32 in the month of July so far to drop his line to .245/.299/.327.)

Transactnotes: 7/6: INF Carlos Mendez up to Carolina. 7/7: OF Dayne Read promoted from Billings. 7/9: RHR Derrik Lutz up from Billings. C Jordan Wideman to Louisville as a temp. RHS JC Sulbaran on the 7-day DL retroactive to 7/6.

Low-A Dayton Dragons

This week: 4-2.
Overall: 13-5, first place, three ahead of Great Lakes (LAD), Lansing (TOR) and West Michigan (DET). Overall 48-40.

The Dragons make the Wall Street Journal!

7/6: Dayton fell behind early by scores of 1-0 and 4-1, but five runs in the seventh and strong bullpen work from Dan Wolford (W 4-1, 1.85, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 K) and Drew Hayes (save #13, 0.98, 1.2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K) helped the Dragons go to 10-3 on the half with an 8-5 win over Fort Wayne (SD). 2B Ronald Torreyes launched his first Low-A home run in that big seventh (2-for-5, .381) and DH Dominic D’Anna hit #5 (.270/.380/.392, 1-for-2, 3 BB). RF Jaren Matthews drove in three with a single and triple and C Tucker Barnhart had a single, double, two runs scored, and a walk (.288). Starter Josh Smith wasn’t at his sharpest for the second time in three (2.21, 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K).

7/7: Daniel Corcino had his first rough outing since April, getting hit for six earned runs in three innings (L 8-4, 3.12, 1 BB, 1 K) of Dayton’s 8-2 loss (despite the Dragons getting the same number of hits- eleven- as the TinCaps). Luca Panerati pitched three decent innings of long relief (4.32, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) and Brian Pearl returned to action following arm surgery for the first time following five starts with the Dragons in 2009; he gave up a solo homer in two innings. D’Anna was 3-for-4 with a run scored and RBI (.277) and 3B David Vidal the same with a pair of doubles (.285). This loss snapped the Dragons’ six-game winning streak. SS Billy Hamilton had a single, run scored, and steal #61 (.233).

7/8: Dayton whipped Fort Wayne in the rubber match of this three-game set, 9-1. Torreyes homered again (#2) and finished 2-for-3 with two walks, four runs scored, and two RBI. Crazy game for Tiny T. RF Yorman Rodriguez lashed a pair of doubles and drove in three (.249). Stalin Gerson threw 6.1 more shutout innings (W 3-0, 0.75, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K).

7/9: This game at Fifth Third Field represented the 815th straight sellout, breaking the record I’ve mentioned a few times before. And Dayton commemorated the record by beating South Bend (ARI), 4-1. The Silver Hawks committed four errors. Hamilton had two hits, steal #62, and a scored a run (.235). 1B Donald Lutz was 2-for-3 with homer #13 (.255). LF Juan Duran also had two hits and a RBI (.263). Starter Dan Renken was great (W 4-8, 3.75, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K). Blaine Howell retired four straight (2.09, K) and Drew Hayes racked up save #14 (0.96, 3 K).

7/10: Two straight whoopins! Dayton wins 6-2, holding the Silver Hawks to the same number of hits (3) as they committed errors. Kyle Lotzkar was back to Good Kyle from his rollercoaster of last week (W 1-1, 5.74, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). Luca Panerati, Dan Wolford, and Howell each retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts. 3B David Vidal drove in three with homer #10 and a single (.289, BB). Hamilton notched bags #63 and #64 after going 3-for-5- although Dayton couldn’t get him around to score. He’s up to .241. Rodriguez had two hits and steal #20 (.249).

7/11: Boy, this kinda sucked. So South Bend got to Josh Smith for three in the top of the sixth to take a 3-2 lead, but rain prevented the Dragons from batting in the bottom of the sixth. So Dayton wins in five innings, right?


Smith fell to 8-4 (2.36, 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) after dominating SB on one hit over five innings. Hamilton picked up steals #65 and #66 (1-for-3, R, .242) as well as error #27. CF Jefry Sierra hammered a run-scoring triple (.229).

7/12: Off.

Transactnotes: Missed this: fan voting anointed SS Billy Hamilton and RHR Drew Hayes as the Dragons’ Players of the Month for June. Hayes put up videogame numbers: 11 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 22 K. Hamilton hit just .252/.269/.330 with three walks and 25 strikeouts, but he stole fourteen of fifteen bases and caused untold amounts of Havoc ™. Perhaps the fans were actually reacting to Hamilton’s .326 mark in July.

Juan Duran was named one of five “comeback kids” in a subscription-only Baseball Prospectus article: “One of the best talents on the 2008 international market and the recipient of a $2 million bonus as a 16-year-old, Duran's struggles had everything to do with him growing four inches into a towering 6-foot-7 outfielder, as his coordination never caught up with his new length. He entered the year with career averages of .214/.290/.332, but the tools he displayed to earn that big check are starting to come back to him; while he retains a disturbingly high strikeout rate at Low-A Dayton, he's also hitting .263/.352/.478 in 57 games with occasional light-tower power displays. Not bad for a kid who is still just 19.”

Rookie-Pioneer Billings Mustangs

This week: 3-3
Overall: 12-10, tied for first place with Missoula (ARI).

7/6: This is a typical Pioneer League game, especially early in the season. Billings led 4-0 after three, but Great Falls (CHW) scored five between the fourth and fifth innings to grab the lead. The Mustangs then stampeded for eight runs in the sixth to lead big, but the Voyagers got three in the ninth before Nick Fleece got the final out of a 13-9 Billings victory. Starter Tony Cingrani again was excellent (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 K). Erik Miller picked up the win with two innings of relief (W 1-0, 1.80, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K). LF Dayne Read was 2-for-4 with homer #4, steal #4, three runs scored, and four RBI (.400); the 22-year old PL repeater probably needs to be in Dayton. SS Devin Lohman (3-for-5, two RBI, two runs, .303) should be as well but he’s been passed up by Torreyes and Billy Hamilton. C Nick O’Shea was 3-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI (.308)- the 24th-rounder out of the University of Minnesota was a part-time backstop in college and the Reds are apparently trying him there for the time being. He’s played first base or DH most of the other games he’s appeared in. CF Kurtis Muller continues to do a great job in the leadoff slot- he reached four times (.354, 1-for-2, 3 BB, 2 R, 3B) and is rocking a .492 OBP through 13 games. He probably deserves another shot with the Dragons as well after being overmatched earlier this year.

7/7: Great Falls gets some revenge, taking this one 8-3. Radhames Quezada took the defeat (L 0-2, 4.26, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K). LF Drew Poulk, a 23-year-old non-drafted free agent out of North Carolina State, was 3-for-5 with two doubles, a RBI, and an outfield assist. He’s batting .395/.447/.628 in 11 PL games so far (also .280 in eight Low-A games earlier this year) and, like Read and Muller, probably needs to move up. The problem is the roadblock of teenage phenoms Juan Duran and Yorman Rodriguez at Dayton- and low draft picks and NDFAs don’t generally take playing time from multi-million dollar bonus babies. Not that they necessarily should, either. 2B Cristobal Rodriguez raised his average to .308 with a couple of hits, despite making errors #5 and #6 in his fifth game of the season.

Incidentally, I typed this little bit about the Mustangs outfielders juuuust before reading that Dayne Read was promoted to Bakersfield. This might just be part of the domino effect from Juan Francisco’s injury (which got promotions for Mike Costanzo and Carlos Mendez, leaving an open spot) but we’ll see. Stephen Hunt has certainly made some hay out of being a roster afterthought.

7/8: Billings piled up a 5-0 lead in the first inning, then needed two in the ninth to hold off a Great Falls comeback. With the tying run on third, James Allen struck out two men and grounded out the third to lock up the 9-8 victory! For this, Allen got save #2 (2.79, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER). Mitchell Clarke gave up nine hits in five innings but got the win (1-1, 3.94, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). 3B Sean Buckley hammered two homers (#3 and #4) and drove in three (.321, 3-for-4, 3 R). 1B Robert Maddox launched homer #4 (2-for-5, 2 R, .242). 2B Adam Muenster was 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI (.206) and C Yovan Gonzalez 2-for-3 with a walk (.237).

7/9: Missoula (ARI) took advantage of four Mustangs errors and won easily, 8-5, after Billings’ three-run rally in the ninth left them several short. Buckley homered again, #5 (2-for-4, 2 RBI, .333). Ismael Guillon is showing signs of progress (L 0-2, 7.47, 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). El’Hajj Muhammad was hit pretty hard in long relief (5.27, 3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K).

7/10: Five more Mustangs errors! Ouch. The Osprey win a 12-8 slugfest, as again Billings makes the game look closer than it really was by scoring several in the ninth. C Nick O’Shea hit homer #3 and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored (.319). Lohman and Maddox each drove in two. Wes Mugarian looked great in his previous start, but hit a wall here (L 1-3, 7.36, 2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K).

7/11: Billings salvaged a game from this three-game set, winning 5-2 after grabbing a 3-0 lead in the first. Tony Cingrani again pitched perfect ball (2.2 IP, 4 K). Right-hander Ryan Kemp got the win in his pro debut with two scoreless innings. Brooks Pinckard got save #3. Lohman was 3-for-5 with two doubles (.313, RBI) and Poulk kept it going (2-for-4, .357).

7/12: Off.

Transactnotes: 7/7: See above. 7/9: RHR Derrik Lutz to Bakersfield. 7/10: RHP Ryan Kemp (14th-round, 2011) up from the AZL.

Rookie-Arizona AZL Reds

This week: 3-2.
Overall: 9-9, third place, one and a half games behind the Dodgers.

7/6: The Reds deliver unmerciful destruction to the Athletics, 17-1. Eight runs in the ninth made a rout a blowout, and two Reds players hit grand slams-RF Brennan May (#3) and SS Juan Perez (#2). 2B Brandon Dailey remains unstoppable (3-for-5, 3 R, 2 BB, RBI, steal #6- of home- and a .450/.515/.667 line in 14 games). And, lest we forget- last year’s 34th-round pick out of high school in Ontario is only 19. Perez ran his average to .367 with a 3-for-5. The 20-year-old probably deserves a crack at the Pioneer League sooner rather than later. Starter Justice French, 21 in a month and a college draft pick (25th-round, Mercer) dominated as he should- whiffing 12 over six innings of five-hit ball (W 1-1, 2.77). Fellow collegians Randy Yard (36th-round, U. Hawaii) and Jim Moran (18th-round, South Florida) also pitched scoreless ball.

7/7: Off.

7/8: Five Dodgers errors led to four unearned runs and a 9-6 Reds victory. Tanner Robles pitched three innings of one-run ball for the win- the lefty out of Oregon State struggled pretty badly with Dayton this year (7.16 ERA, 13 GS, 46 BB in 49 IP) after putting up great numbers in Billings in 2010. Jordan Smith pitched two innings of rehab, giving up one unearned run. Lucas O’Rear struggled (6.43, 3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER). LF Brennan May slugged a two-run homer, #4, and Dailey had a single, triple, RBI, and two runs scored (.446). May’s fourth homer tied him for the AZL lead. He’s also tied for second in RBI with 17. 1B Cesar Sanchez added two hits and two RBI (.326).

7/9: The Giants held the Reds to two hits in a 7-0 shutout. Dan Tuttle (L 2-1, 3.32, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) was dominant. Joel Bender followed with three innings of two-run ball.

7/10: Giants cruise again, 9-3. Carlos Gonzalez (L 0-1, 5.25, 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER) got the defeat in his second start. Ninth-round pick Cole Green, a righty, debuted with a scoreless inning.

7/11: The Reds get well on the Dodgers, 7-2. Twelve hits, with two apiece from CF Spencer Dickinson, RF Jon Matthews, and C Julio Morillo. Matthews stole two bases, giving him eight. This is tied for third in the AZL. Rehabbin’ Matt Fairel looked good, striking out two in two innings of one-hit shutout ball. Rehabbin’ Jordan Smith followed with two more, then Eliezer Beard whiffed ten Dodgers over the final five to notch the victory (2-0, 3.71, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB). Beard, a 20-year-old Dominican righty, has three walks and 25 Ks in 17 IP so far.

7/12: Off.

Transactnotes: 7/10: 1B Yimmy Lopez, 19, activated. Lopez played in the DSL in 2009 and the VSL each of the past two seasons. 7/11: LHS Matt Fairel activated for rehab purposes; RHR Ryan Smith, 21, released. Smith had won two games and pitched seven innings for Bakersfield this year after appearing at both levels of rookie ball last season. He was a non-drafted free agent signed in 2009.

Here’s an article about Justice French and what he’s overcome to be a pro ballplayer.