Carolina and Bakersfield have played away their slim chances at second-half contention, while Dayton seems intent on lapping the Midwest League field. Billings is hanging around, while the AZL Reds tore off six of seven but didn't get any closer to the division lead.

AAA Louisville Bats

This week: 3-4.
Overall: 64-61, tied for second place, 14 games behind Columbus (CLE).

8/10: Crafty Tom Cochran had a tough time in his first start in a while, giving up four runs over four innings (L 7-4, 3.69) to Toledo (DET). Worse, the Bats didn’t get going offensively until it was far too late, scoring three in the ninth but falling 6-4. CF Denis Phipps (#4), C Devin Mesoraco (#12) and SS Kris Negron (#7) homered.

8/11: Toledo ran uber-prospect Jacob Turner to the hill. Turner, 20, has spent most of the season in Double-A but also made his major league debut just a couple of weeks ago (allowing three hits and two runs in five-plus innings). This was his Triple-A debut. Louisville got a run off him in the first when Negron walked and scored on 2B Chris Valaika’s double. Two innings later, RF Jeremy Hermida launched a three-run homer (#15) to make it 4-0. Turner settled down from there, making it through 5.1 innings. The Mud Hens then went to work, getting a two-run homer off Chad Reineke (3.17, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) in the fourth and nailing Jared Burton for three more the next inning. Carlos Fisher (2.90, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K) and Jordan Smith (2.95, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K) stabilized things from there, and 3B Juan Francisco came up with a two-out RBI single in the seventh to tie the game at 5. On to extra innings we went. The Hens ‘pen got through the tenth and eleventh, and the offense greeted David Johnson with three straight hits (L 5-2, 4.98) in the bottom of the 11th to win it, 6-5. Valaika was 3-for-5 with two doubles (.252) and Phipps had two more safeties and a walk (.365).

8/12: Edinson Volquez pitched seven strong (L 2-1, 2.09, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 HR) but his teammates couldn’t provide much offense. Chris Valaika’s E-4 in the seventh led to two Indianapolis runs that tied the game, then LF John Bowker’s solo homer gave the Indians the 3-2 lead that would prove to stand up. Brad Boxberger (4.34, 1 IP, 1 K) and Nick Christiani (5.11, 1 IP, 1 H) did their jobs but Louisville only got a Denis Phipps single over the final two innings. Mesoraco did hit homer #13.

8/13: Indy scored two in the seventh to win it, 5-4, and send the Bats to their fourth straight loss. Jordan Smith (L 0-4, 3.38, BS #3, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) continues to be feast or famine. Phipps had a double, triple, RBI and two runs scored (.366) and LF Danny Dorn drove in two with a double and triple of his own (.252). Starter Daryl Thompson worked 6.2 innings (3.39, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR).

8/14: 1B Mike Costanzo saved the Bats from their fifth straight loss with a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth, pushing Louisville to a 2-1 win! That single was one of only three Bats hits on the day. Jared Burton (W 2-0, 6.00, 2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) got the victory in relief of Matt Maloney (3.43, 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Mesoraco had one of the other two Louisville hits and drew a couple of walks to go with it (.292).

8/15: For the second straight game, the Bats’ bats wake up just in time. Louisville got four in the eighth to win it, 4-1. Crafty Tom Cochran worked six strong (3.53, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K). Jerry Gil took care of the seventh (3.95, 1 IP, 1 H), Carlos Fisher the eighth (W 4-1, 2.81, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Brad Boxberger the ninth for the save (#2, 4.12, 1 IP, 2 BB, 1 K). Francisco smacked three hits and drove in one (.298)

8/16: Dorn singled in Hermida with the decisive run in the eighth, pushing the Bats past the Indians 3-2. Phipps was 3-for-4 with two doubles (.355) and Francisco crushed homer #12. The Bats ‘pen did great in relief of Chad Reineke (3.19, 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), with Jeremy Horst (W 1-4, 2.22, 0.1 IP) and Brad Boxberger (save #3, 3.92, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K) picking up the win and save.

Transactnotes: 8/11: RHS Chad Reineke activated from the DL. 8/12: OF Felix Perez placed on the DL. INF Mike Costanzo back from Carolina.

Helium Watch for Denis Phipps on the 8/12 BA Prospect Hot Sheet: For years, CF Denis Phipps has been considered one of the most athletically gifted players in the Reds organization. But that always had to be uttered with a caveat, as his on-the-field performance had never come close to matching his considerable tools. Phipps, 26, came into the season with a .246/.311/.370 career minor league batting line, so his .335/.386/.522 showing this year comes as quite a shock. The outfielder has shown dramatic improvement even as he earned his first promotion to Triple-A Louisville, where he hit four home runs this week and now carries a .365/.405/.608 line. In addition to his offensive improvement, Phipps' best asset continues to be his arm. He has 13 assists this season and has quickly discouraged International League baserunners from testing him—he has four assists in 15 games. Considering his age, Phipps still isn't a sure bet to even make the majors, but with minor league free agency beckoning at the end of the season unless the Reds add him to the 40-man roster, he will have plenty of options next season.

Around the league: Cleveland released RHP Justin Germano so he could pitch in the Korean League. He’d thrown a 95-pitch perfect game on July 26th against Syracuse. Colorado called up RHR Josh Roenicke, who’s made five scoreless appearances with the Rockies to date. The Phillies signed OF Brent Clevlen, who’d been playing with Wichita in the American Association following his departure from the Reds’ system. Pittsburgh sent C Miguel Perez to Washington for “cash considerations”.

AA Carolina Mudcats

This week: 3-3.
Overall: 23-27, third place, 8 games behind Chattanooga (LAD). Overall 46-74.

8/10: Off.

8/11: Montgomery (TB) buttered James Avery (L 5-11, 4.52, 4 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) for four runs in the third, chasing him an inning later. Carolina battled back to 5-4, although the Biscuits got a run off Travis Webb in the eighth after Tim Gustafson retired six straight in relief (5.18, 2 K). The Mudcats loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but DH Neftali Soto struck out looking and RF Bill Rhinehart flew out to end the game. SS Didi Gregorius continues to excel at this level; he hit a two-run homer (#1) and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Interesting note: the Biscuits starter was right-hander Jim Paduch, originally a Reds draftee back in 2003 (12th round) who was released after the 2006 season. Paduch, much like Tom Cochran, pitched in indy ball for four long years before getting a deal from the Rays this past offseason. He’s 4-4 with a 4.82 ERA primarily with Montgomery this season in 74.2 innings pitched.

8/12: Carolina built a 4-0 lead through five, but the Biscuits obliterated several Mudcat pitchers with a ten-run sixth. They cruised to a 12-7 win. Josh Ravin looked good until then (7.20, 5 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K). Kyle McCulloch (L 5-6, 5.29, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 ER) and Tim Hamulack (3.28, 1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) took the rest of it. Give Donnie Joseph a little credit- he entered a bases-loaded jam, stranded all the runners, then pitched a scoreless eighth (6.88, 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). Seven straight scoreless appearances for the lefthander. DH Henry Rodriguez was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles (.284, R, RBI, steals #13 and #14) and LF Cody Puckett socked a two-run homer (#10). 3B Eric Campbell doubled twice and scored twice (.258). The oft-injured Miguel Rojas returned to action after missing a month and a half- at second base, interestingly enough. He went 0-for-4 but drove in two runs with a pair of groundouts.

8/13: The Mudcats get their first win in game three of this series by scoring six runs over the first two innings, then getting good bullpen work from Brandon Hynick (W 2-3, 4.57, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER), Chris Mobley, and Travis Webb. Final score: 9-4. Sure, Rhinehart’s 4-for-4 with three RBIs (.377) and Neftali Soto’s 26th bomb (.266, 2-for-4, 2 R) and Campbell’s two-run shot (#7) also helped.

8/14: Pedro Villareal served up a pair of solo homers but only two other hits as he throws a complete-game, 6-2 win! Villareal moved his record to 6-3 (4.72, 0 BB, 4 K). Campbell keeps raking (3-for-4, 2 RBI, homer #8) and the 1-2 hitters in the lineup, CF Quintin Berry (.286, 2-for-4, 2 R, homer #6) and Rodriguez (#3) both homered.

8/15: Rubber match in this set before the Mudcats head out to Chattanooga on their penultimate road trip of 2011. Things got off to a great start, with Carolina tallying four in the first with the help of Campbell’s third homer in three games (#9). Curtis Partch pitched solidly for the second straight start, departing after five with a 5-2 lead (W 2-0, 5.51, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR). Tim Gustafson gave up a single run in the seventh. Travis Webb retired only two of five hitters faced so Justin Freeman came on to get the final out in the eighth and leave the bases loaded with Biscuits. But Freeman gave up a solo homer (o phenom Hak-Ju Lee) and then a triple in rapid succession after getting the first two outs in the ninth. On came Tim Hamulack with the tying run at the plate. A Campbell throwing error allowed the run to score and make it 6-5, but the veteran lefty got another grounder to third from the next man. Eric made the play this time, and the Mudcats scored a series win! Hamulack got save #3. Berry was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double, and steal #32 (.289) while Puckett was 2-for-3 (.252). Rhinehart was 0-for-4 but still drove in two runs.

8/16: Chris Mobley blew another one, permitting two runs in the eighth to snap a 7-7 tie (L 2-5, 6.39, 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). Rhinehart smacked homer #4 in the top of the ninth, but that’s as close as the Mudcats got; they fall 9-8. Puckett hit a grand slam in the fourth (#11) and Rhinehart finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI (.344). James Avery was again subpar (4.72, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K). Yasmani Grandal returned to action with a RBI single, a walk, three strikeouts, an error, and a passed ball (.282).

Transactnotes: 8/11: INF Jake Kahauleilo placed on the 7-day DL; INF Miguel Rojas activated. RHP Brandon Hynick activated to pitch out of the bullpen, replacing released LHR James Adkins (0-1, 5.74 in 31 games). 8/12: OF Josh Fellhauer back from Bakersfield as INF Mike Costanzo goes back to Louisville. 8/16: C Yasmani Grandal activated from the DL. C Kevin Coddington sent back to Bakersfield.

Article on recent Mudcat addition Bill Rhinehart.

High-A Bakersfield Blaze

This week: 2-4.
Overall: 24-27 second half, fifth place, seven games behind Stockton (OAK) and Modesto (COL). 59-62 overall.

8/10: Off.

8/11: Rancho Cucamonga (LAD) popped Mark Serrano for eight hits and five runs over four-plus en route to a 6-3 win. Serrano (L 4-8, 4.90, 4.1 IP, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 HR- now 18 in 82.2 IP) was just coming off his best start of the season. 3B Alex Buchholz had only one official at-bat, as he drew three walks and scored two runs. SS Devin Lohman had a double and a pair of free passes as well (.308).

8/12: JC Sulbaran was a little too hittable (L 8-4, 4.26, 6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and the Blaze didn’t hit enough, as RC wins 5-2. Bakersfield got just five hits. Three came from CF Ryan LaMarre, who raised his average to .290 and swiped bag #43. Two Blaze runners were picked off at second base in this game, which didn’t help scoring. Once it was LaMarre. 2B Brodie Greene drove in both Blaze runs.

8/13: Finally Bakersfield manages to beat the Quakes, rallying from a 5-0 first-inning deficit as well as later gaps of 6-4 and 7-5 to win, 8-7, following DH Jorge Jimenez’ two-run homer (#2) in the eighth. Scott Gaffney’s 1-2-3 seventh got him the win (3-3, 5.64) while Doug Salinas did a fine job on the two-inning save (#12, 1 H, 2 K, 5.02). Starter Dan Renken struggled with his control, not usually a problem at Dayton, and took an early shower (4.40, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR). 1B Carlos Mendez had a 4-for-4 night, scoring three and driving in two (.257). LF AJ Means had a pair of doubles and two RBI (.237, steal #31).

8/14: RC takes the final game of the four-game set, 5-2, to make it three. Tim Crabbe started and lost (L 4-4, 3.74, 5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). LaMarre had two more hits- the series was rough on his team, but good for him (8-for-18, 3 SB). Greene hit homer #13 in the ninth.

8/15: Back to Sam Lynn Stadium for a seven-game homestand. First up: Visalia (ARI). Matt Fairel was coming off a strong second start, but this one looked more like his first- ugly and short (L 0-2, 10.80, 2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 1 K). Visalia scored in each of the first five innings and won easily, 13-7. Mace Thurman (5.63, 2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER) and Drew Bowman (4.58, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER) struggled as well. Chris Manno did keep his scoreless streak alive with a hitless eighth (1 BB, 1 K, 8.1 innings of two-hit ball since the trade). DH Chris Richburg did hit a first-inning three-run homer (#10) and Means had two hits and two outfield assists (.240). 1B Stephen Hunt is just 6-for-36 in August, with two of those hits coming in this one (.294).

8/16: Serrano bounced back into effectiveness, allowing only five hits over seven (W 5-8, 4.62, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K) as Bakersfield won 6-4. Chris Manno: yep, three more Ks (now 18 Ks in 9.1 IP). Doug Salinas got save #13. Hunt had a solo homer (#7) and a double, Jimenez was 3-for-4 with two RBI 9.256) and C Jordan Wideman 2-for-4 with homer #1.

Transactnotes: 8/10: C Mark Fleury wasn’t ready to return. He went back on the 7-day DL the day after coming off. C Yovan Gonzalez, 21, promoted from Billings; he hit .232/.296/.303 in 27 games for the Mustangs this year. The Puerto Rican native was a 30th-round pick in 2009. 8/12: OF Josh Fellhauer up to Carolina. 8/14: 1B Chris Richburg activated from the DL. 8/16: C Kevin Coddington back from Carolina. OF Dayne Read placed on the DL with a ribcage strain.

Low-A Dayton Dragons

This week: 5-2.
Overall: 33-17, lead by six games over Fort Wayne (SD) and Great Lakes (LAD). Overall 68-52.

8/10: Four wins in a row! Dayton fought back from a 3-0 deficit with three in the seventh and two in the ninth to win, 5-3, over West Michigan (DET). 1B Donald Lutz, LF Juan Duran, and RF Drew Poulk each doubled in a run in the seventh, while Poulk doubled in both runs in the ninth. Lutz finished 3-for-4 (.276, 2 R). Daniel Corcino pitched very well, although he got no decision for it (3.41, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K). Chad Rogers pitched the eighth and got the win (5-4, 3.19, 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). Drew Hayes survived a bases-loaded jam in the ninth for save #19

8/11: Five! 3B David Vidal hammered a two-run homer in the first (#17) and Duran launched a three-run bomb in the third (#12) as the Dragons cruised, 7-2. Vidal also drew three walks to raise his overall line to .302/.367/.529. He’s raking at .382/.488/.735 over his last ten. CF Jefry Sierra, who’s struggled most of the year with the bat, was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and steal #23 (.225). SS Billy Hamilton is mired in a 2-for-17 slump and hasn’t stolen a base in four games, leaving him stuck on 78 with 24 to play.

8/12: West Michigan snapped the Dragons’ five-game win streak, 10-5. Neither Josh Smith (L 10-7, 3.17, 3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) nor Luca Panerati (5.26, 3.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER) had much success against the Whitecaps. Duran did hit another three-run homer (#13) late. Hamilton made errors #32 and #33, but did manage steal #79 as well.

8/13: It’s back to playing Lake County, who the Dragons were busy sweeping in LC last week. This time they’re at Fifth Third Field. Dayton remained undefeated against the Captains in this recent stretch, winning 2-1 in 11 innings on some classic Hamilton Havoc:

Dayton Bottom of the 11th
• Jefry Sierra grounds out softly to pitcher Kyle Petter.
• Theo Bowe strikes out swinging.
• Billy Hamilton singles on a line drive to left fielder Brian Heere.
• Drew Poulk singles on a line drive to center fielder Luigi Rodriguez. Billy Hamilton scores. Fielding error by center fielder Luigi Rodriguez.

Hamilton actually scored both Dayton runs, coming home on a Lutz single in the fifth after swiping bag #80. Starter Mitchell Clarke worked five (1.42, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) and Brian Pearl three (3.32, 2 H, 2 K) but Blaine Howell got the win (2-1, 1.95, 3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K).

8/14: Dayton and Lake County were set to finish their suspended game from the previous week, with the Dragons leading 2-0 in the third inning in their quest for a four-game series sweep. They fulfilled this quest with an exclamation point, scoring in four of the final six innings in a 9-2 win. Tanner Robles pitched five of the final six innings (W 5-8, 5.83, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). Lutz was 3-for-5 with two doubles (.275).

In the day’s regularly scheduled game (which was interesting because the Dragons started Kyle Lotzkar, the same pitcher who originally started the suspended game!) the Dragons again hammered the hapless Captains, 7-1. Lotzkar allowed only one hit over five innings for the win (2-1, 4.34, 2 BB, 4 K). RF Kurtis Muller, just called up from Billings to replace the injured Drew Poulk, was 3-for-4 with a triple in his first game in Dayton since the early season (.235). Duran hit his third three-run homer this week (#14). Hamilton, despite reaching base three times on a single and two walks, was caught the only time he tried to steal (.253).

8/15: Can the Dragons make it seven straight over Lake County? Prior to this recent stretch Dayton had won six of eleven against the Captains, so it’s not like this had been going on this whole time. Dayton took a 2-0 lead after six with single runs in the fifth and sixth. DH Frank Pfister’s sacrifice fly scored C Chris Berset; CF Jefry Sierra singled, moved to second on Hamilton’s sacrifice, then scored on an error. Daniel Corcino dominated the Captains through six (3.25, 3 H, 1 BB, 10 K) but Lake County came to life against Pat Doyle, tying the game with tallies in the seventh and eighth. Doyle was left in the game on into extras (!) as Dayton wasted one-out doubles by Hamilton in the eighth and Duran in the ninth. As Doyle struck out a man with runners on the corners in the 10th, the pitch eluded Berset and the go-ahead run scored. Chris threw out the runner on second stealing to end the inning. In the Dayton tenth, Hamilton singled with one out (3-for-4, .257) but he was thrown out trying to steal second in his only attempt of the night. 2B Ronald Torreyes walked, but Vidal popped out- and Lake County actually won! Doyle fell to 6-4 (BS #4, 3.84, 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR).

8/16: Off.

Transactnotes: 8/11: OF Jaren Matthews placed on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. OF Josh Garton promoted from Billings. Garton, 23, hit .243/.310/.422 in 89 games last season for the Dragons but injuries kept him out of action for the vast majority of 2011. He was a 12th-round pick in 2009. 8/14: OF Drew Poulk to the DL with a hand injury; OF Kurtis Muller back from Billings.

Rookie-Pioneer Billings Mustangs

This week: 3-3.
Overall: Finished first half at 20-18, second place, five games behind division champ Missoula (ARI). Second half 8-8, two games behind Missoula (ARI). Overall 28-26.

8/10: Starting this week two games out, the Mustangs found themselves with an opportunity to close that gap right quick because they were set to open a series with the division-leading Voyagers (CHW). And Radhames Quezada was up for it, shutting Great Falls down on one hit through five innings (W 2-3, 3.83, 1 BB, 4 K). 3B Sean Buckley hit a two-run homer, #12, in a three-run third and the Mustangs win, 4-1. Brooks Pinckard got save #5 (4.50, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K). LF Juan Silva was 2-for-4 with two runs scored (.263, RBI) and RF Kyle Waldrop 2-for-4 with a triple.

8/11: Ismael Guillon gave up four runs over the first two, but his offense bailed him out by mauling the Voyager starter for eight runs in three-plus. Guillon fell an inning short of his first win, but he did strike out eight over four innings (7.65, 3 H, 4 ER, 4 BB). Dan Jensen held Great Falls hitless for 2.2 innings of relief to get his first pro victory (1-1, 6.30, 1 BB, 1 K). Billings ended up winning it 10-6; there’s now a three-way tie with the Voyagers, Mustangs, and Helena Brewers atop the division. Buckley tied league leader CJ Cron of Orem (LAA) with his 13th homer, a three-run blast (.305, 3-for-5, 2 R, steal #6). Waldrop was 3-for-5 with his third homer (.278) and 1B Robert Maddox had homer #10 and a two-run double (.255).

8/12: The Mustangs help their case, beating Great Falls for the third straight game when Maddox’ RBI single in the bottom of the ninth scored Bryson Smith to win it, 5-4, and complete a comeback from a 4-0 deficit. The Billings bullpen looked great following the departure of starter Kyle McMyne (7.17, 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER)- with El’Hajj Muhammad (4.50, 3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K), Ryan Kemp (3.14, 2 IP, 3 K), James Allen (1.52, 0.2 IP, 2 K) and Porfirio Martinez (W 1-0, 3.86, 0.1 IP, 1 K) all doing well. The Mustangs got two in the fifth on SS Cristobal Rodriguez’ sacrifice fly (.253, 2-for-3) and Smith’s double, his first PL hit. CF Kurtis Muller drove in run #3 with a groundout and Maddox tied the score with a fielder’s choice grounder in the seventh.

8/13: The Voyagers salvage one from this four-game set and put three-fourths of the Pioneer League North division back in a tie at 8-6 with an 8-5 victory. Four unearned runs in the top of the ninth off Pinckard (L 3-2, 4.18, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) followed an E-6 by Rodriguez that would have ended the game had it been handled cleanly. Maddox doubled twice and scored twice (.259) and 3B Junior Arias was 2-for-4 with a double (.239, R, RBI). Starter Wes Mugarian worked four-plus (5.79, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K) and Jason Braun followed him (3.38, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K).

8/14: Off.

8/15: Thud. Billings has been playing pretty well lately, but this one was ugly. Idaho Falls (KC) slaughtered the Mustangs, 13-2, in a game where Billings made seven errors. Tony Cingrani still struck out nine in four innings (L 0-2, 1.84, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB) but both Cole Green (4.50, 1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) and Porfirio Martinez (6.75, 2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 K) took most of the damage. Maddox did go 3-for-4 with two doubles (.270) and Smith hit a solo homer, his first pro bomb. Missoula won and Helena lost, leaving the Osprey in first by a game.

8/16: Two straight for the Chukars; only Bryson Smith’s homer (#2) leading off the game dented the scoreboard the Billings. Idaho Falls wins, 5-1. Dan Jensen lost his first start (L 1-2, 6.65, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR).

Transactnotes: 8/10: C Yovan Gonzalez up to Bakersfield. OF Bryson Smith up from the AZL. OF Josh Garton to Dayton. 8/13: RHR Jason Braun up from the AZL. 8/14: OF Kurtis Muller to Dayton. 8/16: INF Juan Perez promoted from AZL Reds.

Red Reporter has a great eyewitness account of Billings’ July 30th game with Helena. It illustrates even more clearly why you should root for El’Hajj Muhammad, plucky 49th-round draft pick.

Rookie-Arizona AZL Reds

This week: 6-1.
Overall: 27-20, second place, two games behind the Dodgers. Never fear; the Reds and Dodgers play three times over the regular season’s final week (8/24, 8/26, 8/29).

8/10: The Reds come up with a big win over the Athletics as the AZL season enters the home stretch, 10-7. Five runs in the seventh broke out a 5-4 game. CF Bryson Smith was 4-for-6 with two RBI (.385) and DH Josef Terry 2-for-5 with two runs, two steals, and three RBI. 3B Robert Ramirez was 3-for-4 with two runs (.243). He also committed his 15th error in 30 games. Jason Braun got the win despite allowing three runs in 2.2 innings; he pitched in relief of Joel Bender (4.08, 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). Alejandro Chacin got save #9 (0.55, 1 IP, 1 H). The Reds picked up a half-game on the idle Dodgers, cutting the gap to 1.5 games.

8/11: Another key win, as the Reds down the D’backs 7-4. The Dodgers won, leaving the gap at 1.5. 3B Gabriel Rosa socked three hits (.210, 2 R, 2B) and LF Bryant Selsky had two hits and two RBI (.286). Justice French scattered eight hits over six innings (W 4-3, 3.40, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K).

8/12: Off.

8/13: The Reds found a way to win, pulling out a seesaw 9-8 victory. The Cubs scored four in their half of the first, only to have the Reds grab a 5-4 advantage in the third. The two clubs then swapped the lead a couple more times before a key Reds run in the bottom of the eighth put them up by one. Reds manager Jose Nieves called for Alejandro Chacin, and the 18-year old put away the Cubs for save #10 (0.52, 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). The win went to Jamie Walczak, who pitched a scoreless eighth. Venezuelan SS Humberto Valor, another teenager, drove in three runs with a pair of doubles (.213) and both Rosa (#2) and Selsky (#2) homered. 2B Brandon Dailey drove in three with two hits (.346). The Dodgers win their game, keeping the Reds two games back.

8/14: This game against the Indians had a lot in common with the day before: big early advantage for the opposition, a Reds rally, then a couple of late runs., and a 9-8 win. The good guys tied the game at 8 in the ninth when Rosa was hit by a pitch, Selsky singled him to third and the Indians opted to turn a 6-4-3 double play on 1B Carlos Sanchez’ grounder instead of attempt to cut off the run. Extra innings followed, and after the Reds blew a bases-loaded opportunity in the 11th, they finally won in the 12th when an E-4 scored Josef Terry with the deciding run. Again Walczak got the victory; this time he pitched three hitless innings to finish. Starter Lucas O’Rear was hammered for five runs in the first two innings but looked better thereafter (8.47, 5 IP, 8 H, 6 ER). Selsky had three hits and three RBI (.342), Sanchez three hits and two RBI (.248, 3B) and Rosa was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs scored (.229). Naturally, the Dodgers won again, keeping the Reds two games back.

8/15: With the Dodgers blessedly off, the Reds took on the Giants with a chance to gain ground. The Giants got a run off Carlos Gonzalez in the first, but the Reds tied in the second when Sanchez tripled and scored on LF Josef Terry’s double. The Giants made it 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Then the floodgates opened for the Reds. Two scored in the third on baserunning shenanigans:

AZL Reds Top of the 3rd
• Humberto Valor reaches on missed catch error by first baseman Stephen Yarrow, assist to catcher Eric Sim.
• With Brandon Dailey batting, Humberto Valor steals (5) 2nd base, . Humberto Valor advances to 3rd, on throwing error by catcher Eric Sim.
• Brandon Dailey walks.
• With Juan Perez batting, Brandon Dailey steals (12) 2nd base, Humberto Valor scores on the throw.
• Juan Perez called out on strikes.
• Gabriel Rosa singles on a line drive to left fielder Michael Mergenthaler. Brandon Dailey to 3rd.
• With Steven Selsky batting, Gabriel Rosa caught stealing 2nd base, catcher Eric Sim to second baseman Kelby Tomlinson, Brandon Dailey scores.

This was followed by four more Reds runs in the fourth on a Sanchez double (he would finish 3-for-5 with four runs scored), a walk, back-to-back hit batters, a wild pitch, a groundout, and 2B Juan Perez’ RBI single. In the meantime, Gonzalez shut down the Giants from the third through the seventh (W 2-2, 4.46, 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Even more shenanigans made it 8-2 in the seventh:

AZL Reds Top of the 7th
• Pitcher Change: Raymundo Montero replaces Addison Proszek.
• Brandon Dailey grounds out, third baseman Jose Cuevas to first baseman Stephen Yarrow.
• Juan Perez walks.
• Gabriel Rosa grounds out, shortstop Carter Jurica to second baseman Kelby Tomlinson to first baseman Stephen Yarrow. Juan Perez to 2nd.
• With Steven Selsky batting, Juan Perez steals (12) 3rd base, Juan Perez scores. Throwing error by catcher Myles Schroder.

Eight runs, four RBI. CF Brennan May made that ten and six with a two-run homer in the eighth, #5. One last round of shenanigans in the ninth:

AZL Reds Top of the 9th
• Pitcher Change: Ariel Hernandez replaces Steven Neff.
• Gabriel Rosa strikes out swinging.
• Steven Selsky singles on a ground ball to left fielder Michael Mergenthaler.
• Carlos Sanchez reaches on force attempt, throwing error by second baseman Jean Delgado. Steven Selsky scores. Carlos Sanchez to 3rd.
• With Brennan May batting, wild pitch by Ariel Hernandez, Carlos Sanchez scores.

Ah, the lower minors. The Reds cruise, 12-2, for their fourth straight win. And they gain a half-game on the Dodgers.

8/16: The Reds again started out strong in their quest for a fifth straight victory at the expense of the Cubs (and without .300+-hitting INF Juan Perez, now in the Pioneer League). They took a 4-0 lead by the fourth with the help of Selsky’s third homer and three stolen bases and two runs scored by Dailey after he drew walks in the third and fourth. Sanchez knocked in a pair of runs. Joel Bender walked four in five innings but permitted just three hits (W 3-1, 3.79, 5 K), departing with a 4-1 advantage. Two early double plays turned helped the lefty out considerably. His bullpen shut the Cubs out for the final four innings as the Reds kept adding insurance runs. They finished a 9-1 win! Sanchez (.268, 2-for-3, #3), Selsky (#4) and May (#6) hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the eighth. Also notable: DH Matt Lentz, the former UK defensive back turned tryout camp-signee, got his first three pro hits after starting off his career 0-for-15. He also stole his first base. Naturally, the Dodgers won again, nipping the Mariners 6-5 and keeping their lead at two games.

Transactnotes: 8/16: RHP Mike Dennhardt activated.