Mariner Minors
Saturday, April 16, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/16/05)

Tonight was the first night in which the entire system lost. Usually this doesn’t come until a bit later in the year. Forgive me if I sound less than enthused in these ones; there were a few of the games I was listening to where it sounded like they should’ve pulled it out if not for one mistake or another.

Fresno 11 (SF), Tacoma 9 (eleven innings)
RHP Dan Reichert (11.25) is struggling to find his touch early on in the season, and just went two innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits (HR), three walks, and a strikeout. RHP Brett Evert (8.31) was next in line and over the next two and a third innings, he gave up a couple of runs on five hits, with a walks and a K. LHP Jared Thomas (3.00) stepped in to relieve Evert, and didn’t allow any inherited runners to score, but gave up one of his own on a couple of hits, a walk, and a strikeout in the next two and two-thirds. Oddly enough, despite the fact that every pitcher gave up a run for Tacoma, none of those who came in with men on allowed those runs to cross the plate. RHP Chris Buglovsky (1.69) continued the trend by going two and a third innings and allowing a run on three hits, a wild pitch, and a walk with one punchout. Finally, in extra innings, LHP George Sherrill (6.23, L) gave up two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits. The only pitcher to strike out more than one (or not walk a batter), Sherrill K’d three in the game. Were it not for Morse trying to throw a runner out at third instead of first, he probably wouldn't have been tagged with the loss. LF Shin-Soo Choo (2 R, RBI, .265) and 3B Justin Leone (RBI, E, .556) both led the Rainiers with four hits apiece, while CF Jamal Strong (2 R, RBI, CS, E, .286) and 1B Aaron Rifkin (HR, 2 R, .231) both had two. Fans of DH Chris Snelling (2B, 2 R, RBI, .333) will be happy to note that he was 1-3 with a couple of walks, proof that even after the extended layoffs, the kid can still hit. The Rainiers site is reporting that RHP Rich Dorman and LHP Andrew Lorraine will be starting in the doubleheader. That would put Campillo as Monday’s starter and Felix as Tuesday’s.

San Antonio 0, Midland 7 (OAK)
I suppose at this stage of things, the Missions will be happier to get out of Midland than the Hooks were to get out San Antonio. LHP Nick Bourgeois (7.50, L) was hit hard in his two+ innings, allowing five runs to score on four hits (HR), a hit batter, and four walks, while he struck out three. Stepping in for some monster relief work, LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (3.12) held the Rockhounds to just one hit and struck out a pair over the next five innings. Remind me again why he isn’t in the rotation…. LHP Tim Rall (3.60) got the eighth inning and gave up a couple on a hit (HR) and two walks as he struck out one. On offense, 2B Ismael Castro (.200) off to a slow start, had a couple of hits, while LF Jon Nelson (2B, .229) and C Rene Rivera (2B, .308) both had doubles. RHP Jon Huber starts a new series tomorrow.

It’s an appropriate time to do it, so I’d like to clarify something that keeps coming in the comments section. CF Gary Harris, missing in action thus far, is out with a strained pectoral muscle that he got while lifting weights during spring training. He’ll be with San Antonio when he gets back, sending OF John Austin-Emmons down to Everett in all likelihood. OF Carlos Arroyo has been out with arm troubles after having surgery to remove some cysts in the off-season. It’s nothing major, but when he returns he’ll be in Inland Empire, from what I’ve read. Odd choice considering he did lead the system in average last season.

Modesto 1 (COL), Inland Empire 0
The Sixers got one of their best pitching performances of the young season, but couldn’t do anything with it. LHP Jason Mackintosh (3.55, L) pitched six innings and allowed a run on six hits, a hit batter, and a walk, but struck out nine along the way, which is more than impressive. RHP Greg Wear (1.50), pitching two innings and logging one each of hits, walks, and strikeouts, and RHP Mike Steele (9.00), who struck out two, kept it in range, but the offense just couldn’t do anything. Well, that is aside from one-man army DH Matt Rogelstad (.633), who had three hits tonight and has multi-hit in every game thus far. Would that his pinch-runner not run into fielder’s choice at the plate, breaking from the third base bag too late… That would be because CF Wladimir Balentien (.250), the next hitter, got a single that would have driven him home anyway. LF B.J. Garbe (2B, .250) also had a double. RHP Aaron Trolia takes the mound tomorrow.

Wisconsin 3, Peoria 11 (CHC)
LHP Casey Abrams (8.64, L) had another bad start, going three and a third innings and allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits (HR) and four walks. I recognize that Abrams generally hasn’t done well against Peoria in the past, but he was fifth round pick in 2003 and I’d really like to see him pitch up to his billing at some point. RHP Cibney Bello (0.00) relieved him, and went the next two and two-thirds just giving up a hit and a free pass while striking out five. I remember Bello being one of the most homer prone pitchers I’d seen during his first few years with the org, so it’s good to see him start to sort things out in the Midwest League. Perhaps the switch to more pitcher-friendly parks will help him sort things out this year, and hopefully not turn him into an all-out flyball pitcher. LHP Kendall Bergdall (1.50) took the last two innings and gave up five runs, none of them earned, on two hits, a hit batter, two walks and a strikeout, as the defense behind him fell apart. In the two-hit club for the Rattlers were CF Josh Womack (RBI, .318) and RF Mike Wilson (R, E, .242). SS Matt Tuiasosopo (2B, RBI, E, .407) and C Rob Johnson (2B, PB, .300) added doubles to the mix, and Tui walked twice in addition to that. RHP Mumba Rivera starts tomorrow.

Tacoma Rainiers: 5-4, .556, 1 GB in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-5, .444, 3 GB in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 3-6, .333, 3 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 7-2, .778, T-1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 19-17, .528

Friday, April 15, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/15/05)

Well, it’s Tax Day. Hope that all of you have already done your filing and told the truth and whatnot, after all, we all know what happens if you don’t (I don’t know what’s work safe exactly, but this has a minor drug reference, and I’m pretty sure a few others in the series aren’t work safe or necessarily in good taste).

The Tacoma home opener was rained out. RHP Dan Reichert will be getting the start tomorrow, weather permitting. The PI is also reporting that Chris Snelling will be with the Rainiers for the opener, so that's cool.

San Antonio 2, Midland 7 (OAK)
Okay, LHP Thom Oldham (1.42, L) could have broken the losing streak any other day when the offense scored runs. Oldham went six and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on nine hits, though he struck out just one. LHP Cesar Jimenez (5.40) came in for a single out after that, though technically, Oldham’s unearned run scored here on an error. Another big factor in the game was RHP Sean Green (12.00) coming in and giving up four runs on four hits and a walk. 1B Jesse Hoorelbeke (2B, HR, .233) had a couple of hits, and RF T.J. Bohn (3B, R, .286), LF Jon Nelson (2B, RBI, E, .226), and CF Jaime Bubela (2B, .138) contributed some extra-base hits, but look up and down the rest of that lineup and you’ll see a whole lot of zeros. LHP Nick Bourgeois pitches tomorrow.

Modesto 5 (COL), Inland Empire 2
RHP Nibaldo Acosta (3.86) wasn’t all that bad in his spot start, going four innings and allowing a run on five hits (HR) and a walk while striking out two. Instead, the loss went to the guy who may be taking Acosta’s rotation spot next time around, LHP Shawn Nottingham (6.00, L), who had been down in Peoria with a sore shoulder. Nottingham went three innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits (HR) and three walks with three punchouts. LHP Chris Key (3.86) would pitch the final two innings, allowing a pair of hits and K’ing four. The two-hit club for the Sixers had some familiar faces from last night in 3B Matt Rogelstad (.615) and CF Wladimir Balentien (HR, .250), who just took over the team lead with four home runs. He’s tied for the league lead too. LHP Jason Mackintosh tomorrow?

Wisconsin 14, Peoria 2 (CHC)
Yeah, there isn’t a whole lot that’s stopping the Timber Rattlers right now. In his second start, RHP Jason Snyder (4.09, W) went five innings and allowed a run on four hits and a walk while striking out two. He was also a little wild at times, hitting three batters and throwing a wild pitch along the way, which is a bit unusual for him. RHP Roman Martinez (1.50) took the next three innings, allowing a run on three hits and a walk while punching out one, then LHP Eric O’Flaherty (0.00) pitched the ninth, giving up a hit and a free pass and striking out a pair. Everyone in the lineup had a hit and a run scored in the game, so it’s hard to narrow it down to individual performances, but RF Mike Wilson (2 2B, 3 R, .214) had three hits and a walk, and that’s nice to see. Four other Rattlers had two hits, 2B Yung-Chi Chen (3B, 2 R, 2 RBI, .364), C Rob Johnson (HR, 4 RBI, .320), LF Brent Johnson (R, .250), and DH Jack Arroyo (2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, .167). They also had nine walks in the game, two coming from Chen, two more coming from 1B Marshall Hubbard (R, 2 RBI, .200), and three coming from 3B Brandon Green (2 R, .240). These are the kind of things that can happen when everything clicks for this lineup. And to think that Tui wasn’t even in it today... LHP Casey Abrams tomorrow.

Tacoma Rainiers: 5-3, .625, 0.5 GB in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-4, .500, 2 GB in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 3-4, .429, 1.5 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 7-1, .875, 1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 19-13, .594

  Transaction Update (4/15/05)

Well, the good news is that Baseball America has their first transaction register of the season up today. The bad news? They hadn't updated in about a month and there were about twenty-five moves total, including a few releases of players I didn't even know were signed. To cover those that haven't already been mentioned in whatever depth here or elsewhere, the Mariners have released LHP Michael Ciccotelli, RHPs Ira Brown, Phil Cullen, Tim Dorn, Terry Forbes, Jared Hoerman, Nate Mitchell, and Brad Rose, Cs Tim Marks, Tom Owen, Richard Rodrigues, and Matt Tindell, OFs Vince Faison and Joe Jacobitz, and IFs Michael Cox, Jeremy Dutton, Aaron Herr, and Nick Orlandos. So, hey, that's only about twenty...

Ciccotelli, a few days away from turning 23, was drafted in the 29th round last year by the M's. He split his time between Peoria, Wisconsin, and Inland Empire last year, and while his numbers were kind of ugly (9.55 ERA, 14.54 hits per nine), I kind of expected to see him back in Everett this year. Then again, this is the way things go sometimes, and some lower-level draft picks who really do not perform their first season are released every year. Ciccotelli is just one more of those.

Brown, 22, was, as far as I know, one of the last independent league signings that Charley Kerfeld was involved with. He was 6th round pick by the Royals back in 2001 and bounced around there, posting some mediocre numbers, up until his release last year. Oddly enough, last year was his best season to date. He ended up getting six starts in the Central League, and his numbers there were considerably better than in organized ball, but that was in extremely limited time.

Cullen, 24, will probably be best remembered in the organization for two things: his height (6’9), and that he broke his arm in a freak accident while warming up during the 2002 season. He’s a local guy, so it was a good story to start out, but that arm injury set him back considerably.

Dorn, 22, was a two-way player in college, playing first base and right field when he wasn’t on the mound. As a pitcher, he has a slightly above-average fastball and a good, but inconsistent curve, while as a hitter he showed some good power, though his swing was a little long. I originally figured that they’d take a chance on him as a hitter, so it caught me off-guard when he started showing up on the mound. Perhaps sometime, years down the line, he’ll make a resurgence in the independent leagues as a hitter and turn up somewhere. Who knows?

Forbes, 20, was taken in the 9th round back in 2002 out of a high school in Nova Scotia. He spent most of his time in Peoria, with occasional appearances in Everett, though he never advanced beyond there, as he tends to give up quite a few hits and doesn’t strike out a whole lot. He might turn up with some other team sooner or later.

Hoerman, 28, had two excellent seasons split between Wisconsin and Inland Empire (then San Bernadino) in 2001 and 2002. He was looking like an interesting older relief prospect at that time, but in 2003 he lost the magic he had been running on and returned to his old tricks, and started giving up about a hit per inning again. He returned to San Antoino to start last season, then was promoted to Tacoma a month or two later, where he doubled his walk rate. That was pretty much the last nail in the coffin.

Mitchell, 24, is one of the signings I wasn’t even aware of. His minor league line, at first glance, doesn’t read too differently from that of Hoerman, minus a hit and a K here and there and plus a walk. Considering I wasn’t really aware this was an addition, I can’t really claim it’s a loss.

Rose, 21, gets the 2004 Frequent Flyer Award for somehow splitting 24.2 innings between four levels last year. Too many hits, too many walks, and a few too many HR for a relief prospect, but we’ve heard this story before, haven’t we?

Marks got some innings behind the plate in the Milwaukee system last year, and spent the rest of his time in the independent leagues. Since leaving college, he appears to have fought with the Mendoza Line a few times, and the Line has one every time. That’s about all I have on him. He’s number two of the three mystery signings.

Owen is the third, and perhaps most mysterious signing of the three. He played for Cal State LA in 2002 and, while I can’t comment on his catch and throw abilities, his hitting appears to be just awful. It’s unknown where he was up until spring training this year.

Rodrigues was signed as an emergency catcher out of the indy leagues last season and got some time behind the plate in San Antonio. Didn’t hit a whole lot there, and I seem to remember him being around 28 anyway. Again, no big loss.

Tindell played both ends of the battery in the independent leagues, though he was mostly a pitcher in our system, taking the Rich Dorman career path. Like a lot of converted position players, he could K quite a few, but was hit hard on occasion and gave up quite a few walks. At the end of the season, Tindell was serving a suspension, for reasons I can’t even remember. I’m not surprised by this one, but few of these moves are shocking in any way.

Faison, 24, was a busted first-round pick by the Padres back in 1999. He hit much, much better in our system than he ever did with the Pads, but there just wasn’t any room for him in the high minors, so they gave him his walking papers.

Jacobitz, 23, was known in college for being a versatile switch-hitter who could play in the outfield as well as behind the plate. He was mostly a left fielder for the Peoria Mariners last year, and he hit .278/.383/.340 there. As I said before with Ciccotelli, sometimes when late-round college picks don’t tear it up immediately, they’re released after only a short time.

Cox, 24, is another in a series of college third basemen drafted by the Mariners who just could not hit with the wooden bat. He had some decent on-base skills and some okay isolated power, but really didn’t hit for average. Oh, and ignore the pitching stats in the profile, that was another Mike Cox.

Dutton, 24, has a similar story to that of Cox, except he went three rounds higher (7th round of 2003), is a left-handed bat, and not nearly as good defensively. If I remember correctly, he was named the Mariners Ellis Award winner for 2004 due to his outstanding contributions to the community, but like so many other things, it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that (hitter’s) swing.

Herr, 24, was a former 1st round pick by the Braves, picked up by us in the minor league part of the Rule 5 draft last year. He never quite lived up to his billing in the minors, though he wasn’t terrible. With this release, Tacoma first baseman Aaron Rifkin is the only Rule 5 pick remaining with the Mariners from the off-season.

Orlandos, 24, had a good performance with Everett two years back and went on to be named their team MVP. He also hit pretty well in half of a season in Wisconsin last year, though it was undisclosed why he didn’t play a full season.

And there you have it, your first official transaction update of the season. I typed this up in Word and with 12-point font, and it nearly came to three pages. Hopefully, you’ve been able to get something out of it, but for my part, I’m just hoping for more regular transactions from my sources this season. Now, back to the ballgames...

Thursday, April 14, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/14/05)

Tacoma 7, Sacramento 5 (OAK)
Even though he wasn’t running out a perfect game for the first few innings this time around, no one’s going to complain about the performance RHP Cha Seung Baek (1.69, W) gave tonight. Baek got through five innings and allowed a couple of runs on four hits and two walks while striking out a pair. The last four innings were split amongst three different relievers in four out segments. First, LHP Jared Thomas (2.70) gave up two hits and two walks while punching out three, then RHP Masao Kida (14.54) came in and gave up three runs on two hits and a walk while striking out one. It wasn’t all Kida’s fault this time, as RHP Jeff Heaverlo (0.00, S) allowed both to score on two hits, though none of his own. On a more positive note, Heaverlo struck out two and notched his first professional save. RF Abraham Nunez (2B, R, 3 RBI, .381) is still swinging a hot bat, with another three hits today, while CF Dustin Delucchi (R, .310), SS Mike Morse (HR, 3 RBI, .296), and C Bryce Terveen (2B, 2 R, .364) had two each. 2B Ramon Santiago (2 R, .148) also gets a mention for going 1-2 with a couple of walks. DH Luis Valbuena (.000), who I made mention of in last night’s post, was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in his U.S. debut. RHP Dan Reichert pitches the Rainiers home opener tomorrow.

In another Rainiers note, 3B Justin Leone was sent back to Tacoma today as RHP Joel Pineiro came off the DL. You'd think they would have let him get at least one at-bat while they were busy blowing out the Royals, but I guess that's just how things work sometimes.

San Antonio 3, Midland 4 (OAK)
Even though they started of 4-0, the Missions just cannot get a win against Midland. RHP Juan Sandoval (2.70) threw a bunch of pitches through his four innings, though he gave up just a run on his seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. LHP Melvin Pizarro (3.00, L), who had already gotten the decision for two Missions victories, caught some hard luck this time around as he gave up three runs, just two earned, over three hits (HR) and walk with one K in his two innings. RHP Jeff Harris (0.00) pitched the final two, allowing a pair of hits and striking out three. 3B Eddie Menchaca (2 R, SB, E, .600) would’ve been the hero of the game with his two hits, but the error he made led to an unearned run that helped break the tie. There were also extra-base knocks from SS Yuniesky Betancourt (2B, RBI, .323), who’s playing killer D too and looking to be worth the investment, and LF Jon Nelson (3B, .222), who has good wheels for a big guy. Just because I can, I’d like to note that RF T.J. Bohn (.292) tried to throw out a slower runner on a single to right and almost caught him too. That is one of the many reasons I dig Bohn as a player. Well, if anyone could break the losing streak, it’d be LHP Thom Oldham, who takes the mound tomorrow.

Inland Empire 5, High Desert 6 (KC)
RHP Brandon Moorhead (2.77) pitched seven solid innings on the night, giving up three earned runs on seven hits, a hit batter, and a walk while punching out five. While RHP Brian Stitt (7.36, L) got through the eighth with no trouble, in the ninth he gave up two runs to give the Mavericks a walk-off victory. Stitt’s line for the night reads an inning and two-thirds, two runs on three hits and three walks (two intentional). Two of the lineup’s power threats in 3B Erick Monzon (HR, 2 RBI, E, .320) and CF Wladimir Balentien (HR, .207) had a couple of hits, including solo bombs on the night, but another interesting story is the two hits from DH Matt Rogelstad (RBI, .636), who may very well be leading all of the minor leagues in batting average at the moment. RHP Nibaldo Acosta will be taking the mound tomorrow, replacing the injured RHP Kevin Olore in the rotation for the time being.

Quad Cities 0 (STL), Wisconsin 1
RHP Aaron Jensen (0.90, W) was back on track today, going six innings and allowing just five hits and three walks as he struck out four. Another guy who was definitely back in the swing of things (no pun intended on the Quad Cities team name) was RHP Stephen Grasley (3.60), who got through two innings with one each of hits, walks and strikeouts. RHP Chad Fillinger (1.80, S) pitched the ninth for the save striking out a batter. The T-Rats got two hits apiece from SS Oswaldo Navarro (R, SB, .286) and DH Matt Tuiasosopo (.417), who has a hit in every game thus far and finally took a walk. The game’s winning run was driven in by C Robert Johnson (RBI, .300) way back in the third inning, so I guess I shouldn’t be too disappointed about my radio feed going down about that time. RHP Jason Snyder tomorrow, so tune in.

Tacoma Rainiers: 5-3, .625, 0.5 GB in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-3, .571, 1 GB in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 3-4, .429, 1.5 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 6-1, .857, T-1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 18-11, .621

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/13/05)

Tacoma 4, Sacramento 0 (OAK)
In his second triple-A start, RHP Felix Hernandez (0.00, W) showed that last week wasn’t a fluke by going five innings and allowing five hits and a walk while balking and striking out five. Though he was quite close to his pitch limit, they sent him back out at the top of the sixth and responded by walking the first two batters. Manager Dan Rohn quickly pulled him in exchange for RHP Chris Buglovsky (0.00), who went the next two innings, allowing a hit and a walk as he notched three strikeouts. Newcomer LHP Andrew Lorraine (0.00, see below) gave up a hit and struck out a batter in the eighth, then LHP George Sherrill (6.75) pitched a non-save ninth, faring much better, walking one batter but striking out the side. To help Felix get his first triple-A win, 1B Aaron Rifkin (.241), LF Shin-soo Choo (HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .208), and RF Dustin Delucchi (R, RBI, SB, .280) had two hits apiece and C Wiki Gonzalez (2B, R, RBI, .263) and 3B Hunter Brown (2B, .150) both added doubles. RHP Cha Seung Baek tomorrow in another day game.

Edit: 8:54 AM
I was listening to the radio broadcast tonight and there were some comments from Mike Curto regarding the movements of Scott Mullen and Kit Pellow. While Mullen is headed back to Japan, Curto is saying that Pellow is actually headed to Korea. LHP Andrew Lorraine will be taking over for Mullen as an additional lefty out of the ‘pen. Long-time Rainiers fans may remember Lorraine from the 1998 team, though he did three and two-thirds innings worth of coffee with the M’s the same year. The Tacoma News Tribune is now reporting that Pellow's spot will go to IF Luis Valbuena, called up from extended spring training. Valbuena's never played above the VSL level, but he's a pretty cool LH bat who flirted with .400 for a good chunk of last season, plus he's versatile enough to play a number of positions. This is probably just a temporary move until the M's track down a more suitable replacement, but it's also a compliment to how well Valbuena must have been doing in Peoria.

San Antonio 0, Midland 1 (OAK)
LHP Bobby Livingston (1.38, L) pitched well enough to get a win, but the Missions offense couldn’t put together anything at all. B-Liv went seven innings, giving four hits (HR) and a walk while striking out four. That solo home run was the only scoring for either team in the game. RHP Emiliano Fruto (3.00) pitched the eighth and struck out two. As I said earlier, it’s not as if the Missions were bad tonight, they outhit and outwalked the Rockhounds by a considerable margin, they just couldn’t put it together. Notable performances came in the form of two hits each from the bats of 1B Jesse Hoorelbeke (.182) and RF John-Austin Emmons (2B, .667), the young local kid who played with the Peoria Mariners last season after being signed at a tryout camp. 3B Eddie Menchaca (.500) was 1-2 with a couple of walks in his season debut, and CF T.J. Bohn (SB, .300), continuing the trends from last season, had three walks on the night. RHP Juan Sandoval pitches tomorrow.

Inland Empire 17, High Desert 11 (KC)
Slugfest. Hardcore fans of pitching and defense might as well look the other way, as you’ll find none of that here. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, the Sixers made all the plays except one, but the Mavericks made eight errors in the game. LHP Ryan Feierabend (5.40) had his outing cut rather short, pitching only two and two-thirds innings and giving up three runs on four hits (HR) and a walk while he K’ed three. No word yet on why Feierabend was pulled so early. His replacement was RHP Oliver Arias (9.00, W), who seemed to be doing well in retiring his first five batters (three of them on strikeouts!) despite only pitching as high as the AZL thus far for his career, but his inexperience caught up with him and he had a walk and a hit on either side of his sixth out. One of those outs scored under his watch, but LHP Miguel Martinez (5.79) was involved in scoring one of the three runners left on base. In two and a third innings, Martinez would allow five runs of his own, three of them earned, after five hits (HR), two walks, and three strikeouts. The eighth and ninth innings were split between RHP Greg Wear (2.25), who gave up a hit and struck out one, and RHP Mike Steele (13.50), who gave up a run on a couple of hits. The offense was led by DH Matt Rogelstad (2B, R, 4 RBI, .667), who had five hits in seven at-bats, and it’s not often that I get to write that one. LF Michael Nesbit (2B, HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, .500), who went 3-5 with a walk, and SS Adam Jones (HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .286), who was 2-6, both had home runs. I might as well throw some props to 2B Michael Garciaparra (2 R, RBI, .318) too, as he walked three times despite going 0-4. To put in context how crazy this game was, only three of the runs scored by the Sixers were earned, and despite seventeen runs, the Sixers still left thirteen men on base. RHP Brandon Moorhead tomorrow, I guess.

Quad Cities 2 (STL), Wisconsin 3 (eleven innings)
RHP Mark Lowe (0.00) had another strong start, going six innings and allowing just the two unearned runs on three hits and two walks as he K’ed four. RHP Cibney Bello (0.00) pitched the next two, allowing a hit and striking out one, but when the ninth came around, he walked the first batter, fielded a sacrifice bunt for one out, threw a wild pitch, and walked the next batter. With runners on first and third, RHP Craig James (0.00, W) came in. The runner on third was caught trying to steal home, James walked the next, and the final batter struck out swinging. The next two (extra) innings would feature two hits, a wild pitch, a walk, and two strikeouts, but no more runs. Playing both hero and goat in the game, SS Matt Tuiasosopo (HR, 2 RBI, 2 E, .381) made the errors in sixth that led to two unearned runs scoring, but he also hit the walk-off home run in the eleventh inning. Other than that, LF Brent Johnson (R, SB, .217) had two hits, while 1B Marshall Hubbard (2B, .250) and C Brian Schweiger (2B, .500). RHP Aaron Jensen will take the mound tomorrow, hopefully with more defensive success behind him.

Tacoma Rainiers: 4-3, .571, 0.5 GB in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-2, .667, T-1st in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 3-3, .500, 1.5 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 5-1, .833, 1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 16-9, .640

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/12/05)

Tacoma 4, Sacramento 5 (OAK)
Though this start was a little rougher than the last, RHP Jorge Campillo (3.55) is still making a good impression in Tacoma. Going six innings in the game today, Campillo allowed four runs on four hits (HR) and a walk, but struck out ten along the way. RHP Jeff Heaverlo (0.00) took over for two innings after that, giving up a couple of hits and striking out two. The tiebreaker and the loss, unfortunately went to LHP George Sherrill (10.80, L), who got a quick fly out, then loaded the bases with two walks and a single, before a bases-loaded single won the game for the Rivercats. I’m not sure which is more unusual, that, or the fact that 2B Ramon Santiago (HR, 2 R, .100) already has his first home run of the season, and was 2-3 with a couple of walks today. RF Dustin Delucchi (R, .238) and SS Michael Morse (RBI, .333), also had two hits each, while C Bryce Terveen (2B, RBI, .286) had his first double of the season. RHP Felix Hernandez starts tomorrow, so pay attention, kids.

I’d like to add that I’ve received word from Sid that the M’s have either sold, or are quite close to selling LHP Scott Mullen and UT Kit Pellow to Japanese clubs. The Mullen move doesn’t particularly surprise me, as he was pitching for the Yokohama Bay Stars last season, but Pellow does surprise me just a little. This seems to be turning into a trend, that is to say, older players in triple-A who have little chance to make a club outside of an injury, packing up and heading for Japan. Not that the recent dealings with Japanese clubs hasn’t been a trend too (Jolbert Cabrera, Ricky Guttormson, and now Pellow and Mullen).

San Antonio 8, Midland 10 (OAK)
Well, the Missions are no longer undefeated, but they had a nice run of it, and their offense almost pulled it out. RHP Jon Huber (19.29) went just two and a third innings before being pulled and gave up five runs on six hits, a balk, and four walks while striking out just one. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (7.36, L) got Huber out of his jam with a fly out and strikeout, despite a wild pitch, but couldn’t save himself the next inning when he gave up three runs on four hits (HR), a walk, and another wild pitch, though he did strike out another batter. The next two innings went to LHP Tim Rall (0.00) who walked two and struck out one along the way, then LHP Cesar Jimenez (6.00, E) took the last two innings, giving up a couple of runs on three hits and striking out one. If the Missions had pulled this one out, I would have been torn between giving the game ball to SS Yuniesky Betancourt (3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB, .364), who did everything right and came a double short of the cycle, or C Rene Rivera (2B, 2 R, 2 PB, .333), who went 4-4 in his plate appearances, though the passed balls may give the edge to Betancourt. RF T.J. Bohn (HR, 2 R, .316) also had two hits, including his first bomb of the season, and recent fan favorite 1B Nate Espy (HR, 2 RBI, .250) hit his second. LHP Bobby Livingston tomorrow. Aren’t you glad there’s a two-and-a-half-hour difference between the starts for Tacoma and San Antonio?

Edited: 12:34 pm
Inland Empire 8, High Desert 2
RHP Aaron Trolia (1.93) pitched the first four innings, giving up a run on a hit and two walks while striking out four. If this is what we can expect of Trolia, then I’m more than happy to see him starting. LHP Chris Key (5.40, W) pitched the next two innings, allowing a run on five hits (HR) before giving way to RHP Nibaldo Acosta (6.00) and RHP Greg Wear (3.00) for an inning each. Acosta would give up a hit and strike out two, while Wear struck out one and did not allow a base runner to reach. In hitting news, two Sixers who struggled a bit last season, 2B Michael Garciaparra (R, CS, .389) and 3B Matt Rogelstad (R, 3 RBI, .636), both had three hits and are off to hot starts. There were other solid contributions from LF B.J. Garbe (R, .250), who had two hits, and C Justin Ruchti (2B, 3 RBI, CS, .143), who had a bases-loaded double in the eighth. Also, I’d like to give a brief shout out to CF Wladimir Balentien (2 R, .150), who put me in my place after last night’s comments by getting a single AND walking twice. Way to go, Hammer. In light of the injury to RHP Kevin Olore and his subsequent placement on the DL, I’m not sure who’s starting tomorrow night, so I’ll skip over my other recent prediction and suggest that maybe, just maybe, it’ll be RHP Oliver Arias who was just called up from extended ST.

Quad Cities 2 (STL), Wisconsin 9
I’m almost tempted to break from tradition in this instance and start with the hitters. By the time RHP Mumba Rivera (1.80, W) took the mound in the top of the second, he had a six-run lead, and by the third it had jumped to nine. Thus, his five innings of work were rather smooth and he gave up just one run after four hits and a walk, while striking out five of the batters he faced. LHP Kendall Bergdall (2.25, E) pitched the next three innings, retiring the first six batters he faced and looking like he might notch an unusual four-inning save. But by the eighth, the batters were catching up to him and scored a run on two hits and a walk, though he did make it out of the inning. Bergdall struck out three for the game. RHP Roman Matinez (0.00) pitched the ninth, striking out all three of the batters he faced. The Rattlers had more than enough offense to go around tonight, as evidenced by the fact that the Quad Cities starter is undefined right now because he couldn’t record an out. The two-hit club featured some familiar faces in three and four hitters 3B Yung Chi Chen (2 R, RBI, .400) and SS Matt Tuiasosopo (2B, R, 2 RBI, .375), while CF Josh Womack (2B, 2 R, .273), 1B Brandon Green (2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB, .267), and RF Mike Wilson (3B, RBI, SB, .167) had an extra-base hit apiece. RHP Mark Lowe starts tomorrow.

Tacoma Rainiers: 3-3, .500, 1.5 GB in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-1, .800, 1st in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 2-3, .400, 1.5 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 4-1, .800, 1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 13-8, .619

Monday, April 11, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/11/05)

Tacoma 4, Sacramento 12 (OAK)
RHP Rich Dorman (9.00, L) started off the season on a sour note, not as if the ‘pen was much help in this one. The 26-year-old got through four innings and gave up four runs on four hits (HR), a hit batter, and three walks, only striking out one. LHP Jared Thomas (4.50) stepped in for a little over an inning, giving up a run on a solo hit, along with two other hits and two walks. After Thomas let the first two batters reach in the sixth, RHP Masao Kida (15.00) stepped in and got three quick outs. The seventh wasn’t so lucky for him, as he gave up five runs on five base hits and a walk. I’m holding my tongue at the moment, but there are a few guys in San Antonio right now who could be doing better. RHP Brett Evert (9.00) took the eighth and got caught in the same mess as everyone else, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks. It really wasn’t a good night for the Rainiers’ offense either; no extra-base hits and only DH Abraham Nunez (2 R, .444) had two hits, in addition to a walk. RHP Jorge Campillo starts tomorrow morning. Yes, morning; the game starts at 11:35 PDT.

Update 8:31 AM
Inland Empire 7, High Desert 8 (KC)
LHP Jason Mackintosh (5.40) got through just four innings and was hit hard, giving up four earned runs on five hits (3 HR!), a wild pitch, and three walks while striking out two. RHP Brian Stitt (6.35) took over after that and went the next four, giving up a run on a solo shot along with three other hits. Stitt also struck out three. RHP Mike Steele (18.00, L) pitched the ninth and allowed High Desert to come from behind, when the Mavericks hit a solo home run, then a double. A wild pitch, two intentional walks, and another wild pitch later, they walked off with a win. An absolute heartbreaker, considering the Sixers rallied for four runs in the top of the inning. For the offense on the night, SS Adam Jones (HR, .267), 1B Bryan Lahair (HR, .438), and 3B Matt Rogelstad (2B, R, 2 RBI, .571) had two hits each, while 2B Michael Garciaparra (HR, 2 RBI, .308) and CF Wladimir Balentien (HR, .118) both homered. For those of you keeping track at home, yes, Wlad has two hits total and both of them are home runs. The guy does not understand the concept of a single. Well, not this early in the season at least. RHP Greg Wear starts tomorrow, I think.

Tacoma Rainiers: 3-2, .600, 0.5 GB in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-0, 1.000, 1st in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 1-3, .250, 2.5 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 3-1, .667, T-1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 11-6, .647

Sunday, April 10, 2005
  Game Recaps (4/10/05)

Another system sweep tonight, albeit an abbreviated one, as the Inland Empire Sixty-Sixers had the day off.

Tacoma 5, Fresno 3 (SF)
RHP Joel Pineiro (1.29) was scheduled for 95 pitches on the day and seemed to make the most of each of them, going seven innings and allowing just one run on a solo shot in the first inning, along with four additional hits and six strikeouts. The guy who is scheduled to take over this spot in the rotation next time around, RHP Dan Reichert (4.50, W) didn’t pitch too well and had the defense falter behind him, but dug out the win after a couple of innings where he allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk while striking out a couple. The scoring highlights for the Rainiers tonight were home runs by DH Kit Pellow (HR, 2 RBI, .417) and 1B Aaron Rifkin (HR, .235) in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. Rifkin’s shot was his first triple-A home run for his career. RHP Rich Dorman will take the mound tomorrow in Sacramento with the intent of striking out a handful.

On the note of former Rainiers, Jim Thomsen sent me this on Allan Simpson, who was sent to the Rockies over a year ago, and seems to be on his way out again…
There was a player named Harry "Suitcase" Simpson in the 1950s... I think Allan Simpson is a worthy inheritor of that mantle...

DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Rockies acquired right-hander Jose Acevedo on Saturday from Cincinnati for reliever Allan Simpson, and planned to option Acevedo to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Acevedo was 5-12 with a 5.94 ERA in 39 games, including 27 starts, for the Reds last season. Cincinnati optioned him to Louisville on March 30. Simpson has appeared in two games for the Rockies this season and leaves with an 0-0 record and 67.50 ERA. The Rockies had optioned the right-hander Friday to Colorado Springs to make room for left-hander Bobby Seay, acquired from Tampa Bay.
A guy who was once part of a pretty well-publicized bullpen trio in the high minors has turned into another quadruple-A reliever. Well, it seems like the others in the group might as well. If only we could have sent Looper their way and completed the set...

Corpus Christi 0 (HOU), San Antonio 2
The Hooks couldn’t be happier to get out of town. LHP Nick Bourgeois (0.00) pitched just four innings to start out the game, but made sure they were good ones, allowing just two hits and two walks as he struck out six. LHP Melvin Pizarro (0.00, W) took over next, striking out two and facing the minimum through three innings despite giving up a hit, because the catcher picked him off at first. RHP Emiliano Fruto (4.50) had an uneventful eighth inning, and RHP Sean Green (0.00, E, S) picked up the save with a strikeout in the ninth. On the offense’s end of things, SS Yuniesky Betancourt (RBI, .294), RF T.J. Bohn (2B, R, .267), 2B Ismael Castro (R, RBI, .267), and C Brian Moon (.500) all had two hits, while CF Jaime Bubela (2B, .125) doubled. RHP Jon Huber will probably take the mound for the Missions on Tuesday.

Peoria 3 (CHC), Wisconsin 12
LHP Casey Abrams (5.40, W), trying to rebound from a disappoint season, is now in the starting rotation, though he didn’t fare too much better, going five innings and allowing three runs on five hits (HR) and three walks, though he did strike out five. RPH Chad Fillinger (0.00) took on the next two innings, and ended up walking and striking out two apiece. RHP Stephen Grasley (6.00) pitched the eighth, walked a couple and struck out one. Grasley hasn’t really had his good control yet this season, as evidenced by two walks today when he only walked one in half a season last year, but when he’s on there should be long stretches of time where he doesn’t give out a single free pass. The ninth, once again, went to LHP Eric O’Flaherty (0.00), who allowed a couple of hits and struck out one. Remember how last night I noted that the T-Rats didn’t get a single base hit? Imagine what last night would have looked like if they did, and you’d get this. All but two T-Rats either had an extra base hit or two hits in the game, and more often than not, both. C Robert Johnson (2B, R, 2 RBI, .417) led the effort with four hits in the game, flanked by two-hit performances from LF Josh Womack (R, RBI, .250), 2B Yung-Chi Chen (HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB, .375), CF Brent Johnson (.200), RF Mike Wilson (HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, .143), and 1B Marshall Hubbard (2B, 3 R, RBI, .250). If not for Friday night’s game, the T-Rats would probably be leading the Midwest League in pitching and hitting right about now. RHP Mumba Rivera will get the opener of a new series on Tuesday.

Tacoma Rainiers: 3-1, .750, T-1st in PCL Pacific
San Antonio Missions: 4-0, 1.000, 1st in TL West
Inland Empire 66ers: 1-2, .333, 1.5 GB in CAL South
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: 3-1, .667, T-1st in MWL West
Organizational Record: 11-4, .733

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