While yesterday's showdown between Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson garnered national attention, the Double-A Southern League had about as attractive a matchup as you'll find on the minor league side. Dodgers righthander Rubby de la Rosa and Rays lefthander Matt Moore went head-to-head in Montgomery, and both delivered perhaps their best outings of the season.
Moore pitched six shutout innings and faced serious trouble only once, when Chattanooga loaded the bases with two outs in the bases in the fifth on a single and two walks. But Moore settled down to get the hot-hitting Scott Van Slyke to ground into a fielder's choice, then he responded by striking out the side in the sixth to finish his outing. Moore ended the night with seven punchouts, bringing his season's total to 48 in 35 1/3 innings, and four walks. He allowed just two hits, both singles, one of which was on a bunt. Moore lowered his ERA to 3.82.
De la Rosa was just as effective, striking out eight over seven innings and also allowing just two hits, a single in the third and a double in the seventh. De la Rosa did allow an unearned run in the third, thanks largely to his own throwing error on a pickoff attempt, but cruised otherwise, not allowing the Biscuits to get any runners past second base in his other six frames. De la Rosa upped his strikeout count to 44 in 34 1/3 innings while dropping his ERA to 2.10. He's gone 16 innings without allowing an earned run.
Neither starter figured in the decision, a 2-1 Montgomery win, though the two No. 1 overall picks on the Biscuits' roster had key roles. Righthander Matt Bush gave up the tying run in the top of the eighth but was the winning pitcher after shortstop Tim Beckham drove in the winning run with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.
• It's been a bounce back start for Red Sox outfielder Bryce Brentz, who hit just .198/.359/.340 at short-season Lowell last year after being the 36th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Brentz extended the minors' longest hitting streak this season to 22 games by going 3-for-5 with two doubles for low Class A Greenville last night. This was Brentz's second straight three-hit game, and he's batting .360/.430/.640 in 89 at-bats during the streak. Beyond the hitting streak, Brentz has reached base at least once in all 31 games he's played this year, and he's hitting .364/.427/.643 with seven homers in 129 at-bats.
• While the White Sox's big league club languishes 10 ½ games out of first place with their offense struggling to produce, Dayan Viciedo looks to be positioning himself for another chance at the majors. The 22-year-old Cuban went 4-for-5 with five RBIs and was a triple short of the cycle last night for Triple-A Charlotte. Viciedo, who's being given the opportunity to play right field this spring, upped his season line to .304/.343/.496 in 125 at-bats. Viciedo also drew a walk last night, his eighth of the season. That may not sound like a lot, but he's already more than halfway to surpassing last year's total of 13, which he compiled in 124 games at the Triple-A and major league levels.
• Speaking of hitters making a move to the outfield, Marlins 2010 first-rounder Christian Yelich has been making the transition to left field with low Class A Greensboro after being a first baseman in high school. Yelich's bat was quiet for most of the season's first two weeks, as his average slipped as low as .189 on April 17, but he's been one of the South Atlantic League's best hitters since then. Yelich hit his first home run of the year April 18, and he's hitting .391/.468/.623 in 69 at-bats since then. Only two SAL hitters have higher averages over that span, Bryce Harper and Kannapolis' Drew Lee. Yelich's latest exploits came last night as he went 4-for-5 with a double against Lakewood, his third straight multi-hit game. His season average improved to .321/.415/.481.
• You should expect to see Giants center fielder Gary Brown coming to a Prospect Hot Sheet near you this week. The leadoff hitter for high Class A San Jose, Brown went 3-for-5 and scored three runs last night. He's gone 12-for-19 over his last four games, starting with when he went 5-for-7 in a game in which the Giants scored 17 runs against Bakersfield last Friday. Brown's average for the year climbed to .366, which ranks sixth in the California League. Brown also put his plus-speed to good use, stealing two bases last night to move up to second in the minors with 21 on the year, trailing only Reds speedster Billy Hamilton. The only down side for Brown is he's still learning some of the finer points of stealing, as he's also been thrown out nine times, tied for the most in the minors.
• Diamondbacks lefthander Tyler Skaggs took over the minor league strikeout lead after he punched out eight in seven innings for high Class A Visalia, giving him 53 in 39 innings on the season. Skaggs allowed one run on five hits in a no decision, putting his record at 1-3, 3.46. Right behind Skaggs is white hot Royals righthander Jake Odorizzi, who fanned 13 hitters while allowing only one hit in six shutout innings for high Class A Wilmington. This was Odorizzi's third double-digit strikeout performance in his last four starts, and he's moved into a tie for second place in the minors with 51 in 32 innings. Odorizzi improved to 3-0, 1.97 for the year.
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