The first triple play of the season highlighted a night where Randy Johnson took a step closer to getting back to the big leagues, Kevin Slowey continued to paint the black and Yunel Escobar turned a game around by scoring from second on a sacrifice fly.
Kevin Slowey’s amazing command was on display again on Thursday. The Twins righthander threw 61 strikes in 88 pitches. The Pawtucket Times’ Jon Baker reported that he was sitting at 91 mph with his fastball as he struck out nine and walked no one in six scoreless innings. Pawtucket came back to beat Matt Garza and Rochester in the nightcap of the doubleheader. Brandon Moss went 2-for-3 with a home run to lead Pawtucket. There was a scary moment, as a Matt LeCroy liner hit Mike Burns in the cheek, forcing the PawSox fill-in starter to head to the hospital for a CT scan.
Norfolk catcher Eli Whiteside hit the team’s first home run of the season. That was the good news for Whiteside. Behind the plate things didn’t go as well, as the combination of Whiteside and starter Jim Johnson were powerless to stop Indianapolis basestealers. The Indians were successful in six out of six steal attempts on Thursday, with Nyjer Morgan leading the way with two steals. Bryan Bullington lowered his ERA to 1.02 with seven effective innings for Indianapolis.
Yunel Escobar went 3-for-5 yesterday, but his highlight of the night came on the basepaths. Escobar tagged up and scored from second on a deep sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. That tied the game and forced it into extra innings where Willie Harris’ beat out a two-out grounder to allow the winning run to score. Escobar’s aggressiveness was the story of the game as Tim Pearrell wrote.
“Always expect the unexpected when I’m running the bases,” Escobar said through interpreter Carlos Mendez. “I was playing the cards, and the cards came out right. Even if he dropped the ball, I was going to score.”
Charlotte’s Andy Gonzalez hit an inside-the-park home run, but Matt Childers pitched six shutout innings as Ottawa beat Charlotte.
It was all hands on deck as Syracuse beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 14 innings on Thursday. Catcher Curtis Thigpen ended up playing third base for Syracuse when the Chiefs ran out of position players. Matt Michaels explains everything that happened in a solid game story.
The Iowa Cubs moved Thursday’s game to a day game so that Bob Costas could come out to the ballpark. Costas, in town for a commencement speech, had said he wanted to see an Iowa Cubs game.
Carlos Gomez’ average slumped to a still robust .357 and his 14-game hitting streak ended but he did steal his seventh base of the season as New Orleans beat Memphis.
Billy Butler’s fourth home run of the season helped Omaha beat Round Rock.
Yovani Gallardo allowed only three hits and struck out seven in six innings as Nashville beat Oklahoma.
Greg Miller was once one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. That was two shoulder surgeries ago, but he was in 2003 form on Thursday. Miller threw six no-hit innings in Las Vegas’ 9-5 win over Colorado Springs. Because of his injury history, Miller was not upset when he was pulled from the no-hitter as he told Matt Youmans after the game.
“That’s completely understandable with everything I’ve been through. I just want to be able to get through this season healthy, and keeping me on a strict pitch count will help that,” said Miller, who made 77 pitches, 42 for strikes.
There’s one shocking stat about Miller. He’s been on the prospect radar so long that it’s hard to remember that he’s still only 22 years old.
The hottest hitter in the minors might be Chris Carter. He had his fourth three-hit game in the last six games as he extended his season-long 13-game hitting streak. Few of the fans in the stands probably noticed as all the focus was on rehabbing Randy Johnson. Johnson pitched very effectively, striking out seven in six innings and hitting 95 mph on the stadium radar gun, but he wasn’t ready afterwards to pronounce himself ready to return to the big league rotation.
Daric Barton had three hits and Dallas Braden threw six shutout innings, striking out seven, to lead Sacramento past Portland.
Kyle Sleeth’s long road back from Tommy John surgery took a step back on Thursday. Sleeth had impressed the Tigers during spring training, but the former first-rounder has struggled in Erie. Last night he gave up four runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings to balloon his ERA to 15.43.
Clay Buchholz pitched well (5 IP, 3 hits, 1 BB, 8 Ks), but Portland’s bullpen didn’t as New Hampshire cruised to a 6-1 win. One-time top prospect Sergio Santos, back in Double-A for the first time since 2004, hit a three-run home run to lead the Fisher Cats.
How bad has the weather been this April? Trenton and Binghamton both played their first games in five days. Binghamton ended the Thunder pitching staff’s 49-inning scoreless streak on its way to a 5-2 Mets win. Kevin Mulvey put together his best outing of the season, allowing two runs in five innings.
Collin Balester’s six scoreless innings lowered his ERA to 2.25 and helped Harrisburg beat Altoona. Todd Irwin explains Balester’s effectiveness and Andrew McCutchen’s hope that a two-hit night will get his bat going.
For the second time in three starts, Nick Adenhart didn’t allow an earned run helping Arkansas shut out Wichita on Thursday. Billy Buckner was almost as good as Adenhart, but a couple of mistakes were enough to tag him with a loss, as Joanna Chadwick writes.
Colby Rasmus hit his first home run of the season as part of a three-hit night. Springfield pounded Tulsa 13-1.
High Class A
This is what everyone’s been waiting for. Justin Upton had his second consecutive three-hit game and stole two bases on Thursday night. That was more than enough help for Hector Ambriz who was pulled after five no-hit innings.
Bradley Coon added another two hits and stole another base (his 10th) to lead Rancho Cucamonga over Lake Elsinore. It was Coon’s third straight two-hit game.
This was supposed to be a turnaround season for Brian Bogusevic. But Houston’s 2005 first-round pick’s ERA is up a run from last year’s mediocre mark. Bogusevic allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings to lose to Lynchburg.
Winston-Salem squandered the lead in the top of the ninth, but rallied to take it back in the bottom of the ninth for a dramatic win over Wilmington.
No one has ever questioned Alcides Escobar’s glove, but there have been questions about his bat. He’s doing a good job early this season of assuaging those fears with an 11-game hitting streak. Escobar singled to keep the streak going and Brevard County’s pitching staff shut down the Palm Beach bats. Carlos Corporan provided the big hit in the ninth for the Manatees’ win.
Jay Bruce homered for the second consecutive game and Richie Gardner’s rehab is going quite well as Sarasota defeated Clearwater. Gardner was one of the Reds top prospects in 2004, but shoulder injuries have completely derailed his career since. He picked up his second win of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.25 with six solid innings on Thursday.
Cameron Maybin, Justin Justice and Michael Hernandez combined to go 9-for-13 as Lakeland trounced Dunedin 13-6. Maybin scored five runs and doubled and tripled while Hernandez provided an inside-the-park home run.
Chien Ming Wang was outpitched by Alexander Smit in Wang’s rehab start in Tampa. Smit struck out seven in five innings but Tampa rallied for two runs in the ninth for the “W.”
Low Class A
Cedric Hunter has raised his average 129 points in two days. His 4-for-4 night raised his average to .314 and paced Fort Wayne’s 6-4 win over Burlington.
Lauren Gagnier lowered his ERA from 7.36 to 4.61, but thanks to poor hitting by his West Michigan teammates he was still saddled with a loss Thursday night.
Peoria turned a triple play to finish off the second game of their sweep of Great Lakes. Third baseman Josh Lansford stepped on third and fired to second baseman Matt Camp, who tagged the bag and made the pivot to nab Carlos Santana at first base. The Chiefs had rallied to win the first game in the seventh as the Loons wasted a fine outing by Clayton Kershaw (5 2/3 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 BB, 7 Ks).
Brett Anderson, a 2006 BA High School All-American, has been exceptional in his first three pro starts. The lefthander struck out eight and allowed only one run in seven innings last night, lowering his ERA to 1.02. Anderson has now struck out 22 and walked four in 17 2/3 innings. Anderson told Forrest Miller that he relied on his slider Thursday because he didn’t have his best fastball.
Dayton’s nine-game winning streak to start the season was snapped on Thursday in a resounding fashion. Jamie Landin doubled, tripled and homered as Dayton fell 15-4 to Quad Cities. It was bad enough that infielder Jason Louwsma pitched the ninth for the Dragons.
Jeff Manship retired the first 11 batters he faced and struck out seven in 7 2/3 innings, but he didn’t factor into the decision as Beloit beat Wisconsin 3-2.
Brian Pettway homered to lead Lansing to a win as Kane County dropped to a horrific 1-11.
Jon Still and Zak Farkes each homered twice and Lars Anderson had three hits as Greenville outlasted Savannah 13-9.
Eric Krebs pitched five shutout innings as Hickory defeated Lexington 6-1.
Delmarva edged Lakewood 5-4 in 15 innings. There’s plenty of interesting news from this game. Chris Vinyard hit his third home run of the season as Delmarva gave Kyle Drabek his roughest outing of the season (5 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 BB, 8 Ks). But Drabek’s stuff was apparently quite good, as Joe Adelizzi notes. Vinyard’s home run came on a 92 mph heater, but Drabek touched 95 and showed a nasty curveball. Also in the story, we find out that C.J. Henry now wants to be known as Carl Henry Jr.
With a win Thursday night, the Rome Braves are pulling away from Kane County, leaving the Cougars all alone with the title of worst start to this minor league season.
Justin Maxwell has already dealt with plenty of highs and lows in an injury-marred baseball career. So maybe that left him better prepared than most to quickly put a four strikeout game behind him. A day after he was helpless at the plate, Maxwell hit his third home run of the season and stole his fourth base to lead Hagerstown past Lake County.
Brett Grandstrand hit a grand slam as Columbus shut out Augusta 6-0.