There are nights where you have to love minor league baseball, and Tuesday was one of those days.
Whether it was Brandon Watson extending his hitting streak to an amazing 39 games, Joba Chamberlain making the jump to Double-A look easy, Max Scherzer throwing seven perfect innings in his second start in the Diamondbacks system or Anthony Reyes outdueling Yovani Gallardo last night’s games had a little of everything.
But if you had to pick one place to be on Tuesday you could have done worse than going to Hickory, where West Virginia scored 17 runs in the first two innings in its 24-13 win over Hickory. The 37 runs tied the league record, set on a midweek night in 1996 when Macon rallied from a large early deficit to beat Charleston (S.C.) 22-15. I remember that game well because it’s the craziest game I ever witnessed in person.
Kenny Kelly hit two home runs and Ryan Sweeney added another in Charlotte’s easy 13-2 win over Indianapolis. It could have been worse as the game was called for rain in the sixth.
Alexi Casilla had three hits as Rochester beat the camo-clad Louisville Bats 3-1 in 10 innings.
Brandon Watson now has the longest minor league hitting streak of the past 46 years all by himself. Watson had three hits on Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to 39 games. He’s now three games away from the International League record and more than halfway to the all-time record of 69 games, set by Joe Wilhoit in Wichita in 1919 (despite what the Columbus paper says today Wichita was an affiliated minor league team in 1919). Watson is doing it by making pitchers sweat because of his speed. As Craig Merz explained, Watson’s three hits traveled a combined 400 feet.
“He has great 3.4 (seconds) speed down the line. When he uses it, he’s hard to stop,” manager John Stearns told Merz. “Every game he finds a hole, finds a way to get it done. He’s a slap-and-run guy, and he’s slapping and running as good as anybody I’ve seen.”Aaron Laffey shut down Richmond, holding them to two hits in six scoreless innings in Buffalo’s 3-0 win.
Joe Saunders and Ubaldo Jimenez sent many hitters back to the dugout shaking their heads, but Jimenez was the only one who also kept the ball down. Saunders struck out 11 batters in 5 2/3 innings but also gave up five runs while Jimenez struck out eight in five innings while allowing only one earned run.
The best pitching matchup of the night was likely in Memphis where Anthony Reyes outdueled Yovani Gallardo. Reyes picked up his first win of the season in 12 starts as he held Nashville to four hits in eight innings. Gallardo wasn’t too bad himself. He struck out 12 while allowing two runs in six innings to extend his minor league strikeout lead.
“When you hear about him, you picture a 98- or 99-mph (flamethrower), but it’s not that,” Nashville manager Frank Kremblas told the Commercial Appeal. “His command is above average, and that’s huge. He can throw more than one pitch for a strike.”
Tacoma’s Adam Jones homered for the fourth time in the past seven games, but Pete LaForest’s homer helped Portland to a 6-5 win.
On most night’s an outing like Jeff Marquez’ would have been the story of the night. But Marquez’ complete-game five-hitter was overshadowed by Joba Chamberlain’s even more impressive outing in his Double-A debut in the nightcap. In the second game of Trenton’s sweep of Connecticut Chamberlain touched 96 mph while showing the ability to command multiple pitches and work up and down in the zone. He struck out nine in five scoreless innings.
“I guess what (Chamberlain) did speaks for itself,” manager Tony Franklin told the Trenton Times. “I think you guys saw everything I saw out there, and it was fantastic. Basically, what I saw is a young man with a lot of talent, the ability to pitch, throw strikes and control the game. He’s got a very bright future. It was fantastic to watch.”
Yoslan Herrera threw six scoreless innings and the Curve hitters went crazy in a 13-3 win over New Britain. Steven Pearce and Brett Roneberg homered twice, Jason Bowers added another home run, Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-5 with a double and Neil Walker added a double and two hits.
As yesterday’s Scout’s View pointed out, some scouts love Fernando Martinez while others don’t think he’ll ever hit for power. He did hit his third home run of the season on Tuesday. It was a good-news, bad-news night for Mike Costanzo. Costanzo doubled but also recorded his 21st error of the season.
Landon Powell tripled and homered but it wasn’t enough to make up for Salomon Manriquez’ four-hit night that included a three-run home run.
Jeff Larish homered to lead Erie past Portland.
High Class A
The best pitching performance of the night, and arguably the best of the entire season, was turned in by Max Scherzer. In his second start with Visalia Scherzer threw seven perfect innings before leaving because he’d reached his pitch count. He struck out 13. When Scherzer dominated the independent American Association to the tune of 1-0, 0.56 with 25 strikeouts and four walks in 16 innings, it looked like the league was simply not enough challenge for Scherzer. But he’s been even better in the California League–in 12 innings he’s now allowed two hits, no walks and has struck out 21.
Manny Ayala picked up his league-leading ninth win with seven scoreless innings to lead Lake Elsinore to a 5-0 win over Rancho Cucamonga.
Ayala has company at the top of the California League wins leaderboard. Modesto’s Brandon Hynick had one of his toughest starts of the year but still picked up his ninth win. Javi Herrera had two doubles for Modesto.
Kinston clinched a division title with its win and Salem’s loss on Tuesday night. Max Ramirez and Chris Gimenez homered for the K-Tribe.
Myrtle Beach’s Jairo Cuevas carried a no-hitter into the ninth before losing it on a single to Tommy Manzella.
Jay Rainville and closer Eddie Morlan combined to shut out Clearwater 2-0.
Josh Peterson hit two home runs and Deolis Guerra struck out six in five innings to beat Daytona.
Marcos Vechionacci hit three doubles to lead Tampa over Dunedin.
Low Class A
Sean Watson struck out nine in six scoreless innings to take over the Midwest League strikeout lead. With the win, Dayton clinched the Midwest League Easter Division first-half title.
Gerardo Parra doubled and tripled in South Bend’s win over Fort Wayne.
Omar Poveda put together another outstanding start to beat Kane County 3-1. Poveda allowed one run in seven innings to drop his ERA to 2.63.
Jeff Manship lowered his ERA to 1.49 while striking out nine in seven innings to lead Beloit over Cedar Rapids.
Brandon Watson may deservedly be getting the attention for his 39-game hitting streak, but Mitch Hilligoss hasn’t stopped hitting since his 38-game hitting streak ended. Hilligoss doubled to extend his new hitting streak to nine games as Charleston beat Savannah.
Maybe the West Virginia Power and Hickory Crawdads can apply to become California League members. The two teams combined to tie a South Atlantic League record for runs scored in a game in the Power’s 24-13 win. It tied a record set in 1996 when Macon beat Charleston (S.C.) 22-15. The two teams combined for 44 hits and West Virginia hit six homers and added seven more doubles.
Henry Sosa only got to throw three innings thanks to a rain delay, but he did lower his minor league’s best ERA to 0.73 as the GreenJackets swept Asheville to clinch a playoff spot.