PCL Pitchers Shut Out IL To Win Triple-A All-Star Game





• See Also: Triple-A All-Star Game Box Score


BUFFALO—The Pacific Coast League has a well-deserved reputation as a hitter's paradise, but league pitchers served notice Wednesday night that they can control a game as well. Eleven PCL hurlers combined to shut out the host International League 3-0 in a game in which the first two batters of the game came around to score.

To the surprise of no one, a pair of Reno Aces kicked off the excitement. Center fielder Adam Eaton (Diamondbacks) led off the game with a single into short left-center field. When second baseman Jake Elmore drilled a grounder through the hole into shallow left, Eaton raced around to third, showcasing his aggressive brand of baserunning. That hustle play paid off one out later when Oklahoma City first baseman Mike Hessman (Astros) drove a ball deep to Durham right fielder Leslie Anderson (Rays) for a sacrifice fly. Following a walk by Tacoma DH Luis Jimenez (Mariners), Omaha left fielder Wil Myers (Royals) fought off a couple of tough pitches and drilled a two-out base hit through the box to score Elmore from second and put the PCL on top 2-0.

"I swung and missed at my first two pitches," said Myers, who led the minors with 27 homers at the break, "so I really had to focus on staying the other way. I was able to get a pitch out over the plate and hit it up the middle."

The IL threatened in the bottom of the second when Pawtucket catcher Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox) pounced on the first pitch he saw and ripped it over the mound into center field. Buffalo DH Valentino Pascucci (Mets) then hammered a full-count offering off the left field wall, sneaking into second base on a sleeping defense. Lavarnway broke for home on a grounder to third off the bat of No. 8 hitter Cord Phelps (Indians), a second baseman with Columbus, but Reno third baseman Ryan Wheeler (D-backs) threw home to kick off a perfectly-executed 5-2-5-1-6 rundown to erase him. Fresno righthander Eric Hacker (Giants) then extinguished the threat, catching Rochester shortstop Pedro Florimon (Twins) looking to retire the side.

Myers started another rally in the top of the fourth, leading off the inning with a double to the base of the right-field wall off Syracuse lefthander Zach Duke (Nationals). Salt Lake right fielder Kole Calhoun (Angels) advanced him to third with a grounder to second, and with two outs Albuquerque catcher Tim Federowicz (Dodgers) drove him home with a double to right to push the lead to 3-0, which is where it remained.

The low-scoring affair came as a surprise to many—particularly after the visitors scored two quick runs in the first—after the way balls carried out of Coca-Cola Field Monday night during the home run derby.

"It's a credit to the staff," PCL skipper Marty Brown (Las Vegas) said. "And it's difficult for hitters to adjust when they don't have a feel for seeing the same pitcher twice. It's always tough in an all-star game when you're trying to get everybody in the game."

Brown, who played in the first Triple-A all-star game in 1988, also in Buffalo, managed to work everyone in, with his final position player producing one of the games notable moments. Colorado Springs left fielder Matt McBride (Rockies) got the most out of his one at-bat, jumping on the first pitch he saw from Toledo righthander Chris Bootcheck (Tigers) and nearly clearing the left-field fence with one out in the top of the ninth. Columbus left fielder Matt LaPorta (Indians) leaped for it at the wall, but the ball bounced off far enough to allow McBride to reach third with a triple. He was stranded there when Oklahoma City second baseman Jimmy Paredes (Astros) popped to short and Iowa third baseman Josh Vitters (Cubs) fanned to end the inning.

The IL made it interesting with one out in the bottom of the ninth when Pascucci walked for the third time on the night. Brown then summoned Reno closer Jonathan Albaladejo (D-backs), who induced a grounder to second that was nearly turned into a game-ending double play. Syracuse second baseman Jim Negrych (Nationals) beat the throw at first by half a step, giving the home team a pulse, which was extinguished when Lehigh Valley shortstop Kevin Frandsen (Phillies) fanned to end the contest.

With few offensive highlights from the IL, Buffalo righthander Matt Harvey (Mets) made for an easy selection as his league's top star. The only pitcher to work longer than an inning, Harvey tossed two scoreless, hit-less frames while striking out two, including Tacoma slugger Luis Jimenez for his final out. He also hit a batter and unleashed a wild pitch.

"I knew he was a good hitter, and obviously he was in the home run derby, so I didn't want to leave one over the plate and have him hit it like he did the other night," said Harvey, who came into the game with a 7-4, 3.39 record and 102 strikeouts, the second-highest total in the IL. "I tried to keep him off balance and mix in changeups. I threw him a changeup that kind of hung a little bit and he pulled it down the line (foul). I think the next pitch I went in on him, and then I threw a curveball in the dirt and he swung through it."

"He made some pretty good hitters look ordinary," IL skipper Mike Sarbaugh (Columbus)  said. "I know the one he struck out Jimenez on was very impressive. He has plus stuff."

Myers took top star honors for the victorious PCL club, going 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored, capping an exciting week for the red-hot Royals property who spent the weekend at the Futures Game in Kansas City feeling the love from the hometown fans. He went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in that exhibition, then packed his bags for Buffalo. The last player to arrive at the Triple-A all-star game, he missed the team workout on Tuesday, arriving just about 24 hours before the game.

"This game was played a lot different from the game in Kansas City," Myers said. "All those guys were throwing a lot harder in Kansas City, and these guys were pitching a little more."

Sacramento righthander Graham Godfrey (Athletics) started for the PCL and allowed one hit in his only inning to earn the win. His counterpart, Lehigh Valley righthander Tyler Cloyd (Phillies), entered the game at 8-1, 2.01 but took the loss, surrendering a pair of runs in the opening frame.