Playoff Dish: Sept. 11

See also: Friday’s Playoff Dish
See also: Today’s Baseball America Prospect Report

Red Sox lefthander Mike Rozier was cleared to return home to Georgia after being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Frederick’s Mario Delgado in the deciding game of the Carolina League Northern Division playoffs Friday night.

The ball ricocheted off the side of Rozier’s head toward the Frederick dugout, and Rozier lay on the ground for several minutes. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to a nearby hospital, where he had a CAT scan and was released later that night. He was checked by medical staff again Saturday morning and cleared to go home.


Toledo goes for an IL repeat against Rochester.

Toledo 5, Charlotte 2 (Toledo wins series 3-1)

Defending IL champion Toledo advanced to the finals Saturday on a 10th-inning pinch-hit home run from David Espinosa to defeat Charlotte. Both the game’s starters pitched six solid innings, giving up two runs apiece. Toledo went with righthander Brian Boehringer, while Charlotte started Lance Broadway, who struck out 11 Mud Hens. Knights pitchers struck out 17 Toledo batters in all.

Rochester 2, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 0 (Rochester wins series 3-1).

Rochester advanced to the IL finals Saturday on the arms of two of the organization’s best lefthanders. Francisco Liriano made a rehab start with the Red Wings and pitched three no-hit innings. Glen Perkins finished the 2-0 shutout with six one-hit innings. The Red Wings will not have Liriano for the finals, but added righthander Kevin Slowey, just back from pitching for Team USA in the Olympic qualifying tournament.


Prospect-laden Tucson faces Round Rock for the PCL title.

Round Rock 8, Nashville 0 (Round Rock won series 3-2)

Round Rock righthander Zeke Astacio shut out defending champion Nashville in a deciding Game Five Sunday to advance to the PCL finals where they will meet Tucson. Astacio gave up seven hits, one walk and struck out four. Round Rock third baseman Joe McEwing went 2-for-4 with two-run home run.

Tucson 10, Salt Lake 8 (Tucson won series 3-1)

The Sidewinders advanced to the PCL finals Saturday on the strength of a seven-run second inning. Right fielder Robby Hammock had the big hit with a three-run double, and Tucson pitching was just good enough for a 10-8 win.


Akron faces Portland in the championship series after having won the regular-season series between the two 5-1.

Akron 5, Altoona 2 (Akron wins series 3-2)

Akron defeated Altoona in the fifth and deciding game of their series to advance Sunday, the third time in four seasons that Akron has ended Altoona’s season in the playoffs. DH Brad Snyder’s three-run homer in the fourth off Nerio Rodriguez was the deciding blow, and the Aeros bullpen gave up only one run in five innings.

Portland 4, Trenton 3 (Portland wins series 3-1)

The SeaDogs won a pair of one-run games as the Red Sox affiliate defeated the Yankees affiliate in four games. Outfielder Brandon Moss hit a walk-off 10th-inning home run to end the series in Game Four.


Montgomery faces Huntsville in a matchup of solid pitching rotations. The league title series doesn’t start until Wednesday. The Biscuits
owned a 5-4 advantage in the regular season series, even though
Huntsville beat staff ace Andy Sonnanstine twice.

Huntsville 7, Chattanooga 2 (Huntsville wins series 3-0)

Outfielder Brendan Katin, a late-season callup from high Class A Brevard County for the playoffs, had three RBIs in the clincher.

Montgomery 2, Jacksonville 0 (Montgomery wins series 3-0)

Righthander Mitch Talbot, acquired from the Astros in the Aubrey Huff/Ben Zobrist trade, struck out 14 in a complete-game shutout to eliminate Jacksonville.


Wichita and Corpus Christi meet in a much-anticipated series. The teams played 14 times this season, with Corpus Christi owning an
8-6 advantage in the series. Wichita will have to figure out what to do
with Juan Gutierrez, who won two starts and didn’t give up a run in 16
innings against the Wranglers this season, striking out 15 and walking
just two. The Hooks’ rotation will include Gutierrez, fellow
righthanders Ronnie Martinez and Chance Douglass and lefthander Troy
. Wichita goes with righties Billy Buckner, Zack Greinke and Luke
and lefty Tyler Lumsden.

Wichita 7, Tulsa 6 (Tulsa wins series 3-1)

No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings to lead the Wranglers. Hochevar gave up two hits and walked one, giving up two runs. He’s struck out 23 in 21 professional innings since signing in August.


Inland Empire has Lake Elsinore on the ropes, while Visalia stole home-field advantage from San Jose.

Visalia 4, San Jose 2 (Series tied 1-1)

Chris Nowak and Mark Schleicher homered to back up a strong pitching performance by lefthander Brandon Mann, and Visalia evened its best-of-five North Division playoff series at a game apiece as the series shifts to Visalia for two games. Mann allowed just a pair of hits–both solo home runs–in five innings before handing off to three Oaks relievers, who held San Jose hitless and scoreless the rest of the way.

Inland Empire 1, Lake Elsinore 0 (Inland Empire leads series 2-0)

The Mariners’ trade of Jamie Moyer has sure worked out nicely for Inland Empire. The 66ers took a commanding lead in their best-of-five South Division playoff series against Lake Elsinore thanks to another fine outing from righthander Andy Baldwin, whom the Mariners received from the Phillies in the August trade for Moyer. Baldwin tossed a three-hit complete-game shutout Sunday, striking out five and walking two. Left fielder Casey Craig scored Inland Empire’s lone run after doubling in the second inning, as Lake Elsinore starter Josh Geer pitched 5 2/3 solid innings in a losing cause.


Kinston took charge of the Carolina League championship series on a bizarre play at the plate.

Kinston 3, Frederick 2 (Kinston leads series 2-0)

Kinston scored two runs on a wild pitch in the fourth inning and held on for a 3-2 win against Frederick to take a commanding lead in the best-of-five Mills Cup Finals. Kinston’s Stephen Head scored from second base on Manny Basilio’s wild pitch after Basilio collided with K-Tribe catcher Javi Herrera while covering the plate. The ball popped free, and while Basilio and Herrera jawed at each other, Head alertly scampered home with the eventual game-winning run. Head, Nathan Panther and Argenis Reyes recorded two hits apiece to pace the Kinston offense.


Gary Carter won a title in his first season as St. Lucie’s manager.

St. Lucie 6, Dunedin 2 (St. Lucie wins series 3-0)

St. Lucie needed ninth-inning rallies to win the first two games of the best-of-five FSL championship series, but no late heroics were necessary Sunday. Catcher Jesus Flores went 4-for-4 to lead a 15-hit St. Lucie barrage as the Mets cruised to their second FSL title in four years behind 6 2/3 solid innings by ace Jose Sanchez. Center fielder Fernando Martinez doubled and homered to cap off his breakout 2006 season for the Mets.


West Michigan faces Kane County after each swept a playoff series.

West Michigan 8, Lansing 2 (West Michigan wins series 2-0)

West Michigan advanced to the Midwest League championship series with a business-like sweep of the Lugnuts. After walloping them 9-3 in the opener, the Whitecaps tagged Lansing starter Sean Stidfole for six runs in less than five innings to cruise to an easy victory. West Michigan shortstop Mike Hollimon added his fourth home run of the postseason.

Kane County 15, Beloit 3 (Kane County wins series 2-0)

Kane County punched the other ticket to the MWL championship and in an even more impressive fashion than West Michigan. The Cougars carried a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning before exploding for nine runs in the frame, though eight of them were unearned as a result of two Beloit errors. John Herrera earned the win while Ryan Mullins took the loss. Kane County outscored Beloit 23-6 in their two-game sweep.


Lakewood seeks its first SAL title against manager Roberto Kelly and Augusta.

Lakewood 8, Lexington 2 (Lakewood wins series 2-0)

Matt Maloney led the SAL in ERA this season, and his dominance has carried over into the postseason. Maloney struck out 11 over seven innings to clinch the series and put the BlueClaws into the SAL championship against Augusta. His only blemish was allowing a two-run home run to Mitch Einertson in the fifth inning. Brian Bogusevic allowed four runs (two earned) over five innings to take the loss.

Augusta 6, Rome 4 (Augusta wins series 2-0)

All season the Augusta Greenjackets have found ways to win games, and yesterday was no different. Though the team with the SAL’s best regular season record fell behind 3-0 in the first inning, they rallied to tie the game at four in the fourth inning before tacking on two more in the seventh for the win. Robert Grace threw five innings of shutout relief to keep the game close and first baseman Pablo Sandoval was 4-for-5 and drove in the game’s final run.


The Astros and Yankees affiliates square off for the NY-P title.

Staten Island 9, Brooklyn 0 (Staten Island wins series 2-0)

The Yankees affiliate took this round of the battle of New York city and are moving on to the NYPL championship series. Third baseman Mitch Hilligoss drove in two runs on two hits and designated hitter Kyle Larsen was 3-for-4 with a home run. Tim Norton and Luke Trubee combined on a two-hitter for the Yankees.

Tri-City 4, Auburn 3 (Tri-City wins series 2-0)

It was a rough day for Blue Jays affiliates as Auburn, low Class A Lansing and high Class A Dunedin were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday. Though he did not get a decision, Tri-City’s David Qualben was exception in allowing only one run through six innings. Tri-City won it in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Max Sapp hit an RBI single with two outs to put the ValleyCats through to the finals.


Juggernaut Salem-Keizer finishes its amazing season with a league championship.

Salem-Keizer 6, Boise 4 (Salem-Keizer wins series 3-1)

Salem-Keizer, which went 55-21 to win the Northwest League’s
Western Division by 12 games, capped off its dominant season by winning
the NWL championship in four games against Boise. Righthander Kevin Pucetas,
a 17th-round pick in June out of Limestone (S.C.) College, struck out
four and allowed five hits over six shutout innings in the Volcanoes’
6-4 win Sunday. Emmanuel Burriss and Adam Witter had two hits apiece to lead the Salem-Keizer offense, and center fielder Michael McBryde preserved the win with a diving catch in the eighth inning, robbing Steven Clevenger of a likely two-run double that would have tied the game.


Salem-Keizer completed its best season in its short history Sunday, beating Boise 6-4 to win the Northwest League championship in four games. The Hawks scored just 10 runs in the series (just five earned) as Adam Cowart threw a complete-game shutout in the series, while starter Kevin Pucetas threw six shutout frames Sunday in the clincher. Shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, a supplemental first-round pick in June, was a catalyst for the Volcanoes, swiping four bases and scoring three runs in the four games while batting .316.


Missoula will face Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League championship series after a pair of sweeps over the weekend. The Osprey made quick work of Billings in the Pioneer League
playoffs, sweeping the Mustangs in a best-of-three series. Idaho Falls
had little trouble with Orem, beating Owlz aces Sean O’Sullivan and
David Herndon.

Missoula 10, Billings 2 (Missoula won series 2-0)

Missoula won the series opener when John Hester hit a grand slam off of Terrell Young in the eighth to give the Osprey a 6-4 win. On Saturday night, Missoula claimed the division title with a much easier victory, as Missoula picked up four runs in the first and Jordan Norberto and Hector Amriz shut down the Mustangs win.

Idaho Falls 9, Orem 3 (Idaho Falls won series 2-0)

Idaho Falls pounded O’Sullivan for six runs in a 6-2 win on Friday. After a rainout on Saturday, the Chukars had even less trouble against Herndon, as Jace Turner hit a three-run home run in the first and added six more runs in the sixth, led by a Brennan Herrera grand slam, for a 9-3 win.

“Two swings, seven runs. We made mistakes at the wrong time and we paid for it,” Orem manager Tom Kotchman told the Orem Daily Herald. Orem had been trying to win their third straight league championship.