Archive for April, 2012

Aeros Down Bay Sox

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Myworld took in an afternoon game between the Akron Aeros and the Bowie Baysox.  It went eleven innings but the Aeros kept the Bay Sox at the bottom of the standings with a 5-4 win.  The Bay Sox had tied the game in the bottom of the ninth when a 2-out flyball went into the glove of Nick Weglarz and then back out after he collided with shortstop David StoneburnerTravis Adair was credited with a gift double.

Both teams exchanged runs in the tenth before Chun Chen got the RBI single in the eleventh to bring in what proved to be the game winner.  Rob Bryson retired the Bay Sox in order in the bottom frame.

Some random thoughts about the game:

Chun Chen - It appears that Chen will be moved to first base.  Myworld is not convinced that he will provide the offense to justify being used at first base.  Time will tell, but he did get three hits while also striking out three times.

Nick Weglarz - He’s seeing more time in AA.  He hopes to stay healthy to at least get promoted to AAA.  He has very little speed so patroling left field is a defensive liability.  He needs to really hit to justify the loss of defense.  Early in the season he is struggling to stay above .200.

Steven Wright - The 27 year old Wright pitches the knuckle ball.  Myworld did not see a lot of dancing with the knuckle ball.  The Bay Sox could only score two runs off him, one a solo homerun from Tyler Townsend and the other the result of an error by Nick Weglarz in tracking a ball that a faster outfielder would have caught.

Ben Copeland - Ben is struggling to get that average above .070.  Except for a last at bat sacrifice bunt Ben was a 4-3 ground out for most of the day, an 0 for 5 performance.

Adam Abraham - He had a nice day.  In six at bats the Bay Sox pitchers failed to retire him.  He had two hits and four walks.

Jonathan Schoop - First time we saw him play.  Manny Machado and Schoop seem to show disinterest in keeping a runner glued to second.  Chun Chen, who has little speed got such a good jump when stealing third that he could have gotten in their doing somesaults.

Manny Machado - He also seems very disinterested while playing short.  He also had a lot of swings and misses on average fastballs.  He had an 0 for 5 day with two whiffs.

Brandon Waring - He is trying to get out of AA where he has spent at least four years.  He finally got his average above .300, but today’s 0 for 5 performance dropped his average quite a bit.

Travis Adair - Travis had an excellent defensive game at third.  He is normally a middle infielder and will not hit for the kind of power expected for a third baseman.  He went 3 for 5 today.

L.J. Hoes - Hoes got on base his first four times to the plate, getting three hits and a walk.  He finished the day 3 for 5.  Hoes did display additional evidence of a poor arm, throwing a ball home way off line with a lot of lollipop to hit.

Roosters and Blue Lions Reign Supreme in Cuba Playoff Opener

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The Sancti Spirutis Roosters took the opener against the favored Matanzas Crocodiles 6-1.  Rooster ace Ismel Jimenez threw a complete game five hitter and Eriel Sanchez broke a 1-1 tie with a grand slam homerun in the sixth to lead the Roosters to victory.  Lazaro Herrera drove in the only run for the Crocodiles with a solo homerun in the fifth that had tied the game at 1-1.

The other match between the Industriales Leones and the Cienfuegos Elefantes turned into a pitcher’s duel between Norberto Gonzalez of Cienfuegos and Odrisamer Despaigne for Industriales.  Both pitchers tossed complete games, but Odrisamer gave up one less run to get the victory (2-1).  Carlos Alberto was the offensive hero for the Leones with three hits in three at bats, including an RBI single in the sixth that proved to be a game winner.  Frank Morejon also had an RBI single in the second.  Pavel Quesada drove in a run for the Elefantes in the seventh to pull them to within one run, but the game ended 2-1.

Box Scores below:

http://www.beisbolencuba.com/series/serie-nacional-beisbol-2011-2012/play-off-cuartos-de-final/industriales-contra-cienfuegos-1.html#comments

http://www.beisbolencuba.com/series/serie-nacional-beisbol-2011-2012/play-off-cuartos-de-final/matanzas-contra-santi-spiritus-1.html

Cuban Playoffs - Oriental League

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The final four playoff teams were not decided until the last day.  The Santiago Wasps lost to be eliminated while the Granma Stallions and Ciego de Avila Tigers won to gain entry into the playoffs.  Alfredo Despaigne hit an inside the park homerun on the last day to beat Jose Abreu by one in the homerun race.  The Isla de Juventud had just replaced two of their outfielders in the inning where the homerun was hit.  It is pretty strange to have Abreu sit out the last day of the season and Despaigne hit a homerun that did not leave the park to top him in the homerun race.  Did someone in Cuba want Despaigne winning the homerun title?  It would be nice to see the video of the inside the park homerun to see what kind of effort the oufielders made retrieving the ball.

The playoffs are here and below is an assessment of the players to watch in the Oriental League.

Villa Clara Orangemen

Hitters: They do not have one great player, but they are like raptors that devour you with their entire lineup.  They have seven players in their lineup with more than 200 at bats that are hitting over .300, with no hitter tagging more than 12 homeruns.  Aledmis Diaz (.315, 12, 49) is the big homerun hitter while Ramon Lunar (.318, 10, 59) is the only other raptor in double figures with homeruns.  His RBI total is also the best on the team.  Yuniet Flores (.321, 7, 47) is the table setter with his 20 stolen bases and leads the team in hits with 109.  Andy Zamora (.327, 3, 43) and Ariel Borrero (.321, 3, 39) are two other raptors to watch out for.

Pitchers: Alain Sanchez (12-3, 2.69), Freddy Alvarez (7-5, 2.90) and Yasmani Hernandez (8-3, 3.19) give the Orangemen a trio of top pitchers they can throw at you if they are healthy.  None of these pitchers started more than 16 games and only Sanchez worked over 100 innings.  Robelio Carrillo (6-4, 2.53) gives the Orangeman a solid four, but like the other three he only started 13 games and threw 89 innings.  Yolexis Ulacia (4-0, 2.95, 13 saves) is the bullpen closer.

Granma Stallions

Hitters: The biggest hitter is Alfredo Despaigne (.326, 36, 105), who broke the Cuban single season homerun record with 36.  With Yoenis Cespedes gone, his biggest form of protection in the cleanup spot is Yordanis Samon (.363, 15, 82) who has also kept up a pretty good RBI pace.  He has also stolen 17 bases.  Ramon Yosvani Tamayo (.276, 13, 42) is their table setter, leading the team in runs scored with 89.

Pitching: Leandro Martinez (11-4, 2.62) has been their only effective starter.  Alberto Soto La (9-12, 4.57) eats up a lot of innings (147) but they are mostly ineffective.  Asiel Diaz (4-3, 2.99) is another pitcher the Stallions can put in the rotation.  He only has 11 starts but they have been effective.  The bullpen is their achilles heel with no pitcher with an ERA under 4.00.  Alain Tamayo (4-3, 4.57, 7 saves) leads the team in saves.

Myworld predicts that the Villa Clara Orangemen should win this series fairly quickly, unless Alfredo Despaigne gets hot and carries the Stallions on his back.

Las Tunas Woodcutters

Hitters: Daniel Castro (.370, 15, 73) was second in the league in hitting.  Andres Quiala (.324, 1, 40) got one more hit than Castro and is the tablesetter for this team, leading the team in stolen bases (16) and runs scored (69).  Other big homerun bats include Joan Carlos Pedroso (.291, 19, 62), Yosvani Alarcon (.314, 15, 56) and Alexander Guerrero (.290, 21, 51).  A sleeper to watch is Yuniesky Larduet (.339, 0, 17) who stole 14 bases but only got 192 at bats.

Pitching: Yoelkis Cruz (13-6, 3.72) is their ace but Darien Nunez (5-5, 3.44) may have had more consistent starts.  Angel Rigoberto Cabrera (2-4, 2.79, 12 saves) is a solid closer, though his 15 whiffs in 51 innings pitched means the defense better play well behind him.

Ciego de Villa Tigers

Hitters: Not a lot of big bats here.  Rusney Castillo (.332, 16, 66) is the only hitter to reach double digits in homeruns.  He also stole 22 bases in 29 attempts.  Raul Gonzalez (.303, 8, 45) spanks a lot of doubles (27), one behind Castillo, who leads in about every offensive category.  Isaac Martinez (.304, 7, 45) is the only other Tiger with significant at bats to hit over .300.  Yoelvis Fiss (.217, 6, 21) had a horrible year, but he can make up for it with a good playoff.

Pitchers: Vladimir Garcia (14-5, 1.71) is arguably the best pitcher in these playoffs.  Osmar Carrero (8-8, 3.52) and Yander Guevara (10-7, 3.97) are two other pitchers that can hold the opposition down.  Guevara gives up a lot of hits, with 16 of them traveling over the fence, but his ERA is still good.  Yadir Rabi (3-6, 3.01, 11 saves) is their closer, but the six losses shows he is vulnerable.

We like the pitching of the Tigers to beat the Woodcutters in the one series that is the closest to being a coin toss.

German No Hitter for Brian Fields

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Brian Fields threw a no hitter for the German team Untouchables Paderbon in their 8-0 win over Dohren Wild Farmers to complete the doubleheader sweep.  Fields struck out 12 and walked four in the nine inning outing.

Martin Kipphan had nine RBIs in the Mainz Athletics 24-1 beating of the Bad Homburg Hornets.  Mainz had also won the opener 14-1.  Jennell Hudson, who was released by the Red Sox after a 2011 Gulf Coast League ERA of 9.58, hit a homerun for the Hornets for their only run, but didn’t appear to be a mystery on the mound, taking the loss.

You can read more summaries of the German League here: http://www.mister-baseball.com/recaps-fields-hurls-nohitter-paderborn-kipphan-9-rbi-mainz/

Cuban Playoffs - Occidental League

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Two of the four teams did not make the playoffs last year (Matanzas and Industriales). Sancti Spiritus last year came into the playoffs as the best team in this division but they were eliminated in the first round. This year they come as the number four seed. They play Matanzas in the first round, a team not used to playoff games. Below are some of the players to watch.

Matanzas Crocodiles

Hitters: Guillermo Heredia has the top average at .343. He also has hit 10 homeruns and nine triples to score a team leading 91 runs. He gets the offense started. The big RBI bats are Yurisbel Gracial (.328, 15, 68) and Yadiel Hernandez (.330, 8, 67). Yurisbel has stolen 12 bases in 17 attempts, a good percentage for a league that usually sees a percentage that has a less than 50% success rate for basestealers. Yadiel has walked 80 times to put his OBA at .478.

Pitchers: Their two ace starters are Jorge Alberto Martinez (11-5, 2.94) and Yohan Hernandez (11-3, 3.27). After you get past these two starters it can get dicey for the Crocs. Their bullpen is led by closer Felix Fuentes (2-5, 2.25, nine saves).

Sancti Spiritus Roosters

Hitters: One of the better players in the league is Yulieski Gourriel (.324, 22, 85) who has been overshadowed by some of the prolific homerun hitters that have arrived on the scene. Gourriel can hit homeruns as well, third to Despaigne and Abreu, but he has more of an all around game than those sluggers. His defense was a bit disappointing at third base this year. Another big bat on the team is Fredrich Cepeda (.302, 10, 54) who has struggled by his standards. Breaking out in the playoffs would be a welcome sight. Eriel Sanchez (.285, 15, 47) is another big bat to watch.

Pitchers: Ismel Jimenez (17-5, 2.48) is their ace who has a nice 119/39 walk to whiff ratio, excellent in the Cuban League where strikeouts are rare. He is supported by a good number two man in Angel Pena (11-4, 2.88). After those two the starting pitching gets rough. They have had a rough time with their bullpen, but Omar Guardarramas (3-2, 3.86, 9 saves) has had the most success.

Myworld will predict the Roosters to advance in an upset.

Cienfuegos Elefantes

Hitters: Jose Abreu (.394, 35, 99) may have the most power in the Cuban League but he has trouble getting in the lineup. He always misses a lot of time. He finished one short of Despaigne in the homerun race and three RBIs short, but won the batting race. A Triple Crown could have been added to his accomplishments if he had played in more games. Counting his 75 walks he only got 357 at bats. The Elefantes like to steal bases with Yoelvis Leyva (.335, 2, 40) and Lazaro Rodriguez (.288, 2, 36) leading the charge with 22 and 29 respectively. Their success rate of less than 70 percent would make Billy Beane cringe. Barbaro Arruebaruena (.320, 8, 44) is a smooth fielding shortstop that has broken out with the bat.

Pitching: Norberto Gonzalez (13-8, 3.00) is the ace. He is supported by three pretty good pitchers who have all had decent years, Yuniel Leiva (9-7, 3.48), Noelvis Entenza (11-7, 3.74) and Jorge Hernandez (8-3, 3.78). One of those pitchers will probably move to the bullpen, with Hernandez the more likely choice. Duniel Ibarra (3-5, 2.70, 22 saves) may only be 5′9″ but he has the reputation of being the best closer in the Cuban League. Leorisbel Sanchez (3-2, 2.24, 7 saves) has been also effective when given a closer role.

Industriales Leones

Hitters: Rudy Reyes (.353, 9, 60) and Serguei Perez (.333, 12, 66) are the most consistent hitters. Irait Chirino (.326, 6, 50) is second on the team in runs scored with 67, but their most productive hitter is Alexander Malleta (.288, 14, 74) who leads the team in RBIs and runs scored with 70. Alexander has a 90/37 walk to whiff ratio.

Pitchers: Odrisamer Despaigne (13-8, 2.60) has been their ace but Frank Monthiet (8-4, 3.91) can resurrect ace like qualities. After those two the starting pitching is limited. Bullpen responsibilities are shared. The two most effective at the closer position are Julio Rayzan Montesino (1-1, 1.98, 8 saves) and Antonio Armando Romero (6-3, 3.58, 8 saves).

Myworld’s prediction for this game is Cienfuegos because of their balance of power and speed. Their pitching also seems to be deeper. Jose Abreu has to find himself in the lineup and hitting for power to give them an offense that just doesn’t rely on speed.

NL West - Surprise Roster Additions

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The injury to Brian Wilson put a damper to the Giants playoff hopes.  We had them winning the division, but after the injury to Wilson and Tim Lincecum’s struggles myworld will have to change that assessment.  They have gone to division winner to out of the playoffs.  The Diamondbacks are back on top.  Stephen Drew should be healthy soon and that should solidify the lineup, though the Daniel Hudson injury is a cause of concern if that lingers.  The Dodgers have certainly gotten off to a good start, but Matt Kemp has been fueling their early season drive and he can’t possibly keep up his current pace.

Arizona Diamondbacks  (2) 8-8

Hot Button Issue: With the acquisition of Jason Kubel this relegated gold glove winner Gerald Parra to a fourth outfielder role.  The Nationals were rumored to be interested in acquiring Parra but the Diamondbacks did not want to sell the gold glover on the cheap.  With the injury to Chris Young, Parra is back in the starting lineup.  He hit a grand slam last night so there may be lineup difficulties when Young returns.  Those are the issues that managers would prefer to have, trying to fill lineup slots with too many good players and not enough positions to find for them.

Surprise Roster Addition: Jonathan Albaladejo got a recent callup.  Last year he played in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants where he had an unsuccessful stint as the Giants closer.  The previous year he was trying to make the Yankees bullpen.  The Yankees traded All star Tyler Clippard to the Nationals for Albaladejo.  The results of that trade have not worked out too well for the Yankees.  Cody Ransom is another callup that always seems to find a job on somebody’s roster.  He played for Arizona last year but only got into 12 games.  The Diamondbacks are his fifth major league team.  He has 212 career minor league homeruns.

Top Prospect Performances: Trevor Bauer could be in the Diamondbacks rotation very soon.  In four starts he has yet to lose and has crafted a 0.40 ERA, limiting the opposition to a .158 average.  Archie Bradley, the other 2011 number one pick is also doing well with a 1.71 ERA in four starts.  He is still down in Low A while Trevor is knocking on the door in AA.  A first round 2011 supplemental pick Andrew Chafin has been dominating the California League with a 1.76 ERA in three starts and a 4/27 walk to whiff ratio in just 15 innings.   Matt Davidson is swinging a hot stick with his .379 average and three homeruns.  He has a 12/13 walk to whiff ratio in 18 games.

Significant March Transactions: None

San Francisco Giants (1) 7-7

Hot Button Issues: They signed Matt Cain to an extension.  The question now is do they committ with a large contract extension to Tim Lincecum, who appears to have lost the dominance he had a couple years ago.  This year he has gotten off to a horrendous start with a 10.54 ERA after three starts.  The bright spot is his 4/16 walk to whiff ratio in just 13 plus innings.  So the stuff still appears to be there.  As his .344 opposition average attests, he is just hitting too many barrells of the bat.

Surprise Roster Addition: Brett Pill and Gregor Blanco were two position players who were a surprise to make the team.  Brett is now 28 years old this year but he had traditionally appeared on prospect lists because of a potent bat and good defense at first.  Blanco was always a winter league sensation with his patient eye at the plate.  Dan Otero did not make any prospect lists, but pitchers who spend most of their time in relief in the minors often do not.  He has a career minor league ERA of 1.90 with 86 saves.

Top Prospect Performances: Chris Dominguez has slowed down a bit after getting off to a hot start.  He is still hitting .346 with one homerun.  One cause for concern is his 1/10 walk to whiff ratio in just 13 games.

Significant March Transactions: The only significant moves were the releases of Ramon Ortiz and Mike Fontenot.

Los Angeles Dodgers (4) 12-4

Hot Button Issues: Nothing was hotter than the sale of the Dodgers to a group that included basketball player Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten.  The previous owner Frank McCourt was using the Dodgers to finance he and his wife’s lavish lifestyle and appeared to have no interest in spending the money required to make the Dodgers a winner.  Attendance plummetted and McCourt turned himself into one of the most hated men in Los Angeles, unless you are an Angels fan.

Surprise Roster Additions: Justin Sellers got some starts last year after Rafael Furcal was injured.  He was only supposed to be a stop gap until Dee Gordon was ready.  Gordon is now the starting shortstop, but Sellers made the roster as a utility player who can play both short and second.

Top Prospect Performances: They spent a lot of coin to sign Zach Lee and he has rewarded them in four starts with a 2.95 ERA.  He has a 3/25 walk to whiff ratio in 21 innings, but despite the strikekouts he has been pretty hittable with a .250 opposition average.  Alex Castellanos has gone on an offensive explosion, hitting .370 with seven doubles, four triples and four homeruns to drive in 11.  He has also stolen seven bases.  Scott Van Slyke, the son of Andy, is also hitting .370 but without the pop.  He has three homeruns and seven doubles but no triples.  He does have eight walks to only six whiffs.

Significant March Transactions: The only really significant moves were the releases of Alberto Castillo, Josh Bard, Matt Chico and Russell Mitchell.

Colorado Rockies (3) 8-7

Hot Button Issue: Gold Glover Troy Tulowitski has already started the season with six errors after only 15 games.  Last year, he only committed six errors for the entire season.  This is causing some concerns with Rockie fans, who have quite a bit invested in Tulow when he signed his multi-year contract to stay with Colorado beyond his free agent time.

Surprise Roster Addition: Maybe not the biggest surprise, but the most pleasant surprise was the health of Juan Nicasio.  After a broken neck ended his season last year there was some fear that his baseball career was over.  He got healthy and has made the Rockies rotation.  Jamie Moyer did not play last year because of arm surgery.  At 48 years of age you would think he would call it a career.  He rehabbed, signed with the Rockies as a free agent and then made the rotation.  Last week he became the oldest pitcher to win a major league game.

Top Prospect Performances: Top prospect Nolan Arenado may get a summer callup if he continues to hit .350 after 16 games.  His power is still absent, with only one homerun and a .517 slugging percentage that is the result of seven doubles.  If Troy continues to make errors Trevor Story could be ready to play shortstop in a couple years.  He is hitting .309 with four homeruns.  No one had more strikeouts than Edwar Cabrera last year.  He got off to a good start this year with 16 whiffs in 20 innings, but more importantly a 1.35 ERA after three starts.  The opposition is hitting only .132 against him.

Significant March Transactions: The Rockies had signed Casey Blake as a one year temporary fill in until Nolan Arenado is ready to take over the position.  The Rockies decided to give the job to Chris Nelson, releasing Blake.

San Diego Padres (5) 5-12

Hot Button Issue: The Padres were hoping to eventually sell the team to Jeff Moorad.  There were too many owners who had indicated that they would not approve the final sale because of their concerns about the resources of the financial group that was put together to purchase the team.  Now that Moorad is out of consideration John Moores has announced the Padres are for sale.  It will be interesting how that impacts the Padres salary structure.

Surprise Roster Addition: Andy Parrino will not make any of the Padres top prospect lists and last year he only hit .182 in his major league debut.  He didn’t have a particularly good spring, but it didn’t stop him from making the major league roster as a utility player.  He is hitting .304 in 10 games with one homerun.  If he keeps hitting like that he will stay on the major league roster.  With the Padres not happy with the production of Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson he could find himself in the starting lineup if one of those players is released.

Top Prospect Performances: Robbie Erlin was acquired from the Rangers for Mike Adams.  In three starts the lefty has a 1.69 ERA in three starts.  He has only averaged a little over three innings per start.  Adys Portillo has been dominant in Low A, justifying the Padres $2 million bonus in 2008.  He has a 0.89 ERA after four starts with a .132 opposition average, numbers that are begging for a promotion to High A.

Significant March Transactions: None

Despaigne Wins Homerun Crown - Stallions Make the Playoffs

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Alfredo Despaigne hit his 36th homerun on the last day of the season and just nicked Jose Abreu by one for the homerun crown.  His homerun also helped the Stallions beat Isla de Juventud 10-1.  At the same time, the Santiago Wasps were defeated by Mayabeque 9-7 to be eliminated from the playoffs.

The top four teams in the Oriental Division are the Villa Clara Orangeman, Las Tunas Pinecutters, Ciego de Avila Tigers and the Granma Stallions.

In the Occidental Division the four playoff teams are the Matanzas Crocodiles, Industriales Leones, Cienfuegos Elefantes and the Sancti Spiritus Roosters.

The Occidental Division will begin the playoffs tomorrow with the Crocodiles doing battle with the Roosters and the Leones playing the Elefantes.  Tomorrow Myworld will also break down the players to watch from each of the playoff teams.

College Preview - No Hitters and a Baylor Winning Streak

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

# 6 Baylor 3 #2 Texas A&M 0

Baylor played a pretty good Texas A&M team, rated as the second best team in the country by Baseball America, with a 21 game winning streak on the line.  The opening game of the series was at the Aggies park.  Texas A&M took a quick 3-1 lead after two innings were played and were leading 3-2 after seven.  The Baylor Bear offense awakened in the eighth, after a leadoff passed ball on a strikeout allowed Jake Miller to reach first.  Two singles later the Bears had tied the score, a throwing error by the Aggie left fielder allowing the tying run to advance to the plate.  The Aggies chose to walk Josh Ludy intentionally to load the bases but Logan Vick foiled the strategy by striking a single up the middle to score two runs.  The Bears won the game 5-3 after Max Garner tossed two innings of perfect relief to pick up his sixth save.  Josh Turley got credit for the victory to improve his record to 6-0.  The 22 game winning streak is the most consecutive wins for a Big 12 team since the conference was formed in 1997.

Trent Blank outdueled Ross Stripling in a 1-0 Baylor win in the second game, tying the Big 12 record for most consecutive conference wins with 17, breaking the Big 12 record for consecutive wins in a season with 23 and surpassing the Kentucky Wildcats, whose 22 game winning streak had been the most in Division I.  Blank blanked the Aggies for eight innings, giving up just four hits and walking none while striking out six.  The only blemish for Stripling came in the fifth when two singles and a walk loaded the bases.  Max Muncy drove a fly deep enough to center to allow Adam Toth to tag up and score the only run of the game.  Max Garner allowed the leadoff batter to get a hit in the ninth, but stranded him at second to pick up his seventh save of the season.  Blank improved his record to 9-0 for the season.  The 5,911 fans who watched the game broke a Bear attendance record that was set in 2004 with 5,602.

The Bears jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in game three, Josh Ludy going deep for a 2-run homer in the first after fouling off 10 straight pitches.  The Aggies were not going to make the game easy for them coming back with three runs in the top of the sixth to take a 5-4 lead.  The Bears got a clutch 2-run single from Dan Evatt in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead and never looked back in their 7-5 win.  The 18 consecutive conference wins broke a Big 12 conference record.  Max Garner came on in the ninth for his third straight appearance to get the last two outs to pick up his eighth save.  Tyler Naquin got four hits for the Aggies to raise his average to .408 in a losing cause.  Baylor has won 13 of the 24 games in the winning streak by only one or two runs.

#3 Kenturcky 2 #4 LSU 1

It seems that every weekend Kentucky has a critical Southeastern Conference game with a highly ranked opponent.  This weekend was no different.  LSU pulled out the opener 5-4 with Kevin Gausman getting the win despite a poor performance, giving up 10 hits and four runs.  Austin Nola drove in three runs and Tyler Moore hit a solo shot to lead the Tiger offense.  Nick Goody struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his sixth save.  A season high 3,785 attended the game.

The Wildcats got revenge in game two, spanking the Tigers 8-1.  Leadoff hitter Austin Cousino clubbed a 3-run homer in the fourth, his seventh round tripper of the year and Luke Maille clobbered a 2-run blast in the seventh, his eleventh to lead the offense.

The Wildcats overcame a 7 for 8 performance by the Tiger three/four hitters to win the rubber game 7-6.  Austin Cousino slapped three hits and Zac Zellers smacked a solo shot to lead the Wildcat offense.  Kentucky leads the Southeaster Conference with a 13-5 record.  The series attendance of 9,496 broke the previous record for a three game series of 8,238 back in 2008.

#1 Florida State 3 # 18 Miami 0

The Miami Hurricanes had an opportunity to rise in the rankings but the Seminoles put them in their place.  An opening day 11-2 shellacking set the tone, with Justin Gonzalez going deep twice to drive in three runs.  Hurricane ace Eric Erickson was tatooed for six earned runs in just five innings of work.  Brandon Liebrandt went five innings to get the win.

The Seminoles won game two 6-1, Mike Compton going five innings to get his seventh win against zero defeats.  John Holland got three hits, including a 2-run single in a 4-run second that blew the game wide open.  Luke Weaver pitched three innings of shutout ball in relief, striking out four.

The Hurricanes finally played a competetive game in the final game of the series, scoring seven runs in the fourth.  unfortunately, it was the only runs they were to score in the game.  Sherman Johnson finally hit a walk off single in the bottom of the 10th to give the Seminoles the sweep with an 8-7 win.  John Holland again was the offensive hero, driving in three runs to lead the offense.  Robert Benincasa pitched the last two innings without allowing a run to get the win.  Their 19-2 ACC record ties the Seminoles school record for their best league record through 22 games and provides the school with a comfortable six game lead over second place North Carolina State in the Atlantic Division.

The Hurricanes had to play the series without their best player, catcher Peter O’Brien, who was hit by a pitch in the wrist last weekend causing a hairline fracture.

There were four no hitters in college baseball last week.  The Oregon Duck’s Jordan Spencer threw the first no hitter of the week in a 3-0 win over Portland.  He pitched only two batters above the minimum, hitting a batter in the fifth and another getting on base via an error in the seventh.  It was the first complete game shutout of the freshman Spencer’s career.

The University of California Irvine Anteater’s Andrew Thurman no hit Long Beach State 4-0.  He walked a batter and hit a batter.  The previous week Thurman had a no hitter against Cal State Fullerton, but lost it in the ninth. On Friday he completed the task.

Steven Hill pitched a no hitter for Penn State in their 2-0 win over Iowa. A walk and hitbatsman prevented him from having a perfect game.  On the same day Logan Lee tossed a seven inning no hitter for Army in their 8-0 win over Bucknell.  He had a perfect game after six, but a leadoff walk in the seventh spoiled the perfecto.

The fact that Phillip Humber threw a perfect game no hitter on the same Saturday for the Chicago White Sox did not deter both teams from celebrating their feat.

Cuban Season Two Days Left

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Alfredo Despaigne and Jose Abreu find themselves tied in the homerun race at 35 each with both player’s teams having two games left in the season.  If they remain tied Abreu would be declared the homerun leader because of fewer at bats.  To help Abreu win the homerun title for the second straight season Cienfuegos batted Abreu in the leadoff position.  He needs three more RBIs to surpass Despaigne for the RBI lead and win the Triple Crown.  Those three RBIs will be hard to achieve from the leadoff spot.  Abreu leads the batting race by .024 with a .390 average.

Three teams are now tied for the last two playoff spots in the Oriental Division.  Cienfuegos and Jose Abreu may end up doing a favor to Alfredo Despaigne and the Granma Stallions.  The Stallions find themselves in a three was tie for the last two playoff spots with the Santiago Wasps and the Ciego de Avila Tigers.  The Elefantes downed the Tigers 4-3 to create this three way tie, Jose Abreu driving in a critical run from the lead off spot to give Cienfuegos the win.  Catcher Adir Ferran had a triple and double for Cienfuegos to assist in the victory.

The Santaigo Wasps got seven innings of three hit shutout ball from Carlos Portuondo and a homerun from Alexei Bell to beat the Mayabeque Hurricanes 7-0.  The Hurricanes are out of the playoff race.  Bell drove in two runs and scored two runs to lead the Wasp offense.

The Granma Stallions got to feast on the substandard pitching of the Isla de Juventud Pinecutters.  Alfredo Despaigne chose to pass on the feast finishing the day 0 for 3, but Luis Alberto drove in four runs and the lineup combined for 16 hits in their 11-6 win.  Unlike Cienfuegos, who have clinched a playoff spot, the Stallions can not set the lineup to benefit one player and his quest for the homerun title.  They have to create the best lineup to get the team a win and get into the playoffs.

So it comes down to the final two days to figure out the homerun leader and the last playoff participant.  The Matanzas Crocodiles and the Villa Clara Orangeman have clinched the number one seeds in their respective divisions.  The other seedings could come to the last day as well.  You can follow it at these two sites: http://www.beisbolencuba.com/ and http://www.baseballdecuba.com/newsite/index.html

Japan Central League Update

Friday, April 20th, 2012

We’ll try to doing monthly updates of the Korean and Japanese leagues just so we can familarize ourselves with the players.  Myworld will start with the Japanese Central League.

Chunichi Dragons (10-6-2)

Hottest Hitters: Kazuhiro Wada (.306) and Hirokazu Ibata (.300) have been doing a good job of getting on base.  Each have drawn 10 walks which has upped their OBA to .400.  Ibata has only one extra base hit.  Ryosuke Hirata has four homeruns, which is tied for the Central League lead, but is only hitting .259.  The big RBI man is Masahiko Morino with 11, despite a .215 batting average and only a .308 slugging.

Top Pitchers: Kazuki Yoshimi (3-1, 1.50), Soma Yamauchi (2-1, 1.35) and Kenichi Nakata (2-1, 2.08) make a very formidable rotation. Hitoki Iwase (0-1, 1.93, 7 saves) and Takuya Asao (1.80, 6 holds) have each appeared in 10 games, which is more than half the Dragons games. Iwase traditionally leads the NPB in saves, while Asao set a NPB record for career holds with 142. Shinji Tajima (1-0, 0.00) has yet to give up an earned run in 13 innings pitched.  Masahiro Yamamoto (1-0, 0.47) became the oldest pitcher in Japan to win a game and adds a fourth piece to an impressive rotation.

Foreign Relations: Tony Blanco lost the first base job to the ageless 44 year old Takeshi Yamasaki.  His .182 average and lack of motivation could also be a factor.  At least he has gotten 22 at bats.  Victor Diaz has been limited to just 7 at bats with most of his playing time on the Ni-gun roster.  They also have not been getting a lot of contribution from the mound, with Jorge Sosa appearing in only four games out of the bullpen.  He has yet to give up an earned run.

The New Order 22 or under: None

Hanshin Tigers (9-6-3)

Hottest Hitters: Matt Murton (.291) has the highest batting average on the team, but he missed some time earlier in the season so he doesn’t qualify for the batting title.  Keiichi Hirano (.284) has the highest average but Takashi Toritani (.273) has a Central League lead 18 walks to give him a .446 OBP.  Takahiro Arai (.266) leads the team in RBIs (16) with his three homeruns while Craig Brazell (.208) leads the team in roundtrippers (4).

Top Pitcher: Atsushi Nomi (2-1, 1.80) and Yuya Ando (2-0, 1.89) make a good one/two in the rotation. Kyuji Fujikawa (2.00, 6 saves) is tied for second with six saves, falling one behind the league leader Iwase.  Daiki Enokida (0.00, 8 holds) leads the Central League in holds.  Fujikawa has a pretty impressive 15 strikeouts in just 9 innings of work.

Foreign Relations: Matt Murton and Craig Brazell provide the offense. On the pitching side, Randy Messenger (2-0, 2.84) just registered his first NPB complete game shutout. Jason Standridge (2-1, 3.86) is also in the starting rotation but is struggling.

The New Order 22 or under: None

Yakult Swallows (9-7-1)

Hottest Hitters: Wladimir Balentien frustates Swallow management with his extended slumps.  Currently he leads the Central League in hitting with his .333 average.  He also has three homeruns and 8 RBIs.  Shingo Kawabata (.288) and Hiroyasu Tanaka (.277) are the only other two players with an average over .250.  Lastings Milledge (.230) has two homeruns but his hits are few.  He and Balentien are the only players with more than one homerun.

Top Pitchers: Katsuki Akagawa (1-1, 1.40) and Kyohei Muranaka (2-0, 1.93) are the two starters with ERAs under 2.00.  Tony Barnette (1-0, 6 saves, 1 hold) has yet to give up a run in the closer role, taking over for Chang-Yong Lim who has yet to appear in a game.  Lim had 32 saves last year but a loss in velocity have made the Swallows reluctant to call him up.

Foreign Relations: Milledge and Balentien are the offensive forces.  Orlando Roman (0-3, 3.63) has yet to win in the starting rotation, which won’t give him an opportunity to show his moves in a salsa dance hero interview.  Barnette has taken over the closer responsibilities.

The New Order 22 or Under: Ryo Hidaka (22) has yet to give up an earned run working from the bullpen. He has appeared in seven games and struck out seven in just five innings of work. Ryo Hirai (21) has also seen work in the bullpen and in four appearances has the only save not credited to Tony Barnette. Yuhei Nakamura (.316) could get more games behind the plate if he continues to hit. Tetsuto Yamada (20) has been in five games and hit .500 in two at bats.

Hiroshima Carp (9-7-2)

Hottest Hitter: Shota Dobayashi (.327) is second in the Central League in batting average.  Jun Hirose (.270) also has a decent average.  Nick Stavinoha (.224) is the only hitter on the team to hit more than one homerun.  He has two.  Eishin Soyogi (.250) has four stolen bases which gives him a team leading 8 runs scored.  Yoshihiro Maru (.267) has 10 walks to give him a .450 OBA.

Top Pitchers: The Carp have the top duo to start the season with Yusuke Nomura (1-1, 0.90) and Kenta Maeda (2-1, 1.24).  Maeda pitched the first no hitter in the NPB in more than six years.  Kan Otake (2-1, 1.20) just misses qualifying for the ERA title.  Two ex-Orioles Dennis Sarfate (0.00, 3 saves) and Kam Mickolio (1-0, 1.42, 5 holds) hold the closer and set-up roles for the Carp.

Foreign Relations: Stavinoha is the only foreign bat for the Carp.  Dennis and Kam are the bullpen guys while Bryan Bullington (1-3, 3.52) struggles in the starting rotation.

The New Order 22 or Under: Takeru Imamura (21) has two holds but his 4.50 ERA has shown some hiccups. Shota Nakazaki (20) has had a few more hiccups (8.44). Dobayashi (21) is looking like a future star for the Carp.

Yomiuri Giants (6-11-1)

Hottest Hitters: Not a lot of hot hitters when the goose eggs are filling the scoreboard but Hisayoshi Chono (.323) is third in the Central League in hitting, but only one of those hits has gone for extra bases.  Shinnosuke Abe (.290) and Hayato Sakamoto (.275) each have two homeruns.  Both are tied with Shuichi Murata (.261) with seven RBIs for the team lead.  Sakamoto leads the team in runs scored with 10.  Perhaps they miss the bat of Alex Ramirez to ignite the moribund offense.

Top Pitchers: Toshiya Sugiuchi (2-1, 1.27) has been the top starter.  He has struck out 25 in just 21 innings.  Dicky Gonzalez (1-0, 1.93) has only worked 14 innings in his two starts but he could be out a month with an oblique injury.  Kentaro Nishimura (0-1, 1.23, 4 saves) has been the closer with Tetsuya Yamaguchi (0.00, 4 holds) taking over the setup role.  Hirokazu Sawamura (1-2, 2.42) has been another whiff machine with 25 strikeouts in just 22 innings, including one inning where he struck out four hitters.

Foreign Relations: John Bowker (.073) has really struggled with the bat.  He won’t make anyone forget Alex Ramirez.  Scott Mathieson has not given up a run in his first two appearances.  With a fastball hitting 97 on the radar gun he could take over the closer role.  Dennis Houlton (0-2, 4.41) was signed as a free agent from the Hawks, but he has not been able to replicate the success he had there.  Levi Romero has only made one appearance without giving up an earned run.  Dicky Gonzalez could be out for at least a month with an oblique injury.

The New Order 22 and Under: Ryosuke Miyaguni (20) just missed becoming the first pitcher to win an NPB game as a teenager since Hiroshi Nakao since 1939.  He did pick up a victory as a 20 year old and is now 1-0, 0.64 in two starts.  He has only given up one earned run in just 14 innings.

DeNA Bay Stars (5-11-1)

Hottest Hitters: Hichori Morimoto (.309) is fourth in the Central League in hitting.  Norihiro Nakamura (.298) is just shy of .300.  His two homeruns make him the only player with more than one homerun and his 12 RBIs lead the team.  They have three players with more than 40 at bats who are hitting less than .200.

Top Pitchers: Daisuke Miura (2-0, 1.13) has been their top starter, with one shutout to his credit in his two starts.  It was the first complete game for the Bay Stars since 2010.  Kazumasa Kikuchi (1.29, 2 holds) has had the most Bay Star appearances out of the pen.

Foreign Relations: He is no longer considered a foreigner but Alex Ramirez (.220) has not found his stroke yet.  To date, he is still waiting for his first homerun.  Oscar Salazar has only gotten three at bats in limited time.  Giancarlo Alvarado (1-2, 2.30) is pitching well enough to pick up more than one victory.  Clayton Hamilton (3.18) is working out of the bullpen while Brandon Mann (0-2, 2.76) has yet to get a win in the starting rotation.

The New Order 22 and Under: None