Archive for May, 2012

Sea Dogs split with Senators; Bugs Slaughtered

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Myworld was in Harrisburg to watch the doubleheader between the Portland Sea Dogs versus the Harrisburg Senators.  The stadium is near a river, so when the lights came on the bugs showed up in mass, outnumbering the fans by at least 1,000 to 1.  Leaving the ballpark you could not get to your car without crunching at least ten bugs for each step.  I can’t imagine the pizza and hot dogs that became bug infested before a person could take their first bite, getting a bit of extra protein with their cheese.  PETA would not have been happy with the carnage.

Once I got to my car there were at least 100 or so of these flying insects resting, hoping for a ride back to Virginia.  I couldn’t help but allow a few of the critters to come flying into the car once I opened the door.  Who knows how many of them were resting in my hair.  While there is a law that does not allow texting while driving, fortunately there is no law about crunching flying bugs in your car while you are driving.  I think I killed them all before I returned to Virginia at sometime after midnight.

The games was entertaining if the bugs were not.  The Sea Dogs won the opener 3-2 after trailing the whole game.  They scored two in the seventh inning on a Bryce Brentz lead off homer that he whacked into right field.  They scored the go ahead run on a Zack Gentile single scoring Derrik Gibson from second.  The throw from Eury Perez easily beat Gibson to the plate, but catcher Devin Ivany allowed the ball to skip past him.

The Senators got a good effort from Eury Perez who singled three times and stole second base after each single.  His single in the first inning allowed the Senators to jump out to a 2-0 lead that they held for the first six innings.  Jose Lozada drove him in for the first run with a double while Tim Pahuta hit a deep drive to center that was caught, but Lozada scored from third for the second run.

Jeremy Hazelbaker launched a deep drive into right field in the third inning.  At 25 he is probably too old to start appearing on a top prospect list for the Red Sox, but myworld liked him.

The two starting pitchers for the game, Billy Buckner for the Sea Dogs and Mike Ballard for the Senators had the scouts resting their speed guns.  There was no point in measuring each of their 85 mile an hour fastballs.  Buckner got the complete game victory, while Ballard left with a one run lead after pitching six strong innings.

Game two saw the fire balling Stolmy Pimentel pitching for the Sea Dogs.  His fastball was hitting between 94-96, but his other pitches were not getting over the plate.  Myworld didn’t see much of a curveball or a change.  After being shutout for the first three innings the Senator bats wailed on him for five in the fourth to win the night cap 5-2.  The Senators massed six hits together, Chris McConnell getting the big blow with his bases loaded triple.  Pimentel threw all six innings so the Sea Dogs must have been hurting with the pen for the manager to leave Pimentel in for the complete fourth inning thrashing.  He pitched all six innings to get the loss.

Juan Carlos Linares drove in both runs for the Sea Dogs with an RBI single in the third and a solo blast in the sixth.  The Senators only allowed Ryan Tatusko to go three innings and then brought in four different pitchers to finish the seven inning game.  Hector Nelo picked up his fifth save after putting two runners on, bringing the tying run to the plate.  He struck out the last two hitters Hazelbaker and Linares to finish the game.

Myworld completed our Star Spangled Banner tour.  Francis Scott Key is buried in Frederick and lived there for much of his life.  He penned the words to the Star Spangled Banner after watching the British bombard Fort McHenry for 25 hours and seeing the American flag still waving after the bombing was complete.

The words to the Star Spangled banner were brought to the attention of Harrisburg resident George Heisely, who was with the the First Regiment of Pennsylvania, called upon to assist the troops at Fort McHenry.  Since he was the only person among the regiment that had a musical instrument (flute), he was the one selected to play the music that fit the poem written by Key.  They looked through a song book and found the music to an old English drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven”.  It is a good thing there was not a lot of enforcement of copyrights or trademarks during those days because the music to the Star Spangled Banner was plagarized from an old English drinking song.  Heisely lived at 2nd and Walnut, which is just a long stone’s throw from the stadium on the other side of the river.

Progress of the Braves Top Prospects

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Will lightening strike twice.  The Braves are developing a host of young pitchers, with Julio Tehran and Randall Delgado considered the best of the young bunch. Years ago the Braves molded the pattern for developing a starting rotation with John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.  Two of those players (Smoltz and Maddux) were not developed by the Braves but were acquired in trades.  A pitching coach like Leo Mazzone can establish a career inheriting a pitching staff like that and be declared a genius, whether he deserves the accolades or not.  Braves fans would like to see some of their younger players develop some maturity and give them playoff appearances and then World Series.  Like the Red Sox, they folded last year and many attributed that to their youth.

Below are the top ten of mlb.com and Jonathan Mayo.

1. Julio Teheran (RHP) - The righthanded pitcher from Colombia struggled with his consistency last year and in spring training this year.  Too many fastballs left in the middle of the plate that were taken out of the park.  His best pitch is a fastball that he glides to the plate in the mid-90s.  He also throws a nice change, but he needs to get more consistency with the breaking pitch to make a major league rotation.  He is toiling in AAA and is dominanting like he did last year (4-2, 2.98) but his walk numbers are up while his strikeout numbers have dropped, a cause for concern.  He has also given up one more homerun this year (6 versus 5) despite throwing 100 less innings.  In year’s past he was not susceptible to the homerun ball.  The major league jacks now have become contagious to the minor leagues.

2. Andrelton Simmons (SS) - He almost won the shortstop job out of spring training, but a slump at the end put him on a par with Tyler Pastornicky.  Since Tyler was more advanced than Andrelton it would have taken a spectacular spring to win the shortstop job.  Andrelton is one of those rare players from Curacao who was a second round draft choice in 2010 instead of being an international signing.  He went to junior college in the United States where he played baseball.  Andrelton should have the defensive tools to play the position and as he rises up the minor league ladder he is showing the offensive potential.  This year at AA he is hitting .305 with nine steals in 11 attempts and three homeruns.  He could develop that rare power/speed combination coveted for up the middle defensive players.  If Tyler continues his struggles generating offense there will be greater temptation for the Braves to promote Andrelton.

3. Arodys Vizcaino (RHP) - He has had elbow problems that have shut him down when he was with the Yankees and after being traded to the Braves.  The Yankees will say that the only reason he was made available was their concern with injuries.  That has come to pass.  The Braves moved him to the bull pen to put less stress on his arm.  This increased the velocity of his fastball moving it from the mid-90s to the high 90s.  It did not prevent him from requiring Tommy John elbow surgery.  He will miss a good portion of the 2012 season and the Braves will hope that he is ready for the 2013 campaign.

4. Christian Bethancourt (C) - A Panamanian, if he catches Randall Delgado it could be the first battery from Panama  that myworld is aware of in the major leagues.  He’s got the defensive tools to play behind the plate.  Some question his maturity for playing such a critical position while others are concerned with his pudgy frame and his lack of motivation to lesson the pudge.  Last year was his best offensive year, hitting .303 in the South Atlantic League and .270 in the Carolina league.  This year he is hitting .289 but the two doubles are his only extra base hits.  He is considered the Braves best defensive catcher and should be ready when Brian McCann hits the free agent market.

5. Sean Gilmartin (LHP) - Sean was the Braves first round pick in 2011 from Florida State.  This should make him a fast riser through the minor league system.  He is not overpowering with a fastball sitting at 88-92.  The change up makes his fastball seem to have greater velocity.  Like any pitcher that is not overpowering he needs command of his pitches in order to be effective.  The Braves skipped high A and promoted him to AA after pitching only two games in low A last year.  In 10 starts with Mississippi he is 2-5, 3.48.  His hits to innings pitched (62/59) or whiffs to innings pitched (45/62) is less than impressive.  He may end up being more a back end of the rotation type pitcher.

6. Joe Terdoslavich (1B/3B) - With Freddie Freeman at first base his opportunity for playing time there isn’t going to happen.  The Braves have moved him to third and he is struggling offensively and defensively.  Last year he had a break out year with twenty homeruns in his second year since being a sixth round draft choice in 2010.  He also set a Carolina League record with 52 doubles.  The Braves thought enough of him that they skipped AA and moved him diretly to Gwinnet.  With Chipper Jones playing a fragile knees a good offensive performance only made him a phone call away.  Skipping AA may have been a bit optimistic, with his .193 average indicative of his struggles.  His four doubles and four homeruns has only resulted in a .284 slugging average, which is almost half his total from 2011 (.526).

7. Zeke Spruill (RHP) - Zeke is not one of the more heralded Brave pitchers despite his second round pick in 2008.  His fastball does not have the zip of Delgado or Teheran, but it comes across home plate in the low 90s.  What sets him apart is the command he has of the fastball.  He also throws a change that complements the fastball well.  He is repeating AA and while his ERA has not improved (3.20 vs 3.50) his whiffs to innings pitched is vastly improved (17/16 vs 15/40).  At 6′5″ he relies on ground ball double play outs to prevent the big innings.  He is a local boy from Marietta, Georgia who hopes to do well.

8. J.R. Graham (RHP) - A fourth round pick last year, J.R. is not as tall as Zeke at 6′0″ but he throws harder, getting his fastball up to the mid 90s.  He still is working on his secondary pitches but his slider has the potential to do well.  He pitched primarily out of the pen in college but eventually moved to the rotation for the Braves.  His height may restrict him to the bullpen.  In ten starts this year he is 6-0, 2.37 ERA.  He seems to dominate more against righthanders (.174) than lefthanders (.260).  He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his ten starts, with seven of his ten starts considered quality starts.

9.  Edward Salcedo (3B/SS) - The Braves lost a lot of time and spent a lot of money to sign Edward.  MLB took two years to investigate the veracity of Edward’s age and the Braves paid $1.6 million to get his name on a contract.  He broke out the power bat last year with 12 homeruns, but his strikeout numbers (105) and batting average (.248) lessoned that enthusiasm.  He lacks the range to play shortstop and his 40 errors last year at third makes a move to a corner outfield a possibility.  This year is running about the same as last year, with a low average (.251) but good power (6 homeruns) numbers.

10. Nick Ahmed (SS) - Nick has better shortstop tools than Salcedo, though he will not win any glod gloves.  As a second round 2011 pick he also signed for less money ($417,600) than Salcedo.  The biggest challenge for Nick may be his ability to generate an offense.  He has the patience to draw walks but may not have the strength to be a productive offensive player.  In the Carolina League he is hitting .275 but his slugging average is low (.364).  To be a starter with those kind of numbers he has to be an exceptional shortstop.  With Andrelton ahead of him on the shortstop ladder, utility may be his better role.  He does have 17 steals this year in 22 attempts.

Other Top Offensive Players

Cory Gearrin RHP - He relies more on a side arm delivery than over powering stuff to get hitters out.  He has six saves with Gwinnet and a 0.96 ERA.  If the Braves call he hopes to be more prepared than last year (7.85 ERA).  Despite his lack of velocity his side arm delivery gets him over a strikeout per inning.

Evan Gattis C - He got a slow start to baseball, spending the first three years of his life after a short stint in college driving around the country figuring what he wanted to do with his life.  At 23 years of age he decided he wanted to play baseball.  His second year with the Braves he surprised everyone with 22 homeruns and a .322 average.  The Braves are being aggressive with him, promoting him to AA after a .385 start to the season in High A.  He still keeps slugging away in AA (.581) but is currently on the DL because of tendonitis in his wrist.

Ciego de Avila 2012 Cuban Champions

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

For the first time in their franchise history the Ciego de Avila Tigres can say they are the Cuban champions. They defeated the Industriales Leones, the equivalent of the New York Yankees in Cuban circles since they are Havana’s team, in five games. The fifth game lasted 11 innings, but a Ricardo Borbon double scored Yorbis Borroto from second to give the Tigres a 4-3 win.

Both teams scored early. Yoelvis Fiss was the only offense that the Tigres could muster with his two doubles in the first and third innings. The first double drove in the first run and the second double scored two to give the Tigres a 3-2 lead. Yorandi Urgelles greeted Yander Guevara with a 2-run shot in the second inning to provide the Leones their early offense.

Yander, who went ten plus innings for Ciego de Avila, gave up the game tying run on a sacrifice fly by Irakli Chirino in the seventh that scored Urgelles. Yander would last until one out into the tenth when Lazaro Santana came on in relief to get the last two outs of the tenth. He would get credit for the victory after the Bordon double.

Antonio Armando survived eight innings, giving up only one hit in his last four innings. That hit was erased by a double play in the eighth. Julio Rayzan took the loss. The Bordon double was the only hit he gave up in two plus innings. Borroto had gotten on base via a walk and was moved to second on a bunt.

So now the international league play for Cuba will begin and all of baseball awaits who will be the next free agents (or defectors) to come out of Cuba for what would be the 2014 season. It usually takes about a year for the agents to falsify documentation to get them residency in a country they never set foot in so they can gain international free agent status. The Office of Foreign Assets Control also needs time to review any documentation that they eventually approve showing that this Cuban player no longer has any affiliation with the government before this player becomes eligible to negotiate with a team.

Show Me the Money - Onelki Garcia

Monday, May 28th, 2012

There has been some talk that Onelki Garcia will not sign with any team if he is not drafted in the first round and given a signing bonus of at least $7 million.  Their original request was at $15 million when they thought he would be an international free agent.  He or his agent (Gus Dominguez, a convicted felon is representing him) have obviously not been paying attention to the latest restrictions placed on major league teams with their signing bonus restrictions in this year’s major league draft.

Last year Garcia was supposed to be eligible for the draft, but was removed at the last minute.  A Sports illustrated article indicates that false documentation had been submitted to show Nicaragua residency in an attempt to avoid the draft.  The agent for Garcia has been trying to insist that Garcia should be declared a free agent, trying to get as much money for him as he can.  It appears that Garcia may end up with nothing and have to pitch in the Independent Leagues if they continue their current stance of labeling Garcia as a premium player.

The only team with a cap at $7 million is the team with the first pick, the Houston Astros.  They are not about to select Garcia with the first pick.  No team is going to pay Garcia $7 million.  Comparing him to Stephen Strasburg is like comparing Justin Verlander to Chris Volstad.  The lack of success of Gerardo Concepcion, who the Cubs paid a $6 million bonus is also not helping their cause.  The agent claims that Garcia is a better pitcher than Concepcion, but why augment one high value mistake with another.

At 6′3″ and with a 95 mile per hour fastball, Garcia does have some tools to be a decent pick.  But his numbers in Cuba (12-12, 4.73) and the Puerto Rican Winter League last year (0.84 in three starts but hits to innings and whiffs not overwhelming) do not show enough success to deserve a $7 million bonus.  So it may be a season in the Independent Leagues for Garcia.  As his agent continues to fight for the coin, his client only gets older and less attractive.  If the kid really has a dream of playing baseball in the major leagues, then money should not be a factor.

The Sports Illustrated article can be found here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/baseball/mlb/07/13/cuban.player/index.html

Another interesting article can be found here: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2012-04-19/news/cuban-baseball-agent-carlos-perez-miami-sports-consulting-risks-and-lies/

Tight Race at KBO

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Only two and a half games separate the top six teams in the KBO race.  The SK Wyverns find themselves on top with a 21-16-1 record but the Lotte Giants are only a half a game back at 21-17-2.  The defending champion Samsung Lions lurk four games back in seventh place at 18-21-1.

You can see the standings and read the article here: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/sports/2012/05/136_111897.html

Also, over 12,000 fans bid their farewell to Kia Tigers legend Jong-beom Lee, who holds KBO records for most hits (186) and steals (84) in a season.  He retired because of decreased playing time, but at 42 those legs are not as young as they used to be.  They did the speeches, the parade around the baseball field and the tossing of the player in the air.  There appeared to be a lot of tears as well.  A very good article here on a player the Kia Tiger fans adored: http://koreajoongangdaily.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2953490

Tigres Pound Leones; One Win From Cuban Championship

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Ciego de Avila Tigres brought their bats and pounded the Industriales Leones 10-2 yesterday.  Rusney Castillo sent two balls deep to drive in two runs and Raul Gonzalez and Isaac Martinez also sent souvenirs into the stands to lead the assault on the Leones pitchers.  Yorelvis Charles had four hits, two of them doubles to drive in three runs.

The Leones had taken an early 2-1 lead after Rayko Olivares double drove in two in the second inning.  The Tigres tied it in the third on Rusney Castillo’s first homerun, then went ahead for good in the fourth, scoring the go ahead run on an Isaac Martinez solo shot.

Osmar Carerro went eight innings to get the win.  The Tigres are only one win away from taking their first championship in the Cuban League.

Bulldogs Win SEC Championship

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Mississippi State Bulldogs used four different pitchers to shut down the Vanderbilt Commodore bats in their 3-0 shutout win in front of over 12,000 fans that flocked to Hoover, Alabama to see the game.  Brandon Woodruff went the first three innings, giving up just one hit.  Ross Mitchell did most of the work, going five innings and giving up five hits.  He turned the ninth over to Caleb Reed to get the first two outs of the ninth and Chris Stratton got the last out.

After their stolen base buffet in the ninth inning against Florida yesterday, the Commodores went the entire game without against the Bulldogs.  Tournament MVP Adam Frazier (12 for 23 for the tournament) scored the first run of the game when he led the third inning off with a single and eventually scored on a wild pitch.  The Bulldogs added two more runs in the fourth inning when Frazier walked with the bases full and Brent Brownlee drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

It was the first SEC championship for Mississippi State since 2005.  The total nine session attendance was 129,112, a record high.

Below was the selection of the all SEC tournament team:

P Brian Johnson, Florida
P Jonathan Holder, Mississippi State
C Spencer Navin, Vanderbilt
1B Matt Snyder, Ole Miss
2B Casey Turgeon, Florida
3B Thomas McCarthy, Kentucky
SS Adam Frazier, Mississippi State
OF Connor Harrell, Vanderbilt; Mike Yastrzemski, Vanderbilt
OF Mason Katz, LSU; Justin Shafer, Florida
OF Demarcus Henderson, Mississippi State
DH Brian Johnson, Florida

Postion Strengths and Weaknesses for Major League Teams

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

What teams are the strongest and weakest at each position?  You can go to Fangraphs.com and figure that all out.  Myworld will show you the top three at each postion.

Catcher

Top Teams - The Phillies led by Carlos Ruiz lead all teams in average with .348.  The Brewers are number two at .324 led by Jonathan Lucroy.  The Dodgers are third at .304.  The Twins have the biggest run producer at the position, leading all teams in RBIs with 45 while the Giants are second at 40.

Bottom Teams - The Rays could use some help here for their playoff run.  Their current catchers are hitting only .171.  The Padres don’t have to worry about the playoffs so they can tolerate their .185 production from their catchers.  The Yankees are the next worst at .195.  The only team that has failed to get a homerun from the catching position is the Athletics.

First Base

Top Teams - The Reds with Joey Votto lead all teams here with a .321 average.  The Cardinals do not seem to miss Pujols the first part of the season with a .320 average, but the season ending injury to Lance Berkman could change that.  The Tigers are getting some good wood from Prince Fielder, putting them third in average at .311.  The White Sox have gotten the most homeruns from the postion with 25 with the Blue Jays in second at 20.  The White Sox also lead all teams in RBIs with 65 and stolen bases with seven.

Worst Teams - Ike Davis is responsible for the Mets being at the bottom with a .193 average.  The Pirates (.199) and Royals (.206) follow.  The Padres have only gotten one homerun from the position.

Second Base

Top Teams - The Marlins (.306), Yankees (.302) and Astros (.302) are the only three teams hitting over .300 from the position.  When compared to first base there is not a lot of power from the position with a number of teams tied with eight homeruns.  The Rays are one of the teams with eight homeruns and they lead in RBIs with 31.  The Angels lead all teams with 12 stolen bases.

Worst Teams - Rickie Weeks is driving the Brewers average down (.141) while Ryan Raburn is driving down the Tigers average (.162).  Gordon Beckham is not helping the White Sox (.190) at this position.  The Twins and Giants are still looking for their first homeruns at this position.

Shortstop

Top Teams - Rafael Furcal is leading the Cardinals (.339) for the top average in the shortstop position.  Derek Jeter is doing the Yankees (.332) proud.  The Cubs (.314) have Starlin Castro putting them in third place.  The surprise team is the Kansas City Royals (.307) taking the fourth position, led by Alcides Escobar.  The Orioles have the most homeruns (10) while the Red Sox are tops in RBIs (29), just ahead of the Mets (28).  Both of those teams were thought to have problems at the shortstop position, but that hasn’t stopped the run production.

Worst Teams - The Padres (.161) are hoping that Everth Cabrera is the answer at shortstop.  Jason Bartlett was not.  The Mariners (.172) are the only other team below the Mendoza line.  The Pirates (.205) would like to see some improvement from Clint Barmes.  The Marlins and Angels are the only two teams that have yet to hit a homerun from the position.

Third Base

Top Teams - There are three teams above .300, but the Mets (.390) with David Wright are far ahead of every team.  The Tigers (.310) and Rangers (.300) are the two other teams above .300.  Despite rotating a number of different players at the position, the Orioles lead all teams with 11 homeruns, the second position that they lead all teams in homeruns.  The Rays get the most RBIs (44) despite the loss of Evan Longoria while the Yankees (12) are the top stolen base threat.

Worst teams - The Athletics (.153) have tried a number of players at the position with little success.  The Twins (.172) and White Sox (.172) are tied for their lack of success.  The Twins and Athletics actually shared the same third baseman (Luke Hughes) but both teams designated him for assignment to try to improve their production by subtraction.  He is laboring in the Athletics minor league system.  The White Sox are the only team that has not gotten a homerun from this position.

Left Field

Top Teams - Three teams are hitting over .300 here, led by the Rangers (.327) and followed by the Braves (.320) and Brewers (.312).  The Braves are a surprise here since they have no set player for the position.  Josh Hamilton has padded the stats for the Rangers when he plays this position.  The Rangers 28 homeruns are 13 ahead of the Yankees, who are their nearest pursuer.  The Rangers 76 RBIs are more than 30 ahead of their closest pursuer in this category.

Worst Teams - The Mariners (.180), Indians (.183) and Pirates (.188) are the only teams below the Mendoza line.  Surprisingly, the Phillies are tied with the Padres and Pirates for the least homeruns from this position with three.  This wouldn’t be the case if they still had Raul Ibanez.

Centerfield

Top Teams - Josh Hamilton is also helping pad the numbers for the Rangers (.353) here.  The injury to Matt Kemp has moved the Dodgers (.324) to second.  Adam Jones is leading the Orioles (.309) into the third place slot.  It is not hard to guess that the Rangers also lead in homeruns (21) by seven over the Yankees (14) and Orioles (14).  They also lead in RBIs (63) over the Dodgers (40).  The Marlins are last in RBI production (7) but first in stolen bases (20).

Worst Teams - No team finds themselves below the Mendoza line, but an 0 for 4 day could do that for the Athletics (.204).  They need Yoenis Cespedes back to raise that average.  The Padres (.212) and Blue Jays (.215) are also struggling at this position.  The Marlins and Indians are still waiting for a centerfielder to clear the fence.

Right Field

Top Team - The Dodgers (.306) are the only team over .300.  The Marlins (.296) and Angels (.293) are the next two teams.  The Rays show the most production, tops in homeruns (15) and second in RBIs (46).  The Dodgers are the top team in RBIs (47).

Worst Teams - The Twins (.193) are not getting much from this position.  The loss of Michael Cuddyer is looking big.  The Pirates (.216) and Nationals (.217) follow, but Bryce Harper should improve right field for the Nationals.  The Cubs, Mariners and Astros each have one homerun from the right field position.

Designated Hitter

Top Teams - The White Sox (.319) and the Red Sox (.309) are the only teams above .300.  The Royals (.288) are the third highest team in average.  Adam Dunn is leading the White Sox charge, putting them on top in homeruns (25) and second in RBIs (64).  The Twins are on top in RBIs (68).

Pitchers

Top Team - The Rangers (.222) don’t really have enough at bats to qualify so this nod goes to the Stephen Strasburg led Nationals (.202).  The Phillies (.173) and Diamondbacks follow (.155).  The Nationals, Rockies and Reds have the only three homeruns and the Cardinals have the only stolen base.

Worst Team - The Pirates (.078), Mets (.090), Cubs (.092), Dodgers (.093) and Padres (097) are the only teams hitting less than .100 from the National League.  The White Sox, Orioles and Athletic pitchers are still looking for their first hit after the first stage of inter league play.  The Pirate pitchers have almost struck out in 50 percent of their at bats (48.3).

Royals Top Orioles to Take Series

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

The Royals won the rubber game of the series, getting solo homeruns from Billy Butler and Jeff Francouer to prove the difference in their 4-2 win over the Orioles.  Butler hit a monster shot that was driven high and deep into the left field bleachers in the first inning to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.  Jeff Francouer led off the sixth inning with a line drive shot that also carried deep into the left field bleachers to break a 2-2 tie.

Luke Hochevar could not survive five innings, even though he gave up only two runs, one earned.  Luke struck out six, walked one and hit two batters after getting ahead of both hitters 1-2.  That ran his pitch count to 104 after he hit Chris Davis, leading to his departure.  The diminutive Tim Collins with the 93-94 mile per hour fastball got the last out of the fifth inning to preserve the tie and struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the sixth inning to get the win.

Brian Matusz struggled all day, retiring the side only once.  Jeff Francouer scored a run in the second after a single up the middle.  When Adam Jones let the ball skip past him Francouer went to second.  Alcides Escobar hit a liner that Robert Andino almost snagged with a spectacular leaping catch, but the ball fell out of his glove.  By stopping the ball he held Francouer to third.  If not for the Jones error he may have been able to get the force at second.  Mitch Maier rectified that with a successful suicide squeeze to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.

The Orioles scored their first run in the opening frame with J.J. Hardy singling to start the rally.  Nick Markakis hit a line drive to Mitch Maier in center.  Mitch dove, did not make the catch and the ball rolled by him.  Hardy scored from first to tie it at 1-1 and Nick stopped at second.

The Orioles again tied it in the fourth on a steal by Robert Andino.  He advanced to third when Humberto Quintero threw the ball into center.  Xavier Avery singled to drive in Andino.

Matusz let it get away in the sixth, giving up a lead off homer to Francouer.  Alcides Escobar ripped his second single of the game.  With two out Humberto Quinto drove one to the wall in the left field corner.  The throw by Avery to the cutoff man home appeared to beat Escobar, but Matt Wieters tried to make the tag before he caught the ball and Escober scored the insurance run.

The Orioles almost got a gift in the bottom of the ninth when Johnny Giavotella and Jeff Francouer collided on a routine popup that should have been the third out.  Giavotella dropped the ball after the collision and J.J. Hardy advanced to second.  Nick Markakis ran the count to 3-2, but Jonathan Broxton had him taking a called third strike to end the game.

Game Notes: Nick Johnson struck out in all three at bats.  Steve Tolleson pinch hit for him in the eighth when the Royals countered with a lefthanded reliever and Tolleson struck out.  That is four strikeouts from the DH position.  It might have been better if they had let the pitchers hit…After his first blast Brian Matusz wanted nothing to do with Billy Butler.  He walked him intentionally in the third and again on four pitches in the fifth.  On the second walk Brian threw him nothing harder than 85…Chris Davis pulled one into the upper deck that hit off the railing and bounced on Eutaw street.  On the next pitch Davis struck out for the second time in the game.  He did get one hit and was hit by a pitch to finish the game 1 for 3.

Rehabbing O’s, Brittons Lead Bay Sox Past the Curve

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Big brother Buck Britton launched a 2-run homerun to support his brother, rehabbing Zach in a 9-6 Bay Sox win that had three major leaguers rehabbing for the Orioles.  Brian Roberst decided to sit this one out.

Endy Chavez played leadoff and scored two runs.  Mark Reynolds was in prime form, showing that he can make errors and whiff in a minor league game just as impressivly as he can in a major league game.  He struck out twice, had a ball go through his legs for an error and another that glanced off his glove that was ruled a hit.  He did walk and get a hit in five at bats.  Zach Britton did not have command of his curveball, but still survived five innings, giving up two unearned runs as a result of the Reynolds error.  He struck out six, walked two and gave up three hits.  He survived against AA pitching without the consistency of his curveball and will need at least one more rehab appearance to get that back.

Nathan Baker got the start for the Altoona Curve and could not find the plate, walking five in three innings of work.  Quincy Latimore had a 3-run homer for the Curve to produce their only highlight.

The win ended a four game losing streak for the Bay Sox against the Curve but they still find themselves in last place in the Eastern League Eastern Division.