Gwinnett Braves 10, Durham Bulls 5
Gwinnett went to town on the Bulls last night, scoring 10 runs on a whopping 19 hits. Josh Kroeger led the way with 4, including a double. He scored twice and drove in one. Shortstop Brian Friday collected two singles and a double, driving in two while scoring one. Ernesto Mejia continued his year-long dominance of the International League, reaching 3 times while scoring once, driving a run in, and stealing a base. Ruben Gotay reached 4 times as well. To give you a sense of just how crazy this game was, all 9 hitters in the G-Braves lineup reached base at least twice. Randall Delgado allowed 4 runs in 6 innings of work, 3 by way of 2 home runs. Other than that, Delgado had his stuff working, striking out 9 Bulls over his 6 innings of work.
Julio Teheran takes on the Bulls tonight.
Mississippi Braves 2, Jackson Generals 3 - 10 Innings
Zeke Spruill threw 9 innings of 2 run ball, needing only 100 pitches (70 strikes) to do so. Unfortunately for him, Mississippi couldn't scrape together much offense, and the M-Braves fell in the 10th. For Spruill, the outing lowered his ERA to 3.71, and he only allowed 8 baserunners on the evening while striking out 6. He also had his sinker working, generating twice as many groundouts as flyouts (10 to 5). Alden Carrithers was the only M-Brave to reach base more than once, going 2-3. Jaime Perdoza, Mississippi's light hitting shortstop, hit his 2nd homer of the year. A Joey Terdoslavich RBI singe was the only other offense the M-Braves would get.
Brent Leach goes this evening for Mississippi.
Lynchburg Hillcats 0, Wilmington Blue Rocks 1
Lynchburg and Wilmington were tied 1-1 for 8 and a half innings before Wilmington walked off in the bottom of the 9th, thanks to Juan Jaime's wildness. The loss spoiled a very solid start from "the other Delgado". Dimasther threw 6 innings of shutout baseball, allowing only 4 hits and a walk while striking out 4. After back to back rough outings, this was Delgado's best start in a month. Lynchburg's offense was offensive tonight, managing just 3 hits. Nick Ahmed had two of those three, and Emerson Landoni had the other.
Gus Schlosser looks for a team-leading 14th win today against Wilmington.
Lexington Legends 3, Rome Braves 5
Another day, another good game for Brandon Drury, who drove in 3 of Rome's 5 runs tonight. 2 of Drury's RBIs came on his 5th home run of the year, continuing his recent power surge. Over his last 10 games, Drury is slugging .474 while batting close to .300. Kyle Kubitza chipped in with some power of his own, clubbing 2 doubles and scoring twice. William Beckwith had an RBI double and also stole his 15th base of the year, an improbable number for the big first baseman. Greg Ross threw a quality start for the R-Braves, allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks. Ross also struck out 6 en route to his 6th win of the year.
Alex Wood goes today, looking for his 4th win of the year.
Bluefield Blue Jays 7, Danville Braves 10
Danville got some help from Bluefield's shoddy defense last night, scoring 10 runs on only 6 hits. Josh Elander had a perfece day at the plate, going 1-1 with 3 walks. For good measure, he also swiped a base. Elander, Atlanta's 6th round pick this year, has been an OBP machine so far in rookie ball, posting an OBP of .400 in his first 99 professional at bats. Further, he has more walks than strikeouts (15 to 11). All in all, it's been a great debut for one of my favorite prospects from this draft class. Levi Hyams had a good day as well, going 2-5 with 2 RBI. Mauricio Cabrera was a little too hittable in his start today, giving up 7 in 5 innings en route to allowing 3 runs. On the bright side, he didn't walk a batter and struck out 3.
Danville plays Bluefield again today.
GCL Braves - Postponed.
The Miami Marlins made two moves to bolster their major league squad following tonight's 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. The Fish brought back Emilio Bonifacio and Donnie Murphy from the DL and optioned Scott Cousins to Triple-A to make room. The team also designated Gil Velazquez, who had filled in at third base in the last two games, for assignment. Here's Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post with the confirmation.
— joe capozzi (@joecapMARLINS) August 19, 2012
#Marlins moves: Scott Cousins opt. to NOLA, Gil Velazquez designated for assignment. Emilio Bonifacio & Donnie Murphy to be reinst from DL
Remember, the Marlins had initially feared Bonifacio would be out for the season with his thumb injury that happened on a diving stop of a ground ball late in a win over the Washington Nationals. After looking things over the days following the injury, it turned out Bonifacio was not at risk to lose the rest of the season.
Manager Ozzie Guillen plans on returning Bonifacio strictly as a center fielder, however, in part to help him avoid the thumb problems.
"Right now, we're leaning for him to be back in the outfield for a lot of reasons," Guillen said. "We're going to try to prevent injuries from now on. When he heals completely, we might change our mind and move him back to second base. The idea right now is to get him some at-bats and help us a little more, I think less risk is going to be in the outfield."
The foremost concern for Bonifacio, who has turned (for better or for worse) into an important piece in the Marlins' lineup puzzle, is that he stay healthy for the rest of 2012. From what Guillen said, it does not sound as though the Fish are precluding moving Bonifacio back into the infield, where he initially started but has looked less capable in the past. It would behoove the Marlins to move Bonifacio into the infield for 2013 just because the depth in this upcoming free agent class is in the outfield, especially in center field. It would be a mistake for the Marlins to leave second base empty by leaving Bonifacio in center next year and not exploring an outfielder option.
But with Bonifacio's thumb health a concern, the move by Guillen makes sense, and it will be good just to see him back in the lineup. Yes, that does feel weird to say.
After Saturday night's game was over, GM Jeff Luhnow made some very bold moves to the clubhouse dynamic, firing Manager Brad Mills, 1st-base coach Bobby Meacham and Hitting Coach Mike Barnett all at once. Notable staff members to survive the massacre were 3rd Base Coach Dave Clark, Pitching Coach Doug Brocail, Bench Coach Joe Pettini, and the entire Bullpen coaching staff, though the roles of the remaining staff members may change as new replacement coaches are announced Sunday, August 18, at a 10:00 a.m Central news conference.
Some speculation could be made about the potential replacements, either interim or on a more permanent basis, as to the coaches who could be hired to replace the roles of those fired. Bench Coach Joe Pettini, hired by Jeff Luhnow in the past off-season is an obvious candidate to take over the managerial position. Another name being mentioned for the managerial position is Dan Radison, who was a minor league manager for nearly 10 years. Radison is currently a special assistant to the general manager and was hired back in January. But even with such obvious scenarios on the board, this team is unpredictable and a move could be made from outside the organization, filled by a person nobody knows anything about. Stay tuned for updates.
Meanwhile, here is some play-by-play on the news as it unfurled:
The Astros have relieved Brad Mills of his managerial duties, GM Jeff Luhnow announced tonight. Barnett and Meacham too
The last four Astros managers have all been fired midseason - Jimy Williams, Phil Garner, Cecil Cooper and Brad Mills.
Brad Mills: "I tried to do the best job I could."
The 2012 Houston Astros: Everything Must Go
Brad Mills after firing: "I appreciate our fans, I appreciate the players and I wish the best for this organization."
Brad Mills' first comment was he feels "horrendous" for Barnett and Meacham
Names to watch tomorrow as Astros fill interim spots include bench coach Joe Pettini and Dan Radison, who could take on either coach's role.
A slew of comments from Brad Mills, including his desire to watch his son play and spend more time with family: http://brianmctaggart.mlblogs.com/2012/08/18/mills-reacts-to-astros-decision-to-relieve-him-of-duties/
Source: FanGraphs Game MVP: Hanley Ramirez, .265 Least Valuable Dodger: Shane Victorino, -.050 Most Valuable Brave: Martin Prado, .075 Least Valuable Brave: Ben Sheets, 41 game score Big plays: 1st – (ATL) Martin Prado RBI double for 1-0 Braves lead, .131 2nd – (LAD) Hanley Ramirez solo homer for 1-1 tie, .121 2nd – (LAD) [...]
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Hero of the Game: Nathan Eovaldi (0.168 WPA), however, I'll also take Giancarlo Stanton (0.165 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Chad Gaudin (-0.128 WPA)
Play of the Game: Giancarlo Stanton homers in the first inning. Gorkys Hernandez scores. Jose Reyes scores. (+0.175 WPA)
The Miami Marlins have found a cure to their offensive ails, and it is no surprise that the cure is Coors Field and the Colorado Rockies, or at least their starting pitching staff. The higher run environment alongside the struggling starting staff has led to the Fish scoring six runs in two consecutive games. But the Rockies certainly did not fade, even in the face of yet another game with a Giancarlo Stanton home run. The Rockies certainly put up a fight, coming within one run and scoring five against the Fish once more, but the Marlins in the end prevailed.Giancarlo Stanton...Again
Yup, that home run came after Jose Reyes hit an RBI single that got the Marlins' scoring run started. Bryan Petersen and Gorkys Hernandez both singled to start the inning, and Reyes drove in Petersen with the single. Two batters later, Stanton hit a homer that was estimated at 447 feet and bounced out of the Coors Field concourse and into the parking lot.
That was Stanton's sixth homer in six games in Coors Field; he is the only player in that stadium's history to have done that. If he does it again tomorrow afternoon, he will become one of only three other players to have hit homers in his first seven games in a stadium, which is an impressive feat. Stanton is locked in.
And lest we forget, he's good with the glove too.
Marlins Offense Hitting
Surprisingly, so is much of the rest of the Marlins' offense. The Fish mustered 14 hits on the evening, including Stanton's bomb, which sadly was the only one hit tonight. Still, the Fish had multi-hit performances from the top five batters in their lineup, including unexpected nights from Bryan Petersen (three singles) and Gorkys Hernandez (a triple and a single). Hernandez even managed his first extra-base hit of the season, a triple into the gap past Eric Young Jr. in left field. You know your team is hitting well when Gorkys Hernandez hits a triple.
Jose Reyes tacked on two hits as well, including his ninth triple of the season. Reyes is one triple shy of double digits in that category for the seventh time in eight seasons. He is also one homer shy of 10 or more homers for the sixth time in eight years.
Eovaldi's Improved Start
The unsung story of tonight's game was the improved outing by Nathan Eovaldi. His control issues still seem prominent, as evidenced by his four walks, but his performance against the Rockies tonight was his second best of his Marlins season. Eovaldi only struck out three hitters, but the whiffs were present. He got 11 swings and misses from the Rockies out of his 115 pitches, which was a better rate (9.6 percent swings and misses) than his season mark (7.4 percent). Eovaldi may not have gotten the strikeouts, but the stuff he had was electric enough to fool Rockies hitters.
The control, again, was the issue.
You can see that Eovaldi not only missed fairly often, but he missed everywhere against all hitters. Rather than burying pitches or battling inside on certain hitters, he was generally all over the place, speaking to his difficulty in placing pitches appropriately. While his stuff was evident, the command and control just was not there. Eovaldi threw 44 balls and just 15 called strikes, an almost three-to-one ratio which is completely unacceptable. The improvement is there, but once he gets a handle on his pitches, we will see a starting-caliber pitcher in Eovaldi.
One more encouraging Eovaldi note: he went 6 2/3 innings tonight, marking the first time he broke the six-inning barrier as a Marlin. It's a good sign.
Bullpen Almost Ruins It
It is hard to believe that the bullpen almost wrecked this game, as the Marlins were up 6-0 by the end of the second inning and the Rockies had only a 10.4 percent shot of winning at that point. Yet somehow the Marlins' bullpen almost blew this lead as well. In the eighth inning, Chad Gaudin gave up a series of singles alongside a walk and allowed a runner to score before being pulled without recording an out. In an odd 2012 twist, Heath Bell, Mayhem himself, had to come in and pitch a relative clean inning with runners on second and third. Bell struck out a batter but also allowed the sacrifice fly that made the game a 6-3 affair.
Steve Cishek entered the game to record the much-maligned three-run save, but he needed each of those runs for the save. Cishek looked a little wild in his placement and required a few good defensive plays to prevent him from allowing more than three hits and two runs, but good work from Gil Velazquez and Carlos Lee on line drives and tough grounders prevented another ninth inning disaster from the Fish.
The Marlins will go for the series win tomorrow with Josh Johnson on the mound to face Drew Pomeranz.
Not even a month ago, the Royals had made such a habit of losing that it was ridiculously routine. With 11 wins in their last 17 games, our Boys in Blue have almost - almost mind you - made winning seem routine. Basically, you hit the ball and do so with some of your own kind on base. Your starting pitcher keeps you in the game and gets you into the sixth or seventh inning. Your bullpen gets the other team out and your defense doesn't screw up - or, at least doesn't screw up as much as the other team's does.
Simple: winning baseball.
The Chicago White Sox, a team that always strikes me as one with a bit of a bully mentality about them, came into Kansas City this weekend leading the American League Central. They had their two best pitchers (at least this for this season) going on Friday and Saturday night and, well, have lost them both. Gotta be honest, feels pretty good.
One pretty much had the sense this was going to be Kansas City's night when the Royals added to their 1-0 lead with two runs in the third. They did so by leading off the inning with a straight up pop fly off the bat of Lorenzo Cain that maybe made it three feet out into fair territory where it was promptly dropped by catcher Tyler Flowers. That's a tougher play than those of us not physically located in the dirt might think and it was quickly erased when Cain was doubled off first on Alcides Escobar's humpback liner to second that my four year old knew was going to get caught.
The fun, however, was only beginning.
Alex Gordon followed with a bloop just inside the left field line that he attempted to stretch into a double. Luckily, the Royals' aggressive baserunning (that's right, kids, when it works we say aggressive) forced Gordon Beckham into dropping the ball as he tried to apply the tag.
After Gordon scored via a Billy Butler single and a nice fade away slide, Mike Moustakas singled to Sox rightfielder Alex Rios, who promptly misplayed the ball. To his credit, Rios retrieved and uncorked an excellent throw only to see third baseman Kevin Youkilis drop that throw as Moustakas rumbled into third.
We have seen this kind of baseball before in Kansas City, just not all that often by the visiting team.
Bruce Chen, who spent the better part of the last six weeks looking like the magic was over, polished off another fine outing as he covered six innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. The only bad thing about Chen's performance is that I fear that each start from Chen like this down the stretch puts Dayton Moore and David Glass one step closer to saying 'you know, we may not need a couple of new starting pitchers.'
Tim Collins made things interesting by allowing a two run jack to Adam Dunn in the eighth, but the Royals answered mightily in the bottom of the frame when Escobar, Gordon, Butler and Moustakas combined for four two-out runs, the bulk courtesy of Moose's three run - dare we say it? - dong.
Those four, batting two-three-four-five in the order combined for 12 of the Royals' 15 hits, 8 of the 9 runs and drove in 8 of the 9 as well. Particularly nice to see Moustakas have a good night as he was just three for his last 24.
I have spent the better part of the my last three columns wondering what it a strong finish might mean, if anything, for the Royals. Those questions remain open, but one thing is for sure: it's fun to win with regularity.
After a lackluster performance on Wednesday, just hours after hearing that one of their offensive catalysts would be suspended the rest of the way, the Giants had something to prove in San Diego and they played like it.
Matt Cain got things started with just another terrific outing, mowing down San Diego and allowing just a run on 3 hits with 6 K's over 8 innings of work. He and Buster Posey were in sync and on the same page from pitch one and Matt Cain made it look easy. Cain built off his great start last week vs. the Rockies after his perfect game celebration, and he looks like his arm has bounced back a bit. It seemed like towards the end of July and into early August, Cain was missing high with a lot of pitches and appeared to be getting a tired arm but that hasn't been the case the last few outings for him. Hopefully this is a sign of Cain returning to his first-half dominance cause now that the offense has lost a huge piece of the puzzle, their pitching will have to pick it up down the stretch. When I say pitching staff, it's mostly aimed towards Lincecum, who I think still holds the key for this team. But also Barry Zito, who was in a little groove in July, but has again fallen back to old ways. The Giants need more than 3/5 of their rotation throwing well at the same time, it's on Timmy and Barry to step it up!
Offensively, Bochy and Sabean have to be pleased with the way the team's responded with the bats against the Padres. They had another hit parade in Friday nights game in which just about everyone in the lineup got in on, much like their victory in game two over Washington. Then on Saturday, the did much of the same, but in comeback fashion, which is always good to see this team do. A big reason why they were able to put up some runs the last two games has been the emergence of the bottom and top half of the orders. Brandon Belt has become a big key now that he's protecting the middle order, and he continues to get the job done. Also, Marco Scutaro has been one of the Giants best RBI guys since coming over from Colorado and the other Brandon (Crawford) has steadily risen his average over the last 10 games. With Pagan hitting over .330 since returning to the top spot, and Scutaro hitting over .340 as a Giant, the top of the order is doing it's job. And with the way Belt and Crawford have stepped up lately for the bottom part, the Giants' lineup looks like it's ready to really take off when Panda gets back in synch (especially now that Pence settling in).
Saturday's comeback win was especially big in my mind. One of the things the Giants have had trouble with this year is coming back from 2+ run deficits and they were able to do that in game two vs. San Diego. It kept them in first place heading into Sunday's game and gives them the opportunity to sweep the Pads, something a good team should take advantage of.
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Tyler Chatwood has been showing himself to be a capable starter while on the road for the Rockies, but a return to Coors Field saw him become vulnerable again, as the Miami Marlins produced a steady barrage of hits and scored six runs off him in the first two innings. That blow proved fatal to the Rockies in terms of this game, as they managed just five runs in route to losing their second straight 6-5 game against Miami.
Chatwood allowed nine hits total in four innings, the biggest blow coming off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, who hit a three run home run in the first and continued his run of dominance against the Rockies. In the second inning, Chatwood allowed two more runs thanks to a Jose Reyes triple. Eight Marlins finished the game with at least one hit, and five finished with two, as the team pounded out 14 hits in all against the Rockies. While Chatwood and relievers Carlos Torres and Will Harris put the brakes on Miami's scoring after those first two innings, Rockies pitchers didn't put up a clean inning until the eighth when Harris and Matt Reynolds combined for a 1-2-3 frame.
The Rockies scored a run in the fourth when Tyler Colvin doubled home Dexter Fowler. Fowler reached base safely four times, twice with hits, twice by walk. Colvin, Wilin Rosario and Josh Rutledge each had two hits or more and Michael Cuddyer also reached base twice safely. After effective Marlins starter Nate Eovaldi had been pulled, Rosario started the Rockies rally in the eighth off the Marlins bullpen with a walk and scored after Colvin singled on a Jordan Pacheco RBI hit. Colvin later scored on a Chris Nelson sacrifice fly before the inning ended. In the ninth, Fowler and Rosario both singled and scored thanks to a a two out, two RBI hit from Colvin before Pacheco grounded out to squash the rally and end the game.
The Rockies will try to bounce back and earn a split of the four game series with a win tomorrow.
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