Outside of the Lansing Lugnuts sweeping their doubleheader to go on a three-game win streak, it was a rough Easter weekend for the three other Blue Jays minor league affiliates. Las Vegas lost both their games, and were the only one of the four clubs to play on Easter Sunday.
Notes include seven home runs against the Fisher Cats in New Hampshire, a hard-luck, extra-innings loss for a Dunedin Jays roster that gets more exciting every day, and lots of speed on the base paths that led to some timely runs for Lansing.
Wins/Losses: 1-3 | Streak: L2 | T-3rd in PCL Pacific South division (2.0 GB)
April 7 – Sacramento River Cats 10, Las Vegas 51s 8 (LP: Murphy, 0-1)
After taking the lead in the sixth only to give up the tying run in the eighth, the 51s put together a two-out rally to walk off with a 4-3 win over Sacramento in extra innings on Friday night
Moises Sierra put together a nice game, cranking his first home run of the season, a two-out, solo shot in the sixth. In addition to his homer and RBI, Sierra finished the night 2-for-3 with three runs scored, a double and walk. Third baseman Yan Gomes — yes you read that right — went 2-for-4 with three RBI, while Danny Perales and Ricardo Nanita each added a double.
The star-studded rotation in Las Vegas continued to show itself on Saturday (note: sarcasm), as left-hander Bill Murphy, who previously played for the Jays and the 51s in 2009, gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking a pair and striking out three. It didn’t help that he was up against Brad Peacock, one of the pitchers Oakland acquired in the Gio Gonzalez trade and the No. 36 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, either. Another former 51, Merkin Valdez, earned the save for the River Cats.
Clint Everts had his own troubles coming on in relief, as he surrendered three earned runs on a whopping seven hits in just 1 1/3 innings of work, while Bobby Korecky gave up a pair of earned runs on two hits in two innings of work as well. Jerry Gil tossed a scoreless eighth around a walk and a base hit, while Robert Coello struck out the side in a perfect ninth.
April 8 – Sacramento River Cats 10, Las Vegas 51s 3 (LP: Redding, 0-1)
As the only Jays affiliate in action on Easter Sunday, Las Vegas pitchers gave up 10 runs for the second consecutive night as they fell to 1-3 on the season with a 10-3 loss to Sacramento at Cashman Field.
Las Vegas DH Ricardo Nanita supplied the bulk of the offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBI, a run scored and one walk, while Ruben Gotay, another name I wasn’t expecting to see in the Jays organization, went 2-for-4 hitting ninth. Batting cleanup, Moises Sierra went 0-for-2 and committed his second fielding error of the season, but also drew two walks, while left fielder Danny Perales hit a double, the 51s’ only extra-base hit of the game.
Leadoff hitter Anthony Gose went 1-for-4 with a walk, but was caught stealing for the second time this season in the first inning as he continues to search for his first Triple-A stolen base.
To be completely honest, I had no idea that 51s starter Tim Redding was even on the roster, let alone part of the Blue Jays organization at all. After splitting the 2011 season playing for the Phillies’ and Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliates, Redding, 34, was shelled for eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits with one walk and one home run in 3 and 2/3 innings to take the loss.
Ryota Igarashi tossed another 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts to keep his ERA at zero, while Jim Hoey did not allow a hit in 1 2/3 innings of work but did walk three and toss a wild pitch, eventually being charged with two earned runs. Chad Beck, another lone bright spot of the 51s’ pitching staff, tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings around two hits and a walk.
Wins/Losses: 2-1 | Streak: L1 | 2nd in EAS Eastern division (1.5 GB)
April 8 – OFF DAY
April 7 – Trenton Thunder 11, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2 (LP: McGuire, 0-1)
It’s hard to win a ball game when your offense gives you just four singles, but it’s even harder when your opponents hit seven home runs and your starter gives up eight earned runs . All of those things happened to the Fisher Cats on Saturday, as they were handed their first loss of the season to Trenton 11-2 in a game they’d like to forget.
Kevin Howard, Brad Glenn, Mike McDade and Koby Clemens were the lucky ducks to each hit a single on an otherwise terrible day for New Hampshire’s hitters. Glenn also drew a pair of walks and stole his first base of the season, while Jonathan Diaz stole his third bag of the year as well.
In what 2010 first round pick Deck McGuire called the worst outing of his career, the Virginia native was shelled for eight earned runs on 11 hits in five innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He was also hit hard, as eight of those 11 hits were for extra bases, including a staggering five solo home runs, three of which were hit back-to-back-to-back to open the bottom half of the third inning.
Reliever but apparent starting rotation member Ryan Tepera tossed two innings of relief, surrendering three earned runs on four hits including, wait for it, two home runs. Fernando Hernandez mopped up the leftovers with a scoreless eighth.
Wins/Losses: 2-1 | Streak: L1 | T-2nd in FSL North division (1.0 GB)
April 8 – OFF DAY
April 7 – Clearwater Threshers 8, Dunedin Blue Jays 7 (F/11) (LP: Gracey, 0-1)
Trailing 7-5 after seven innings, a game-tying, two-run rally in the eighth to force extra innings wasn’t enough, as they were narrowly handed their first loss of the season by the Threshers 8-7 on Saturday.
Despite never having the lead in the game, Dunedin’s bats were persistent enough to constantly keep the club within striking distance. The D-Jays finally got on the board with a two-out rally in the third, when stud center fielder Jake Marisnick slapped a ground-rule double to right-center before Jonathan Jones reached on a fielding error and Marcus Knecht walked to load the bases. Cleanup hitter Kevin Nolan made no mistake, as he ripped a two-run, line-drive single to left to cut the Threshers’ lead to one.
Then in the sixth, against former Blue Jays prospect Frank Gailey, Jack Murphy walked to once again load the bases with two outs and, once again, the D-Jays pulled through as Marisnick smacked his second double of the game, a two-run knock to right to use the whole field once again. Then with runners on second and third with one out in the bottom half of the eighth, the Jays were gift-wrapped their game-tying runs after a fielding error and wild pitch from the Threshers.
Second baseman Ryan Schimpf quietly put together a solid game, going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks before being lifted for pinch runner Ivan Contreras, who wound up getting caught stealing. Michael Crouse went 1-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored as well. If I’m Dunedin manager Mike Redmond, I’m pretty excited about seeing this team over the course of a full season, even after just three games.
Up against Jesse Biddle, one of Philadelphia’s top pitching prospects, highly-regarded Blue Jays pitching prospect Asher Wojciechowski was roughed up in his first outing of the season, giving up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in four innings of work with one walk and two strikeouts. He did not give up a home run, but was bitten by a two-out, two-run single in the first inning before three-straight hits opened a three-run fourth inning for the 23-year-old.
The D-Jays’ bullpen was stellar in relief, as Mat Wright, Dayton Marze, Boomer Potts, Danny Barnes and Scott Gracey combined to throw six scoreless innings to keep their team in the game. Gracey, however, wound up taking the loss after giving up a pair of singles and the game-winning run to Clearwater in the 11th.
Wins/Losses: 3-0 | Streak: W3 | 1st in MID Eastern division (0.0 GB)
April 8 – OFF DAY
April 7 – Game 1: Lansing Lugnuts 4, Great Lakes Loons 2 (F/7) (WP: Champlin, 1-0 | S: Meyer, 2)
Cramming the final two contests of a three-game set into a doubleheader due to the Lugnuts’ annual Crosstown Showdown, the Lugnuts took the first seven-inning affair on Saturday thanks to some solid pitching and timely hitting.
After the Lugnuts found themselves trailing 1-0 after the top half of the first, Kenny Wilson and Jonathon Berti took it upon themselves to get a rally started and open the frame with back-to-back walks. Unfortunately Carlos Perez grounded into a double play to somewhat end the threat, but Kevin Pillar was able to cash in Wilson with a two-out single to tie the game at 1. Pillar wound up advancing to third on a stolen base and a throwing error, but Lugnuts first baseman Kevin Patterson was unable to cash him in.
The Lugnuts manufactured their second run in the bottom half of the second inning, where Markus Brisker got himself on base with a leadoff single before stealing second and third to put himself in position for the sacrifice fly from shortstop Andrew Burns that put Lansing up 2-1. Pillar stole another bag in the fourth inning before scoring, and Burns notched his second RBI of the game with a two-out single in the sixth to put the Lugnuts up 4-2.
Pillar and Patterson each finished the night 2-for-3 with a RBI, and speed was the deciding factor for the Lugnuts in this one as they swiped five bags overall.
No. 50 on our top 50 prospects list and making his full-season debut with the Lugnuts was 22-year-old starter David Rollins, who put together a solid outing, limiting the Loons to a pair of earned runs on five hits in four innings with five strikeouts and two walks. Rollins showed great composure in the top of the second inning where, after walking Jesus Arredondo (his second free pass of the inning) to load the bases following a double steal, he struck out the next batter to end the inning and keep the game tied.
Kramer Champlin, a 6-foot-6 right-hander that closed out 2011 with the Vancouver Canadians, earned the win after pitching two shutout innings of relief, allowing just one hit. Ajay Meyer earned his second save in as many games as he closed things out with a scoreless seventh.
April 7 – Game 2: Lansing Lugnuts 4, Great Lakes Loons 3 (F/8) (WP: Avendano, 1-0)
Scoring four runs for the second time in one day proved to be enough once again, as the Lugnuts edged out the Loons 4-3 in extra innings on Saturday to complete the sweep of both the doubleheader and the three-game series.
A three-run second inning almost held up for the Lugnuts, where first baseman Bryson Namba and backup catcher Pierce Rankin opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Markus Brisker drew a walk to load the bases with one out for Kellen Sweeney. Sweeney, who entered the game 0-for-4, roped a bases-clearing double to right field to snag all three RBIs, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple. He finished the day 2-for-3.
Namba also finished the day 2-for-3, when his single in the eighth inning turned out to be the game-winner after it plated Kevin Pillar who had stolen second base after drawing a one-out walk. The Lugnuts stole another three bags in this game, and Wilson, Berti and Pillar are turning into quite the three-headed monster for opposing pitchers on the base paths.
Returning to the Lugnuts after logging 100 innings for them in 2011, 23-year-old right-hander Marcus Walden kept Great Lakes in check, limiting them to just three hits over five innings with four innings. He did, however, walk three batters, one of which scored in the first inning, and was also the victim of a squeeze bunt in the fifth so he finished with two earned runs on his pitching line.
A newcomer to the Blue Jays organization after spending his entire minor league career with in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system, Javier Avendano tossed three strong innings in the first A-ball appearance of his career. He was charged with blowing the save in the sixth inning after a dropped popup in foul territory by Namba led to an unearned run that tied the game, but overall the right-hander allowed just two hits without a single walk in his three innings.