July 19, 2007 - International League (IL)
REIGN COMES TO AN END: The Bisons were atop the International League North division for 74 consecutive days. Buffalo took the top spot on May 5 and held onto it until Tuesday when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre leapfrogged the Herd. The Bisons will have their chance to come back though as 43 of their final 48 games are against divisional foes.
DOUBLE DUTY: The Bisons had a pair of two-homer performances this past week. Outfielder Jonathan Van Every hit two out on Sunday, July 15. He is now averaging .300 with 6 home runs and 14 RBI since his promotion from Double-A Akron on June 10. Outfielder Jason Cooper homered twice against Charlotte on Tuesday. "Coop" now has 36 home runs in his Bisons career, the 13th most in the Modern Era.
MILLER TIME, MATT STYLE: While much of the attention on the pitching side has gone to prospect Adam Miller, reliever Matt Miller is having a great season. He began his season on May 8 and allowed five earned runs in his first four games (4.0 IP), but since May 19, the side-arming Miller has thrown 17 consecutive outings without allowing an earned run. Over that span, he has allowed just nine hits and eight walks while striking out 21 in 16.2 innings of work. On the year, opponents are hitting just .186 off him including a .136 mark with runners in scoring position.
BOMBARD GETS 1,600TH CAREER WIN: Knights manager Marc Bombard got career win number 1,600 when the Knights beat Buffalo 3-2 in 12 innings July 18 at Knights Stadium. For Bombard, it was just another day at the office as he is the active leader in Minor League managerial victories. He has led the Knights to a recent surge as they have won 14 of their last 21 games and are now just 9.5 games back of 1st place. It was fitting that Bombard got the win against a team he formerly managed. Bombard managed Buffalo in 1992 to the American Association Championship.
THE WHITE SOX OUTFIELD APPEARING IN CHARLOTTE: If one didn't know better you would say the White Sox are playing in Charlotte. The Knights currently have rehabbing All-Star Scott Podsednik in left field and batting leadoff. He is followed by multiple gold glove winner Darin Erstad in center field, batting second. Then comes White Sox top prospect Ryan Sweeney who bats third and plays right field. Sweeney played 15 games for the White Sox in May.
TIDBITS: The Knights lone All-Star representative, reliever Ehren Wassermann, was promoted to Chicago on July 17...This is Scott Podsednik's third rehab assignment in three years with the Knights...Second baseman Danny Richar continues to tear up IL pitching. Richar is hitting .356 in 25 games for the Knights. He has a slugging percentage of .577.
WATSON ENDS HOMER DROUGHT: Brandon Watson connected for his first home run of the season on Tuesday; his first long ball since August 9, 2005 when, as a member of the Washington Nationals, he went deep off of Ezequiel Astacio in Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros. That game also happened to be Watson's Major League debut. Since that homer he had gone 83 Major League at-bats and 562 Minor League at-bats (645 total) without a home run. His 2-run homer in the 5th inning broke a 1-1 tie and eventually proved to be the game winner in Columbus' 6-2 victory.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: Three Clippers enter tonight's game riding season high hitting streaks. Melvin Dorta (.414, 12-29) tripled in his last at-bat last night to run his streak to nine games. Manny Alexander (.435, 10-23) has put together an eight-game run and Brandon Harper (.292, 7-24) has hit in seven straight.
GETTING YOUNGER EVERDAY: With the promotion of 21-year-old Collin Balester and his insertion into the starting rotation, the average age of the Clipper starters has dropped to 23.8 from 27.6 on opening day. Brandon Claussen is now the old man on the staff at 28 years of age. Joel Hanrahan (25), Emiliano Fruto (23) and John Lannan (22) round out the rest of the rotation. Coming into the season the five pitchers had made a combined 151 starts at or above the Triple-A level (Claussen - 52 Triple-A, 58 MLB; Hanrahan - 41 Triple-A).
HIGH POINT: With an 11-0 victory last night over Louisville, Durham is six over .500 (52-46) for the first time this season. The Bulls also have won five straight for the first time this year. With yesterday's win, Durham pulled within 2.0 games of Richmond, in 2nd in the South Division. It's the closest the Bulls have been to first since April 15. The Bulls are 1.0 GB of Buffalo in the Wild Card hunt. Rochester is also 1.0 game behind the Bisons.
TOUGH STRETCH: Durham is 20-12 (.625) during a stretch where 36 of 37 games are against clubs with winning records. The Bulls are playing 12 games to open post All-Star break activity against Buffalo, Louisville and Indianapolis, all of which are fighting for playoff spots.
PRIDIE PEAKING: Jason Pridie went 2-4 yesterday, his sixth multi-hit game in his last eight contests. Pridie has hit in 9 straight games, and is 17-38 (.447) over that stretch. Pridie and Ben Zobrist have gone 12-25 with 10 runs scored, four RBI, three doubles, a triple and four walks in the first three games of the current series at Louisville.
HERNANDEZ ALSO HOT: Michel Hernandez, off yesterday, has hit in 12 straight games, going 18-45 (.400). Hernandez has tied Justin Ruggiano for Durham's longest such streak this season.
EXTRA, EXTRA: Durham collected 10 extra-base hits yesterday, a season-high. Chris Richard doubled three times for the Bulls. Durham has a League-high 100 homers. The Bulls now have scored at least 10 runs in each of the last two games, the first time that's happened this season.
GOOD LUCK CHARM: Jon Weber made his Bulls debut yesterday, and went 2-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Weber is a good guy to have on a roster in a playoff race. The 29-year-old outfielder hit .283 in the PCL last year, splitting time between Las Vegas and Tucson. Weber finished the season with Tucson, the eventual Bricktown Showdown champs. Weber not only won the PCL and Triple-A championship last year, but a title in winter ball in Mexico with Hermosillo, a ring with Jacksonville (Southern League) in 2005, and with Sacramento (PCL) in 2004.
NO. 2 IN THE WEST: Toledo (56-42) paces the International League's West Division, while Indianapolis (49-47, 6.0 GB), Louisville (49-48, 6.5 GB) and Columbus (44-53, 11.5 GB) trail the leader. Buffalo (51-43) leads the International League's Wild Card race over Rochester (51-45, 1.0 GB), Durham (52-46, 1.0 GB) and Indianapolis (49-47, 3.0 GB).
NO NEED TO GO THERE: The Tribe has not suffered back-to-back losing months since June (9-19) and July (8-23) of 2004. The Indians, who posted a 13-15 mark in June, must win 10 of their final 13 games this month to avoid that designation.
LEADING THE LOOP: Indianapolis leads the International League in team batting average (.271). The Indians also place 2nd in hits (870) and 3rd in runs (454). Indians INF Brian Bixler places among IL leaders in triples (1st - 9), runs (T-3rd - 60) and stolen bases (5th - 21), while UTIL Yurendell de Caster ranks among League leaders in on-base percentage (6th - .391).
PRODUCING AFTER THE BREAK: Tribe INF Russ Johnson owns a .375 batting average (6-16) with five runs and three RBI in four games after the All-Star break. The 34-year-old is hitting .273 with five long balls and 39 RBI in 78 contests this season.
CRUSHING THE LONG BALL: Indianapolis has smacked 14 homers in 15 games during the month of July. The Indians, who are on pace for 26 roundtrippers in July, have increased their long ball output each month with nine in April, 20 in May and 25 in June.
WE DON'T BLOW MANY LEADS: The Indians are 43-4 this season when leading after seven innings and 46-3 when holding an advantage after eight frames.
WHAT'S GOING ON?: Since the All-Star break, the Bats have been outscored 49-16 in the past seven games, winning just once. During the month of July, Louisville is 6-9 and on July 3 the Bats were a season-best seven games over .500 (46-39). The Bats have gone 3-9 since July 3 and are now 49-48 and 6.5 games behind first place Toledo.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT: According to Baseball America's latest rankings, the Bats have three of the top 25 best prospects in baseball on their roster. OF Jay Bruce (No. 2), RHP Homer Bailey (No. 5) and OF/1B Joey Votto (No. 18) are all currently with Louisville. Bruce, 20, is hitting just .208 in seven games, but he homered in his first Triple-A game (July 12) and has one triple and five runs scored. He was named to the U.S. Team for the 2007 All-Star Futures Game. Bailey, 21, made his Major League debut with the Reds June 8 and was optioned back to Louisville July 12. In 12 starts with the Bats, he is 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA. Bailey went 2-2 with a 6.99 ERA in six starts with Cincinnati. Votto has been with the Bats all season, playing both first base (65 games) and left field (19 games). Named to the IL team for the Triple-A All-Star Game along with the World Team for the Future's Game, the 23-year-old is batting .301 and leads the team in games (89), hits (98) and walks (53). He is tied for 1st on the team with 11 home runs, is 2nd in runs (45) and tied for 2nd with 52 RBI.
ATTENDANCE BEST SINCE 2000: Louisville's attendance is on pace to finish with 667,277 fans, second most in Louisville Slugger Field history since the stadium opened in 2000 (685,863). With 18 home games left in the 2007 season, the Bats are averaging 9,268 fans for a total of 500,453.
30 IN 41: Louisville is about to finish a stretch of games where the team is home in 30 of 41 days since June 5. Overall, the Bats are 19-21 during this stretch which began with the club in 3rd place in the IL West, 4.5 games out of 1st. During the Bats' 30 home games, Louisville has gone 14-15 with game 30 tonight versus Durham.
WE LIKE TIKE: Outfielder Tike Redman reached base safely via a hit or a walk in 25 straight games from June 17 to July 16. Redman, who hit safely in 22 of those 25 contests, batted .327 (34-104) with a home run, 9 RBI and 14 runs scored over that stretch. The 25-game stretch is tied for the 6th-longest streak in the League this season, and was the longest on-base streak for a member of the Tides since Tom Wilson reached base safely in 31 straight games during the 2004 season.
WHAT A RELIEF: Tides' reliever Jim Hoey has not allowed a run over his last 10 outings, a span of 14.0 innings. Over that stretch, the 24-year-old has allowed eight hits and issued four walks while striking out 16. Since joining the Tides on June 1, Hoey has gone 1-0 with 1 save and a 1.45 ERA, and 25 of the 52 outs he has recorded with the Tides have come by way of a strikeout. In 34 combined games between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk this year, Hoey is 2-0 with 15 saves and a 0.72 ERA (3 ER, 37.1 IP) with 53 strikeouts and 22 hits allowed. Despite not pitching for Bowie since May 31, he still ranks 5th in the Eastern League with 14 saves.
HIT MAN: With two more hits last night, Tides' infielder Mike Cervenak has now hit safely in 6 straight games, 19 of his last 20, and 23 of his last 26. Cervenak ranks 2nd in the IL with 112 base hits, trailing former Tide and current Mud Hen Timo Perez, who has 120.
LEADING FROM THE LEADOFF SPOT: Lynx leadoff man Chris Roberson is currently riding a 15-game hitting streak which is the longest of any Lynx player in 2007. Since the streak started July 2 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Roberson has accumulated five multi-hit games including a three-hit effort Monday night and July 7, which included two doubles. During the span he has improved his batting average by 13 points to .265 notching 21 hits including five doubles and a triple.
NORTHERN EXPOS-URE: The Lynx are looking back at Canadian baseball history this weekend with the Gowlings Tribute to the Expos, presented by the National Capital Amateur Athletic Association. Nine lucky fans will play a three-inning game against Expos alumni Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Warren Cromartie, Delino DeShields, Claude Raymond and Rodney Scott along with local media personalities before the Lynx game against Rochester, Sunday, July 22. The former 'Spos will be signing autographs as we look back at Canada's first Major League team.
DOUBLE BUBBLE: This weekend's series against Rochester will pack a week's worth of action into a long weekend. Two doubleheaders (Saturday and Monday) means the Lynx and Wings will play six games in four days.
TRANSACTIONS IN ACTION: RHP Joe Bisenius was activated from the disabled list July 17. RHP Anderson Garcia and RHP Brian Sanches rejoined the Lynx bullpen from Philadelphia, while RHP Charlie Weatherby and RHP Jason Anderson were transferred to Double-A Reading to make room on the Lynx roster.
PAWTUCKET RED SOX
SWAN SONG: The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Ottawa Lynx meet for the final time ever at McCoy Stadium when they play the finale of their 4-game series this afternoon at 12:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox and Ottawa have met 11 times already this season (the Sox lead 7 games to 4) and today marks the final game the Ottawa Lynx will ever play at McCoy. Next season, Philadelphia's Triple-A franchise will become the Leigh Valley IronPigs located in Allentown, PA while Ottawa will not be a member of the International League for the first time since the Lynx were born in 1993. After today, however, the clubs will still meet for 4-games at Lynx Stadium in Ottawa in about a month (from August 14-17). Pawtucket leads the all-time series from 1993-2007 by a 134-113 margin.
SCHILLINGS FOR SATURDAY: Boston Red Sox RHP Curt Schilling is slated to make a rehab start for the PawSox this coming Saturday when Pawtucket hosts the Louisville Bats at 6:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. Schilling, who is 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 15 GS for the Red Sox this season, has been on Boston's disabled list since June 19 with right shoulder tendonitis. He is expected to go 3 innings and/or 45 pitches on Saturday night and if things go well is slated to make another rehab start next Thursday (July 26) in Toledo before potentially rejoining the Red Sox rotation on or around
July 31. Schilling, 40, is a 6-time Major League All-Star and a 2-time World Series winner (Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004). He has pitched in the big leagues for parts of 20 years and has compiled a career record of 213-142 with a 3.46 ERA in 560 major league games (427 starts). In this, his fourth year with Boston, he is 50-25 in 110 games for the Red Sox (21 in relief).
THE BUCH STARTS HERE: Nothing official yet, but it appears that while the 40-year-old veteran Schilling will start on Saturday night, the up and coming youngster nearly half his age, 22-year-old RHP Clay Buchholz will make his second start for the PawSox on Sunday afternoon when the Sox host Louisville at 1:05 p.m. at McCoy. Buchholz, who went 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA for Double-A Portland and led all of Minor League Baseball for much of the season in strikeouts, gave up 3 runs (2 earned) in 3.0 innings during his PawSox debut on Monday night vs. Ottawa (ND in a 6-4 Sox win).
A RICE-A-RONI TREAT: As part of a season-long campaign to get former PawSox and Red Sox star Jim Rice inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, PawSox fans can receive a replica Triple Crown Plaque commemorating the legendary outfielder's 1974 season when Pawtucket plays Louisville this Friday at 7:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. The first 4,000 youngsters (aged 14 & under) entering the ballpark that night will receive this coveted collector's item of Rice's 1974 IL Triple Crown season for the PawSox. Rice, who is the last player in International League history to win the Triple Crown when he hit .337 with 25 HR & 93 RBI for the 1974 PawSox, still holds the club record for highest career PawSox average at .340. Jim was an 8-time American League All-Star who played his entire Major League career with the Boston Red Sox batting .298 with 382 HR & 1,451 RBI in 2,089 games.
THE GOOD HANDS PEOPLE: The Braves are tied for the IL lead in fielding percentage (.983 with Toledo). Their 57 errors is the fewest in the IL. Corky Miller leads the League's catchers in fielding percentage (.995). Martin Prado has committed one error in 282 chances at second base this season. Richmond leads the League in percentage of opponents caught stealing (53-118, .449). Miller also leads in caught stealing percentage (33-71, .465). Iker Franco has nailed 18 of 36 (.500) but has not played in enough games to qualify. Braves outfielders have 26 assists (they had 21 all of last season).
THE HOME STRETCH: The Braves play 33 of their final 49 games at The Diamond. Richmond is 20-21 at home. The Braves' 32-21 road record is the best in the International League. Their 32 road wins is the 2nd most in all of organized baseball (West Virginia of the South Atlantic League has 33 road wins). They are the only club in organized baseball (out of 19 Leagues with 44 division races) in 1st place with a home record under .500.
CLARK TURNING HIS SEASON AROUND: Doug Clark has raised his batting average 30 points in the last 17 games (.238 to .268). He had his 24th multi-hit game of the year Monday night (2nd on the club behind Martin Prado with 29). Clark had hits in eight straight games (17-30, .567), a streak that ended Tuesday. Clark has raised his average 79 points in two months (he was hitting .189 on May 15).
BRAVES TO RETIRE RUIZ NUMBER: The Braves will retire the #16 of former R-Braves infielder Chico Ruiz prior to the Braves game vs. Toledo Sunday at The Diamond. Ruiz, who spent his entire 14-year career in the Atlanta organization, played in Richmond in 1973-74 and 1976-1984. He is among the Braves career leaders in several offensive categories and was a three-time winner of the team award for community service. Ruiz will be the first R-Braves player to have his number retired.
ROCHESTER RED WINGS
RED WINGS HISTORY: Rochester has had three pitchers throw complete-game (nine-inning) 1-0 shutouts since June 7, 2006 (RHP Pete Munro 1-0 win vs. Durham 6/7/06, RHP Matt Garza 1-0 win vs. Charlotte 8/8/06, and RHP Kevin Slowey 1-0 win 7/17/07 at Syracuse). Prior to the Pete Munro complete-game (nine-inning) 1-0 shutout the last Red Wings pitcher to throw a complete-game (nine-inning) 1-0 shutout was RHP Curt Schilling August 2, 1989 @ Richmond.
TOP OF THE CHARTS....AGAIN: It didn't take RHP Kevin Slowey long to find himself back on the top of the International League ERA race. Slowey currently leads the IL with a 1.59 ERA and is 2nd behind RHP Kevin Pucetas (1.41 ERA) of Augusta (South Atlantic League) in all the Minor League full-season leagues. Slowey leads the entire Minor Leagues with four complete games.
HIT PARADE: The Red Wings offense has been crushing the ball in the last nine games batting .298 (92-309) as a team. Rochester's offense has been on fire the first 16 games in July batting .286 (152-532) as a team with 10 or more hits in nine of those 16 games.
JULY SWEEPS: The Yankees will look to complete the sweep of the Indians today after taking the series' first three games. Through 95 games, SWB has swept only one four-game series this year, taking all four on the road in Richmond from May 19-22. The Yanks have been hot all month, going 11-4 overall (8-2 on the road) and winning seven of their last eight games. With Wednesday's win, they also assured themselves of another series win, their fifth in the past six series.
HERE HE COMES TO SAVE THE DAY: Wendell Magee Jr.'s home run record has already been matched this year, and another SWB franchise mark could fall before the year is over. He may not be Mighty Mouse, but with his scoreless 9th inning yesterday, RHP Jim Brower notched his 17th save of the year for SWB and his 18th overall this season (he saved one game as a member of the Indianapolis Indians on April 11). RHP Chuck Ricci set the franchise record for saves in a single season in 1995, when he closed out 25 games for the Red Barons.
HUGHES, KARSTENS SET TO PITCH: With a deep pitching rotation already in place, it was announced Wednesday that two rehabbing starters will join SWB this weekend. RHP Jeff Karstens, who has pitched for five different teams in the Yankees' organization this season (Gulf Coast League Yankees, Staten Island, Tampa, Trenton and New York), is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in four Minor League starts and will take the hill on Sunday against Charlotte. Hughes started the year with SWB, tweaked his left hamstring during his second big league start on May 1 and has been rehabbing the hamstring and a rolled ankle for the last two months. He is set to start on Monday for SWB, also against Charlotte.
FINISHING STRONG: Chiefs starter Josh Banks came out on the short end of a pitcher's duel Tuesday. Banks and the Chiefs fell 1-0 to Rochester. Red Wings starter Kevin Slowey tossed a complete game three-hitter. Meanwhile, Banks only gave up three hits in 8.0 innings of work. The lone run of the ballgame came from the first batter Banks faced. He gave up a leadoff homer to Alexi Casilla before settling down and retiring the final ten batters he faced. LHP Scott Sauerbeck pitched a perfect 9th inning, meaning the Chiefs sat down the last 13 Red Wings hitters but still took the loss.
EQUALING A LEGEND: Down 4-3 heading into the 7th inning last night, OF Chad Mottola used one swing of the bat to tie the game as well as tie Hank Sauer for 2nd on Syracuse's all-time home run list. Mottola's 11th blast of the year made its way over the center field wall very close to where Sauer's #9 jersey is retired. Mottola now has 94 career home runs for the Chiefs, 17 short of Dutch Mele who sits in 1st place on the all-time ledger.
BARKER PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF: Chiefs 1B Kevin Barker went into the All-Star Break on a six-game hit streak. After four days off Barker didn't show any ill effects as he clubbed hits in his next four games to run his hitting streak to ten games. It came to an end Tuesday night but Barker had one last hurrah on Monday. In that contest against Rochester, Barker went 3-3 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. The ten-game hit streak raised his batting average from .234 to .256.
TOLEDO MUD HENS
CLEVLEN STILL ROCKIN' - NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Center fielder Brent Clevlen was named the IL Batter-of-the-Week on July 16 after a superb week at the plate. Clevlen batted .533 (8-15), belted three home runs, two doubles and drove in seven runs in four games for the Mud Hens. Clevlen also had a remarkable 1.267 slugging percentage and had his batting average rise from .219 to .248. Since returning from the DL on
July 6, the 23-year-old is batting .385 (15-39) with five home runs, three doubles and 12 RBI. Clevlen became the second Mud Hens' player to be honored with an IL weekly award this year. Right-handed pitcher Virgil Vasquez was named the IL Pitcher-of-the-Week on April 23 and June 4.
V.V. JUBILEE: Right-handed starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez has been untouchable in his last three starts. The 25-year-old is 2-0 and has only given up three earned runs in his last three outings (22.1 IP), and only walked one batter in his last four starts (30.1 IP). Vasquez earned his ninth win of the season in his most recent game against the Norfolk Tides on July 17 throwing a complete-game five-hit shutout to lead the Mud Hens to a 2-0 victory. Vasquez is tied for 2nd in the IL in wins and is 2nd in total strikeouts (99).
ROLLIN' ON WITH ROJAS: Mike Rojas, who had been the interim manager of the Mud Hens for all of the 2007 season, had the interim tag removed on July 13, and will finish out the season as manager in place of Larry Parrish. Parrish underwent successful left ankle surgery on April 4 and will return as the manager of the Mud Hens in 2008. This is the 12th season in the Detroit organization for Rojas. The son of former major leaguer Cookie Rojas, Mike was the manager for Class-A Lakeland in 2005 & 2006.
TI-MO: Outfielder Timo Perez, who was named one of the Triple-A All-Star Game's Star of Stars, continues to lead the International League in three offensive categories. Perez, recalled to the Detroit Tigers today, leads the IL in total hits (120), runs (64) and doubles (33), and is 2nd among IL hitters in batting average (.322). Perez is also currently on a team-high nine-game hit streak. The 32-year-old, who has been a consistent offensive force for the Hens this season, is hitting .375 (15-40) with a home run, two doubles, and four runs batted in during his hit streak.