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IL News & Notes - August 18, 2000

by IL Press Release
August 18, 2000 - International League (IL)

News and Notes

IL Press Release

BUFFALO BISONS

POWERFUL ADDITION: The Bisons greeted a big presence back in their lineup with the return of Russell Branyan, who hit 13 home runs during a 2 ½ month stint with Cleveland. He was sent to Triple-A on 8/13 to get more experience in the outfield, which he played for the first time in his life while he was with the Tribe. Branyan, who has 18 home runs in 51 games for the Bisons, had five hits in his first 19 at-bats back with the Herd. Included were two home runs and two doubles. The other 14 at-bats were strikeouts.

HANEY = CONSISTENCY: Left-hander Chris Haney has put together a successful string of starts after coming back in late June from elbow surgery. He allowed two earned runs with 10 strikeouts over 6.0 innings at Ottawa on 8/16 to continue a stretch of seven starts since 7/3 in which he has given more than three runs just once. The 31-year-old from Charlottesville, VA has a 2.55 ERA in 70.2 innings.

CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS

KNIGHTS AND CAROLINA PANTHERS TEAM UP: The Charlotte Knights have joined with the NFL's Carolina Panthers to promote public awareness of the Knights during the off-season. Prior to each Panther game, the Knights' front office staff sets up a play area event at Ericsson Stadium for the Panther fans. This includes speed pitch or the batting cage. The Knights' mascot Homer also appears.

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS: Recently, Major League Baseball executives with the Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates have attended games at Knights Castle. White Sox General Manager Ron Schueler was in Charlotte to scope out talent on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and Pirates' Chief Executive Officer Kevin McClatchy attended Wednesday evening's game with Knights' minority owner Bill Allen. Allen is also a minority owner of the Pirates, as is Knights' owner Don Beaver.

WHO'S HOT…: Knights' 2B/SS Liu Rodriguez has been on a torrid pace since early August. In his last ten games, Rodriguez has driven in 11 runs, hitting at a .412 clip, raising his season batting average to .278. On the mound, RHP Brian Schmack has been equally effective. In the reliever's last 9.1 innings pitched, Schmack is 2-0 with ten strikeouts and only one earned run. Since the All-Star break the Illinois native has an ERA of 0.75 (24 IP/2 ER).

COLUMBUS CLIPPERS

RYAN'S RETURN: Outfielder Ryan Thompson has made an impact since returning to the Clippers' lineup. In five games since his return from New York on Aug. 12, Thompson has hit one home run, three doubles and driven in six runs. He has hit 21 home runs in 266 at bats for the Clippers this season.

31 AND COUNTING: Closer Jay Tessmer recorded his 31st save of the season in the Clippers' 3-1 win over Charlotte on Aug. 15 (the game was a completion of a suspended game from April 17). His save total is tied for the third highest in I.L. history. Only Mike Draper of Columbus (37 in 1992) and Randy St. Claire of Syracuse (33 in 1994) have saved more games in one season than Tessmer. Shawn Holman of Ottawa also saved 31 games in 1994.

GLAD TO HAVE HIM BACK: Infielder D'Angelo Jimenez produced his first three-hit game of the year for the Clippers on Wednesday. The feat is remarkable because there was a good chance Jimenez wouldn't play at all this year after fracturing a bone in his neck in January. Jimenez hit .327 with 15 home runs and 88 RBIs on his way to being named an I.L All-Star last season.

DURHAM BULLS

1000 FOR THE SKIPPER: Durham manager Bill Evers recorded his 1000th minor league victory Saturday night vs. Ottawa. He is

1001-850 in his 14th season and joins Scranton/WB skipper Marc Bombard as the only active minor league managers with 1000 victories. Bombard has 1274. There are around 60 managers in minor league history with 1000 or more wins. Thanks to Baseball America for providing research assistance. Evers is 233-176 as the Durham manager and is 335-268 with the Tampa Bay organization. Evers managed the first game in the Devil Rays' organization in the Gulf Coast League in '96.

HE'S A WINNER: OF Randy Winn's 16-game hitting streak ended 8/12 vs. Ottawa. He hit .364 with 16 runs scored and 18 RBI. He's hit in all but two of the 21 games he's played since coming down from Tampa Bay and has reached base in all 21. Winn has played 134 games for the Bulls over the last three seasons and has hit .332 with 120 runs scored, 77 RBI and 10 home runs.

MVP? OF Ozzie Timmons' walk off home run against Louisville Tuesday gave him 27 for the season, tops in the International League. He also leads the league with 91 RBI and 89 runs scored. He is second with 56 extra base hits and is in the top ten in average and base hits.

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: August is birthday month in Indianapolis with six members of the Indians celebrating. Five pitchers will turn a year older this month. They are Reggie Harris, Derek Lee, Allen Levrault, Greg Mix and Bob Scanlan. Levrault pitched on his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, and despite giving up just two runs in six innings, suffered the loss. Mark Loretta, who was rehabbing with the Indians, celebrated his 29th birthday on Monday. The Indians' family also celebrated the arrival of daughter Morgan Grace born to outfielder Brad Tyler this week. Tyler's first child was born late Tuesday evening.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Indians begin a six-game road trip to three cities Thursday. The Tribe is 12 games over .500 on the road (37-25, .597) with 10 games remaining.

LOUISVILLE RIVERBATS

MERCADO MY GOODNESS! Since July 8, LHP Hector Mercado has been outstanding in relief for the RiverBats. In 16 games, Mercado has thrown 16.1 innings, allowing 13 hits, one run (earned), walked 9 and struck out 18. His ERA for this period is a meager 0.55.

DAZZLING DAVIS DEBUT: LHP Lance Davis made his Triple-A debut at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket on 8/13 and didn't disappoint. Although he didn't factor in the decision, Davis went 7.0 innings, allowed 4 hits, 2 runs (both unearned), walked 2 and struck out 5.

NORFOLK TIDES

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Heading into Tuesday night's game at Harbor Park with Toledo the Tides had recorded four complete games on the season, but none were of the nine-inning variety. There was a doubleheader game and three rain-shortened contests. Bobby M. Jones put an end to that streak after 123 games by going the full distance on Tuesday. The very next night, last night, Grant Roberts equaled that task against the Mud Hens.

RESEARCH 101: Many people in the league feel that those who vote for All-Star teams complete their ballots by looking at the league leaders sheet. No doubt it holds some valuable information, but does it tell the whole story? Timoniel Perez, who has fared as well in the International League as almost anyone else, does not appear on any of the leader tote boards, but will reach the minimum 70-game plateau. Perez joined the Tides on June 5th, and in his first 60 games in Triple-A, he has collected a hit in 49 of them and posted a multi-hit game in 27 of them.

ATTENTION GRABBER: All season long Grant Roberts heard that he was the #1 pitching prospect in the Mets' organization, which is a tough mantle. Add into that, he has been mentioned in virtually every trade rumor involving the Mets, another tough thing for a 22-year-old to handle. Despite all that, Roberts got his chance to make his major league debut on July 27th in game 1 of a doubleheader at Shea against Montreal. It did not go well, he lasted just 1.1 innings and allowed seven runs (6 earned). How would this affect the youngster upon his pre-planned return to the Tides? Whether it was the little taste of sweet life in the majors or a feeling of something to prove, he returned with a renewed commitment. In four starts since returning he has gone just 1-1 but has a 1.50 ERA by allowing just five earned runs in 30.0 innings pitched including a pair of nine inning performances. On the season Roberts is just 6-6, but has a very solid 3.71 ERA in 22 starts.

OTTAWA LYNX

DOUBLE TROUBLE: INF Talmadge Nunnari wrote himself into the Ottawa Lynx record book Tuesday night, hitting three doubles in the first game of a doubleheader with the Buffalo Bisons. Nunnari became just the fifth player in team history to collect three doubles in a game, along with INF Tim Laker (June 10, 1994), OF Ted Wood (July 18, 1994), OF Rob Lukachyk (June 15, 1996) and INF Rico Rossy (May 2, 1997). Nunnari, who hit four consecutive doubles in the evening, has been on a tear lately, hitting .500 (8-for-16) with five runs batted in and one run scored in his last five games. The Pensacola, FL, native has bumped his overall average from .261 to .290 (20-for-69) since returning from the Lynx disabled list August 11. This year, Nunnari has driven in 10 runs while scoring six times in 24 games with Ottawa. The 25-year-old played 92 games with Double-A Harrisburg before being promoted to Ottawa July 15, batting .268 (85-for-317) with five home runs and 54 RBI.

SNOWED OUT: RHP Pat Flury has continued his sensational season for Ottawa, as he picked up his fourth straight winning decision last night. The Reno, NV, native threw two scoreless innings en route to the win, marking his seventh consecutive game without a run allowed. In 33 games with Ottawa this year, Flury is 4-0 with four saves and a 1.17 earned run average, converting four straight save opportunities in that time. The 27-year-old has gone thrown eight shutout innings in his seven appearances in August, walking just two batters while giving up just two hits. Flury, who was assigned to Ottawa May 22 after signing a minor-league free agent contract with the Montreal Expos that day, has held opponents to a .204 batting average this year, giving up a total of seven runs - six earned - on 33 hits in 46 innings of work. Prior to joining the Lynx this season, Flury had gone 1-0 with a 7.91 ERA and one save in 12 games with the Calgary Cannons of the Pacific Coast League.

WAKING UP: INF Chris Snusz has enjoyed a great week for the Lynx, hitting .333 (4-for-12) in his last six games, while hitting one home run with two runs batted in and three runs scored. Snusz, who hit home runs in consecutive games August 5 and 8 against the Charlotte Knights at Knights Stadium, has gone 3-for-5 (.600) in his last three games, knocking in one run and scoring once. The Buffalo, NY, native has enjoyed great success against his hometown opponents this year, hitting .455 (5-for-11) in five games, with one RBI and one run scored. Snusz has hit .286 (8-for-28) in 11 games this month, raising his average from .215 on July 31 to its current state of .228 (34-for-149), while he's belted five home runs and has collected a total of 22 RBI in 48 games this year.

PAWTUCKET RED SOX

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES: The Pawtucket Red Sox began the month of August with a 1-6 road-trip as they lost 8 of 9 games from July 30 - August 7. They returned home during the second week of August and posted a perfect 6-0 homestand en route to an 8-game winning streak (August 8-16). The PawSox were a season-high 9 games behind Buffalo a week and a half ago (August 7) but they are now just 3 games back of the front-running Bisons. Almost as importantly, the Sox are in the lead for the IL wild card. Pawtucket now owns a 3-game advantage over Scranton/WB for 2nd-place in the IL North (and thus the wild card). The PawSox were 3-games behind Scranton/WB on August 7. Barring any other weather-related cancellations, the PawSox and Scranton/WB can not finish in a tie for the wild card because Pawtucket will play 143 games this season (May 29 in Richmond was cancelled due to rain) while the Red Barons are slated for the full 144 games.

Ironically, their current 8-game winning streak comes almost exactly two years to the time the Sox put together a similar stretch run. On August 9, 1998 the PawSox were in 3rd-place and 8.5 GB. They then won 8 straight to move into 1st-place (by a ½-game) on August 20 (picking-up 9-games in the standings in 11 days). Pawtucket went on to lose 10 of their final 17 games that season and, in a further irony, went to Scranton/WB for a 5-game series in September and were eliminated from post-season consideration by dropping 4 of 5 to the Red Barons. The PawSox end this season with a 4-game set in Scranton from September 1-4. Pawtucket (72-52 on the year) has also reached a season-high of 20-games over the .500 mark - their highest plateau since they ended the 1997 season at 81-60. The PawSox have to go just 10-9 over their final 19 games to establish a new franchise record for victories in a season (previous mark was 81 wins in 1978 & 1997).

PAW-PRINTS: Popular INF Lou Merloni, who joined the PawSox on August 1 after playing in Japan this season, hit .410 in 11 games for the PawSox and was promoted to Boston on August 14…1B/LF Dernell Stenson was hot hitting .356 in his last 18 games with 8 HR & 23 RBI…Lefty reliever Sang Lee, who was a standout in both the Japanese and Korean Professional Leagues prior to signing with Boston before this season, was 4-2 with a 2.27 ERA in a team-high 40 relief appearances for Pawtucket…RHP Paxton Crawford, who threw a no-hitter in Ottawa on July 18 but then the next night suffered a freak accident in his hotel room in Ottawa (requiring 8 stitches in his back after falling on a glass), returns from the disabled list to start an important game against Scranton/WB on Saturday night at McCoy…And on Wednesday the PawSox lost sparkplug 2B David Eckstein who was claimed on waivers by the Anaheim Angels.

RICHMOND BRAVES

SCOUT DAY: The Richmond Braves will hold their annual Scout Day on Sunday, August 20 at 2:00 p.m. when the team takes on the Indianapolis Indians. That day, the Braves will admit all scouts and scout leaders in uniform into The Diamond at no charge. Additionally, Sunday will be Captain D's Day as the R-Braves will hold a carnival in front of The Diamond to entertain fans prior to game time.

SNAPPED: The Indianapolis Indians handed Richmond left-hander Damian Moss his first loss Wednesday since May 28. Moss, who allowed five runs over four innings in the Braves' 12-5 defeat, saw his record fall to 7-5 with the loss. The Australian native had won five consecutive decisions entering the game and had not been on the losing end of a decision over his last 14 starts. During those 14 outings, Moss had gone 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA.

THUMBS UP FOR EBERT: By picking up the win in Richmond's 4-1 victory over Indianapolis Tuesday, Derrin Ebert improved his lifetime record to 3-0 at Victory Field. Ebert, who owns a 1.98 ERA in six career starts in Indianapolis, has allowed just eight runs in 36.1 innings of work at Victory Field since 1998.

ROCHESTER RED WINGS

MAN vs. BEAST: Who is faster? That question will be answered tonight prior to the Red Wings' 7:15 p.m. game against the Scranton/WB Red Barons at Frontier Field. Zippy Chippy, the losingest horse in thoroughbred history, will take on Red Wings' centerfielder Jose Herrera in a 40-yard dash. Zippy Chippy puts his 0-86 record on the line against one of the fastest 2000 Red Wings. Zippy Chippy makes his first Rochester area appearance since being banned from the Finger Lakes Race Track on September 8, 1998.

TAKING A BEATING: The Red Wings got an old fashion beating on Tuesday night when they lost to Pawtucket 21-4. The 21 runs scored by Pawtucket was the most the Red Wings had allowed in a game since August 29, 1984 when the Wings lost in Pawtucket 21-3. The 21 runs scored were the most runs scored by any team in Frontier Field's four-year history.

SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE RED BARONS

THOMAS TIES MARK - GREAT ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE: Evan Thomas tied a Red Barons' record August 11 vs. Buffalo with his IL leading 12th win. He tied the mark set by with Kyle Abbott (1993) and Calvin Maduro (1998). Last night vs. Syracuse he made an attempt for "lucky" 13 but took the loss despite pitching well (7.0 IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K). The 12 wins are also a personal high, surpassing the 10 wins he had in 1996 at Batavia. In his minor league career, Thomas record stands at an impressive 47-28. Since the end of June, Thomas is 5-3 with an outstanding 1.49 ERA and is making a strong bid to be named the International League's Rookie-of-the-Year. In addition to his IL-best 12 wins, he is also 2nd in strikeouts (118), 2nd in IP (158.1) and tied for 1st with two shutouts.

OUCH, HE DID IT AGAIN: Gene Schall was hit by a pitch August 13th vs. Rochester for the 13th time this season establishing a new club record. The old record of 12 was set by Tony Barron in 1997. Schall is also the all-time record holder with 45. The next person(s) on the list are David Doster and Mike Lieberthal with just 18 each.

70 WINS: The Red Barons won game #1 of their DH August 15 vs. Syracuse for their 70th win of the season. It is just the 5th time a Red Barons team has had 70 wins in their 12-year history. The 1992 team won a total of 84 games while the 1995, 1996 and 1999 teams had 70, 70, and 78 wins respectively. The next milestone will be 73 wins which will guarantee them just their 3rd winning season and 2nd consecutive.

SYRACUSE SKYCHIEFS

RE-RETIRED: Reliever Mark Eichhorn re-retired prior to Tuesday night's doubleheader at Scranton/WB to devote his full attention to his family. In 17 games with the SkyChiefs since July 3, Eichhorn was 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA, allowing just 2 earned runs in 16.1 innings. He did not allow a run in his last 15 appearances. For Eichhorn this was his second stint in a Syracuse uniform, albeit 12 years apart. He pitched for the Chiefs in 1982-85 and 1988. He also was a member of the 2-time World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays in 1992-93. In 1998, Eichhorn went 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA and 18 saves for the Durham Bulls before retiring in 1999. He began the 2000 season at A-Dunedin not allowing a run in 5 appearances.

THAT FINAL STEP: Time and time again this season, the SkyChiefs have had a chance to get above the .500 mark. With last night's 4-2 win at Scranton/WB, the SkyChiefs are once again even at 60-60 with a chance tonight to climb over that final hurdle and get above .500 for the first time since June 3 when the team was 25-24. Tonight will mark the 14th time that the SkyChiefs have had a chance to get over .500 - the SkyChiefs are 2-11 in their previous 13 chances.

TOLEDO MUD HENS

HENS' FEATHERS ARE RUFFLED: Toledo has been having some trouble winning games of late. The Hens have lost 13 of their last 15 games with the only wins coming on Sunday the 13th at Indianapolis and August 5th versus Indy. The losses are coming right after the longest winning streak of the year for Toledo as they won five in a row from July 29 to August 1. Toledo has been outscored 98-46 during the 15 game stretch.

JAIL BIRD: Last week, the Hens lovable mascot Muddy the Mud Hen ran into some trouble. On Thursday the 10th, Muddy was scheduled to appear at the Democratic fundraiser that was being held at the University of Toledo with Tipper Gore and Hadassah Lieberman. The Secret Service, however, saw the bag that contained the costume and detained it for two hours for safety reasons. So, Muddy never got to put on the costume while Gore and Lieberman were there. He did, however, make it back for the seventh inning stretch at the ballgame that night versus Richmond to the delight of the crowd that were wondering where he had been.

WAKE UP AND LOOK AT HIM: Chris Wakeland has been having a solid season with Toledo. The only player on the roster that has appeared in all 123 games, Wakeland leads the team in many offensive categories. Leading in home runs with 25, 69 RBI, 117 hits, 22 doubles, .523 slugging percentage, .279 batting average, 50 walks, and a .357 on-base percentage. This is Wakeland's first year at the Triple-A level after spending last season with three teams (GCL Tigers, Lakeland, and Jacksonville). An injury to his hamate bone forced Wakeland to miss nearly three months last year and he hit just 13 home runs.


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