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July 29, 2004 - International League (IL) News Release

ALWAYS ON BASE: Bisons’ infielder Brandon Phillips has put together some impressive streaks at the plate in the last month. Going into today’s game against the Mud Hens, Phillips has reached base safely in each of his last 39 games (the IL high this year). The streak started on June 13, with the infielder hitting .368 (57-155) over the span. Phillips also had an 18-game hitting streak from June 20-July 10 (.375, 27-72) which is tied for the third longest streak in IL this year. He is also currently on a 14-game hitting streak (.407, 22-54) that has vaulted him to sixth in the IL in batting with a .319 average.

ANOTHER SLAM FOR CLAPINSKI: Bisons’ utilityman Chris Clapinski set a new Bisons’ Modern Day record by hitting four Grand Slams in one season. The most recent blast came Saturday night in Syracuse to help the Herd to a 9-7 victory. Earlier this year, Clapinski set the Bisons’ Modern Day mark for slams at Dunn Tire Park with his third slam at home against Durham. With the bases loaded this year, Clapinski is 6-10 with the four home runs and 20 RBI.

TYNER’S SOLID DEBUT: Outfielder Jason Tyner is off to a solid start to his Bisons’ career. In his Herd debut on Wednesday night, the 27-year-old went 2-3 with a pair of runs driven in. Tyner was signed by the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday after spending most of the season with the Richmond Braves. With the Braves, Tyner hit .288 with a home run, 16 RBI and 18 stolen bases.

COUNTDOWN TO 500: Charlotte Knights manager Nick Capra is two wins shy of 500 for his career. Capra is currently in his ninth season as a manager in the White Sox organization and has an overall record of 498-516 (.491). Entering this season he had led four of his eight teams to the postseason and won the Midwest League title in 1999 with Burlington. Capra has had a winning record in five of his eight years as a manager. He is the first Knights player to return to Charlotte as the manager. He was an IL All-Star in 1995 with the Knights and hit .256 with nine home runs and 51 RBI.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING!!! Charlotte OF Mario Valenzuela is currently riding a season high ten-game hitting streak. Over the streak he is hitting .342 (13-for-38) with two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. During the streak he has raised his batting average .12 points from .247 to .259. He is the third Knights player to have a hitting streak of ten or more games this season. Bryant Nelson had a 13-game hitting streak and Joe Borchard had an 11-game streak. He is hitting .259 with 19 home runs and 46 RBI with the Knights this year. He is tied for second on the team in home runs and is fourth in RBI.

NELSON SETS CAREER HIGH: Knights second baseman and International League All-Star Bryant Nelson set a new career high in home runs last night when he connected on his 17th long ball of the season in game one of the Knights doubleheader. Nelson’s previous career high was 16 in 1999 with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. He is closing in on a career high RBI as well. He currently leads the Knights with 68 RBI and his career high is 78 RBI in 1999 with West Tenn.

TOUGH WEEK: With new trade talks swirling around every day, the Clippers suffered through their worst week of the season, finishing 1-6, and dropping out of first place in the West. The offense held up through the victory drought, hitting .278 for the week. The Clippers were paced by shortstop Felix Escalona (.438), third baseman Jeff Deardorff (.400) and outfielder Kevin Reese (.375).

HAVE GLOVE, WILL TRAVEL: Bucky Dent used 31 different players this week. Pitchers Charlie Manning, Javier Ortiz and Chien-Ming Wang got their first taste of Triple-A Baseball. Columbus welcomed back outfielder Bubba Crosby from New York and said goodbye to first baseman Todd Betts. Betts left to play for the Canadian team in the Olympics.

HERO KELLY: In an era when kids are leaving school to make their fortunes in professional sports, outfielder Mike Kelly bucked the trend. At the height of his baseball career, Mike quit to go back and get his degree at Arizona State University. Mike was ASU’s first three time All-American. In 1990, he was the college player of the year and the following season he won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete. After playing professional baseball for nine seasons, including stints with the Braves, Reds, D-Rays and Rockies, he sat out three seasons to earn his degree in graphic information technology. Mike returned to baseball last season. In July, Kelly has hit .349.

BULLS BLASTING: Jonny Gomes hit his 20th homer yesterday, giving Durham three players this season with at least 20. Midre Cummings and the departed Jorge Cantu have each hit 21. It’s the first time Durham has had three 20-homer players in the same season since becoming a Triple-A club in 1998, and only the third time it’s happened in the franchise’s history. The last time it occurred was in 1963.

DYNAMITE DIAZ: Matt Diaz may give the Bulls a quartet of 20-homer players for the first time ever if he can hit three more. Diaz, who has the International League’s longest hit streak of the season at 22 games, has hit in 21 in a row at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Diaz, who hit his second grand slam of the season yesterday, has 29 RBI in the month of July, after driving in 30 in June.

ON A ROLL: The Bulls have won eight straight games, their longest streak of the season, all to start a ten-game home stand. The Bulls have outscored the opposition 62-30 during that stretch, and have outhomered opposing clubs 19-7. The Bulls now have the League’s best home record, going 33-20 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

OSIK ON BOARD: Keith Osik is the newest Bull. He was activated Tuesday and will help the Bulls behind the plate when Pete LaForest goes to the Olympics this weekend to play for Team Canada. Osik played with Baltimore this year, as well as with Albuquerque, the Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Osik was a long-time backup to Jason Kendall in Pittsburgh. He homered in his first game with the Bulls on Wednesday.

STARTING SOLID: In 11 of the first 14 games since the All-Star break a Bulls starting pitcher has worked at least six innings. In each of those 14 games the starter has at gone at least five innings.

DORA THE EXPLORER VISITS THE VIC: Dora the Explorer, Nickelodeon cartoon character, will visit Victory Field Friday and be available for photographs with fans during the game. Friday is also “Noche Latina” (Hispanic Night) sponsored by WIIH-TV and Terre Haute community night. Terre Haute mayor Kevin Burke will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Following the contest, fans will be treated to fireworks, courtesy of American Family Insurance, Reeves Buick-Pontiac, Pepsi and The Indianapolis Star.

21 HOME DATES DOWN THE STRETCH: The Tribe will host 21 home games at Victory Field during the month of August and September and will play 16 games on the road. Of the 21 home dates, the Tribe will play each division rival Louisville, Toledo and Columbus four times.

DH PLANNED FOR AUGUST 15: Sunday’s game between Norfolk and Indianapolis, postponed due to inclement weather at Harbor Park, will be made up in Indianapolis as part of a doubleheader on Sunday, August 15. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

THE PHANATIC: The best mascot in all of sports will be visiting Saturday, July 31 for his first official appearance at Louisville Slugger Field. The Phillie Phanatic tried to appear last summer, but his costume didn’t make the trip as the airlines somehow put it on a different flight to Louisville after mechanical problems forced the Phanatic to change planes.

MYETTE AN OLYMPIAN: RHP Aaron Myette will represent Team Canada at the Summer Olympics in Greece next month. Myette will leave the club to join the Olympic team after leading the Bats with 16 saves, which ties him for sixth in the league. He is 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 36 games.

NEW FACES: Louisville has several new faces on the team, including one who is making an injury comeback. RHP Luke Hudson will be making his first appearance with the Bats in two years after missing the 2003 season with arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. IF Gary Patchett, an infielder promoted from Class A Potomac, spent time with the Bats during the 2002 season. And IF Gary Burnham was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals organization Tuesday in exchange for IF Jerome Alviso, a switch-hitting middle infielder who had been with the Memphis Redbirds all season.

DAYTIME SUCCESS: The Tides had their last home day game of the season yesterday. They are 15-11 during the daytime with 3 day games remaining (all on the road).

LONG BALL DROUGHT: The Tides have only hit two home runs in their last 9 games. Tides’ home run leader Craig Brazell, with 19, has not hit a home run since July 5th (16 games), his longest drought of the season. The Tides are 2nd to last in the IL with 83 homers. Buffalo leads the league with 136 home runs.

JULY FIRESTARTERS: Saturday evening, for the first time this month, a Tides’ pitcher allowed more than 3 earned runs in a start when Matt Ginter gave up 5 earned runs in 8 innings. After giving up 3 runs in the first inning, it appeared the streak was in serious jeopardy. Ginter, however, settled down and after the third run scored with just one out in the first inning, Ginter retired the next 21 batters allowing just one hit (runner was erased on strike ‘em out throw ‘em out play). He went on to allow a 2-out single and home run in the 8th inning to end the starter’s streak. Until that night, Tides’ starters had a 2.31 ERA (31 earned runs in 120 2/3 innings) in 20 starts in July. Saturday remains the only start this month that more than 3 earned runs have been scored. The starters’ ERA is still 2.44 in the month of July. Despite getting off to good starts, the Tides are just 13-10 in July.

LINE OF THE DAY: Esix Snead in yesterday’s 2-1 victory over the Indianapolis Indians: 0-0, 2 runs scored, 1 sacrifice bunt, 3 walks, 1 stolen base.

THE BRUCE IS LOOSE: LHP Bruce Chen has been simply terrific as a starter for the Lynx this year. Chen joined Ottawa’s rotation full time on June 19th, and since then, he has been outstanding. In eight starts since the 19th, Chen is 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA, while striking out 53 batters in 44.1 innings and holding opponents to a .209 batting average. The 53 strikeouts by Chen are the most of any IL pitcher over the last 40 days, and he has helped the Lynx team to an IL leading 768 punch-outs this year.

MONTHY IMPROVEMENTS: After starting slowly this year, the Ottawa Lynx have been steadily improving each month. The Lynx rebounded from a 9-13 April and a 10-20 May to post two solid months, as they went 16-12 and have gone 14-11 thus far in June. Much of the Lynx success can be attributed to their pitching, and the Lynx staff has improved their ERA in each month of this year. The staff posted a 6.48 ERA in April, followed by 5.25 in May, 4.27 in June and a season low 3.96 thus far in July.

GRAND SLAM CHALLENGE STARTS TONIGHT: The annual battle between Lynx GM Kyle Bostwick and Rochester GM Dan Mason resumes tonight in Ottawa. The two will battle in the new EA Sports video game that features both the Lynx and the Red Wings. The first two games of the competition, will take place in the Upper Deck Sports Bar on the 3rd floor Lynx Stadium on Thursday, July 29th, with the remainder of the series taking place in Rochester on August 2nd. In addition to another year of bragging rights, the winning GM will receive a check for $500 from the loser that will be donated to a charity of the winning GM’s choice.

OLYMPIC BOUND: Two members of the Ottawa Lynx will be heading to Athens in August to be part of the summer Olympics. Lynx field manager Tim Leiper will be heading to Athens as one of the coaches for the Canadian Olympic team, while Lynx infielder Clay Bellinger will playing for the Greek National team. During the absence of Leiper, Lynx field coach Dave Cash will take over field manager duties for Ottawa.

RED SOX NATION ONCE AGAIN STRETCHES TO PAWTUCKET: Two instances happened this past weekend at McCoy Stadium that once again prove just how close the relationship is between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Boston Red Sox.

Last Saturday night was Jason Varitek Bobblehead Doll Night at McCoy when the PawSox hosted Ottawa. That evening the PawSox were honoring their former catcher who finished out the 1997 season with Pawtucket after being acquired in a trading deadline deal (steal) from Seattle. The Varitek bobblehead was a terrific representation of the current Red Sox stalwart. And, as fate would have it, Jason was certainly in the news just prior to his replica being handed out to the first 4,000 youngsters arriving at McCoy. Only hours before, in a hotly-contested game at Fenway Park, Varitek would tangle with New York Yankee star Alex Rodriguez to instigate a bench-clearing brawl – thus adding another rousing chapter to this historic rivalry. Varitek was ejected from the game, but his ability to stick-up to Rodriguez and his teammates support helped spur the Red Sox onto a comeback victory. When Bill Mueller’s dramatic walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th-inning was later shown on the McCoy Video Board during the PawSox game, the McCoy crowd erupted and, as if on cue, all 4,000 Varitek Bobbleheads could be seen nodding their heads in delight.

A direct result of that fight on Saturday also effected things the next day and night. PawSox catcher Andy Dominique played all 11-innings (at 1B) on Sunday afternoon at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket’s 5-4 victory over Ottawa. After the game, and after most players had already departed, the Boston Red Sox called and told Dominique to get to Fenway Park as soon as possible for that evening’s Sunday Night ESPN game vs. the Yankees (Varitek was a bit banged up and OF Trot Nixon was placed on the DL). PawSox crack clubhouse manager Chris Parent quickly packed some clean belongings for Dominique and sent him on his way to Boston where he arrived in plenty of time for the second part of his two city, two state, day/night doubleheader. What better way to spend a Sunday than being a part of both a PawSox victory and a Red Sox win.

PAW-PRINTS: The PawSox were a season-high 14-games out of 1st-place on July 1 and still 13-games out at the All-Star break. But in just over two weeks they have cut that deficit in half and now trail front-running Buffalo by just 6 ½-games in the crowded IL North (the top four teams are all separated by just that 6 ½-game margin). Pawtucket has gotten back into the race by going 11-2 since the All-Star break. They also own the best record within the division of all six IL North clubs (28-17) and after this weekend’s 4-game series at McCoy vs. Columbus will play exclusively against their IL North rivals over the final month of the regular-season (their last 33 games). Leading the charge this month for the PawSox has been OF Henri Stanley (.403 in 18 games in July), OF Adam Hyzdu (.321 in 21 games), and OF Justin Sherrod (.301 in 21 games). On the pitching side starters Frank Castillo (2-2, 2.83 in 6 games) and John Stephens (2-0, 2.90 in 5 games) along with reliever Brandon Puffer (2-2, 2.81 in 10 games) have all been effective.

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Pete Orr enters play Thursday leading the International League in average (.332) and hits (130). The Richmond second baseman, who also ranks among league leaders in triples (8, T-3rd), runs (62, T-7th), and steals (19, T-8th), will leave the club this weekend so that he can participate in the Athens Olympics for Team Canada. A native of Ontario, Orr is in his first Triple-A season with Richmond.

LEADER OF THE PACK: Matt Whiteside recorded his Triple-A best 26th save in Richmond’s 5-3 win at Louisville Tuesday. With that save Whiteside moved into a tie with Billy Taylor (1993) and Terry Clark (1994) for the most saves in a single-season in R-Braves franchise history. Whiteside, who has 30 career saves in a Richmond uniform, is just one of four pitchers to save 30 or more games during their career with the R-Braves joining Rod Nichols (45), Tom House (38), and Billy Taylor (38).

PLEASED TO MEET YOU: The Braves were 31-31 before signing Luis Lopez on June 15. Since the veteran infielder’s arrival, Richmond is 27-15 (.643) and has gone from third place (two games behind Durham) to first place in the International League South Division, 1.5 games ahead of Durham. Lopez is averaging nearly an RBI per game with Richmond, batting .331-6-33 with 11 2B and 19R in 36 games.

FOUR SCORE AND 53 YEARS AGO! With a win tonight LHP Dave Gassner will become only the third Red Wings’ 13-game winner since 1989 (Rick Krivda 14 wins in 1997 & Curt Schilling 13 wins in 1989). Gassner is just three wins shy of becoming the first left-handed pitcher to get 15 wins in a season since 1951 when LHP Jack Collum went 15-8. To put this in perspective the last time the Red Wings had a left-handed 15-game winner the Rochester Royals (who are currently the Sacramento Kings) won the NBA title 4 games to 3 over the New York Knicks in 1951.

TO ERROR IS HUMAN: The Red Wings have committed at least one error in five consecutive games (nine errors in those five games). This comes after the Wings committed only one error in their previous seven games (63 innings). This five-game stretch is the Red Wings worst defensive stretch since June 21-25, 2003 when the Wings committed nine errors in a four-game stretch (including a five-error game on June 25, 2003).

HOT WING: Outfielder Jason Kubel is red hot, batting .390 (30-for-77) with seven doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in his last 19 games. Kubel has reached base safely in 16 of those 19 games with nine multi-hit games during this stretch. Since joining the Red Wings, Kubel has hit safely in 46 of the 59 games he’s played. For the month of July, Kubel is batting .353 (30-for-85) in 22 games. For the season (Double-A & Triple-A numbers combined) Kubel is batting .357 (133-for-373) with 35 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs and 70 RBI in 96 games.

GIESE BACK ON TRACK: After a rough 30 day period Dan Giese has returned to his All-Star performance. Through June 1 Giese was 6-2 with a 1.42 ERA in 17 games. From June 4 through July 3 in 13 games his numbers skyrocketed to 4-3 with an 8.62 ERA. He allowed at least one run in 9 of the 13 appearances. In his last eight appearance he has allowed just two runs in 12.2 IP (1.42 ERA) on 8 hits while striking out 15. He is still 2nd in the IL with 10 wins despite not getting a victory since June 26 @ Norfolk.

BATTLE OF 19-18: Wow. That might be the only way to describe the July 25 Red Barons’ 19-18 win over Toledo at Lackawanna County Stadium. It was probably the strangest game in the history of the Red Barons franchise. Here are some of the highlights/moments about that night:

Mark Budzinski set a franchise record with 9 RBI breaking the old mark of 8 set by Wendell Magee. He also tied the team mark with 4 extra-base hits. Fittingly it was on Polka night that featured a rousing rendition of the Polish National Anthem..The 37 combined runs set a new franchise record breaking the old mark of 33 set in 1998..The Red Barons’ 22 hits were the third most in team history and the most ever at Lackawanna County Stadium...Toledo scored four unearned runs in the 6th inning to take a 18-16 lead on a pop up that fell between two players, an easy force toss to 2nd that was thrown away and a dropped fly ball..The two starting pitchers combined for 17 runs allowed on 17 hits in 3.1 IP and neither got the loss..The Red Barons overcame deficits of 11-3 and 18-16. Toledo overcame a 15-11 deficit...The 19 runs scored by the Red Barons tied for the 4th most in franchise history (#1 and #3 are also vs. Toledo) and tied for the most ever at Lackawanna County Stadium with the 6/24/02 game vs. Columbus..Toledo scored 18 and lost..Two Toledo players had multi-HR games...The top of the 8th was the 1st 1-2-3 inning of the game..Everyone in the line-up had at least one hit and scored at least one run..The regular scoreboard operator called in sick (did he know something?) forcing Wilkes-Barre Pioneers football (AF2) announcer Dean Corwin to take over (Red Barons won game with a field goal in the 9th!)....Three dice in the dice roll contest got stuck on the net..Four summer camp groups chanted throughout the game in the upperdeck making it sound more like a European soccer game than a baseball game...Toledo had a pitcher ejected from the game..A group leader took the field and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and two intoxicated women wandered into the press box in the 7th inning looking for their friends.

LAST 25: In their last 25 games the Red Barons are just 5-20. If you look this period statistically several things jump out. They are batting .257 have scored just 92 runs (3.7) per game, 13th in the IL. Take away the 22 hits and 19 runs 7/25 vs. Toledo the numbers drop to .244 and just 3.04 runs per game. They have committed 33 errors leading to 23 unearned runs, most in the IL. In addition their 151 runs allowed and their 40 home runs allowed are the most.

STUUUUUU RETURNS!: Former Syracuse Chiefs fan favorite Stu Pederson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before tonight’s game with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Pederson was an outfielder for the Chiefs from 1988-1992 and batted a combined .267 with 27 home runs.

SANCHEZ TO START TONIGHT: LHP Jesus Sanchez is scheduled to start tonight’s game for the SkyChiefs. Sanchez was signed to a minor league contract by Toronto earlier this week after being released by the Cincinnati Reds. Sanchez will become the 14th pitcher to start a game for Syracuse this season.

HENTGEN RETIRES: Former Chiefs and Blue Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen retired on Sunday, ending a 14-year Major League career. Hentgen was a member of the 1992 & 1993 World Series champion Blue Jays and also was the 1996 American League Cy Young Award winner. Hentgen, who was 9-11 in 35 games (32 starts) for the Chiefs in 1991-’92, is one of six former Syracuse pitchers to win a Cy Young Award.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Mud Hens are amid an eight-game road trip which will conclude Friday, July 30 at Buffalo. Toledo got off to a good start taking three of four games at Scranton/WB and winning the first two games at Buffalo. The recent success on the road has put the Mud Hens at two games over .500 (27-25) away from the Hen House in 2004. Last season, Toledo was just 29-42 away from Fifth Third Field.

WHEN AN EIGHT RUN LEAD JUST ISN’T ENOUGH...: On Sunday, July 25 in Scranton/WB, the Hens and Red Barons hooked up in one of the wildest games of the 2004 season. Toledo jumped out to an 11-3 lead after 1.5 innings only to have the Red Barons tie the game in the bottom of the third. Scranton/WB then added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull ahead 15-11 but Toledo put three runs up in their half of the fifth inning to get within one run at 15-14. Scranton/WB added a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 16-14. The Hens rallied to score four runs in the top of the sixth and claim an 18-16 lead they took into the bottom of the ninth. It was then that Franklyn German blew only his second save of the campaign allowing the Barons to score three runs and winning the game by a final count of 19-18. The teams combined for 37 runs on 38 hits and the Hens’ Joe Vitiello and Greg Norton each belted a pair of home runs in the game.

HENS EXTEND DIVISION LEAD PAST TWO GAMES: After last night’s action, the Mud Hens lead the International League West Division by 3.5 games over the second place Columbus Clippers. The 3.5 game lead is significant in that it represents the largest lead the modern day Mud Hens (since 1965) have held in a division race after Memorial Day. The 2002 squad, which captured the division crown, finished the season in first place by just two games and never held a lead larger than that two game mark.

AHEARNE SOLID ON THE MOUND: Starting pitcher Pat Ahearne continues his consistent ways for the Mud Hens. The right-handed starter has a record of 8-8 and has recorded a victory in four of the last five games he has been given a decision. In his last outing, July 27 at Buffalo, Ahearne held the hard hitting Bisons to just one run on six hits in seven and two-thirds innings pitched. Ahearne is first in the IL with 137.0 innings pitched, tied for second in the league with 2 complete games, is in the top five in strikeouts with 94 and also in the top ten with a 3.68 ERA.

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International League Stories from July 29, 2004

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