One win, three fairly ugly losses and an injury to one of the organization’s best prospects; could we have a night where the big club and the little clubs all do well?
Scranton 6 Syracuse 5
You know the expression, “This was a costly win,” when a team comes away victorious but with a player lost to injury? Well, the only thing worse than a costly win is a costly loss, and that’s what the Skychiefs got last night against Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. It’s all bad enough that a late-game 5-3 lead was squandered by the bullpen, but the Skychiefs really got hurt when catcher Guillermo Quiroz was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the 5th inning by David Coggin, breaking his hand. The most optimistic projection for his return, from the Chiefs, is 3-4 weeks; Toronto GM Ricciardi forecast a slightly longer spell, 4 to 6 weeks. Quiroz himself said that the break wasn’t too bad and that he didn’t expect to be out very long; indeed, Q stayed in the game after the HBP and scored a run, only coming out after the inning was over. Quiroz, who played several games down the stretch last season with a collapsed lung, is a tough customer, and with any luck the break will heal quickly and properly.
As for the game itself, David Bush started and was not by any means sharp, as the play-by-play in yesterday’s minor-league thread attests (and thanks again to Jeff, Mike, Robert and everyone else who contributed to that thread), he went deep in a lot of counts. His final line (6 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K) indicates that Bush wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked. Still, the Skychiefs had more than their share of bad luck on the field, Q’s injury aside. Bush missed on a couple of close pitches to the last better he faced, Jorge Padilla, putting 2 runners on; Vinny Chulk entered the game in relief. Following a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to make the score 5-4 Syracuse, Chase Utley’s broken-bat flare into centerfield scored the tying run. In the 9th, erstwhile Toronto closer Aquilino Lopez also had some bad luck: he thought he had struck out the leadoff batter, but the umpire called the pitch a ball; an infield single and a double later, Syracuse was done, and they now occupy last place in their division.
On offence, the best news was supplied by shortstop Russ Adams, who led off the game with a home run and later drove in a key run with an single. Alex Rios also had 2 hits in 5 trips, while first baseman Shawn Fagan walked, doubled and scored once. Gabe Gross went hitless, but did walk twice. Tim Whittaker will likely be the Skychiefs’ catcher for the next few weeks, with Paul Chiafreddo possibly coming up to backup or platoon with Whittaker. Quiroz was ticketed to spend 2004 in Syracuse anyway, so as long as the injury doesn’t sideline him for too long, it’s not disastrous.
New Hampshire 5 Akron 2
Ty Godwin is on fire. The outfielder, who struggled through an awful April, has begun May with a bang: his second consecutive three-hit game featured his first home run of the year, along with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. The Fisher Cats’ leadoff hitter boosted his line to .222/.286/.333 which, considering he was at .143/.200/.211 just a few days ago, is pretty good. Justin Singleton also went yard, while Dominic Rich singled and walked, driving in a run. And all hail Stubby: Mr. Clapp doubled, walked and scored twice in his organizational debut.
On the mound, Todd Ozias pitched an excellent game for New Hampshire, allowing 2 runs over 7 full innings on just 4 hits; he issued no walks and struck out 4. Jordan DeJong struck out 1 in a scoreless 8th, while Adam Peterson whiffed 2 and walked 1 to gain his 5th save of the campaign. And finally, Fisher Catcher Erik Kratz was sent down to extended spring training, leaving New Hampshire’s roster at 23; Kevin Gray explains that Eastern League rosters are limited to 23 at around this point in the season, so don’t think that there are promotions imminent. Indeed, Dustin McGowan will be sticking around for a few more starts to gain the consistency he needs for Triple-A.
And finally, spare a thought for the Akron Aeros. The Fisher Cats had to ensure an 11-hour bus ride from Ohio back to New Hampshire after their visit their last week, but the Aeros have to do that every time they go on a road trip. Without looking, I’m guessing Akron has a great home record and a terrible road mark.
Daytona 2 Dunedin 0
The pitching-rich D-Jays got some of their own medicine force-fed to them last night, as massive (6’9”, 250-lb) Daytona starter Andy Sisco almost fired a no-hitter against them. Sisco held Dunedin to a single walk through six innings, but allowed a single to Brad Hassey in the seventh and there went the no-no. But that base hit, plus a walk each from Jayce Tingler and Ron Davenport, was all the D-Jays could muster against Sisco, who entered the game 0-3 with an ERA over 5.00 but who is considered a solid if raw prospect. The Cubbies have to be happy with his 9-K performance last night.
On the D-Jays’ side of the mound, Ismael Ramirez had a pretty good game, allowing 2 runs in 5 2/3 innings on 6 singles and a double; he walked no one and struck out 2. In a very encouraging outing, Tracy Thorpe entered the game in relief and pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings, striking out one.
Hagerstown 8 Charleston 6
The high-flying Alley-Cats were humbled at home last night, in a game in which few players shone. Starter Ramon Mora, who entered the game with an ERA over 6, was lit up early and often by Hagerstown batters who had been struggling badly up to that point. Mora was ineffective right from the get-go, finishing with an abbreviated line of 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB and 3 Ks, but his manager kept him out there for awhile to gain experience and pitches; two errors behind Mora didn’t help. Reliever Marcos Sandoval overcame an inauspicious moment (walking the bases loaded in the 6th) and combined with Brad Esaray and Brian Reed to allow just one unearned run the rest of the way. The offence was mainly supplied by (surprise, surprise) 2B Ryan Roberts, who reached base 4 times (2 singles, 2 walks) and drove in 2 runs, while part-time catcher Joey Reiman (DH’ing tonight) raised his average 50 points with a four-single performance. Shortstop Juan Peralta, who had shown signs of breaking out of his early-season slump, had a miserable 0-for-5 night in the leadoff spot, striking out twice.
Bonus: The Blue Jays, says Dayn Perry of Fox Sports, have the best farm system in all of baseball. This is welcome recognition for an organization that doesn’t get the credit it deserves for excellent scouting, drafting and training programs. That said, I’m not sure I’d place the Jays right at the pinnacle yet, though they’re most certainly in the top five. And Perry has some interesting choices for the Jays’ ten best prospects, including Jamie Vermilyea at #7 and Vito Chiaravalotti at #8, players I wouldn’t have ranked quite so high. But it’s good to get a third-party perspective on the Jays’ system, and it’s nice to see them start getting the recognition that’s often denied them by other assessment bureaus. Thanks to Steve Z for providing these and other links.