The Charleston Alley-Cats were rained out early, so only three of the Jays’ farm teams took the field last night. Dunedin scored a huge victory, but New Hampshire and Syracuse lost close games.
Charlotte 5 Syracuse 4
It was a classic Josh Towers start last night; he walked nobody and struck out 7 batters in 6 innings, scattering 8 hits. But 4 of those hits were solo home runs, all in the 6th, the first three back-to-back-to-back jacks leading off the inning. That one frame undermined what was otherwise a great effort. Towers has always suffered from the long ball; it’s a by-product of his remarkable control, since he’s always right around the plate. David Bush has to work to ensure he doesn’t end up with the same Achilles heel. But last night, through 5 innings, Towers was dominant.
On offence, the Skychiefs can still compete without Alex Rios, posting a strong performance against White Sox prospect Felix Diaz. Veteran outfielder Marvin Benard continued his audition for a return to the big leagues with a double and 2 singles, scoring twice. Gabe Gross cracked a two-run homer in 4 plate trips, while Russ Adams continued his surge with a single and a double, pushing his average to a season-high .279. Noah Hall also had 2 hits and a walk. And as a final note, a familiar face came in to close the game for Charlotte and gain his 8th save: Gary Majewski, former Blue Jays Rule 5 pick and D&D poster boy. Majewski is 1-1, 2.70 with those 8 saves and an excellent line of 24 IP, 13 H, 9 BB, 25 K. Toronto may never again see such great Rule 5 picks as they had in 2003 with Majewski, Aquilino Lopez and Jason Dubois.
Bonus feature: Blue Jays mine Skychiefs roster
Portland 6 New Hampshire 3
New Hampshire Union-Leader game story
Derek Lee deserved better; after 6 solid innings, in which he scattered 6 hits and allowed just 1 earned run (2 walks, but only 1 strikeout), Lee left the game trailing 2-1. The only Fisher Cat run to that point had come courtesy of a Justin Singleton home run leading off the 5th. But in the bottom of the 7th, Singleton struck again, cranking a two-run homer (his 7th of the campaign) to give the Fisher Cats a one-run lead. Jordan DeJong was in position for the win after a scoreless 7th, but setup man Dan Jackson imploded, allowing 4 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning on 2 hits and 2 walks, though an Aaron Hill error at shortstop certainly didn’t help.
The Fisher Cats, baffled all night by Red Sox knuckleball prospect Charlie Zink and other Sea Dog relievers, couldn’t recover. Singleton provided all the offence for New Hampshire; Ty Godwin, Jose Umbria and Matt Logan were the only other Fisher Cats to muster even one base hit.
Last night’s match was the first of 20 games this season between instant rivals Portland and New Hampshire, who have geographic proximity (New England franchises), divided loyalties (many Red Sox rooters locally), and appropriate nicknames (Cats and Dogs) to fuel what should become a heated and much-valued rivalry. Go Cats!
Dunedin 9 Lakeland 1
Now, that’s more like it. A picture-perfect game for the D-Jays, for whom virtually everything was clicking. Top prospect Josh Banks was dominant again, allowing just 1 run in 7 innings on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 7. I still think Banks should be given most of the summer in Dunedin, but at this rate, there’ll be very little reason to hold him back from Double-A. He’s the real deal. Jamie Vermilyea, who’s been both starting and relieving lately, came in for 2 perfect innings, with no strikeouts.
Offensively … where to begin? Carlo Cota’s 2-run double and Big Vito’s 3-run homer in the 3rd gave Banks all the offence he’d need. Vito added a single later in the game, while Cota had another double. In fact, the top three hitters in the order (Jayce Tingler, Cota and the recently returned Miguel Negron) all had 2 doubles; Tingler and Negron each added a walk for good measure. Only centerfielder Rodney Medina took the collar, going 0-for-4 and dropping his average to .222.
Your Three-Star Selection:
The Third Star: Marvin Benard, OF, Syracuse: 3 hits and 2 runs scored in a losing cause for the veteran.
The Second Star: Justin Singleton, OF, New Hampshire: 2 homers and 3 RBIs supplied all the offence for the Fisher Cats.
The First Star:Josh Banks, SP, Dunedin: Another outstanding start (7 4 1 1 0 7), another step closer to a promotion.