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Only one win on the farm. An offensive burst from the Skychiefs, a pitchers duel in Manchester, and a rough night for Danny Core.

Durham 5, Syracuse 18

Needless to say, it was a good night for the hitters. John-Ford Griffin was the only Skychief left hitless on the night, though he did walk once. The bottom five in the order combined for 15 hits, including 4 from Gabe Gross. The starter, Josue Matos, was hurt by the long ball. In all he gave up 3 homeruns in 4.1 innings including 2 to Canadian Pierre-Luc (Pete) LaForest. Matt Duff pitched solidly once again in long relief to pick up the win. Jason Alfaro also added 3 hits, including a homerun, and 4 RBI.

Box Score

Game Story

Portland 3, New Hampshire 1

We were promised a pitcher's duel and we sure got one. Vince Perkins and Jon Papelbon went mano a mano but the game would eventually be decided by the bullpens. The Jays only managed 1 hit off of Papelbon but they made it count. Eric Kratz doubled to lead off the fifth inning, moved to third on a balk, and scored on a Raul Tablado sac fly. The Fisher Cats held the lead until the eighth inning when Perkins gave up a solo homerun to tie the match up. Both bullpens held the fort until the twelfth when Bubbie Buzachero came in and promptly gave up 4 hits and 2 runs in his inning to pick up the loss.

Box Score

Clinton 9, Lansing 2

Danny Core took the start and was not a pretty sight. His third inning went like this: ground out, single, homer, homer, single, double, single, single and then the hook. Among the few bright spots in the game were Chip Cannon's 2 run homerun and 3 shutout innings of relief from Juan Perez who has had a rough year thus far.

Box Score

Game Story

The Three Stars!

Third star: Gabe Gross
Second star: Vince Perkins
First star: Jason Alfaro

Beaten to the Core | 11 comments | Create New Account
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Lugnut Fan - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 11:23 AM EDT (#118314) #
Two words for you on the Lansing Lugnut game last night....Eric Hurley. He was the first round pick of the Rangers last year and he had a fastball last night that was between 95 to 97 most of the game (on the Old's park gun). He had a very good change up as well that was around 80. He totally dominated. The one thing that is concerning is that this was the second straight game that the boys only got two hits and I would like to see a little more consistency in the offense.
#2JBrumfield - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 12:17 PM EDT (#118322) #
A family engagement took Mrs. Brumfield and I over the border to Madison, Wisconsin - robbing us of the chance to see Halladay’s masterpiece and Towers’ “record breaking performance” against the Twins (okay, I’m not sorry we missed that). However, we did manage to take in some baseball of the minor league variety as we saw a pair of games - one involving the Lansing Lugnuts Sunday evening in Geneva, Illinois - the home of the Oakland A’s affiliate - the Kane County Cougars. To say Philip B. Elfstrom Stadium is off the beaten track from the I-90 is an understatement. At least the parking was free, the reward for anyone who actually finds the place! It’s about 45 minutes west of Chicago from what we had read and despite its remote location, Kane County is second in Midwest League attendance with over 5,000 a game. They had over 9,000 the night before and nearly 7,500 on this evening, which turned about to be a decent one after it had rained for most of the day in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Checking out the Kane County Cougars program, they are celebrating their 15th anniversary season and they are asking fans to fill out a ballot to select its All-Time team. Some notables on the ballot with Blue Jays connections - Gregg Zaun, who was with the Cougars in their inaugural season in 1991, former and much maligned Jay Dave Berg (who’s listed as a third baseman), and former and much maligned Jays manager Carlos Tosca. Kane County has had a number of good players pass through over the years, notably Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett. There’s a prominent banner on the right field wall with a picture of the two of them. Other former KC Cougars of note - Miguel Cabrera, A.J. Burnett, Scott Podsednik, Mark Kotsay, Charles Johnson, Randy Winn, and Ryan Dempster.

As for the game itself, it was Russell Savickas on the hill for the Lugnuts and Jared Trout for the Cougars in a match-up of righties. The first inning was scoreless with the only highlight being Lansing catcher Curtis Thigpen throwing out last year’s Northwest League MVP Javier Herrera trying to steal after he drew a 2 out walk.

In the 2nd, the Lugnuts drew first blood. Luke Hetherington and Cory Patton got aboard on a pair of 1 out singles off Trout. When Christian Snavely went down swinging, it was up to Yuber Rodriguez to come through. Despite a batting average below the Mendoza line, Rodriguez stung the ball into the right-center field gap for a 2 run triple to score Hetherington and Patton. Then Juan Peralta blooped one into left field to cash in Rodriguez to make it 3-0. Jason Armstrong pushed Peralta to 2nd with another single but Peralta was thrown out trying to steal 3rd on a front end of an attempted double steal to end the inning and allowed a shaky Jared Trout to wriggle off the hook (get it?). Kane County tried to respond in the bottom half of the inning with a pair of 1 out singles of their own but Russell Savickas got the next 2 hitters to end the threat.

The Lugnuts tried to add to their 3-0 lead in the top of the 3rd but Curtis Thigpen was robbed of a hit by KC 2nd baseman Kevin Melillo (Oakland’s #23 prospect according to Baseball America), who made a nice leaping catch. Eric Neilsen followed with a single to centre but that was all Lansing could muster. Russell Savickas appeared to be getting into a groove by retiring the Cougars 1-2-3 in the 3rd. Lansing had something going again in the 4th with a pair of infield singles by Christian Snavely and Juan Peralta but Jason Armstrong flied out on the first pitch he saw to end the inning as the Trout got away again.

In the bottom of the 4th, Russell Savickas would have a Josh Towers-type melt down after he gave up a lead-off walk, a triple, a double, two singles, and he had a throwing error on a pick-off attempt at first. Saying he was hit pretty hard would be an understatement as KC scored 4 times for KC the 4-3 lead. Savickas did get one out but he was yanked after another walk. Savickas’ offerings ranged from the high 70’s to mid to high 80’s. However, the radar gun wasn’t exactly the most efficient as it missed numerous pitches and it seemed to time the catcher’s throws back to the mound as there were some “pitches” that came in over the 50 MPH mark. They also didn’t leave the speeds up on the gun for very long.

Anyways, Savickas was done and that led to Po-Hsuang Keng coming out of the Lugnuts bullpen. Inheriting 2 runners, the Korean retired the first man he faced but would uncork a wild pitch to advance the runners. Despite being just one out away from ending the inning and keeping it a one-run game, Keng served one up to KC shortstop Ryan Ruiz, who belted an 88 MPH offering over the left field wall to make it 7-3 Cougars. Keng would then plunk the next hitter, Javier Herrera, but he didn’t get a warning from the home plate umpire. The number 3 BA prospect for Oakland promptly stole second but Keng would strike out clean-up hitter Raul Padron to end the inning, in which 10 Cougars went up to the plate.

Clearly deflated after what appeared to be the longest half-inning of all time, Lansing went down 1-2-3 in the 5th. Kane County got back to work in the bottom half of inning 5 after Myron Leslie led off with a single. He was promptly erased by Curtis Thigpen after trying to steal 2nd. After striking out the next batter, Keng was again victimized by a 2 out homer, this one off the bat of Eddie Kim, who belted one just inside the right field foul pole for a solo shot. I thought it was foul from my first base vantage point but it stayed fair and it was 8-3 KC. Meantime, Jared Trout continued to reel in the Lugnuts with another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 6th. He would end his evening with his 5th K of the game, striking out Christian Snavely for a 2nd time. After looking like it was going to be a long night for Trout, he really settled down. His pitches came in around 86-89 MPH at the top end and 76-78 MPH at the bottom end. As for Lansing, Po-Hsuan Keng began to settle in as he retired the Cougars in order in the 6th.

In the top of the 7th, Kane County brought in right-hander Steven Sharpe from the bullpen and he was anything but. With 1 out, Juan Peralta got aboard on a bunt single that Sharpe could not do anything with and Jason Armstrong followed up with a single to right to advance Peralta to 3rd. Peralta would score on Curtis Thigpen’s ground out to 3rd to make it an 8-4 ball game. Armstrong advanced to 2nd on the play and would be joined by Eric Neilsen on the basepaths with a 2 out walk. To borrow a phrase from Danny Gallivan, that set the stage for a “Cannonading” drive as Chip Cannon knocked one out of the park to right-centre for a 3 run shot, scoring Armstrong and Neilsen, to make it an 8-7 ballgame. In the bottom half of inning 7, Keng pitched his 2nd straight scoreless inning, only giving up a one out single but he did surrender a long drive to the warning track in center field by Eddie Kim, who came close to getting his 2nd homer of the evening.

In the 8th, Lansing would face the Cougars third pitcher of the night in Clay Tichota. The Lugnuts got a rally going as Christian Snavely reached on a error by KC 3rd baseman Myron Leslie. Snavely was pinch-run for by Ryan Klosterman, who went on to steal 2nd. Yuber Rodriguez then drew a walk to put the potential go-ahead run on base. However, despite working 3-2 counts, Juan Peralta went down swinging and Jason Armstrong flied out to end the threat.

Aaron Harang’s brother, Daryl, took to the mound in the bottom of the 8th for Lansing. Much like Keng, the lefty was greeted rudely by the KC offence, as he gave up a single and double to the first 2 batters he faced. That resulted in a run to make it 9-7 for the Cougars. KC catcher Raul Padron drove in the 10th run of the night with a single to cash in Kevin Melillo’s RBI double but Padron was thrown out by center fielder Yuber Rodriguez after trying to go to 2nd. The Lugnuts were put out of their misery in the top of the 9th as Robert Semerano closed it out by facing the minimum 3 batters, striking out the last 2 to nail down a 10-7 victory for the home side. Semerano was the only pitcher who consistently threw in the 90’s, topping out at 94 MPH.

Three stars of the game for Lansing in their 10-7 loss…..

1B Chip Cannon - Despite the 3 K’s for the hat trick, his 3 run HR made it a one-run game in the late going.
CF Yuber Rodriguez - a 2-out, 2 run triple to get Lansing on the board first along with a walk and a run scored.
2B Juan Peralta - had 3 singles, drove in a run, and scored a run.

Honorable mentions…..SS Jason Armstrong went 2-for-4 with a run scored, RF Eric Nielson reached base twice with a single and a walk and scored a run, and C Curtis Thigpen. Though the BA #15 prospect went 0-for-5, he was 2-for-3 in throwing out would-be base stealers.

Our second and final stop was Battle Creek, Michigan. Before heading to C.O. Brown Stadium for a Memorial Day match-up between the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays and the Beloit Snappers (a 1st year Minnesota affiliate), we made a pit stop at the Cereal City USA museum. One item of interest was a Kellogg’s cereal box from Puerto Rico featuring former Jay Roberto Alomar in a Puerto Rican uniform. It’s well worth the visit if you’re in the area. Also well worth the visit was C.O. Brown Stadium, the former home of the Battle Creek Yankees. Even though the place was apparently built in 1990, C.O. Brown Stadium looks like an old-time park and had a Tiger Stadium feel to it with all the steel beams holding up the grandstand. However, this stadium is a lot cleaner and nicer. Baseball Prosecptus rates it a pitcher's park with a rating below 1,000. The outfield wall seemed to be at least 20 feet high all the way around. Only 800 people or so showed up for the game (so they say!) but it was a fairly decent game, which Beloit won 5-3. I won’t bore you with all the details but the two things that stood out was Southwest Michigan’s amazing ability to kill rallies and a pitcher (Kyle Aselton) going 4 innings for a save. Believe it (you might seeing it’s the D-Rays) or not, but the Rays hit into not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 double plays! Beloit jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the D-Rays got three runs back in the 5th but the potential tying run was cut down at the plate on a groundout at 3rd.

The most notable player was Beloit starter Anthony Swarzak, who went 5 innings to get the W. He’s the Twins #7 prospect and he had a good fastball and slider working for him and he showed good poise despite a total of 3 errors behind him (there were 5 clanks total). For the SW D-Rays, shortstop Reid Brignac is rated Tampa’s #6 prospect and he had a single in the game among his 5 at-bats. All in all, it was a nice afternoon at the park and I wouldn’t mind visiting C.O. Brown Stadium again in the future. I'll try to get around to posting a few pictures in the near future.
Gerry - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 12:25 PM EDT (#118325) #
Thanks #2. It sounds like none of the Lugnut pitchers impressed you, is this correct?
#2JBrumfield - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#118331) #
That's a fair assessment, Gerry. Savickas didn't surrender any cheap hits, he was hit pretty hard in that 4th inning. The second time through the order, he wasn't fooling anybody. His build kind of reminds me of Towers though he is 3 inches taller. Keng came into a tough situation with 2 runners on but he threw some kerosene onto the fire, giving up that back-breaking 3 run homer to put the game away for the most part. At least he settled down after his first 2 innings of work. Harang couldn't keep a lid on the KC offence either and keep it a 1 run game in the 8th so it was a pretty dismal performance overall by the Lansing hurlers. I wish I could tell you what each pitcher was throwing but with the inconsistent radar gun readings and all the distractions during the game, it took me awhile to get focused on what was happening. The behind the scenes people get the kids into the game by playing Spongebob Squarepants over the PA system. They seemed to do this quite a bit in the early innings and the between-innings promotions, while they were good, seemed to take a long time so it took me a while to get into it. I guess that's why I enjoyed the game in Battle Creek more. The between innings promotions were toned down and they didn't add more time onto the game. Kane County has a nice park but I prefer C.O. Brown Stadium.
Lugnut Fan - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#118336) #
#2, I agree with your assessments of C.O. Brown Stadium. I'm a big fan of the place. If you could have swung it, you should have gone their last night as it was penny hot dog night. True baseball fans would prefer a C.O. Brown over some of the other stadiums because the only attraction The other stadiums have in between inning promotions, slides, magic shows etc. that distract from the baseball experience.
#2JBrumfield - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#118346) #
Lugnut Fan, I just fell in love with the place. The laid-back atmosphere, the scenery, and the old-time feel to the place was great and I was glad to make the trip this time around after missing out last year on the way to Wisconsin.

It's too bad they don't draw a lot of fans at C.O. Brown Stadium. I don't think the franchise changing its name helps either. At the game, I saw a lady with a Michigan Battle Cats seat cushion, another guy with a Battle Creek Yankees bag, and weren't they known as the Golden Kazoos or something like that earlier? They should've kept the name Battle Creek instead of changing to Southwest Michigan, especially when you have a West Michigan franchise in the league already (and people made fun of the CFL with the two Roughriders franchises!).

I'm hoping to get to Oldsmobile Park next, it looks pretty nice and I guess it'll be a tougher ticket to get at this point. We did make a stop in Lansing on the way back but we didn't have time to look for the park. However, Carrabba's Italian Grill on the West Saginaw Highway is a great place to eat. Is the park far away from that location? I heard the park is in the downtown area so we may have been off an exit. I'm definitely looking forward to another trip of minor league ball later this summer.
Mike Green - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#118347) #
#2JB, Keng, like Cheng, features a curve, no? If you got a good look at it, can you tell us a little more-speed, trajectory, break etc. Thanks for the report.
Nigel - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 07:15 PM EDT (#118373) # is listing McGowan as the starter tonight in Dunedin.
Maldoff - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#118377) #
I only wish one of Dunedin or Clearwater had an online radio broadcast....SIGH
Maldoff - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 08:02 PM EDT (#118379) #
Well, that was quick. In the second inning, McGowan gave up 2 home runs, 5 hits, and 7 earned runs, finally getting the hook for Davis Romero, who promptly gave up another 3-run shot. All in all, McGowan's night is over, and his ERA is a lovely 40.50.

Welcome back, Dustin!
fishercatsradio - Wednesday, June 01 2005 @ 08:43 PM EDT (#118383) #
Great start for Zach Jackson in New Hampshire debut tonight with J-P looking on. 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. First start at Double-A. Fisher Cats lead Portland in battle for first place 3-1, bottom 8.
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