Despite a relatively successful start, Ricky Romero fell to 0-5 on the season at Double-A New Hampshire. Meanwhile, fellow 2005 first-rounder Matt Garza will make his big league debut today against the Blue Jays. It’s way too early to even speculate as to which of the two pitchers will have the more successful major league career. At this point, the odds have to favour Garza, but so much could happen in the next year, let alone five or ten, that I doubt they’re significantly in his favour to any degree.
However, what is clear is that if Garza lives up the hype he’s been building this season, Romero will have a long way to go to catch up. Garza could be the second rookie hurler to have a significant impact on the Twins playoff chances (third if you call Pat Neshek’s contributions significant). If Garza can even approximate his minor league success at the majors, the rest of the American League should fear a Santana-Liriano-Garza top 3 for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Romero made positive steps yesterday in his quest to lower his ERA to under 6.00 and to win his first game at Double-A.
Ottawa 4 @ Syracuse 2 (Game 1) - Box Score
The first game of the doubleheader saw Casey Janssen take the mound against Ottawa’s Hayden Penn, who I think will be a permanent part of the Orioles rotation before too long. Penn struggled with his control, walking four batters. However, he struck out seven and only gave up one earned run on his way to a 101-pitch complete game. Syracuse’s pitchers combined for 103 pitches as Ryan Houston relieved Janssen and finished the final 1.2 innings only allowing one walk.
Janssen was cruising along with only one run through five innings. Ottawa started the sixth with two hits and then Andy Tracy hit his 20th homer of the year. Janssen retired the next batter, but the damage was done and so was his night. Russ Adams came round to score on a passed ball in the bottom of the inning to bring Toronto within two, but Penn got his last four outs on strikeouts and although Sergio Santos came up to bat in the ninth representing the tying run, Penn appeared in control throughout the whole evening.
Ottawa 3 @ Syracuse 0 (Game 2) - Box Score
Jason Scobie fell to 3-16 on the year as Syracuse lost the second game of the doubleheader to the Lynx. Scobie, signed by Syracuse a few weeks ago after being released by Norfolk, didn’t actually pitch that badly. He gave up two runs over five innings on four hits and a walk, but unfortunately three of those hits were bunched in one inning. Scobie allowed both runs in the fifth as he loaded the bases on two hits and a hit-by-pitch with none out. A double play allowed one run to score and then an Ed Rogers single scored Val Majewski with the second run.
Three Ottawa pitchers combined on the shutout, including feel-good story Winston Abreu, who was demoted to Triple-A during the Orioles series in Toronto. Syracuse’s six baserunners were supplied by three SkyChiefs. Adam Lind had two hits, DH Russ Adams had a single and a walk and Luis Figueroa smacked a triple and a single. Justin Singleton went 0-3 with three strikeouts.
Akron 2 @ New Hampshire 0 - Box Score
The lack of offensive production continued at Double-A as the FisherCats were held in check by Cleveland’s Adam Miller. Miller shut out New Hampshire on a four-hit, eleven-strikeout performance. New Hampshire’s best opportunity to score came in the second as Chip Cannon led off the inning with a double and a David Smith single advanced him to third with none down. Consecutive strikeouts of Ryan Klosterman and Ron Davenport shifted the pressure to Brad Hassey and Miller was able to induce a groundball and escape unscathed. In the third inning Dustin Majewski walked with one out and got to second on a groundout, but Ryan Patterson struck out and New Hampshire would not get another runner into scoring position for the rest of the game.
Ricky Romero fell to 0-5 on the year, although he lowered his ERA to 6.31. He gave up three hits and two walks in six innings and struck out three. The run he surrendered came in the second as after a single Ivan Ochoa stole second base and then scored on a single by the next batter.
Lucie 6 @ Dunedin 2 - Box Score
This game sat at 2-2 after seven thanks to strong pitching performances from Chuck Smith and Billy Carnline. Carnline gave up two solo home runs to Jesus Flores and pitched a good game otherwise. After 9 starts with Dunedin his ERA stands at 3.47 and he’s making a strong case to begin next year at New Hampshire. Daryl Harang allowed an unearned run in the eighth and then St. Lucie scored three times off Milton Tavarez in the ninth to put the game out of reach. Coincidentally, Dunedin scored both of their runs off solo homers, as well. Eric Arnold and Josh Kreuzer both took Smith deep during his six innings.
Lansing 3 @ South Bend 0 - Box Score
After two starts for Auburn Casey McKenzie was promoted to Lansing, where so far he had struggled with an 0-4 record and an ERA of 4.33. I’m sure that he hopes that he turned a corner tonight as he put in a fine pitching performance. McKenzie pitched seven innings of two-hit, one-walk ball and struck out four. That raises his K/BB ratio to an even 3 since his promotion. Po-Hsuan Keng came in for two innings and picked up his third save.
Lansing didn’t turn in a particularly noteworthy offensive performance. Luke Hetherington was the only starter with two hits and the Lugnuts scored their third run on a double play by Joey Metropolous. The other two runs were scored on a single-double-triple, in that order, with two out in the second inning. The offence was very ho-hum, and this was clearly McKenzie’s night to shine.
Batavia 5 @ Auburn 1 - Box Score
Ronald Lowe pitched three scoreless innings of relief after Brian Bull gave up five over five in a disappointing start. Auburn scored their one run in the ninth inning on a fielding error by third baseman P.J. Antoniato, who made up for it with a three-hit performance. Jonathan Diaz was the only Doubleday with two hits, while Jonathan Baksh went 0-4 with four strikeouts.
Johnson City 4 @ Pulaski 3 (13) - Box Score
After several unremarkable games it’s nice to conclude the minor league roundup with a tense affair. In a game well worth the price of admission Johnson City scored twice in the first and Pulaski fans dreaded a long night at the ballpark. However, Pulaski scraped one across in the third and pushed another across in the fifth to tie the match at 2. Starter Reidier Gonzalez settled down and the game was still knotted at two after seven, when Gonzalez left.
Both teams used five relievers each and after eleven innings the game was still tied at two. With one out in the twelfth Johnson City’s Casey Mulligan doubled and advanced to third on Victor Santana’s error. Drew “son of Ron” Taylor was pitching and he managed to strike out the next batter. Suddenly, Pulaski had a chance to escape the inning unscathed. However, Taylor hit the next batter and pinch-hitter Ciro Caldera singled to give Johnson City the lead. With a runner on third again and the team threatening to score for a second time, Taylor got a ground out.
A noticeable percentage of the few fans remaining likely left the ballpark at that point. Chris Emanuele led off the inning exactly the way the team hoped as he walked and got the tying run to first base. A passed ball advanced him to second and then two strikeouts threatened to strand him there. Up came first-round pick Travis Snider and he promptly singled up the middle to score Emanuele and he took second on the throw. Johnson City elected to walk Jonathan Jaspe intentionally to get to Luis Fernandez and they managed to strike him out to escape the inning. The back-and-forth game seemed likely to end in the 13th, as Edward Estanga gave up a one-out single to score a Johnson City runner charged to Taylor. Estanga retired the next two batters and watched with joy as Santana doubled with one out. Wesley Stone couldn’t score him, but advanced Sanata to third on a ground out. Emanuele came up to bat and unfortunately was unable to play the role of hero, grounding out to the pitcher and ending a very exciting game.
3 star selection
3rd star – Travis Snider, 3-5, 3B, BB, RBI, 5 TB
2nd star – Billy Carnline, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
1st star – Casey McKenzie, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K