The top two minor league affiliates swept a doubleheader of sorts against their San Francisco counterparts and number three laid the smack down on a Yankees affiliate. Those are the highlights of a 3-2 night on the farm.
Las Vegas 7 Fresno 3
Las Vegas, NV - It didn't look like this one was going to go the 51's way after the first two-and-a-half innings. Former Twin/Brewer/Royal/Giant Matt Kinney, who made his major league debut against the Jays back in 2000, mowed down the first six batters in order as his stuff bamboozled (love that word!) the bejesus out of J.P. Arencibia, Kevin Howard and Jason Lane. All three of them watched strike three go by with the bat on their shoulder in the second inning.
The Giants affiliate were also set down in order by Vegas starter Marty McLeary over the first two frames but Clay Timpner lit him up for a solo homer and Joe Borchard drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0 Grizzlies.
The 51's got on the board in the fourth when Kevin Howard launched a homer to right-center to cut the Fresno lead to 2-1. The fireworks came in the sixth when Arencibia doubled home a Howie Clark triple to tie the game and send Kinney to the showers. Reliever Felix Romero would balk home Brian Dopirak with the go-ahead run, Lane doubled home Arencibia and Angel Sanchez would score Lane to cap off a four-run inning. Aaron Matthews doubled home Dopirak in the seventh and Lane put a charge into one over the left field fence to round out the scoring for Vegas.
Lefty Bill Murphy took over for McLeary in the eighth and gave up a run on a single, a walk, a wild pitch and a ground out. Bubbie Buzachero gave up two base knocks in a scoreless ninth.
McLeary shut down the Grizzlies by retiring 13 of the last 15 hitters he faced in a solid seven inning outing. He allowed just two runs on three hits and four walks while striking out seven. Of his 14 outs in play, just four were on the ground. Still, McLeary is 4-1 with a 3.56 ERA since his call-up from New Hampshire to Nevada and has a 23-8 K/BB mark while giving up 30 hits in 30 1/3 innings. McLeary might be a dark horse candidate on the Jays staff in 2010 if he keeps this up.
Everyone except for Kyle Phillips had a hit in this one with Adam Calderone leading the way with three and he also chipped in with a stolen base. Jason Lane was the other 51'er with a multi-hit game with two safeties. Has Kevin Howard earned a closer look from the Jays brass with his solid stint in Vegas? The 28 year-old third baseman has put up a line of .332/.395/.539 with 13 homers and 52 RBI since his arrival from the Padres organization.
New Hampshire 5 Connecticut 2
Norwich, CT - Andrew Liebel made his AA debut and more than held his own against one of the top minor league pitchers in baseball, Madison Bumgarner. As an aside, I'm a fan of this "Bumgarner". Anyways, back to the ballgame! Nick Gorneault gave the Fisher Cats an early 1-0 advantage with a solo homer in the first inning. Liebel gave up a hit to the second batter he faced but he set down nine of the first 10 batters he faced. However, he gave up a leadoff double in the fourth and two ground outs later, the game was tied at 1-1. The Defenders started off the fifth with a pair of singles and moved the runners up on a sacrifice bunt. Darin Mastroianni helped save the day by throwing out a runner at the plate to complete an 8-2 inning-ending double play.
A Todd Donovan sacrifice fly would score a Jonathan Diaz double in the sixth but a Brett Pill homer off Liebel in the seventh to tie the game at 2-2. Dan "Peter" Griffin took over for Bumgarner, who obviously decided to get out while the getting was good. That's because the Fisher Cats scored three times, highlighted by a two-run double by Gorneault and a run-scoring single by Al Quintana.
Liebel worked a clean eighth and Danny Farquhar was called in to lock it up in the ninth. He picked up the save with some help from Gorneault. After issuing a walk, Gorneault started a 7-4-3 inning and game-ending double play.
Liebel yielded just two runs and five hits over eight innings and recorded 11 groundballs along with a K/BB total of 5-0. Gorneault, Quintana and Diaz had two hits apiece. Moises Sierra was 0-for-4 in his second game with New Hampshire and 1-for-8 overall.
Dunedin 11 Tampa 1
Tampa, FL - I hope this is a harbinger of things to come at the Rogers Centre this weekend! The D-Jays had this one in the bag against the Yankees after the top of the first when they crossed home plate four times. Tyler Pastornicky singled, stole second and third and eventually scored on a bases loaded walk by John Tolisano. Jesus Gonzalez emptied the bases with a two-run double and the rout, as they say, was on!
Dunedin tacked on single runs in the third and fifth innings on a Tolisano sac fly and a Matthew Liuzza home run respectively. They added two more runs in the sixth with bases-loaded walks by Eric Thames and Brian Van Kirk. Van Kirk and Gonzalez got to switch-pitcher Pat Venditte with RBI base knocks in the eighth and Liuzza singled home the final run of the game in the ninth.
Lefty Ryan Page showed his appreciation for the offensive outburst with six solid shutout innings while allowing just six hits and a walk. He struck out one and six of his 17 outs in play were on the ground. Lefty Boomer Potts blew the shutout by allowing a run in the eighth but he kept the damage to three hits over three innings to pick up the cheap save.
The Dunedin hit parade was led by Pastornicky and Liuzza as they each recorded the good hat trick! Liuzza also walked twice to get on board five times. Thames and Gonzalez had two hits apiece. The D-Jays also showed a fine batting eye as they drew 11 walks to go along with 12 hits. Van Kirk led the way with three bases on balls while Brad McElroy added two.
The bad news was Kevin Ahrens went 0-for-5 to drop his average to .217 on the season while Adam Loewen only drew a walk in five plate appearances.
South Bend 6 Lansing 3
South Bend, IN - The Lugnuts enjoyed a 2-0 lead after five innings when they scored single runs in the second and third. A Welinton Ramirez sac fly plated a Mark Sobolewski single in the second and A.J. Jimenez doubled home Justin McClanahan in the third after he took one for the team.
Ryan Shopshire kept the Diamondbacks affiliate off the board for the first five innings. Kenneth Wilson helped him out in the third by throwing out a runner at third from center field after the Silver Hawks began the inning with a pair of singles. Shopshire also managed to strand a two-out triple in the fifth but he was chased from the game in the sixth after a one-out triple and single. Dustin Antolin couldn't hold down the fort either as he allowed a walk, a single and a run-scoring ground out that put the Silver Hawks in the lead.
Antolin only lasted one out into the seventh as he gave up a walk and a run-scoring double. Yorman Mayora allowed two more runs on three singles and the damage would have been worse had Ramirez not thrown out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double from left field. Mayora also threw a wild pitch for strike three to load up the bases before finally getting out of the jam. Ryan Koch worked a one-hit, scoreless eighth which saw Jimenez throw out the runner trying to steal second.
Johermyn Chavez hit a solo homer in the eighth for his 21st of the season to make it a three run game but the best the Lugnuts could do in the ninth was a Balbino Fuenmayor single.
Shopshire allowed two runs on seven hits and had a K/BB mark of 3-0 in 5 1/3 innings. Antolin suffered the blown save and loss by allowing three runs on two hits and two walks over one inning. Mayora gave up a run on three hits and threw two wild pitches but also struck out a pair.
Fuenmayor was the lone Lugnut with two hits while Chavez had a homer and a walk.
Jamestown 4 Auburn 3
Auburn, NY - This game was not a defensive masterpiece as each club made three errors apiece. Like the Lugnuts, Auburn grabbed a 2-0 advantage early on as Brad Glenn swatted a two-run homer to plate a Lance Durham single in the second. The Marlins affiliate scored twice in the third to tie the game against Steven Turnbull. A walk, a double and an error by Jimmy Gonzalez at short allowed the first run to score while a double play grounder allowed the tying run to cross the plate.
The D-Days retook the lead in their half of the third when Sean Ochinko singled home a Ryan Schimpf double. Matthew Morgal scattered two singles and a walk over three scoreless frames in relief of Turnbull. Nestor Molina survived a shaky seventh when another Gonzalez error allowed a runner to reach and that was followed by an Ochinko passed ball and a walk. Despite a wild pitch also figuring into the equation, Molina got out of the inning unscathed as Chris Hopkins threw out a runner at the plate from center field.
Molina would be burned by the long ball in the eighth as Kyle Jensen took him deep for a solo shot. He would pitch into the ninth but an error by Schimpf at second and a single led to his exit. Casey Beck took care of business by striking out the lone batter he faced. The D-Days went out with a whimper in the ninth as the Jammers struck out the side.
Turnbull allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks in three innings while striking out a pair. Molina also gave up one earned run out of two in 2 2/3 innings on four hits and a walk.
Schimpf had two of the five Auburn hits and nobody from the D-Days drew a walk.
GCL Blue Jays - Season Over, 30-28, 2.0 GB, 3rd Place in GCL North.
*** 3 Stars!!! ***
3. Marty McLeary, Las Vegas
2. Nick Gorneault, New Hampshire
1. Andrew Liebel, New Hampshire
Honourable Mentions - Adam Calderone, Kevin Howard, Ryan Page, Matt Liuzza, Tyler Pastornicky.
* The Las Vegas Sun talks foul ball "strategy" with T.J. Beam and tries to stir the 51's/Reno rivalry.
* I meant to post this earlier but the 51's official website has posted the team's 2010 schedule.
* The Las Vegas Review-Journal has a brief chat with farm director Dick Scott as well as David Purcey, Jeremy Accardo, J.P. Arencibia and hitting coach Ken Joyce, who is using a unique set of statistics.
* The New Hampshire Union Leader recaps the 2009 season for the Fisher Cats.
This marks a sad day for yours truly because that's my final minor league update for the 2009 season. Hey, April 2010 is just around the corner! Just six short months away. Oh, who am I kidding? This winter's going to suck!!! I have more losing seasons from the Leafs, Argos and Detroit Lions to look forward to!
On a serious note, thanks to those of you who actually read my somewhat coherent ramblings throughout the year and to those of you who give us scouting reports of the games you saw throughout the year. I only made it out to New Hampshire for my lone game of 2009 but I hope to at least double or triple that number in 2010. I'm hoping to get to Las Vegas before the Jays affiliation runs out next season. One thing I'm looking forward to will be finding out the new nickname for Las Vegas next season. If you like, come up with a nickname of your own but keep it clean!!
It's been a slice! I'm already counting down the days to my next MLU in 2010!