27 September 2007

NPB Notes:::Chiba Lotte Marines

NOTE: After a couple-week hiatus, I think I've rested up enough to do some more posting. The Royals are staggering their way to another 90-loss season, so the more things change for the better, the more they stay the same in many ways. At least Buddy Bell's days until retirement are numbered. Now it's in Dayton Moore's hands to improve the franchise some more. I figured I'd start the late/off season reports with the resurrection of the NPB Notes. The defending '06 champs from Nippon Ham are once again atop the Pacific League this season and have qualified for the playoffs (known as the "Climax Series" in the PL, make your own joke) along with Softbank, Lotte (detailed here) and Yomiuri (lone CL clincher) thus far. On to the Lotte Marines....

Founded: 1950 as the Mainichi Orions, the team became the Mainichi Daimai Orions in 1958, the Tokyo Orions in 1964, and the Lotte Orions in 1969. With the move to Chiba Marine Stadium in 1992, the team name changed to the Chiba Lotte Marines. I think I liked Orions better.
Owner: Lotte, a Korean confectionary company that now has grown to own restaurants, hotels and a theme park, among other things
Home base: Chiba Marine Stadium in Chiba, just southeast of Tokyo. It opened in 1992 and is the fifth stadium the franchise has played in. To sum it up, it's like the Japanese Candlestick Park, complete with cold, strong bay winds.
Titles: 5 Pacific League titles, 3 Japan Series titles (1950, 1974, 2005)

Chiba Lotte is the team most known by Americans for producing Hideki Irabu, perhaps the biggest dud among Japanese imports to MLB, and also as the team of Bobby Valentine (pictured on the Japanese beer can above), who became the first foreign manager to win a Japan Series in 2005. The team's history, however, includes several legendary players and the first Japan Series title in 1950. The franchise has had its share of winning teams with a .506 all-time winning percentage but has also seen some low times before the run to the series title in 2005. Those times haven't helped in terms of attendance with the Marines competing with the Tokyo teams for people to fill seats.

The Orions started with a big bang in 1950 as manager Yoshio Yuasa guided the team to a 81-34-5 record and coasted to a 15-game final advantage in the PL race. The team's first star was OF Kaoru Betto, who hit .335/.397/.671 with 43 HR and 105 RBI in 1950 to earn the PL MVP award after coming over from the Osaka Tigers. He would later manage the Orions from '54 to '59 and was named to five all-star teams and earned a run of six straight Best Nines. 2B Yasuya Hondo earned his only Best Nine selection in '50 as he hit .306/.346/.434 with 12 HR and 84 RBI and C Takeshi Doigaki earned a Best Nine selection by hitting .322/.387/.479 with 15 HR and 72 RBI. He finished his career as a two-time all-star and six-time Best Nine selection. Meanwhile, on the pitching mound, rookie lefty Atsushi "Jun" Aramaki posted a 2.06 ERA and just over 1-point WHIP with a 26-8 record in 274 2/3 IP to earn the Rookie of the Year award, wins and ERA titles and his only career Best Nine selection. He would post 10 straight years of sub-2.50 ERAs for the Orions in a hall-of-fame career. P Takeshi Nomura chipped in 217 1/3 IP of a 3.34 ERA in compiling an 18-4 record and the Orions moved on to face the Shochiku Robins in the first Japan Series. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the series, Mainichi lost games 3 and 4 to even the series at 2 games each. They came back behind Nomura to win both games 6 and 7 by 1 run to capture the title. Betto was named series MVP for hitting .500/.586/.833 in 29 PA with 6 doubles in the series while Hondo hit .273 with a homer and OF Shosei Go hit .182 but led the team with 4 RBI. Nomura put up a good argument for MVP with 21 1/3 IP of a 0.42 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in going 3-0 in the series. Aramaki, however, strugged with an 8.68 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 9 1/3 IP.

The Orions faded in '51 but finished a game back of Nankai in 1952 and wouldn't get that close again in the 1950s. Despite some good records that decade, the Orions struggled to finish any higher than third as Nishitetsu (now Seibu) and Nankai (now Softbank) ruled the league. In the mid-'50s the team's next star emerged as OF Kazuhiro Yamauchi put up the first of his 10 Best Nine seasons in 1954. The future hall-of-famer won RBI titles in 1954 (97 RBI) and '55 (99), a batting title at .331 in 1957, four doubles titles from '55 to '62 (47 in 1956 were a NPB record at the time), HR titles in 1959 (25) and 1960 (32), two more RBI titles in 1960 (103) and 1961 (112) and would enjoy his lone MVP season in 1960, when the Orions made their next run at the Japan Series. After wrapping up his career with Hanshin and Hiroshima, Yamauchi retired in 1970 with lifetime averages of .295/.378/.521, 396 HR and 1,281 RBI. He was the first Japanese player to 300 HR, was a 16-time all-star and three-time all-star MVP and had 2,271 lifetime hits. In the mid-'50s, he was joined in the Orions lineup by 1B/OF Kihachi Enomoto, who at 18 in 1955 won Rookie of the Year honors by hitting .298 with a .410 OBP and .873 OPS, 16 HR, 67 RBI and 87 BB compared to 55 K in 139 games. Enomoto kept up the good stats over 17 seasons with the Orions as he racked up 409 doubles, 246 HR and 1,062 walks compared to 645 K in his career. He set a PL record with 9 Best Nines at first base and posted a league record .999 fielding percentage at first while setting the record for consecutive error-free chances in 1968. The 12-time all-star won two batting titles and four hits titles in his career. With the addition of career years from IF Takao Katsuragi in the late 1950s, the Orions made a run at a league crown in 1959 only to come up short by 6 games to Nankai. Katsuragi slugged over .500 for the only two times in his career and led the PL in RBI in 1958 and '59.

Despite posting an 82-48-3 record in 1960 that was very similar to the 82-48-6 record in 1959, the Orions and former Orion and new manager Yukio Nishimoto took advantage of a Nankai team that wasn't as good as the '59 version and won the Pacific League by 4 games. The Orions pitched their way to the title with a league-best team ERA of 2.66 and 1.12 WHIP while also leading the league with a .262 team BA, .706 team OPS and 547 runs scored compared to only 433 allowed. Several Orions stood out over the season, including PL MVP Yamauchi, who hit .313 with a .975 OPS, 93 RS, 31 2B, 32 HR (leading the league for a second straight year), 103 RBI (also led league), and 67 walks with only 40 K in 133 games. Enomoto led the league with a .344 batting average and also posted a .939 OPS, 94 RS, 37 2B, 11 HR, 66 RBI, 67 BB and only 33 Ks, also in 133 games. 32-year-old OF Kenjiro Tamiya also stood out by hitting .317 with a .401 OBP and .890 OPS, 28 doubles, 9 triples for his 4th Best Nine and first as an Orion. Shoichi Ono was the ace on the mound for Daimai as he posted the third sub-2.00 ERA season for the franchise. Ono's miniscule ERAs of 1.73 and 1.77 in '57 and '58 weren't enough for the PL title in that stat but his 1.98 ERA in 1960 was, and Ono added a 33-11 record for the league wins title, pitched 13 complete games and 5 shutouts, and struck out 258 while walking 101 in 67 appearances and 304 IP. The performance was good for the only Best Nine appearance of his career. Providing the second punch in the combo was righty Katsumi Nakanishi, who pitched a career high 214 2/3 innings in 40 games and went 16-10 with a 2.13 ERA, 11 CG, and a better WHIP than Ono (0.96 compared to Ono's 1.09) for his only all-star appearance. Other solid pitchers in '60 for Daimai were righty Tomoo Wako and lefty Haruki Mihira, as Wako was 13-8 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 44 games and 196 1/3 IP and Mihira was 12-10 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 45 games and 188 2/3 IP. The Japan Series would pit the Orions versus the Taiyo Whales, who went 70-56-4 in beating out Yomiuri for the Central League crown.

The franchise's second Japan Series appearance would be nip-and-tuck, but Taiyo got the breaks with four straight 1-run wins for the sweep. Taiyo got a 1-0 win in game 1 as OF Hidenori Kanemitsu homered to hand Nakanishi the loss. Game 2 was 3-2 Taiyo as Ono took the loss despite an Enomoto homer. Game 3 was a 6-5 shootout with Nakanishi again taking the loss and giving up a homer to 2B Akihito Kondo. The Whales finished it off on Daimai's home field in Tokyo with a 1-0 game 4 win as Ono took the loss. Kondo was named MVP despite hitting only .200 in the series. While Enomoto hit only .200 and Yamauchi hit only .182 in the 4 games, Tamiya pulled his weight with a .357 BA. The Orions hit .208 as a team in the 4-game sweep. Ono and Nakanishi combined to pitch 22 1/3 innings in the series with Wako and Mihira combining for 7 IP. The quartet allowed all 11 Taiyo runs in the series.

The rest of the 1960s saw Daimai (then Tokyo starting in 1964 and Lotte in 1969) become an also-ran in the Pacific League but Enomoto won a batting title in 1966, Yamauchi was dealt to Hanshin for '62 Sawamura winner Masaaki Koyama (aka the "Precision Machine") in '64 and Koyama responded with a 30-win season for the first of 3 20-win seasons. Koyama pulled a Niekro in '65 and won 20 and lost 20. Despite Koyama's mound pyrotechnics in '64, teammate Yoshiro Tsumajima won the ERA title at 2.15, but the Orions finished fourth, 6 games out behind Nankai. The team's first successful foreign import helped turn things around for Tokyo/Lotte as the '60s came to a close. 1B/OF George (Daddy Long Legs) Altman came to Japan at age 35 in 1968 and would play 7 years for the Orions, starting by hitting .320 with a .950 OPS, 34 HR, 100 RBI (for the league lead) and smacking 33 doubles (led league) in 139 games in '68. Altman led the league in six categories in his debut season. The team finished third in both '68 and '69 as P Masaaki Kitaru won the '69 ERA title at 1.72 and fellow P Fumio Narita pitched a no-hitter that season, but Lotte rebounded to make it the third year ending in "0" in a row with a Japan Series appearance in 1970.

Altman and Kitaru led the way for Lotte in 1970 as Kitaru earned PL MVP honors by going 21-10 with a 2.53 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 20 CG (!), 4 shutouts, 161 Ks and 42 BB in 42 games and 278 IP. Altman slumped to a .788 OPS in '69 but had a resurgent 1970 by hitting .319 with a .965 OPS, 19 2B, 30 HR and 77 RBI in 122 games for his second Best Nine. As he finished the season at age 36, Koyama also chipped in a fine year in his seventh season for Lotte with a 2.30 ERA and 0.98 WHIP while going 16-11 with 18 CG, 4 shutouts, 141 Ks and 40 BB in 38 games and 242 2/3 IP. Narita made a good #3 pitcher as he went 25-8 to lead the league in wins and posted a 3.21 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 195 Ks and 66 BB in 38 games and 277 2/3 IP. Offensively, Altman's season was supplemented by a Puerto Rican import, OF Art Lopez, who followed up a 23-homer, .301 BA, .840 OPS in '69 by hitting .313 with an .839 OPS, 21 HR and 69 RBI. 3B Michiyo Arito, who had posted an .863 OPS with 21 HR to earn Rookie of the Year honors in 1969, followed that up by hitting .306 with a .922 OPS, 25 2B, 5 3B (led league), 25 HR and 80 RBI. Enomoto was in decline but, in his last substantial season, he hit .284 with an .849 OPS and 15 HR. As the Orions (80-47-3) blazed to a 10 1/2 game win of the league over Nankai, Yomiuri squeaked past Hanshin in the CL to earn its sixth straight Japan Series berth and eighth in 10 years. The Giants would also win the next three CL titles.

Unfortunately for Lotte, the '70 trip to the Japan Series would turn out much like the '60 trip did as Yomiuri won the all-Tokyo series in 5 games. Game 1 was a 1-0 Giants win over Kitaru as the similarity to the 1960 opener and finale was obvious. Yomiuri won game 2, 6-3, as Sadaharu Oh homered and Narita took the loss. The Giants defeated Koyama, 5-3, in game 3 but Lotte pulled out a 6-5 win to keep the series alive in game 4 with Motohiko Sato getting the win. The teams combined for 5 homers in the game with 4 coming from the Giants, including 2 from 3B Shigeo Nagashima. With the Orions' backs against the wall, Kitaru couldn't keep the comeback rolling as the Giants clinched the title with a 6-2 game 5 win. Nagashima earned MVP honors with a .421 BA and 4 homers in the series. The Orions were worse than in 1960 as they hit only .197 in the '70 Japan Series. Altman hit .200 but did put up a .455 OBP, Arito hit .190, Enomoto hit .429 but only played in 3 games, and Lopez was 1-13 for a killer .077 BA. The main offensive force for Lotte was OF Reiji Iishi, who hit .500 in 9 ABs with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Kitaru and Koyama combined for 33 IP of 11 ER and Narita had an ugly 11.81 ERA in 5 1/3 IP. The loss was likely tough to take for Lotte after the 10-year struggle to get back to the Japan Series, but the Orions would bounce back sooner next time.

1971 was similar to 1970 for Lotte as the Orions went 80-46-4 but the Hankyu Braves were better in beating Lotte by 3 1/2 games in the PL pennant race. Lotte's offensive standout that year was Shinichi Eto, who hit .337 with a .969 OPS to become the first Japanese player to win a batting title in both leagues. Eto also added 25 HR and 91 RBI while Altman wasn't far behind at .320 with a .670 slugging percentage, 1.048 OPS, 39 HR, 103 RBI and his third and final Best Nine in Japan. Lopez was also steady at .301 with an .839 OPS, 21 doubles, 24 HR and 77 RBI while Arito earned another Best Nine selection by hitting .285 with an .855 OPS and 27 HR. Kitaru earned a wins title in '71 at 24-8 with a 3.45 ERA and Koyama was again steady at 17-8 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.21 WHIP at age 37. Narita had an off year but P Choji Murata stepped up to post a 3.34 ERA and 12-8 record in 43 games. Murata would go on to post a hall-of-fame career with Lotte with 215 career wins, a 3.24 lifetime ERA and 1.25 career WHIP. The Orions had an off year in '72 but bounced back to go 70-49-11 in 1973 for a third-place finish behind a PL-leading 21 wins, 178 Ks and 7 shutouts from Narita as he pulled down his only Best Nine appearance and Gold Glove of his career.

1974 was a landmark year for the Orions as they squeaked out a PL title for a fourth Japan Series berth behind an MVP season from P Tomohiro Kaneda, who was brought over from Toei in '74. Kaneda compiled a 16-7 record to lead the league in wins, and posted a 2.90 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 36 games for the only Best Nine selection of his career. Murata was right beside his teammate at 12-10 with a 2.69 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 32 games and Narita had a 3.29 ERA in 37 games. Kitaru also pitched in at 13-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 36 games. With only 5 Pac Leaguers only .300 batting on the season, it wasn't a heavily offensive season and Lotte's leading batter was OF Sumio Hirota, who hit .295 with a .757 OPS and an inside-the-park grand slam in August. 2B Hiroyuki Yamazaki hit .278 with a .765 OPS, 32 2B and 11 HR and Altman fought injury problems and played only 85 games but hit .351 with a 1.095 OPS, 15 2B, 21 HR and 67 RBI. Fellow American import IF Jim Lefebvre followed up his Lotte debut in '73 (.265/.841 OPS, 29 HR) with a .283 BA and .840 OPS but only 14 HR in 82 games in '74. Arito was again steady for Lotte by hitting .263 with an .830 OPS, 22 2B, 20 HR and 83 RS while chipping in 22 SB and garnering his sixth Best Nine and third Gold Glove. While the Orions beat Hankyu by half a game for the PL title, Chunichi stopped a run of 9 straight Japan Series berths by Yomiuri to advance to face the Orions for the NPB title.

The '74 Japan Series would include 3 1-run games as the Dragons defeated Murata in game 1, 5-4, despite a Hirota homer. Lotte evened the series with an 8-5 win in game 2 behind pitcher Haruo Narishige as Yamazaki and Arito clubbed homers. The Dragons regained the lead, however, with a 5-4 game 3 win as Narita took the loss and Chunichi 1B Kenichi Yazawa hit 2 homers. Lotte knotted the series again with a 6-3 game 4 win as Kaneda got the win, Murata picked up a save and Hirota and Arito homered for a second time for each. Kitaru shut down the Dragons, 2-0, in game 5 and Murata pitched the Orions to a 3-2 win in game 6 to clinch the franchise's first Japan Series title in 24 years. Hirota was named MVP after hitting .400 with a .720 slugging percentage, 2 HR and 7 RBI in the series. Arito held his own at .429 with a .714 SLG and 2 HR, altho those were his only 2 RBI of the series. OF Tadayoshi Iwasaki hit .375 in the series for Lotte and Yamazaki hit .364 with 3 doubles and a homer as the Orions washed away their paltry hitting performances in the '60 and '70 series by hitting .282 as a team. Narita and Kaneda struggled on the mound in the series but Kitaru and Murata stepped up with ERAs of 2.03 and 1.76 and WHIPs of 0.60 and 0.91, respectively, in 29 combined IP.

With Tomohiro's brother, Masaichi Kaneda, at the helm, from '72 to '78 the Orions reached the pinnacle of Japanese baseball but also had a losing season in '75 despite an ERA title for Murata at 2.20. After winning 69 games in '74, the Orions wouldn't surpass 65 wins again until 1995, which happened to be Valentine's first year as Lotte manager. Lotte's best American import was brought across the Pacific by now-coach Lefebvre in 1977 as Leron Lee (uncle of Cubs 1B Derrek) made his presence felt quickly by hitting .317 with a .977 OPS, 30 doubles (led league), 34 HR (led league), 109 RBI (led league), and the first of 4 Best Nines. Over 11 seasons in Lotte, Lee would amass 1,579 hits, 220 doubles, 283 HR (all-time leader for foreigners in Japan until Tuffy Rhodes broke it in '03), 912 RBI, .320 lifetime BA and .924 lifetime OPS. Lee won a batting title at .358 in 1980 and was a 4-time all-star. Teammate Arito won the batting title at .329 in '77 and Murata added a second straight ERA title in 1976 (1.82) and a wins title in '81 (19). Another budding legend joined the Orions in 1979 as IF Hiromitsu Ochiai debuted. He started making a big impact in '81 as he won the first of three straight batting titles and he became the only player ever to win 3 Triple Crowns by completing the feat in '82, '85 and '86. In his first full year in '81 he hit .326 with a 1.052 OPS, 19 2B, 33 HR and 90 RBI; in '82 (age 29) he hit .325/1.037 with 32 2B, 33 HR and 109 RBI; in '83 he hit .332/.982 with 25 HR; in '84 he hit .314/1.017 with 32 HR and 94 RBI; and in the big years of '85 and '86 he hit .367/1.244 (.367 was highest BA ever for righty in Japan) with 52 HR/146 RBI ('85) and .360/1.233 with 50 HR/116 RBI ('86). After all that, the Orions traded him to Chunichi after '86 for 4 players and he played through the '98 season after 3 seasons with Yomiuri and 2 with Nippon Ham. He posted 6 of his 10 Best Nines with Lotte and both of his MVP awards with the Orions ('82 and '85). Despite Ochiai's superstellar hitting, the Orions struggled through the 1980s. A 64-51-15 record in 1980 led them to just miss the Japan Series as Kintetsu won the PL by 1/2 a game and Lee won the batting title. Leron's brother, Leon, also played for Lotte from '78-82 and did well in hitting .300 each season from '78-81. He hit .340 with a 1.039 OPS in '80 while his brother won the batting title and earned the first of 2 Best Nines that season. He finished his career with Taiyo and Yakult from '83 to '87 and had lifetime numbers of a .308 BA and .902 OPS with 214 2B, 268 HR and 884 RBI. He later became the first black man to manage a Japanese baseball team, in Orix in 2003. Losing seasons in '82 and '83 (including last place in '83) were followed by second place finishes in '84 and '85 but then a 9-season streak of losing seasons began in '86 as Ochiai moved on via the trade with Chunichi, Leron Lee retired and the Orions never had either the pitching or the hitting to make a difference.

After last-place finishes in '88, '89 and '91 highlighted only by a batting title by IF/OF Hideaki Takazawa at .327 in '88, an ERA title by a 40-year-old Murata at 2.50 in '89 and batting titles from OF Norifumi Nishimura (.338) and OF Mitsuchika Hirai (.314) in '90 and '91, the Orions moved to Chiba Marine Stadium in '92 and became the Chiba Lotte Marines. The newly dubbed Marines responded with a last-place finish in '92 and next-to-last finishes in '93 and '94. Valentine crossed the Pacific to take over managerial duties in 1995 and the Marines responded with their best season since '85 at 69-58-3 to finish second -- 12 games behind the Ichiro-powered Orix Blue Wave. During the team's dark years, a new star began to emerge in P Hideki Irabu, who submitted sub-4 ERA seasons in 4 of his first 5 seasons before getting a bigger shot in '93. Irabu responded with a 3.10 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, 160 Ks and 58 BB in 142 1/3 IP in '93; finished second in ERA in '94 at 3.04 while going 15-10 (leading league in wins) with a 1.27 WHIP, 16 CG (led league), 239 Ks (led league) and 94 BB (also led league) in 27 games and 207 1/3 IP; and under Valentine's guidance in '95 went 11-11 with a league-leading 2.53 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 239 Ks (led league) and 72 BB in 203 IP. He used a 2.40 ERA for another ERA title in '96 along with a 12-6 record and 167 Ks in 157 1/3 IP to leverage a move to the U.S., where he fantastically flamed out and was called names by Yankees officials. He had Best Nines with Lotte in '94 and '95. The Marines also reaped the benefits of a career season from IF/DH Kiyoshi Hatsushiba in '95 as the poor-fielding Hatsushiba hit .301 with a .904 OPS, 27 doubles, 25 HR and 80 RBI to tie for the league lead in ribbies. He earned his only Best Nine of his career for his efforts. With Valentine's departure to come back stateside for the Mets' job in '96, the losing returned for Lotte as the Marines ran off another streak of 8 losing seasons -- finishing last in '97 and '98 and never any higher than fourth during the string. The highlights for the franchise over this time were a batting title from emerging star 1B Kazuya Fukuura at .346 in 2001, an ERA title from P Satoru Komiyama at 2.49 in 1997, a tie for the wins title from P Tomohiro Kuroki at 13 in 1998 and an ERA title from Texas import P Nate Minchey at 3.26 in 2001. Minchey followed that up with a 2.85 ERA in '02 as he went 15-14 and led the league with 7 CG. Fukuura is often compared to Mark Grace as he has posted batting averages over .300 each year since 2001. Over 10 years with Lotte, Chiba native Fukuura has slugged more than 280 doubles with a .304 lifetime BA and .809 lifetime OPS.

Valentine returned in 2004 and led the Marines back to respectability with a 65-65-3 mark and fourth place finish that season. Fukuura hit .314 with an .847 OPS, 42 2B, 11 HR and 73 RBI over the campaign and Valentine brought OF Benny Agbayani with him only to see Benny hit .315 with a 1.043 OPS, 31 2B, 35 HR and 100 RBI in 130 games. A new tandem of pitchers started to have an impact for Lotte as righty Naoyuki Shimizu went 10-11 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 23 games and righty Shunsuke Watanabe supplemented that by going 12-6 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 23 games. Another American import, 3B/OF Matt Franco, also had an impact in '04 by hitting .278 with an .839 OPS, 35 2B, 16 HR and 65 RBI. All those impact players would be joined by a couple others in 2005 as Valentine returned for another year as manager and led the Marines to the franchise's most wins since 1956. Chiba Lotte went 84-49-3 in '05 to finish 4 1/2 games back of Softbank but swept Seibu in the first round of the playoffs and beat Softbank in 5 games in a best-of-5 series to reach the Japan Series for a fifth time in franchise history. 3B Toshiaki Imae had a breakout season in hitting .310 with an .804 OPS, 35 doubles and 71 RBI while longtime Lotte 2B Koichi Hori hit over .300 for the first time since 1996 by hitting .305 with a .760 OPS. Franco moved to the outfield and hit .300 with an .868 OPS, 28 doubles, 21 HR and 78 RBI; Fukuura hit .300 with a .766 OPS, 25 2B and 72 RBI; Agbayani hit .271 in 98 games with 22 doubles, 13 HR and 71 RBI; Korean 1B/LF Seung-Yeop Lee added 25 doubles and 30 HR with 82 RBI; and 2B/SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka also broke out by hitting .268 with a .714 OPS, 22 doubles, 11 triples and plus defense up the middle. Pitching-wise, Watanabe finished second in the ERA race at 2.17 while going 15-4 with a 0.96 WHIP in 23 starts; American Dan Serafini stood out at 11-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 27 games; P Hiroyuki Kobayashi rebounded from a 4.26 ERA in '04 to go 12-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 23 starts; Shimizu went 10-11 with a 3.83 ERA in 23 games; and P Masahide Kobayashi posted 29 saves and a 2.58 ERA in 46 games to lead the league in saves.

Lotte hosted the series versus Seibu in round 1 of the playoffs and the Marines scored an 8th inning run to get a 2-1 win with reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta picking up the W. Closer Kobayashi nailed down the save. Game 2 was more of the same as Hiroyuki Kobayashi shut down the Lions and Masahide Kobayashi closed it out for a 3-1 win and a sweep of the best-of-3. The win set up a best of 5 with PL champ Softbank with the Japan Series berth on the line. The series took place at the Fukuoka Yahoo! JAPAN Dome but Chiba Lotte conquered the home field advantage with a 4-2 win in game 1 as P Soichi Fujita got the win and Masahide Kobayashi picked up yet another save. C Tomoya Satozaki homered in the win. A 3-run 6th in game 2 propelled the Marines to a 3-2 win behind Shimizu and Kobayashi. Lotte was up, 4-0, in the 9th in game 3 but the Hawks scored 4 runs to send it to extras and won it off Shingo Ono in the 10th to stay alive. The Hawks took a 3-2 lead in the 4th in game 4 and held on to beat Hiroyuki Kobayashi to force a deciding game 5. Satozaki homered for the Marines in the losing effort. Going into the 6th in game 5, the Marines were down, 2-0, but scored a run in the 6th and 2 in the 8th to take a 3-2 lead with Yabuta getting another win and Kobayashi picking up his 5th save in 5 chances and 5 playoff wins as Chiba Lotte moved on to its 5th Japan Series. In the CL, Hanshin ran away for a 10-game win to clinch a Japan Series bid as the CL didn't institute playoffs until this season. The Japan Series didn't end up being that much of a series as the Marines showed no signs of fatigue from the showdown with Softbank. Game 1 saw Lotte bash 4 homers in a 10-1 rout behind Shimizu with Kei Igawa taking the loss for the Tigers. Game 2 was a 10-0 shutout for Watanabe as the Marines piled on 3 more homers and game 3 was 10-1 again for Lotte as Fukuura smashed the Marines' 8th homer of the series in support of Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Game 4 wasn't quite as easy but the Marines picked up the sweep for their 3rd Japan Series title with a 3-2 win behind Serafini. Lee smashed his 3rd homer of the series as Masahide Kobayashi saved yet another Lotte win. Imae earned MVP honors by hitting a remarkable .667 on 10-15 hitting with 2 doubles and a homer. Lee wasn't far behind by hitting .545 on 6-11 hitting with 2 doubles, 3 HR and 6 RBI; Agbayani hit .444 with a double and homer; Fukuura hit .364 with a double, homer and 4 RBI; and Franco hit .300 with a double and homer as the Marines hit .326 as a team. Pitching in the series was a team effort for Lotte as the Marines had a 1.06 ERA and 0.85 WHIP and only Serafini had an ERA above 1.50 at 3.38.

2006 didn't exactly go as Valentine likely hoped as the Marines posted a losing 65-70-1 record to finish 4th in the PL. Fukuura hit .312 with a .752 OPS and 20 doubles while Agbayani hit only .281 but clubbed 17 homers to lead the offense. Shingo Ono led the pitching staff with a 7-7 record, 2.66 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 22 starts. Hiroyuki Kobayashi was right behind by going 10-7 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 20 starts and Shimizu was 10-8 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while leading the team with 178 Ks in 25 starts. Unfortunately, the rest of the offense and pitching staff wasn't solid and the record showed. The Marines have turned it around nicely, however, as through Thursday they were 70-60-7 and clinched a likely first-round playoff berth versus Softbank. The Marines' newest star may have broken through this season in P Yoshihisa Naruse, who got a win Thursday to move to 16-1 with an ERA under 2. Hiroyuki Kobayashi and Watanabe have also posted fine years with ERAs under 3 and a combined 19-9 record. Nishioka has the best batting average on the team at .298 while OF Daisuke Hayakawa is hitting .285. The regular season wraps Oct. 5 so the Marines may soon have a 6th Japan Series bid in hand.

11 September 2007

Royals on the Farm wrapup post -- Idaho Falls

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Orem 3, Chukars 0 (3-hitter, Orem sweeps best-of-3 series 2-0)

SS Moustakas 0-3, K
3B Juan 2-3, K
2B Bionde 1-3, K
CF Ortiz 0-4, K
1B Robinson 0-3, K, E (2)
LF Seratelli 0-3, 2 K

Baldwin 4 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K, WP -- L, 0-1, no run support
Phillips and Swaggerty 5 hitless IP

A great season in Idaho Falls came to a sorry end with a sweep by the Owlz in the playoff semis. Starter Burke Baldwin allowed a run in the 1st on a walk and hit and then allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and a wild pitch in the 3rd. The Chukars got 2 on but could make nothing of it in the 4th as starter Robert Fish pitched a great game. Fish went 8 IP of 2 hits, a walk and 13 Ks to get the win as P Mason Tobin pitched the 9th for the save. Orem also had only 3 hits but cashed in on them, although Justin Phillips and Ben Swaggerty pitched 5 great innings in relief.

IF finished 46-30.

1B/DH Clint Robinson .336 BA (led team)/.388 OBP/.981 OPS, 18 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR (led team), 66 RBI (led team), 19 BB/42 K, 2/2 SB, 9 E in 67 games and 253 AB -- Pioneer League MVP had great season; outclassed rest of '07 draftees at the plate; proved to be perhaps best power hitter in lower minors in organization

SS/1B/3B Anthony Seratelli .327/.417/.966, 19 2B (led team), 5 3B (led team), 10 HR, 46 RBI, 52 RS, 40 BB/53 K, 29/35 SB, 13 E in 72 games (led team) and 266 AB -- durable, steady hitter was a half-step behind Robinson as a nondrafted free agent pickup, another solid power hitter with good plate discipline and speed to boot; hope he sticks around in organization

OF O.D. Gonzalez .297/.372/.842, 15 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 56 RS (led team), 32 BB/74 K, 17/23 SB, 4 E in 69 games and 266 AB -- started at Burlington (A) but didn't play well before rebounding nicely at Idaho Falls; could cut down on Ks but was one of better OFs in low minors in organization with arm

OF Wilson Tucker .328 BA/.930 OPS, 10 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 2 BB/10 K, 0 E in 15 games and 67 AB -- played well after late promotion from Burlington (R); assume he'll start at Burlington (A) next season
OF Nick Van Stratten .316/.907, 10 XBH, 13 BB/9 K, 7/9 SB, 0 E in 24 games and 98 AB -- played early but then disappeared, so may have been injured
SS Mike Moustakas .293/.822, 4 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 4 BB/8 K, 1 E in 11 games and 41 AB -- solid debut; be interesting to see where he starts '08, didn't get lot of time at short
C Todd Balduf .308/.790, 4 XBH, 15 BB/21 K, 5 E in 35 games and 104 AB -- .405 OBP was nice for another Burlington (A) demotee
3B Devery Van De Keere .284/.757, 15 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 34 BB/47 K, 5/7 SB, 16 E (led team) in 70 games and 268 AB -- middling debut for low '07 draftee
CF Adrian Ortiz .326/.715, 9 2B, 9 BB/36 K, 17/24 SB, 5 E in 61 games and 264 AB -- like to see more walks out of leadoff guy but he hit well for contact, altho not for power with only 1 triple

P Dane Secott 5-1, 0.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 14 BB/37 K, 0 HRA in 15 games (1 start) and 34 1/3 IP -- better stats in a few ways than pitcher of year Greg Holland, good first season for '07 draftee

P Zach Peterson 5-3, 2.89 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8 BB/67 K (!!), 5 HRA in 15 games (8 starts) and 56 IP -- made a big splash in debut season with record 11 straight Ks in one game; perhaps best power pitcher in lower Royals minors

P Pat Cassa 2-0, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 9 BB/30 K, 3 HRA in 20 games and 27 IP -- solid season in relief
P Jason Roach 4-1, 3.26 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5 BB/38 K, 1 HRA in 21 games and 30 1/3 IP -- 2 saves and good numbers
P Matt Jensen 1-3, 3.49 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8 BB/35 K, 2 HRA in 21 games and 28 1/3 IP -- completes trio of good relievers at IF with Cassa and Roach
P Greg Holland 6-1, 3.48 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 15 BB/37 K, 1 HRA in 22 games and 33 2/3 IP -- 6 saves led team, but also blew 5 or 6; not sure what set him apart for "pitcher of the year" award
P Burke Baldwin 5-1, 2.87 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 23 BB/42 K, 4 HRA in 16 games (8 starts) and 53 1/3 IP -- some of best numbers among starters, split time between rotation and pen
P Chris Chavez 3-2, 3.41 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 14 BB/47 K, 2 HRA in 15 games (14 starts) and 60 2/3 IP -- also decent season as starter


I set a new high this season with 154 Royals on the Farm reports, so this wraps up an interesting season in the Royals minors.

10 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/9 news flash -- IF swept

Internet connectivity problems preclude a full report today, but Idaho Falls was blanked by Orem, 3-0, Sunday to get swept 2-0 in the best-of-3 semis with the Owlz. The Chukars' season ends with the loss. A more detailed report with stats update will be issued Tuesday afternoon, most likely.

09 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/8

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Orem 6, Chukars 5 (Orem leads best-of-3 series 1-0)

SS Moustakas 0-4, BB, 2 K, RS
RF Gonzalez 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K, 2 RS
1B Robinson 2-4, K, E
CF Ortiz 1-5
2B Evangelho 1-4, RBI, K
LF Seratelli 0-4

Chavez 5 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 4 H, BB, 4 K
J. Hughes 1 2/3 IP, ER, 4 H
Jensen 1 1/3 IP, ER, 2 H, K, HRA -- BS, 1
Holland IP, ER, 2 H, BB, WP -- L, 0-1

The Chukar bullpen sputtered as Orem took game 1 at home and sent Idaho Falls home for game 2 in a must-win situation. The Chukars left the bases loaded in the 2nd and Orem answered with 2 runs off Chris Chavez on 3 hits in the bottom of the frame. O.D. Gonzalez cranked a 2-out, 2-run homer in the 3rd to tie it but Orem regained the lead on a hit and Clint Robinson error in the bottom of the 3rd. Zach Evangelho tied it with an RBI single in the 4th and IF took the lead with 2 runs in the 5th on another Gonzalez 2-run blast. The score was 5-3 into the 7th but Orem showed some resiliency with a run off Joe Hughes on 2 hits. Matt Jensen gave up a game-tying homer to Orem DH Gordon Gronkowski in the 8th and the Owlz put 2 on with 2 out in the 9th off Greg Holland. Holland gave up a walkoff single to end the IF collapse. Five Owlz had 2-hit games and P Jordan Towns got the win with a perfect inning of relief.

The series shifts to Idaho Falls tonight for game 2. No starters announced on the team site. Clint Robinson was recently named Pioneer League MVP after hitting .336 with 15 HR and 66 RBI in 67 games.

08 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/7

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: done at 75-62

RF Brian McFall .286 BA/.358 OBP/.841 OPS, 31 2B (led team), 5 3B, 13 HR (led team), 72 RBI (led team), 40 BB/98 K, 10/16 SB, 7 E in 111 games and 406 AB -- led team in 4 offensive categories, and was second in BA and 3B; says something about power at that level in organization that only 13 homers led team; drawback was too many Ks but should get to OF in Northwest Arkansas in '08.

1B/3B/DH Brad McCann .277/.347/.788, 18 2B, 6 HR, 19 BB/55 K, 4 E in 58 games and 220 AB -- one-time hotter prospect had peaks and valleys in 2007, finished up well; he should get a shot at AA in 2008 and could be one of Moore's better under-the-radar pickups, also could use decrease in Ks.

3B Mario Lisson .285/.348/.756, 27 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 61 RBI, 72 RS, 41 BB/93 K, 23/32 SB, 17 E (led team) in 126 games and 463 AB -- offensive standout in '06 at Burlington had decent '07 but was overshadowed by McFall; decent combo of speed and power but Ks a lot and isn't great with the glove. Deserves shot at AA in '08.

UT Wilver Perez .302 BA/.843 OPS, 18 XBH, 20 BB/40 K, 13/17 SB, 4 E in 54 games and 162 AB -- injury derailed solid season; if healthy, will see AA in '08
OF Jeremy Cleveland .274/.752, 12 XBH, 22 BB/30 K, 1 E in 43 games and 146 AB -- another midseason pickup that paid off more as the season progressed; if still with organization will either start '08 at Wilmington or NWA
CF Jose Duarte .290 (led team)/.725, 26 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 82 RS (led team), 42 RBI, 48 BB/77 K, 34/47 SB, 1 E in 128 games and 493 AB (led team) -- durable OF may be one of best at position in organization, solid contact hitter with developing discipline; uses speed to advantage. He's a definite to start '08 in AA.
OF Brett Bigler .259/.710 (led team with .399 OBP), 15 XBH, 74 BB/68 K, 15/26 SB, 5 E in 109 games and 328 AB -- best plate discipline on team, only regular with more BB than strikeouts, needs to develop little more pop in bat; hard to say where they'll start him in '08.
2B Josh Johnson .252/.675, 14 XBH, 41 BB/49 K, 4/11 SB, 13 E in 83 games and 262 AB -- disappointed in '08, showed good discipline but that's about it, wonder if he'll redo level to start '08.
2B/3B Marc Maddox .259/.648, 17 2B, 6 3B (led team), 44 RBI, 28 BB/62 K, 12/15 SB, 6 E in 101 games and 405 AB -- hot start at Burlington earned call to Wilmington, where he had middling season; like others, K'd too much but showed good speed and decent defense.
SS Chris McConnell .236/.644, 14 XBH, 16 BB/43 K, 6/10 SB, 5 E in 66 games and 208 AB -- prospect has to hit at some point if he wants to keep moving up; he hasn't gotten it done for the most part
1B/DH Miguel Vega .233/.602, 23 2B, 19 BB/137 K, 6 E in 120 games and 468 AB -- big whiffer

SP Rowdy Hardy 15-5, 2.48 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 3 CG, 16 BB/91 K, 6 HRA in 26 games (22 starts) and 167 IP -- bad playoff start left bad taste from great season, stood out in every category, best organizational pitching prospect under AAA, even if he's a soft tosser.

SP Blake Johnson 9-6, 3.28 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 1 CG, 33 BB/80 K, 7 HRA in 26 games (22 starts) and 131 2/3 IP -- another guy who should be part of AA rotation in '08, a step behind Hardy in the stat categories but still posted great numbers.

SP Dan Cortes 8-8, 3.07 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 45 BB/120 K, 7 HRA in 24 starts and 123 IP -- got out to 0-5 start but rebounded to post best K rate and improved command. Finished off season with 2 straight league pitcher of week awards. Another one to watch in '08 at AA, plus he's only 20.

SP Julio Pimentel 12-4, 2.65 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 43 BB/73 K, 8 HRA in 27 games (22 starts) and 152 2/3 IP -- second on team in IP but maybe rawest of four starter prospects, will also be part of potentially lethal AA rotation in '08
P Yovany D'Amico 5-2, 4.53 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 14 BB/31 K, 7 HRA in 27 games and 49 2/3 IP -- split time between high and low A-ball, one of more solid parts of sometimes shaky Wilmington pen
P Rayner Oliveros 2-3, 4.22 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 17 BB/53 K, 10 HRA in 37 games (1 start) and 70 1/3 IP -- led pen in IP but also tied for team lead in HR allowed, disappointed from '06 performance; poor outings late in season drove numbers up.


Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Chukars 7, Casper 1 (12)

SS Moustakas 1-6, 2B (4), RBI (10), K, RS -- .293
PH-DH Martin 1-2, BB, S, HR (1), 2 RBI (3), RS -- .583
LF Seratelli 2-4, 2 BB, RBI (46), RS, SB (29), CS (6) -- .327
2B Bionde 2-5, 3B (1), RBI (12), K, RS -- .228
C Billick 1-4, S, RBI (11), K, RS, picked off runner -- .186
1B Balduf 2-2, BB -- .308
3B Juan 2-5, HBP, K, RS -- .182
CF Ortiz 1-2 -- .326
CF Norris 1-4, K -- .091
DH Robinson 0-2 -- .336

Peterson 2 IP, H, 5 K -- 2.89 ERA, conserving for playoffs may be wise move
Leonard 4 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 4 K -- 4.68 ERA
Norton and Swaggerty 4 IP scoreless relief
Roach 2 IP, 2 H, 4 K -- W, 4-1, 3.26 ERA

The Chukars ended the regular season with a 6-run 12th to break a 1-1 tie. Joe Billick hit an RBI ground out in the 2nd to make it 1-0 Chukars but the Rockies tied it in the 4th on a walk and double off John Leonard. IF stranded 2 in the 9th as neither team could piece together a rally. In the 11th, Jason Roach put 2 on with 1 out but Billick picked off the runner at third and a K ended the rally. An error broke the stalemate in the 12th as IF scored a run and then added 5 more on a Mike Bionde RBI triple, RBI double by Mike Moustakas, Anthony Seratelli RBI single and a 2-run homer by Kyle Martin for his first with Idaho Falls. Roach pitched a perfect 12th to get his 4th win. Casper LF Chad Lembeck was 3-5 to finish at .234 and P Juan Nicasio took the loss with 2/3 IP of 5 runs (1 ER) on 4 hits and a K to fall to 0-3 with a 4.36 ERA.

IF finished the second half 23-15 and atop the Pioneer League South. The Chukars were 46-30 on the season, so had identical first and second half records. The playoffs start tonight with game 1 of the best-of-3 in Orem. No announced starters on the team site.

07 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/6 -- and then there was one

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: Frederick 3, Blue Rocks 1 (1-hitter; Frederick wins best-of-3 series 2-0)

CF Duarte 1-4, HR, RBI, RS -- .125, homer with 2 out in 9th broke up no-hitter
everybody else had an 0-fer

Pimentel 6 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K, HRA -- L, 0-1, 4.50 ERA, not bad start but less than zero run support
Chambliss 2 hitless IP

Wilmington's playoff race in 2007 lasted all of 2 games as Keys SP Chorye Spoone came within an out of a no-hitter and shutout and was a homer and error away from a perfect game to close out the sweep in style. Rocks starter Julio Pimentel stranded 2 in the 2nd and gave up a 2-run homer in the 4th to make it 2-0 Keys. Spoone was perfect through 4 1/3 IP before an error allowed Brian McFall to reach base. Spoone went on to retire the next 13 consecutively and Pimentel gave up a run on 2 hits in the 7th. Spoone had his no-hitter through 8 2/3 but Jose Duarte clubbed a solo homer in the 9th to break it up as well as the shutout. Marc Maddox followed with a ground out to end the Rocks' season. Keys 3B Ryan Finan was 1-3 with a homer and 2 RBI and Spoone went the distance with an ER on a hit and 9 Ks.

Wilmington finished 75-62. A rehash of Rocks stat highlights will be doled out tomorrow. The Keys also eliminated the Rocks in the 2006 semifinals.

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Casper 3, Chukars 2

SS Moustakas 0-3, BB -- .314
LF Tucker 1-3, S, RBI (10), K, CS -- .328
CF Ortiz 2-3, S -- .324
DH Robinson 0-4, K -- .339
1B Seratelli 1-4, 2B (19), 2 K -- .324

Baldwin 1 2/3 IP, 2 ER, H, BB, K, HRA -- 2.87 ERA
Snipes 4 IP, 2 H, BB, 6 K -- 5.37 ERA
Denton 1 2/3 IP, ER, 2 H, 2 K -- L, 1-2, 4.15 ERA
Hughes 2/3 IP -- 3.59 ERA

An 8th-inning run broke the tie as Casper evened the last regular season series at 1 game each. Starter Burke Baldwin allowed a 2-out, 2-run homer in the 1st to give Casper a 2-0 lead but the Chukars tied it in the 3rd on a Wilson Tucker single that scored 2 runs thanks to a Rockies error. The 2-2 tie held into the 8th when Chukars P Chris Denton gave up a leadoff triple and 1-out single to break the tie. The Chukars stranded 1 in the 9th as RP Randall Taylor notched his 5th save. Casper 1B Jeff Cunningham was 3-4 with 2 errors (12), 2 doubles (14), his 8th homer and 2 RBI (29) to move to .254 and P Marco Duarte got the win with 2 IP of 2 hits, a walk and K to move to 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA.

IF is 22-15. The final game of the regular season is tonight as IF's Zach Peterson (5-3, 3.00, with his stuff kinda hoped they'd saved him for playoffs) vs. Casper's Brandon Miller (2-1, 5.05). The playoffs start Saturday with a best-of-3 set against the Orem Owlz with game 1 in Orem and games 2 and 3 in IF. IF swept Orem in the first round in 2006.

06 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/5 -- Rowdy gets shelled

AAA -- Omaha: forgot to include stats link yesterday, done at 73-71


AA -- Wichita: also forgot to include stats link, done at 56-84


The team website is pulling the plug Sept.12 as the Wranglers' office shuts down. The new AA website will be www.nwanaturals.com.

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: Frederick 9, Blue Rocks 2 (Keys lead best-of-3 semis series 1-0)

3B Lisson 2-4 -- .500
1B Vega 2-4, 2B, RS -- .500
C Thibault 1-4, RBI -- .250
LF Bigler 1-3, 2B, RBI -- .333
RF McFall 1-4, K, RS -- .250

Hardy 5 2/3 IP, 7 R (5 ER), 13 H, 2 BB, K, E (1) -- L, 0-1, 7.94 ERA, season high hits allowed, bad time for worst start of season
D'Amico 1 1/3 IP, ER, 3 H, WP -- 6.75 ERA
Haltiwanger IP, ER, BB, 2 K, 3 WP -- 9.00 ERA
Humen IP, H, BB -- 0.00 ERA

Wilmington took a momentary lead in the 2nd but it was short-lived as the Keys hammered Rowdy Hardy and took a 1-0 series lead. The Keys scored first on 2 hits and a walk in the 2nd but Wilmington scored 2 in the bottom of the inning on a Kiel Thibault RBI single and Brett Bigler RBI double. Thibault was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice and the Rocks stranded 2. The Keys came up in the 3rd and scored 3 times on 4 hits and a Hardy error to make it 4-2 Frederick and the Keys didn't look back. Keys starter Brad Bergesen retired 11 in a row at one point and Hardy stranded 2 in the 4th before allowing 3 runs in the 6th on 4 hits to get chased. The Rocks stranded 2 in the 6th and a Yovany D'Amico wild pitch scored a Keys run in the 7th to make it 8-2. Frederick added another run in the 8th and a Thibault double-play ball ended the game in the 9th. Frederick LF Chris Amador was 3-5 with 2 RBI while Topeka native 3B Ryan Finan as well as CF Kennard Jones also had 3-hit games. Bergesen got the win with 7 IP of 2 ER on 6 hits.

Game 2 is tonight in Frederick as the Rocks' backs are already against the wall. Probable starters: Rocks right-hander Julio Pimentel (12-4, 2.65) vs. Keys right-hander Chorye Spoone (10-9, 3.26).
Salem also drubbed Kinston in game 1 in the south playoffs.

A -- Burlington: forgot to include stats link, done at 61-77


Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Orem 5, Chukars 2 (5; game called in favor of Owlz)

SS Moustakas 0-2, BB -- .321
DH Robinson 1-2, 2B (18), 2 RBI (65) -- .347
CF Ortiz 1-3, RS -- .311
LF Tucker 1-3, RS -- .322
1B Seratelli 0-2 -- .326

Norton 1 2/3 IP, 5 R (2 ER), 5 H, 3 K, WP -- L, 1-6, 4.14 ERA
Phillips 3 1/3 IP, 2 H, 6 K -- 3.97 ERA, nice night, too bad power went out

Tuesday's power-shortened finale between Orem and IF was handed to the Owlz rather than being completed at a later date. A Zach Evangelho error put the first runner on base in the game in the Owlz 2nd and Orem went on to touch up Ben Norton for 5 runs on 5 hits, a wild pitch and a Devery Van De Keere error. Justin Phillips finished the inning and pitched 3 more scoreless innings. Clint Robinson hit a 2-out, 2-run double in the 4th to cut it to 5-2 and the Chukars stranded 2 in the 5th. The power went out for good after Mike Moustakas drew a leadoff walk in the 6th. Owlz RF Donato Giovanatto was 2-2 with his 1st triple and 2 RBI (16) to move to .262 and P Jordan Towns got the win with 3 IP of 2 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks to move to 6-3 with a 3.46 ERA.

Chukars 11, Casper 5 (Wed.)

DH Moustakas 2-4, BB, 3B (1), 4 RBI (9) -- .344, hits keep coming for Moose
CF Ortiz 4-5, RBI (24), K, 3 RS -- .320
C Balduf 3-5, 2B (2), RBI (17), 2 RS -- .294
RF Gonzalez 2-5, 2 2B (15), 2 RBI (38), K -- .300
LF Tucker 2-5, 2B (10), K, 2 RS -- .328
1B Robinson 1-5, HBP, HR (15), RBI (66), 3 K, RS -- .344
2B Bionde 2-4, K, RS -- .221

Chavez 2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 4 K, WP -- 3.41 ERA
Secott 2 IP, 2 K -- W, 5-1, 0.79 ERA
Jensen 2 IP, H, K -- 3.49 ERA
Holland IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 K -- 3.48 ERA
Cassa IP, ER, 2 H, BB, K -- 3.67 ERA
Roach IP, H, 2 K -- 3.49 ERA

Idaho Falls clinched the second-half division title in style by routing the Rockies in the opener of the final regular season series. O.D. Gonzalez doubled home Adrian Ortiz in the 1st to make it 1-0 IF but Casper scored 2 in the 1st off Chris Chavez on 2 hits, a hit batsman and a wild pitch. The Chukars regained the lead with 2 runs in the 2nd on a run-scoring Casper error and an Ortiz RBI single. Clint Robinson clubbed his 15th pro homer in the 3rd to make it 4-2 and Mike Moustakas hit a 2-run single in the 4th to make it 6-2 as Idaho Falls began to pull away. The Chukars added 2 runs in the 6th on a Wilson Tucker RBI double and run-scoring wild pitch. Greg Holland allowed 2 runs on 3 walks and 2 hits in the 7th before stranding the bases loaded and IF got some insurance with 3 runs in the 8th on a 2-run Moustakas triple and Gonzalez RBI double. Pat Cassa allowed a run in the 8th but Jason Roach got through the 9th to end it. Casper C Beau Seabury was 2-4 with 2 RBI (11) and his 3rd error to move to .296 and SP J.T. Zink took the loss with 5 IP of 6 runs (5 ER) on 10 hits, a walk and 6 Ks to drop to 0-1 with a 5.21 ERA.

The Chukars are 22-14 and won both halves of the division title. They will play Orem in a best-of-3 playoff series starting Saturday. Game 2 with Casper is tonight as IF SP Burke Baldwin (5-1, 2.61) takes on Casper SP Jeff Fischer (0-10, 6.15).

Rookie -- Burlington: done at 38-30
Rookie -- AZL: done at 28-28

05 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/4

AAA -- Omaha: done at 73-71

1B/LF/DH Billy Butler .291 BA/.412 OBP/.954 OPS, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 43 BB/32 K, 7 E in 57 games -- safe to say he's likely in KC to stay

1B/DH Craig Brazell .307/.337/.942, 33 2B, 32 HR, 76 RBI, 20 BB/83 K, 9 E in 108 games -- led team in batting for those with more than 60 GP, slugged way to great first season in organization, free swinger, but makes more contact than Balboni did

OF Shane Costa .326/.402/.904, 20 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 26 BB/20 K, 8/10 SB, 1 E in 59 games -- who knows what future holds for Shane

OF Joey Gathright .341/.457/.878, 14 XBH, 43 BB/24 K, 25/33 SB, 1 E in 60 games -- hopefully sticks in KC
1B/LF/RF Justin Huber .276 BA/.854 OPS, 13 2B, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 20 BB/48 K, 3 E in 77 games -- still in prospect mix but clock is ticking and he needs to stay healthy
1B Ryan Shealy .262/.837, 7 HR, 15 BB/28 K in 34 games -- a lost season for Ryan
SS Angel Berroa .300/.797, 25 XBH, 25 BB/44 K, 6 E in 81 games -- showed signs of '03 Angel but I, for one, am done with Berroa
SS Mike Aviles .296/.794, 27 2B, 6 3B (led team), 17 HR, 77 RBI (led team), 30 BB/59 K, 23 E (easily led team) in 133 games -- very nice season for Mike, doesn't look like it's been enough for a Sept. call, defensive play still a problem
OF Mitch Maier .279/.749, 29 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 33 BB/89 K, 7/9 SB, 3 E in 140 games -- durable and good defensively but struck out too much and didn't hit consistently
OF Chris Lubanski .208/.636, 13 XBH, 16 BB/48 K, 3 E in 49 games -- didn't exactly blaze through AAA in first chance, will be back in Omaha to start '08, I'd bet

SP Billy Buckner 9-7, 3.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 26 BB/83 K, 11 HRA in 27 games (15 starts) and 104 2/3 IP -- better things than Tuesday's poor KC start in store for Billy, K/BB was excellent

SP Luke Hochevar 1-3, 5.12 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 21 BB/44 K, 11 HRA in 10 starts and 58 IP -- if he could cut down on the HRs....we'll see how he does in "the show"

SP Matt Wright 10-5, 4.06 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 40 BB/98 K, 21 HRA in 28 games (21 starts) and 137 1/3 IP -- led team in IP, take out 6 HR allowed game and numbers look much better, think he deserved a bullpen spot in KC in September

P Ben Hendrickson 11-5, 4.12 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 54 BB/66 K, 10 HRA in 27 games (18 starts) and 135 1/3 IP -- led team in wins; had great last couple months, we'll see what Dayton does with him
P Tyler Lumsden 9-6, 5.88 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 59 BB/74 K, 11 HRA in 25 games (24 starts) and 119 1/3 IP -- needs to improve in Omaha next season
P Neal Musser 4-1, 0.49 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 11 BB/47 K in 55 1/3 IP -- when your ERA is less than your walks and hits per inning pitched, that's a good season
P Ryan Braun 2-2, 1.09 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 12 BB/36 K in 33 IP -- led team with 9 saves, wish he'd played more to the level of the other Ryan Braun at the majors
P Roberto Giron 2-5, 3.71 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 30 BB/92 K in 85 IP -- 14 HRA, was better than these numbers over last couple months, deserved a mention

AA -- Wichita: done at 56-84

OF Jorge Padilla .336/.424/.942, 24 XBH, 32 BB/40 K, 11/14 SB, 2 E in 69 games -- roster-filler type pickup paid dividends at AA, didn't do that much in chance at Omaha

1B/LF Mike Stodolka .291/.409/.871, 27 2B, 12 HR (tied for team lead), 59 RBI (led team), 73 BB/91 K, 8 E in 110 games -- another solid offensive season from Mike, if could cut down on Ks would be good step for '08 at Omaha (I presume)

1B/DH Kila Kaaihue .246/.359/.806, 13 2B, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 41 BB/40 K, 4 E in 70 games -- showed improvement at plate, will he start '08 in Northwest Arkansas or Omaha?

OF Adam Greenberg .266 BA/.802 OPS, 30 2B, 11 3B (led team in both), 8 HR, 74 BB/107 K, 23/32 SB, 1 E in 132 games -- comeback bid progressed over course of season, led team in XBH and games played, struck out too much
3B Jeff Nettles .267/.750, 22 XBH, 16 BB/52 K, 10 E in 58 games -- Graig's son did OK at Wichita
2B/OF Geraldo Valentin .288/.688, 24 XBH, 54 RBI, 25 BB/46 K, 5/16 SB (yeesh), 10 E in 112 games -- faltered defensively near end, could be AA or AAA to start '08
C Adam Donachie .207/.643, 9 HR, 31 BB/76 K, 4 E in 84 games -- one of more disappointing farmhands

SP Dusty Hughes 6-2, 3.08 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 45 BB/77 K, 5 HRA in 25 games (16 starts) and 108 IP -- K/BB wasn't great but his last couple starts were excellent and he was the best starter at Wichita

P Jarod Plummer 5-6, 3.08 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 16 BB/90 K, 13 HRA in 77 IP -- led team in appearances (44) and saves (11), had great K/9 and K/BB numbers but gave up too many longballs; will start '08 in Omaha pen

P Gabe DeHoyos 6-0, 1.64 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 19 BB/44 K, 2 HRA in 29 games (2 starts) and 55 IP -- faltered in chance at AAA but put together really good season in Wichita; started last couple games he appeared in, so I have no idea what they'll do with him next season

SP Carlos Rosa 6-6, 4.36 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 43 BB/70 K, 8 HRA in 21 games (17 starts) and 97 IP -- needs more time at AA, it seems; started on fire in Wilmington to earn call but struggled against Texas League bats
SP Dan Christensen 3-15, 6.21 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 56 BB/99 K, 23 HRA in 27 games (24 starts) and 140 2/3 IP -- led team in innings but had nightmare year with only a few good starts; should cost him spot on 40-man but we'll see; I can't imagine anyone rule V-ing him after this line

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: off day, finished regular season 75-62

The playoffs start tonight in Wilmington with game 1 of a best-of-3 with the Frederick Keys (O's affiliate) as Rowdy Hardy takes the mound for the Rocks. Chorye Spoone (10-9, 3.26) is the probable starter for Frederick.

A -- Burlington: done at 61-77

C/1B/DH Brady Everett .266/.324/.756 OPS, 30 2B (led team), 2 3B, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 29 BB/69 K, 3/8 SB, 11 E in 108 games -- best OPS on team, showed some pop but could draw more walks and play better defensively

OF Jamar Walton .278/.349/.752 OPS, 15 XBH, 18 BB/47 K, 8/14 SB, 2 E in 54 games -- midseason pickup started slow but ripped off 20-game hit streak to set team record; likely to start '08 in Wilmington if he's back

OF Joe Dickerson .289/.354/.729 OPS, 23 doubles, 2 3B, 3 HR, 43 RBI, 38 BB/76 K, 26/39 SB, 5 E in 115 games -- led team in OBP at .354, which speaks of the Bees and the Midwest League, has holes in game to fix; season cut short by shoulder injury, hope it doesn't cost him much time in '08

1B/DH Luis Castillo .258 BA/.705 OPS, 11 XBH, 14 BB/22 K, 2 E in 38 games -- didn't start playing at Burlington until midseason after shoulder surgery ended '06 season; may see at Burlington or Wilmington to start '08
3B Mike Thompson .217/.691, 22 2B, 19 HR, 54 RBI (led team in homers and RBI), 15 BB/89 K, 17 E in 108 games -- power but little contact or plate discipline, struck out too much, wasn't exactly good defensively
2B Kurt Mertins .249/.668, 15 2B, 5 3B (led team), 4 HR, 50 BB/95 K, 30/38 SB, 22 E (led team) in 125 games -- led team in walks but swung and missed a lot, too, also had defensive issues to some extent, but did show good speed
SS Jeff Bianchi .247/.611, 19 2B, 25 BB/72 K, 15/19 SB, 13 E in 99 games -- ho-hum season in first shot above rookie ball, but note it was his first season back from shoulder surgery; I expect some rebound in '08
OF Derrick Robinson .243/.599, 16 XBH, 32 BB/100 K, 34/41 SB, 7 E in 102 games -- defensively OK but needs to hit better; I didn't realize his OPS was that low and his Ks that high; will play out playoffs in Wilmington and has much room to improve

SP Jason Godin 5-6, 3.46 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 36 BB/60 K, 0 HRA in 19 games (16 starts) and 96 1/3 IP -- kept ball down and was helped by pitcher's league; got hammered somewhat in Wilmington in chance at advanced A

SP Mario Santiago 5-10, 3.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 39 BB/70 K, 13 HRA in 26 games (20 starts) and 132 1/3 IP -- second-most IP on team, season ended with liner off head but no report on any serious harm; K rate wasn't great but kept Bees in games and had several really good starts

P Angelo Morales 4-1, 2.34 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 8 BB/35 K, 3 HRA in 13 games (2 starts) and 34 2/3 IP -- had some injury problems but seemed to have good stuff; K rate was good and he was shutdown for the most part in the MWL

P Chris Hayes 4-4, 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 14 BB/51 K, 3 HRA in 42 games (tied for team lead) and 69 2/3 IP -- led team with 11 saves, will get shot at Wilmington in '08
P Matt Campbell 4-2, 4.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 16 BB/43 K, 5 HRA in 15 games (7 starts) and 56 2/3 IP -- battled shoulder problems for second-straight season, did all right when healthy
P Aaron Hartsock 7-4, 2.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 26 BB/51 K, 6 HRA in 42 games and 75 2/3 IP -- had shaky moments but was dependable overall, most IP among relievers
SP Everett Teaford 6-8, 4.68 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 36 BB/84 K, 11 HRA in 27 games (21 starts) and 134 2/3 IP -- led team in innings pitched, mixed in a handful of good starts with some poor one, K/BB was OK

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: suspended in 6th (power problems)

IF's series finale versus Orem didn't finish because of power problems in Orem that left the game 5-2 Orem in the 6th. The Chukars start their final series of the season tonight in Casper versus the Rockies (11-23). They are 12-3 versus the Rockies. IF has a 2-game lead on Orem for the second-half division crown after winning the first half. I assume the game will only be finished if it has to be, as Orem has the edge for a wild card spot in the playoffs if Idaho Falls wins the second half.

Rookie -- Burlington: done at 38-30
Rookie -- AZL: done at 28-28

04 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/3

AAA -- Omaha: O-Royals 5, Iowa 4

SS Aviles 2-4, HR (17), 2 RBI (77), RS -- .296, ends good season on up note; no word on Sept. call
LF Lubanski 2-4, HR (6), RBI (22), K, RS -- .208, another nice way to end shaky AAA debut stint
C Phillips 1-4, 2B (7), RBI (14) -- .238, game-winning hit; deserved or not, getting another call to KC
CF Maier 2-4, 2B (29), K, RS -- .279, no word on Sept. call for Mitch
1B Brazell 2-4, K, RS, E (9) -- .307, HRs tailed off but slugger gets Sept. call
RF Huber 0-4, K -- .276, getting a call-up, too

Hochevar 6 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K, HRA, WP -- 5.12 ERA, wouldn't be Hochevar start without a HR allowed; getting a chance to impress out of KC pen
Plummer IP, 2 ER, 3 H, K, HRA, WP -- BS, 1, 15.00 ERA, likely starts '08 in Omaha pen
Markray 2 perfect IP -- W, 8-7, 4.62, ditto to Plummer comment

Omaha tied the game in the 8th and won it in the 9th to end the season with a 3-1 series win versus the Cubs and clinch the first Omaha winning season in 5 seasons. Mike Aviles gave starter Luke Hochevar some support with a 2-run homer in the 1st for his 17th of the season and Hochevar had a no-hitter going into the 5th before serving up a leadoff homer to 1B John Nelson to cut the lead in half. Richie Lewis scored on a double-play ball in the 6th but Hochevar gave up another run on a hit and walk in the Iowa 6th to make it 3-2 Omaha. Jarod Plummer took over in the 7th and gave up a leadoff homer to Nelson and a run on 2 more hits and a wild pitch to make it 4-3 Iowa. Chris Lubanski tied it with a leadoff homer in the 8th for his 6th at AAA and, with 1 on and 1 out in the 9th, Paul Phillips doubled home a run off RP Ben Howard to give Omaha the 5-4 lead. Phillips was nailed at third on the play and 2 more singles after that went for naught as the lead held at 1. Thad Markray faced six batters and retired them all for his 8th win. Nelson was 2-4 for Iowa with 2 HR (15) and 2 RBI (44) to finish at .211 and Howard took the loss with an IP of an ER on 4 hits to end the season at 6-9 with a 4.28 ERA.

Omaha finished 73-71 and 16 games back. As noted yesterday, it marks the first winning season for Omaha since 2002. The call-ups thus far were noted above. Pitchers Kyle Davies and Leo Nunez were also "recalled" after making phantom (on-paper only) demotions to Wichita. Iowa and Omaha made Monday's finale notable by sharing the same bat throughout the game. It lasted until breaking in the 6th. I'll wrap up some season stats on the AAA, AA and A teams tomorrow, since A-Advanced Wilmington is in the playoffs and Rookie Idaho Falls starts the postseason soon.

AA -- Wichita: Tulsa 2, Wranglers 1 (10)

1B Kaaihue 1-4, HR (12), RBI (40), RS -- .246, did better in second chance at AA; we'll see where he starts '08
LF Valentin 0-4 -- .288
SS Arce 2-4, 2B (4), K -- .242
*No word on where Mike Stodolka has been the last week or so. He hasn't been in the lineup.

D. Hughes 8 IP, 3 H, BB, 6 K -- 3.08 ERA, two great starts to finish the season, should be in Omaha mix in '08
Foster IP, ER, 3 H, HRA -- BS, 1, 3.48 ERA
Cromer 2/3 IP, ER, 2 H -- L, 3-8, 5.25 ERA

Monday's season-ending loss for the Wranglers summed up the 2007 season -- a lead, then a blown save in the 9th, then losing it in extras. It was that kind of year for Wichita. Starter Dusty Hughes battled several Tulsa pitchers through 6 scoreless frames and Wichita broke the tie in the 7th on Kila Kaaihue's 12th AA homer of the year to make it 1-0. John Foster came on to close it in the 9th but served up a 1-out solo homer to DH Christian Colonel to tie the game. Foster stranded 2 and Jason Cromer took over in the 10th only to give up a run on 2 hits and a walkoff sac fly by CF Chris Frey. Colonel was 1-4 with his 17th homer and 84th RBI to finish the season at .309 and RP Jarrett Grube got the win with 2 IP of 3 hits and a K to finish 7-3 with a 2.53 ERA.

Wichita's second half ended at 31-39. They finished 56-84 to wrap their time in Wichita. The team is moving to become the Northwest Arkansas Naturals for the 2008 season. Tulsa squeaked into the playoffs by a game over Arkansas. They will play the Springfield Cardinals, who won both halves of the North title. San Antonio and Frisco square off in the South playoff series.

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: Potomac 11, Blue Rocks 5

CF Duarte 1-5, 2B (26), 2 RBI (42), CS -- .290
1B McCann 3-4, 2 2B (18) -- .277
DH Vega 1-3, BB, HR (8), RBI (57), K, RS -- .233
LF Robinson 2-5, 2B (1), E (1) -- .385
SS McConnell 2-4, K, RS -- .236
PH-DH Cleveland 1-1, 2B (10), RBI (16) -- .274
*The Rocks stranded 12.

Wood 3 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K, HRA, 3 hit batsmen -- L, 0-1, 4.66 ERA, rough start
Oliveros IP, 6 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 HRA -- 4.22 ERA, very unkind to ERA
Humen, Chambliss and Haltiwanger 4 1/3 scoreless IP

Hopefully the Rocks got the last loss out of their system to finish the regular season as the Nats pounded Blake Wood and Rayner Oliveros to get an easy win. The Rocks stranded the bases loaded in the 1st and Wood gave up 3 runs to the Nats in the 2nd on 3 hits and 2 hit batsmen. Wilmington answered with 2 runs in the 2nd on a 2-run double by Jose Duarte to cut the lead to 3-2. Wood gave up a solo homer to tie it in the 3rd and the Rocks left the bases loaded again in the 3rd. Potomac took the lead with 2 hits, a walk and a hit batsman in the 4th and then drilled Oliveros in the 5th with a 2-run homer, a 2-out RBI double, and a 3-run homer that chased Oliveros for David Humen, who got out of the inning. Miguel Vega hit his 8th homer of the season in the 5th, Josh Johnson scored on an error in the 8th and Jeremy Cleveland doubled home a run in the 9th but the Rocks didn't threaten the huge Nats lead. Nats CF Justin Maxwell was 1-3 with 2 walks, his 13th homer and 3 RBI (43) to finish at .263 and P Gene Yost went 4 innings in relief with an ER on 3 hits and 3 Ks to get the win and move to 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA.

Wilmington finished the regular season 45-24 for the second-half division title and 75-62 overall (best overall record since 77-win 2004). The Rocks start a best-of-3 versus the Frederick Keys (64-74, first-half champs, A-Adv. Orioles) at home Wednesday with games 2 and 3 slated for Frederick. The Rocks were 10-10 versus the Keys this season. Game 1 playoff starter for the Rocks is, of course, lefty ace Rowdy Hardy (15-5, 2.48), aka the Carolina League pitcher of the year. He was 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA versus Frederick this season. Starter Dan Cortes was named league pitcher of the week for a second time for the week of Aug. 27 to Sept. 2. He was 2-0 in two starts and 12 IP with a 0.00 ERA over that time. It marked his second straight pitcher of the week award. Julio Pimentel will start game 2 versus Frederick while Cortes would start game 3, if necessary.

A -- Burlington: Bees 7, Clinton 5

SS Bianchi 3-5, 2B (19), 2 RBI (36), RS, 2 SB (15) -- .247, ended season on nice note, but overall disappointing; then again, he was coming off shoulder surgery
C Howell 1-4, SF, RBI (22) -- .232
1B Everett 0-2, 2 BB, SF, RBI (46) -- .266
CF Pennell 1-3, BB, RBI (1), K, RS, CS -- .154
2B Mertins 0-2, 3 BB, 3 RS, 2 SB (30) -- .249

Teaford 5 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 K, HRA -- W, 6-8, 4.68 ERA, not pretty line but got the win
A. Morales 2 IP, BB, K -- 2.34 ERA
Barrera 2 IP, H, 3 K -- SV, 4, 4.35 ERA

The Bees rallied for the lead in the 6th and the bullpen finished off the season-ending win. Kurt Mertins scored on a double-play ball in the 1st but the Bees stranded 2 and Clinton scored twice in the 1st on 3 hits off starter Everett Teaford. Burlington tied it in the 4th on a 2-out Vinny Pennell RBI single but Teaford gave up a solo homer in the bottom of the inning to give the lead back to the LumberKings. The lead swung back to the Bees in the 5th as they scored 2 runs on sac flies by Brady Everett and Jeff Howell to make it 4-3. Teaford couldn't hold it, however, as Clinton scored 2 runs in the 5th on 3 hits to make it 5-4. With 1 on and 2 out in the Burlington 6th, Pennell walked, the Bees scored the tying run on a Clinton error and Jeff Bianchi hit a clutch 2-run double to make it 7-5 Bees. Angelo Morales followed with 2 hitless innings of relief and Henry Barrera allowed a hit over his 2 innings pitched for his 4th save. Clinton DH Chad Tracy was 2-4 with his 9th SB, 14th homer and 2 RBI (84) to finish batting .250 and P John Slusarz took the loss with 1 1/3 IP of 2 UER on 2 walks to fall to 1-7 with a 2.88 ERA.

Burlington finished at 31-38 for the second half and 61-77 overall.

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Orem 6, Chukars 5

SS Moustakas 0-3, BB, HBP, RS -- .346
3B Martin 4-4, 2B (2), RBI (1), SB (1) -- .600
LF Koko 2-5, HR (2), RBI (13), 3 K, 2 RS, SB (5) -- .186
RF Gonzalez 3-5, RBI (36), K, RS, picked off twice -- .301
DH Seratelli 2-4, BB, 2B (18), RBI (45), RS -- .328
1B Van De Keere 2-3, BB, CS -- .282
CF Ortiz 1-5, 2B (9), K -- .311
*IF stranded 10.

Leonard 1 1/3 IP, 4 R (3 ER), 4 H, 2 BB, K -- 4.84 ERA
J. Hughes 2 2/3 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, K, WP -- 3.64 ERA
Swaggerty 2 IP, 3 K -- 3.15 ERA
Roach 1 1/3 IP, ER, 2 H, 2 K -- L, 3-1, 3.62 ERA
Cassa 2/3 IP, K -- 3.46 ERA

Orem inched within another game of the Chukars with an 8th inning run making the difference. Kyle Martin singled home a run to start a nice day for him at the plate in the 2nd but Orem touched up starter John Leonard for 4 runs in the 2nd on 4 hits, a walk, a hit batsman and Leonard error as Joe Hughes finished the inning. Hughes stranded the bases full and Idaho Falls tied it in the 3rd with 3 runs on an O.D. Gonzalez RBI single and 2-run single by Anthony Seratelli that was aided by an Orem error. The Chukars left the bases loaded and Orem regained the lead in the bottom of the inning with a run on 2 hits and a wild pitch off Hughes. A crucial play came in the 6th as Adrian Ortiz hit a 1-out double for IF but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. Rubi Koko came up next and hit his 2nd homer of the season to tie the game. IF left the bases full again in the 7th and Jason Roach gave up the go-ahead run on an RBI triple in the 8th to make it 6-5. The Chukars went down in order in the 9th as P Ryan Brasier picked up his 9th save. Owlz DH Gordon Gronkowski was 3-4 to move to .345 and P Brian Chambers got the win with 2 IP of 3 hits, a walk and 3 Ks to move to 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA.

IF is 21-13 and 3 games up on first. The series concludes tonight with no announced starters on the team site.

Rookie -- Burlington: done at 38-30

1B/DH Jake Lane .315 BA/.453 OBP/.996 OPS, 16 doubles, 4 triples, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 30 BB, 50 K, 9/15 SB, 2 E in 53 games -- led team in all three percentage categories and tied Wilson Tucker for team RBI lead

OF David Lough .337/.380/.857, 6 doubles, 2 HR, 4 BB, 13 K, 6/7 SB, 0 E in 24 games -- hit well but battled injuries, hope has better health record in '08

OF Wilson Tucker .298/.341/.829, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 10 BB, 36 K, 5/8 SB, 4 E in 54 games -- started hot, cooled off but bat and glove combined plus nice OF arm earned promotion to IF

IF Jose Santos .814 OPS, 15 XBH, 8 E in 38 games -- had good and bad games
IF Kyle Martin .755 OPS (only .294 OBP), led team with 10 HR and 17 doubles, 46 Ks with only 13 BB, 10 E in 58 games -- bat got him to Idaho Falls, free swinger
1B/DH Brett Amyx .748 OPS, 17 XBH, 21 BB/54 K in 50 games -- I expected better; struck out too much

OF Patrick Norris .735 OPS, 8 XBH, 39 BB/59 K, 30/35 SB, 3 E in 60 games -- durable, decent leadoff guy, struck out too much but showed good speed and steady D

P Anthony Bradley 2-2, 2.09 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 13 BB/51 K, 3 HRA in 12 games (7 starts) and 51 2/3 IP -- had great season as undrafted free agent, hopefully back in fold for '08; nice nearly 4-1 K/BB ratio

P Joe Augustine 4-1, 2.36 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 9 BB/27 K, 5 HRA in 11 games (6 starts) and 45 2/3 IP -- not quite as good as Bradley other than WHIP but also a solid undrafted free agent

P Ryan Woods 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7 saves, 5 BB/18 K, 1 HRA in 17 games and 28 IP as closer -- solid out of pen

P Eduardo Paulino 1.12 WHIP, tied Brian Gausman for team IP lead at 53 2/3, 18 BB/42 K, allowed 7 HR and had 4.86 ERA -- had both really good and bad outings
P Brian Gausman 2.68 ERA with 1.30 WHIP, 12 BB/34 K, only gave up 3 HR in 53 2/3 IP
P Alex Caldera 3.40 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP, 13 BB/39 K, 5 HRA in 42 1/3 IP -- not bad debut


Rookie -- AZL: done at 28-28

1B David Wood .318/.369/.862 OPS, 17 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 17 BB, 29 K, 8 E in 54 games -- won team "triple crown" with nice season as undrafted free agent, hope to see him at A-ball in Burlington next season

C Sean McCauley .286/.375/.851, 10 doubles, 2 HR, 10 BB, 19 K, 4 E in 31 games -- not bad debut for HS draftee, expect to see at IF next season

1B Diego Cruz .276/.348/.725, 9 doubles, 4 triples, 1 HR, 32 RBI, 14 BB, 35 K, 4/9 SB, 2 E in 54 games -- middling season for Diego, second on team in RBI

OF Hilton Richardson .599 OPS, 9 XBH, 20 BB, 66 K, 12/19 SB, 3 E in 48 games -- expected more out of relatively high HS draftee, but he has time to learn
IF Fernando Cruz .519 OPS, 7 XBH, 8 BB, 43 K, 13 E in 48 games -- disappointed more than Richardson, but is even younger

P Eric Van Slyke 1-1, 0.83 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 9 saves in 18 games and 21 2/3 IP as closer, 5 BB/29 K, 0 HRA -- hope he sticks with organization

P Matt Mitchell 5-1, 1.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 25 BB/72 K, 0 HRA in 14 games (7 starts) and 55 IP -- earned AZL pitcher of year with great debut, strikeout machine

P Dan Duffy 2-3, 1.45 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 17 BB/63 K, 0 HRA in 11 games (9 starts) and 37 1/3 IP -- nice 1-2 punch with Mitchell, even better K rate and K/BB than Mitchell

P Sam Runion 5.82 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 17 BB/51 K, 4 HRA in 51 IP -- didn't flash as much as Mitchell or Duffy, we'll see where he starts '08
P Williams Farinas 1.24 WHIP, 3.55 ERA, 16 BB/36 K, 4 HRA in 50 2/3 IP -- was solid in rotation
P Michael Lehmann 1.33 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, 23 BB/40 K, 4 HRA in 44 1/3 IP -- another guy who showed flashes
P Mitch Hodge 4.24 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 1-6 record, 23 BB/35 K, 2 HRA in 40 1/3 IP -- had rough go at times


03 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/2

AAA -- Omaha: O-Royals 2, Iowa 1 (10)

DH Lewis 2-4, RBI (32), RS -- .233
2B Cortez 1-4, BB, RBI (24) -- .290
CF Maier 1-4, BB, 2 K, CS -- .278
SS Aviles 0-3, BB, K -- .294
1B Brazell 0-4, 4 K -- .305, golden sombrero
RF Huber 1-4, 2B (13), K -- .280
LF Lubanski 0-4, 2 K -- .201

Hendrickson 8 IP, ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K -- 4.12 ERA
Giron 2 IP, H, 3 K -- W, 2-5, 3.71 ERA

Omaha rallied in the 10th to win Sunday and ensure at least a split of the set with Iowa. The game was scoreless into the 6th as Ben Hendrickson and Iowa's Randy Wells dueled. Carmen Pignatiello took over on the mound for Iowa in the 6th and Omaha capitalized as Fernando Cortez singled in a run but the Royals left the bases loaded. Hendrickson allowed a run on 2 hits and a walk in the 7th but stranded 2 and the game went to extras. In the 10th, Derek Wathan led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Richie Lewis single to make it 2-1 Omaha. Roberto Giron pitched a perfect 10th for his 2nd win. Cubs RF Jake Fox was 2-4 with his 7th double and 2nd SB to move to .295 and RP Ben Howard took the loss with an IP of an ER on 2 hits to fall to 6-8 with a 4.22 ERA.

Omaha moved to 72-71. The Royals finished the season today with a win, so finished 2 games over .500 to mark the first over-.500 season in Omaha since 2002. Thad Markray got the win.

AA -- Wichita: Tulsa 11, Wranglers 0 (4-hitter)

DH Greenberg 0-2, 2 BB, K, SB (23) -- .268
RF Valentin 0-3, BB, K -- .291
1B Kaaihue 1-3, BB -- .246

Christensen 6 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 5 K -- L, 3-15, 6.21 ERA, season ends with whimper, hope he fixes things for next season
Bernat 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, WP -- 13.50 ERA, not pretty numbers in short AA stint
De La Rosa 1 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, HRA -- 11.12 ERA, time to dump Jorge

Tulsa pounded the Wranglers and all three pitchers used by Wichita. Starter Dan Christensen gave up single runs in both the 1st and 2nd and Wichita stranded 2 in the 4th and 5th. Tulsa rapped out hits for 3 runs in the 5th and Wichita left the bases loaded in the 6th. David Bernat came in to pitch the 7th for Wichita and allowed 4 runs on 4 hits, a wild pitch and sac fly before Jorge De La Rosa came in. De La Rosa gave up a 2-run homer in the 8th to finish the scoring and the last 11 Wranglers went down in order. Drillers DH Aaron Rifkin was 4-5 with 2 doubles (36), his 15th homer and 5 RBI (76) to move to .269 and SP Jon Asahina got the win with 5 IP of 3 hits and 6 BB to improve to 3-5 with a 5.07 ERA.

Wichita dropped to 31-38. They finished the season with a sweep today at the hands of the Drillers in 10 innings, so their time in Wichita came to an ugly end. Jason Cromer took the loss.

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: Blue Rocks 2, Potomac 1

3B Lisson 2-3, HBP, 2 2B (27), RBI (61), RS -- .285
LF Cleveland 1-3, BB, RBI (15), K -- .269
2B Maddox 3-5, 2B (17), K, RS, SB (12) -- .262
RF D. Robinson 1-4, BB, SB (1) -- .375
CF Bigler 1-2, 2 BB, K, 2 SB (15) -- .262
* The Rocks stranded 12.

Cortes 5 IP, UER, 5 H, BB, 8 K -- W, 8-8, 3.07 ERA
Green and D'Amico 3 IP scoreless relief
Santos perfect IP -- SV, 10, 3.16 ERA

Each team had 1 inning's worth of scoring as the Rocks got the narrow win behind starter Dan Cortes. The Nats scored on 2 hits and a Cody Clark error in the 2nd and the Rocks stranded the bases full in the 3rd. Mario Lisson tied it with an RBI double in the 5th and Jeremy Cleveland followed with an RBI single to give Wilmington a 2-1 lead. Yovany D'Amico and Arthur Santos pitched a perfect 8th and 9th to end it. Nats 2B Matt Rogelstad was 2-4 to move to .303 and P Eddy Baeza took the loss with 2 1/3 IP of 2 runs (1 ER) on 4 hits, a walk and K to fall to 0-3 with a 4.88 ERA.

Wilmington moved to 45-23. They finished the regular season today with a loss to Potomac. Blake Wood took the loss. The Rocks open the first round of the Carolina League playoffs with a best-of-3 versus the Frederick Keys (A-Adv. Orioles) at home Wednesday. Sunday's win marked the 300th Blue Rocks managerial win for John Mizerock.

A -- Burlington: Clinton 3, Bees 2 (11)

SS Bianchi 2-5, 2B (18), RBI (34), K, RS, SB (13) -- .242
C Howell 1-5, RBI (21) -- .232

Gutierrez 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 10 K -- 4.88 ERA, great start squandered
Wladyka 1 2/3 IP, H, K -- 5.96 ERA
Hartsock 1 1/3 IP, ER, H, BB, WP -- BS, 4, 2.62 ERA
DiPietro 1 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, BB, 3 K, HRA -- L, 5-10, 5.92 ERA

Clinton came back twice, first to force extras, and then to win in the 11th to give themselves a chance at a sweep. Jeff Bianchi doubled home a run in the 1st and 1-0 stayed the score as Dan Gutierrez handed a 2-hit shutout to the pen in the 7th. With 1 on and 2 out in the 9th, RP Aaron Hartsock gave up a game-tying double and the game went to extra innings. P Ryan DiPietro almost lost it in the 10th but RF Felix Peralta ended the inning by nailing a runner at the plate. Jeff Howell singled home a run in the 11th to make it 2-1 Bees but DiPietro gave up a 2-out solo homer in the bottom of the inning to tie it. The LumberKings then got a walk, 2 steals from CF David Paisano and a walk-off single from RF Wally Backman II to end it. Clinton 1B Chris Kemp was 2-5 with his 3rd error, 4th double, 4th homer and 2 RBI (18) to move to .277 and P Ivan Izquierdo got the win with 4 IP of an ER on 2 hits and a walk to improve to 3-3 with a 2.59 ERA.

Burlington dropped to 30-38. The Bees salvaged the season finale today as Everett Teaford got the win.

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Orem 9, Chukars 4 (6/rain)

SS Moustakas 1-2, RS -- .391
RF Tucker 1-3, HR (1), RBI (9), RS -- .321
DH Robinson 1-2, RBI (63) -- .347
1B Seratelli 0-2, RBI (44), SB (28) -- .325
LF Norris 0-3, RS -- .000

Snipes 2 1/3 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 3 HRA -- L, 2-6, 5.73 ERA
Denton 2 2/3 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K -- 4.10 ERA

Orem supplied the offense and rain washed out the last 3 1/2 innings as IF lost the opener. Starter Clegg Snipes had a rough night and it started with a leadoff homer in the 1st. He gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in the 2nd before serving up a 2-run homer and a solo homer and getting pulled in the 3rd. Chris Denton gave up 2 more runs in the inning to make it 8-0 Owlz. IF notched 3 runs in the 4th on a Clint Robinson RBI single, an Anthony Seratelli RBI force out and steal of home by O.D. Gonzalez. Orem scored another run in the 4th and Wilson Tucker hit his 1st Idaho Falls homer to lead off the 6th before the rains came to wash away any chance of a Chukar comeback. Owlz LF Jeremy Moore was 2-3 with his 16th SB, 14th homer and 2 RBI (54) to move to .271 and P Esmerlin Jimenez got the win with 5 IP of 4 runs (1 ER) on 6 hits, a walk and K to move to 4-2 with a 3.68 ERA.

IF is 21-12 and 4 games up on first. The series continues tonight with no announced starters on the team site.

Rookie -- Burlington: done at 38-30
Rookie -- AZL: done at 28-28

02 September 2007

Royals on the Farm 9/1

AAA -- Omaha: O-Royals 8, Iowa 1

RF Huber 1-3, 2 SF, 3 RBI (68) -- .281
C Phillips 2-4, BB, HR (2), 2 RBI (13), 2 RS -- .237
LF Lubanski 2-5, 2B (6), 2 RBI (21), K -- .206
SS Aviles 2-5, 2B (27), 2 K, RS, E (23) -- .296
1B Brazell 2-4, BB, 2 2B (33), 3 RS -- .308
3B Wathan 2-5 -- .242
CF Maier 1-5, K -- .278

Wright 5 IP, ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K -- W, 10-5, 4.06 ERA, nice end to season, now will he get call to KC?
Hoelscher 4 IP, 2 H, 2 K -- SV, 3, 5.17 ERA

Omaha poured on the offense in support of Matt Wright to even the series with the Cubs at 1 game each. A Justin Huber sac fly in the 1st gave Omaha a 1-0 lead but Iowa got a run in the 3rd on 2 hits and a sac fly to tie it. Paul Phillips regained the lead for the Royals with a 2-run homer in the 4th for his 2nd of the season and the Royals gained some breathing room with 4 runs in the 5th on a run-scoring error, another Huber sac fly and a 2-run double by Chris Lubanski. Huber singled in a run in the 6th to make it 8-1 and Nate Hoelscher faced the minimum over the last 3 innings to get his 3rd save. Cubs DH Koyie Hill was 2-4 to move to .329 and SP J.R. Mathes took the loss with 4 1/3 IP of 7 R (6 ER) on 8 hits, a walk and 3 Ks to fall to 10-8 with a 5.58 ERA.

Omaha is 71-71. The series is continuing this afternoon and its 1-0 Omaha in the 7th. Ben Hendrickson started for Omaha. RP Neal Musser got called up to KC.

AA -- Wichita: Tulsa 8, Wranglers 5

LF Gaffney 2-4, 2 HR (3), 2 RBI (17), K, 2 RS -- .245
CF Greenberg 2-4, BB, HR (8), RBI (43), K, RS, OF assist at third -- .269
C Donachie 1-4, HR (9), 2 RBI (35), RS, 2 E (4) -- .204
SS Arce 2-4 -- .224
RF Valentin 1-4, BB, K, RS, CS -- .293

Barnes 4 IP, 7 R (4 ER), 6 H, 2 BB, K -- L, 1-1, 3.00 ERA
Cedeno 4 IP, ER, 3 H, BB, 3 K, WP -- 6.33 ERA

The teams combined for 11 runs in the first 3 innings but when the dust settled Tulsa came out on top in the opener of the final series. The Wranglers loaded the bases with 1 out in the 1st and an Adam Donachie RBI ground out gave Wichita the lead before the bases were left full. Tulsa got off to a better start versus starter Justin Barnes as the Drillers scored 4 runs in the 1st on a Donachie error and 2 doubles. Wichita answered with 2 runs in the 2nd on solo homers by Michael Gaffney (his 2nd) and Adam Greenberg (his 8th) to cut it to 4-3 but Tulsa scored a run on 3 hits before Greenberg nailed a runner at third to end the rally. Donachie hit his 9th homer to lead off the 3rd and cut it to 5-4 but Tulsa scored 2 in the 3rd on a hit, Donachie's second run-scoring error of the game and a sac fly. The scoring stopped then until the 7th when Tulsa scored on 2 hits, a walk and wild pitch off Juan Cedeno. Gaffney hit his 2nd homer of the game and 3rd of the season to start the 9th but Wichita stranded 1 as Tulsa RP Steven Register notched his 37th save. Drillers 1B Aaron Rifkin was 2-4 with his 34th double and 2 RBI (71) to move to .264 and SP Ching Lung Lo got the win with 5 IP of 4 ER on 7 hits, 3 walks and a K to move to 8-8 with a 5.61 ERA.

Wichita is 31-37 and out of the race. The series continues tonight. Probable starters haven't been announced on the team site.

A-Adv. -- Wilmington: Blue Rocks 2, Potomac 1

1B Lisson 3-4, 2 E (17) -- .283
LF Robinson 2-4, RS -- .500, nice debut for late call-up Derrick
3B Maddox 1-4, RBI (44), K, SB (11) -- .258
C Thibault 1-4, RBI (36), K, picked off -- .257
CF Duarte 0-4, 3 K -- .291

B. Johnson 6 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP -- W, 9-6, 3.28 ERA, Rocks rotation has been remarkable; Johnson is 6-0 with a 1.28 ERA in last 12 outings
Humen IP, UER, 2 H -- 3.03 ERA
Haltiwanger IP, BB, K -- 4.01 ERA
Chambliss IP -- SV, 2, 4.47 ERA

Rocks pitchers did the job again as Wilmington started the final series of the regular season with a narrow win. The Rocks stranded 2 in the 1st and both teams stranded 2 in the 3rd. The game was scoreless into the 6th when Marc Maddox and Kiel Thibault hit RBI singles but the Rocks stranded 2. Starter Blake Johnson handed a 2-hitter to the bullpen in the 7th and David Humen allowed a run on 2 hits and a Mario Lisson error before stranding 2 Nats. Russ Haltiwanger left runners at the corners in the 8th and Tyler Chambliss pitched a perfect 9th for his 2nd save. Nats SP Cory VanAllen took the loss with 5 2/3 IP of 2 ER on 9 hits, a walk and 4 Ks to drop to 3-7 with a 5.49 ERA.

Wilmington is 44-23 and has clinched the second-half title. The series continues this afternoon. Starters: Rocks right-hander Dan Cortes (7-8, 3.20) vs. Nationals righty Brad Meyers (0-0, 7.71).

A -- Burlington: Clinton 2, Bees 1

2B Mertins 3-4, 2B (15), RBI (39), K -- .253
SS Bianchi 1-4, K -- .240

Cegarra 4 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, BB, 2 K -- L, 1-6, 5.12 ERA
Cribb and Hartsock 3 1/3 IP scoreless relief

Clinton starter Kasey Kiker pitched a solid 5 innings and the LumberKings won a pitchers' duel. Starter Ed Cegarra gave up a run in the 1st as Clinton had 2 hits and Brady Everett committed an error. The Bees loaded the bases with 1 out in the 3rd but Everett lined into a double play to stifle the rally. The LumberKings scored a run on 3 hits off Cegarra in the 3rd to make it 2-0 and Cegarra left the game with a leg injury with 2 outs in the 5th. The Bees stranded 2 in the 6th but scored on a Kurt Mertins single in the 8th before stranding 2 that inning. They went down in order in the 9th as RP Josh Lueke got his 6th save for Clinton. Clinton RF K.C. Herren was 2-4 with 2 doubles (30) and 2 RBI (48) to move to .275 and Kiker got the win with 5 IP of 3 hits, 4 walks and 5 Ks to move to 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA.

Burlington is 30-37. The series has resumed this afternoon with the Bees up, 1-0, in the 6th. Dan Gutierrez started for the Bees.

Rookie -- Idaho Falls: Chukars 7, Casper 2

DH Robinson 3-5, 2B (17), RBI (62), K -- .346
SS Moustakas 2-5, 2B (3), RBI (5), 2 K, RS -- .381, justifying the pick well so far
RF Gonzalez 1-5, HR (9), 2 RBI (35), 2 K, 2 RS -- .292
C Eigsti 1-4, RBI (12), K -- .211
CF Ortiz 2-5, 2B (8), RS -- .313
LF Tucker 1-5, 2B (9), K, RS, SB (1) -- .321
1B Seratelli 1-5, 2B (17), K, RS, SB (27) -- .328
*IF stranded 11.

Peterson 4 IP, ER, 4 H, 9 K -- 3.00 ERA, strikeout machine
Baldwin 3 IP, ER, 2 H, 5 K -- W, 5-1, 2.61 ERA
Swaggerty 1/3 IP, H, 2 BB, K -- 3.34 ERA
Holland 1 2/3 IP, H, 2 K -- SV, 6, 3.03 ERA

IF cranked out all 7 of its runs in the first 4 innings to salvage the series finale versus Casper. Mike Moustakas doubled with 2 out in the 1st and O.D. Gonzalez followed with his 9th homer to make it 2-0 Chukars. Ryan Eigsti singled in a run in the 2nd and another run scored on a Casper error to make it 4-0. Starter Zach Peterson allowed a run in the 3rd but Clint Robinson doubled in a run in the bottom of the 3rd and the Chukars scored 2 in the 4th on another run-scoring Rockies error and a Moustakas RBI single. Burke Baldwin allowed a run in the 6th but Greg Holland got out of a bases-loaded jam left to him in the 8th and induced a double play in the 9th en route to his 6th save. Rockies 2B Zack Murry was 3-4 with his 7th SB, 19th RBI and 3 E (13) to move to .283 and SP Jeff Fischer took the loss with 3 IP of 5 R (3 ER) on 6 hits and 4 Ks to fall to 0-10 with a 6.15 ERA.

Idaho Falls is 21-11 and 5 games up on first with 6 games left. They start a 3-game set at the second-place Orem Owlz (16-16, Rookie Halos) today. No announced starters on the team site. IF is 8-4 versus Orem.

Rookie -- Burlington: finished 38-30
Rookie -- AZL: finished 28-28