maybe i'll use my media pass to go into the river cats clubhouse today and ask "HAS ANYONE HERE BEEN CALLED UP IN THE LAST 10 MINUTES"— Doug (@moonwalkmcfly) April 28, 2018
Oh! Oh! Doug! Ask DJ Snelten! ASK DJ SNELTEN!
Look I know I can't compete with Pablo Sandoval pitching so watch this at your convenience but here's Chris Shaw taking a few BP swings pic.twitter.com/mreKn8tOy6— Doug (@moonwalkmcfly) April 28, 2018
Yeah ok, that’s a pretty good use of your media pass too.
Still congratulations to DJ Snelten, the newest San Francisco Giant, representing the (somewhat scanty) 2013 draft class and bringing a seriously funky/uncomfortable at bat for hitters:
This man is throwing a baseball for a strike pic.twitter.com/IzMDFsY789— Ahmed Fareed (@FareedNBCS) April 29, 2018
HIGHLIGHTS: Steven Duggar had 3 hits with a HR; Luigi Rodriguez had three hits, HR, SB, BB, and two runs scored; Conner Menez threw 5 more shutout innings; Frank Rubio picked up an epic two inning save.
The RiverCats burst out of the gate with 4 runs in the 1st inning, but soon enough found themselves on the bottom side of ledger, thanks to yet another poor start from Casey Kelly. Kelly allowed just 1 ER in his first two starts of the season, but he’s been throwing batting practice for his last three outings. The RHP has surrendered 22 ER in his last three starts, and lasted just 9.1 IP in those games. One might conclude that a DL stint will be Casey’s next destination in his comeback tour.
But I’m burying the lede, which should be another fine effort from CF Steven Duggar. Duggar started off the first inning rally with a leadoff HR and he would go on to collect hits in each of his first three PA. It was his second HR of the season and second in as many days. Duggar’s line is up to .295/.358/.436 for the season. He continues to look comfortable and confident and the K rate has been dropping steadily lately (now down to 27%). We’ll be seeing this guy soon.
That tied the game at 1-1 and singles from Chase D’Arnaud and Chris Shaw then set up Ryder Jones for the inning’s big shot, Jones 1st HR of the year.
(As an aside, i have no idea what’s going on with MiLBtv’s audio feed this year but it’s been uniformly horrible. Fix that, please, folks!)
That was it for the fireworks, though. The Cats would tie the game briefly at 5-5 in the 5th, but Reno posted add on runs against Kelly and each of three relievers to salt it away. Sacramento managed just six hits in the game after the 1st and struck out 13 times against just 1 walk. Not a great way to sustain an attack. Sacramento pitching on the other hand, surrendered 16 hits and 6 walks. Still, they take the field today with a chance to take 4 of 5 from Reno.
Also of note, on a day in which Roberto Gomez, DJ Snelten, and Pablo Sandoval, RELIEF PITCHER, all took at bats, this happened in Sacramento:
UPDATE: AAA RELIEVER MADISON YOUNGINER JUST DOUBLED— Doug (@moonwalkmcfly) April 29, 2018
Frankly, it’s just good to see a Madison taking hacks again. But sadly, that was the RiverCats only XBH after the first inning.
Switch-hitting INF Alen Hanson is a nice asset to ML club. Plays mostly 2B/SS, but has logged 613 innings combined in minors/ML at all 3 OF positions. I've only seen him play 2B this year and he's been solid. Fangraphs rated him 50 field last year. Had a 60 rating for speed.— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) April 28, 2018
There were, of course, a flurry of transactions involving Sacramento’s roster over the last 36 hours, at least a dozen of which involved Austin Slater, but in the wake of the news that Joe Panik may be headed for surgery, the Alen Hanson promotion could well be an under the radar gem. Hanson, as detailed in previous Minor Lines, has torched the PCL this year to the tune of an 1.140 OPS, and as recently as four years ago was a top 10 prospect in a good Pirates’ system, as well as a former Top 100 guy back in 2012/13. It would be a very nice thing if Alen pulled himself an Andres Torres and suddenly figured out how to get the tools to play.
And there we have it! The closest thing to a laugher the Flying Squirrels have had this year. Amazingly this was the first time this year that the 13-8 Squirrels won by more than 3 runs. In doing so, they broke red-hot Hartford’s 7 game winning streak. How unexpected was the explosion?
And there's still two innings to go... pic.twitter.com/6qEuOOhxSv— Squirrels Baseball (@GoSquirrels) April 29, 2018
Richmond jumped out to an early lead, with Miguel Gomez’ two-run triple keying a three-run 1st inning. By the end, they’d knocked out a season’s high in hits.
The hero of the day was CF Luigi Rodriguez, bidding to be 2018’s version of Slade Heathcott. Luigi is simply “out-of-his-gourd” hot at this point, with a ridiculous 15 hits over his last 31 ABs. He’s also sprinkled six walks into that stretch, for an OBP of .568 in his last 10 games.
All Rodriguez did in this game was pick up three hits including his 2nd HR, walk, score two runs, and steal his 4th base of the year (combo meal!). The 25 year old AA vet’s .491 OBP would be second in the league (behind the Mets’ Peter Alonso) if he qualified. Pretty nice job of filling in, Luigi!
That REALLY did not look like a HR swing.
The dagger came from former Dodger Jerry Sands, who batted for starting pitcher Cory Taylor with two-out and two-on in the 5th and delivered a big three-run PH homer to blow the game open.
See THAT looked like a HR swing. Curiously, though Richmond sits almost exactly in the middle of the league stats pack for nearly every offensive category, they are second in the EL in team HRs.
Sitting on an 8-3 lead, Richmond got in four innings of relative ease for a change. But attention should be given to Michael Connolly and Caleb Simpson, who worked the final two innings. Between them, the pair has delivered 20.2 scoreless innings to start the year. A big part of Richmond’s success has been a stalwart bullpen that has been very stingy about runs. Connolly and Simpson have been a big part of that effort, though I will say that their collective 21 K/16 BB ratio could probably use a course correction if they want to sustain the success they’ve had to start the year. Still, when they’re in the strike zone the pair has proved tough to hit.
I could caption this: happier times for some pitchers who will feature in this recap.
San Jose has had a few gut punch victories so far on the young season, but this was a bit of a gut punch loss. On a night when the bats were mostly silent, the Giants looked to be heading to another pitching and defense based victory, when a shocking bullpen collapse pulled the W out of their grasp — twice!
The Giants managed just 5 hits in the game, but two of them were doubles from Matt Winn and Jacob Heyward, and they managed to parlay both into runs with a some classic ground attack maneuvers, including an RBI infield single from Bryce Johnson. That was good enough support for Conner Menez, who continues to toy with the California League. Over four starts and 20 IP, Menez has allowed just 1 run in the Cal League this year, while striking out 27 to just 6 walks.
Menez was pulled fairly early, however, leaving after just 5 innings and 89 pitches, and the normally sturdy bullpen quickly went into meltdown mode. Michael Cederoth lost the lead, surrendering three runs in the bottom of the 7th. He was hampered by Gio Brusa’s 6th error of the season in his 1b conversion (“Tell ‘em Wash!”), but also gave up loud contact with back to back run scoring extra base hits.
But San Jose scratched back into the lead, thanks to back to back walks to open the 8th and one highly successful bunt.
Unbelievably, Heyward was ultimately called out at 3b on that play; I wasn’t generally taught that lifting a player off a base was strictly speaking a legal way to tag them out. And that cost the Giants a potential run.
However, Rudolfo Martinez, and Nolan Riggs combined to allow 6 runs to the Nuts in a bottom of the 8th that featured three walks, four hits, and two wild pitches. Brutal. It wasn’t that long ago that Rudolfo was a special power arm on the rise who didn’t look that far away from SF bound. But his career has really taken a wrong turn since his promotion to AA two years ago.
Augusta ripped off their seventh consecutive victory, which I believe might be a franchise record — at least in the Giants portion of this franchise’s history. But it wouldn’t be easy. The dramatic heart of the victory came in an epic 8th inning at bat. With one out and two aboard in a one-run game, Augusta pitcher Frank Rubio and Jeremy Vasquez engaged in a mini-Brandon Belt style PA, cranking up the drama with each foul ball.
Look at this masterpiece of anticipation and tension! A turn of the screw, a turn of the screw...
Ok, not 21 pitches, but still pretty dramatic! Thanks in large part to that at bat, Rubio ended up needing 46 pitches to go the final two innings, picking up a remarkably well-earned save.
Much earlier in the evening, Jason Bahr had taken the start, and after a rocky first inning Bahr delivered another pretty sensational effort. Bahr allowed a solo HR to leadoff the ballgame and later in the first a double and RBI single. But after that he shut Columbia down, allowing just one more hit over the next four innings while striking out 7. Bahr’s 31 strikeouts are tied for 2nd in the Sally, with a K9 that is just a hair under 12.
The Augusta offense has been humming lately, scoring 26 runs over its previous four games. But though they had ample opportunity to put up some crooked numbers against LHP Anthony Kay, they struggled to get hits in scoring opportunities, going just 2 for 10 with RISP. One of those two, however, was a crucial Jacob Gonzalez single on a pop up to the SS that was neither caught nor, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, called an infield fly. That lapse led to an Orlando Garcia Sac Fly that provided the eventual winning run.
Gonzalez had three hits in the game, giving him 7 hits in has last 11 at bats. He’s also had two walks in that stretch. Three days ago, Heliot Ramos had a batting average of .275 while Jacob Gonzalez was hitting .214. This morning Gonzalez sits at .272 while Ramos is down to .244. This has been your Small Sample Size Theater for Sunday, April 28!
The loudest swing of the bat in the game, once again came from Malique Ziegler, Augusta’s somewhat surprising team leader in HRs. Ziegler turned around a Kay fastball for his 4th HR of the season. Once again, we’re forced to go with an artist’s rendition version of Ziegler’s HR, but it probably looked a lot like this!
Malique keeps piquing interest. It’ll be very interesting to see how the slight, athletic Ziegler stands up to the long-hot summer of South Carolina in his first full season. The 22nd rounder is one to keep an eye on though, for sure.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Jose Flores vs. Jake Buchanan
Richmond: Shaun Anderson vs. Jack Wynkoop
San Jose: Mac Marshall vs. Danny Garcia
Augusta: Garrett Cave vs. Chris Viall
I believe we have Kevin stationed in Richmond today for an eye-witness of Shaun Anderson’s start. Kevin is starting an epic east coast journey that will take him from Richmond down to Augusta to see the new park. And I’m looking forward to catching a rare Greenjackets’ road trip next weekend (rare for me as they don’t much venture up into my neck of the woods much anymore).
So hopefully lots of treats over the next couple weeks to spruce up the place! Have a beautiful Sunday everyone! Enjoy the games.