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SF Giants Minor Lines 9/1/18: Jalen Miller hits 50th XBH

A stunning comeback in San Jose and Salem-Keizer keeps its slim hopes alive

minor lines

I was going to open today’s Minor Lines by quizzing readers on the organizational leader in Xtra Base Hits and Total Bases, but then Jalen Miller went and hit a milestone so I tossed out the guesswork. Miller is the Giants leader in both categories for 2018 — and not just the minor leaguers! His 14th HR of the year was his 50th XBH. Adding in a double later last night Miller upped his organization-leading total bases total to 219. Those 50th and 51st XBH moved Miller past Steven Duggar, who has 49 XBH (and will sadly not be adding to that total). Andrew McCutchen led the major league club with 200 Total Bases and Chris Shaw is next in the organization with 199. Congrats to a long time Minor Line favorite! Quite a 2018.

HIGHLIGHTS: Johneshwy Fargas doubled, tripled, and hit a Walk Off Grand Slam; Garrett Cave struck out 8 over 5 shutout innings. Dalton Combs delivered on offense and defense.

Sacramento won at Las Vegas 51s (Mets), 7-3

Sacramento native Brock Stassi’s homecoming has certainly been a happy and productive one. Since signing with the Giants our of Independent ball, Stassi has been a hit machine, going 22 for 57. And if he’s not the Greek God of Walks, he’s been something close to that:

Yesterday, Stassi doubled twice and drove in two runs to help Sacramento pick up the win on the road.

Brand new Giant Abiatal Avelino had a grand organizational debut, picking up two hits, scoring two runs, and stealing two bases. Welcome aboard, Abiatal!

Tyler Beede struck out two in a scoreless 9th inning in what might be his final tune-up before rejoining the Giants for September. Since returning from the DL, Beede has struck out 10 in 6.1 IP while walking just two. He’s given up 3 runs in that stretch but all coming in a single outing.

Richmond’s game against Hartford was postponed due to rain

San Jose beat Modesto Nuts (Mariners), 9-8

Remember everything I said yesterday about Johneshwy Fargas’ ability to help teams win games, and how if you squint just right you can maybe see a Gregor Blanco type development? Ok, now add in that in his third try at A+, the 23 year old Fargas has hit a career best .289 and boosted his OPS (.768) more than 200 points over his 2017 performance.

In what turned out to be a stunning victory that eliminated the Modesto Nuts from playoff contention, Fargas had an extraordinary performance. He came just a single shy of a cycle and delivered the gut punching blow to win it.

San Jose got down early 5-0 but fought back to 6-5 thanks to in part to Miller’s HR and a Fargas double. In the bottom of the 8th, still tantalizingly close to completing their comeback, Fargas put the team in a great position to tie it.

But in a twist of extreme frustration, Modesto worked out of that jam with a couple of strikeouts, and then added on two runs in the top of the 9th, to apparently salt it away. Jalen Miller doubled but two quick outs brought the game to the brink. But Bryce Johnson bunted for a single and Kelvin Beltre worked a walk to load the bases. That brought Fargas up once again as the potential winning run:

One of the great wonders of baseball is that you can be 58-80 on a season and still have a game that makes you this deliriously happy. The Giants season has had a lot of lows for sure, but it has NOT been without its extraordinary highs.

Augusta beat Columbia Fireflies (Mets), 8-3

After back to back starts in which he had allowed 7 runs in 4 innings, Garrett Cave bounced back to finish 2018 with his best start of the year. Cave matched a career high with 8 strikeouts while throwing shutout ball over 5 innings. It was just the fourth time this year that Cave had gone 5 innings and allowed no runs. Cave has gone more than 5 innings in just one of his 26 starts on the season. It’s been a rough second half for the right-hander, who posted ERAs of 5.01, 6.18, and 8.10 in the final three months of the season. Great to see him go out on a positive note! ERA of 0.00 for September!

The offense got two hits apiece from each of the first three hitters in the order. That included Heliot Ramos’ 11th HR of the year, his first extra base hit in 9 games. Ramos reached safely three times in all, including a HBP. A few more XBH in the season’s last two days and Heliot might flirt with a .400 SLG. Over the last month he’s hit .282/.312/.476, though his first half and second half lines are nearly identical. It’s hard to know how exactly to read Ramos’ big August. On the one hand, it’s certainly impressive to see him playing his best ball when by rights he should be exhausted. On the other, A ball pitching tends to be pretty depleted in August as well, as the best pitchers have moved on (or worn down) and there’s not really a lower level for hot new pitchers to come up from to replace them. But he’s held his own for sure, and will likely advance to even greater challenge next year, where he’ll once again be one of the very youngest hitters in a league filled with even more advanced pitching.

One thing that seems clear from the record is that Ramos is best served when he works himself into hitters’ counts. When behind in the count this year, Heliot has hit .200/.226/.324 in 170 ABs. But when he was ahead he socked a robust .325/.480/.487 (117 ABs). Just reversing those AB totals (so that the greater number is on the “Ahead in the Count”) will help get him where he needs to go.

Salem-Keizer won at Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks) 3-1 in 11 inn

The Volcanoes kept their feint hopes for a post-season alive by the narrowest of margins. The Volcanoes are in position where they almost have to sweep the powerful Hops (or Lupulos for tonight’s game), who just last week compiled a franchise best 9 game winning streak on their way to a franchise record 49 wins (so far) this summer.

To help things along, SK finally got themselves a well-pitched game. Jake Wong continued his excellent debut, going three innings without allowing a run. Wong has allowed 1 or 0 runs now in 9 consecutive starts (most of which have lasted 3 innings). Wong needed help however, as he came inches away from coughing up a three-run homer in the 2nd, but Dalton Combs — who had a huge day — bailed him out with a sensational catch.

Following Wong, Alex DuBord somewhat surprisingly followed up with three scoreless innings of his own, lowering his season ERA to 10.32.

But with the pitchers piling up 0s the offense couldn’t get untracked, and when Hillsboro grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 8th, elimination loomed.

After Joey Bart struck out to open the 9th, the Volcanoes got a gift when Combs and Ricardo Genoves were both hit by Hillsboro Pitcher Travis Moths. Of all the people in this powerful lineup to have to rely on, it was backup SS Jett Manning who delivered with a game tying RBI single:

In the 10th, free runner Diego Rincones would get to 3b with nobody out, but David Villar, Wander Franco, and Aaron Bond were all unable to bring him in with the go ahead run. But Matt Frisbee struck out the side in the bottom of the inning leading to the 11th. There it was once again Dalton Combs who came up big for the Volcanoes:

The Volcanoes are now 9-2 in extra innings this year, as the late inning relievers, particularly Jesus Tona and Matt Frisbee have been excellent. With Eugene losing to Boise, Salem-Keizer thus climbed back into a tie in the race for the Wild Card. They must pick up one more game on Eugene in the final two days, as the Emeralds hold the tiebreaker.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Jordan Johnson vs. Drew Gagnon
Richmond: Logan Webb vs. Sterling Sharp; TBD vs. TBD
San Jose: Dom Mazza vs. Darren McCaughan
Augusta: Caleb Baragar vs. TBD
Salem-Keizer: Greg Jacknewitz vs. TBD

The Volcanoes send their weakest link of the rotation (and that’s saying something!) to the mound to try to help keep hopes alive. Bow your neck, Greg! Meanwhile Richmond gets a hot, muggy double header on the penultimate day of the season, which probably makes all the players happy. Logan Webb gets a chance to place the final note on his fantastic 2018 and Jordan Johnson wants to leave a final impression that will help convince the Giants to add him to the 40 man in a couple of months.

We’re nearing the sad and lonely end.