Thursday, August 25, 2016

Twins Minor League Report (8/25): Rochester Homer Party, Romero Rocks

Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons (Joe Maloney hugging Fernando Romero)
As August comes to a close, the minor league season is dwindling. For many of the Twins affiliates, playoff races are starting to heat up as teams try and stay in the hunt while holding off other opponents.

Minnesota might not be playing the best baseball so let's turn our attention to the future of the Twins. Would contending teams be able to pick up wins on Thursday night? Or would other teams push Minnesota's affiliates closer to being eliminated?

Rochester 6, Norfolk 2
Box Score

The home run party got started early for Rochester as Byron Buxton homered on the first pitch of the game. It was the second straight game Buxton has hit a home run. In the third, Buxton beat out an infield hit in front of a Tommy Field home run, his tenth of the season. One inning later, Daniel Palka blasted his 33rd home run of the season to push the lead to 4-1. 

Any Rochester home run part would not be complete without a bomb from Adam Brett Walker. He hit is league-leading 26th homer of the season. Walker has now hit safely in 11-straight games, the longest streak by a Red Wings player this season.

Home runs were not the only story in this one. Omar Bencomo pitched into the seventh inning on the way to his second victory with the club. His final line read 6.2 innings pitched while allowing one earned run on six hits with four strikeouts. D.J. Baxendale and Alex Wimmers combined for 2.1 shutout frames to close out the game. Baxendale struck out three.

Even with the win, Rochester is four games away from being eliminated from first place in the International League North. However, the club trails the Lehigh Valley IronPigs by four games for a wild card spot.

Chattanooga 7, Jacksonville 6

Box Score
After jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the middle innings, the Lookouts did their best to try and give this one back to the Suns. Chattanooga used an error and four singles to push across three runs in the top of the third. Zach Granite doubled to lead-off the fifth frame and would later come around on a Edgar Corcino two-run double.

Things got a little dicey from there as Jacksonville mounted their comeback. Ryan Eades had put up zeros through the first four frames but ran into a little trouble in the fifth and seventh innings. He ended the night after 6.2 innings and allowed four earned runs. Todd Van Steensel picked up his second hold since being promoted but he was charged with a run in 0.2 innings. Raul Fernandez blew the save in the eighth but earned the win after an interesting ninth.

Chattanooga capitalized on the opportunities they were given in the ninth. Niko Goodrum singled to start the frame. Tanner Witt sacrificed Goodrum to second before a wild pitch moved him to third. Levi Michael walked to put runners on the corners. Zach Granite would single to score Goodrum and move Michael into scoring position. A wild pitch would move both runners up a base and Engelb Vielma drove in Michael on a fielder's choice.

The Lookouts are 3.5 games out of first place in the Southern League North but there are currently two teams in front of them in the second-half standings (Jackson, the first half champs, and Montgomery).

Fort Myers 1, Palm Beach 0
Box Score

Fernando Romero was masterful on the mound in this contest. In seven scoreless innings, Romero faced just two batters over the minimum while striking out nine and walking none. Both hit he allowed were infield singles and 60 of his 87 pitches were for strikes.

While Romero was pitching well, Fort Myers wasn't able to strike until the seventh inning. Joe Maloney knocked a one-out double to put a runner in scoring position. After a strikeout, Christian Ibarra hit one up the middle and Maloney cruised around to score the lone run of the game.

Luke Westphal allowed one batter to reach on a walk with one out in the eighth. Luckily, he got a strike him out, throw him out double play to end the frame and keep the Miracle on top. Confesor Lara earned his third save with a scoreless final frame.

Fort Myers is one game out of first place with 10 games remaining on the regular season schedule.

Cedar Rapids 12, Quad Cities 1
Box Score

Cedar Rapids supported their pitchers very well in this one. The team pounded out 12 runs on 12 hit on the way to their 72nd victory of the season. Travis Blankenhorn drove in three runs and hit his first triple with Cedar Rapids. Luis Arraez went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. Jaylin Davis and Rainis Silva both had doubles to add to the scoring barrage.

Lachlan Wells had some control problems as he issued four walks in six innings. However, he limited the River Bandits to one hit and no earned runs on the way to his career high sixth victory. Max Cordy collected strikeouts for five of the six outs he was called on to get. He walked one and allowed a run on two hits. Logan Lombana struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth before back to back doubles pushed across a run.

With a second-half record of 35-24, the Kernels are currently in second place in the Midwest League Western Division. If the playoffs started today, Cedar Rapids would be in based on finishing second. They are currently 3.5 games ahead of third place Burlington.

Elizabethton 0, Johnson City 11
Box Score

Things got ugly in a hurry in this one and didn't get much better. Elizabethton allowed runs in all but two innings and the team committed four errors. All but one batter in the E-Twins line-up reached base at least once but no one had multiple hits and there weren't any extra-base hits. Alex Kirilloff reached base twice with two walks. Amaurys Minier went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Jose Martinez took the bulk of the damage on the mound. Eight runs were scored while he pitched with six of them being earned. He allowed two home runs and struck out one. Austin Tribby was charged with two earned runs on five hits with three walks and a couple strikeouts. Johan Quezada pitched the last 2.2 frames and limited Johnson City to three hits and one earned run.

Even with the loss, the E-Twins would be in the playoffs if they started today. They currently sit in second place in the Appalachian League West and the top two teams in the division make the playoffs. Elizabethton is 5.5 games up on the third place Greeneville Astros.

GCL Twins 2, GCL Orioles 9
Box Score

The GCL Twins found themselves down 6-1 after three innings in this one and they didn't have much in the tank to make a comeback. Huascar Ynoa took his fifth loss of the season after not being charged with a loss since July 27. He allowed five earned runs in 2.2 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. Zach Strecker surrendered three earned runs on five hits in 4.1 innings with a pair of strikeouts. Juan Gamez ended the game with two scoreless frames. 

No Twins batter had more than one hit and the team went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Aaron Whitefield reached base three times out of the lead-off spot and he is still batting over .300 for the season. Gorge Munoz had the team's only extra-base hit, a double. Akil Baddoo walked twice and scored a run. 

Even with the loss, the GCL Twins only trail the GCL Red Sox by one game for first place in the GCL South Division. 

Pitcher of the Day – Fernando Romero, Fort Myers Miracle
Hitter of the Day – Byron Buxton, Rochester Red Wings

Rochester @ Scranton/WB (6:05 CST) - LHP Adalberto Mejia (1-2, 4.66 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Jacksonville (6:05 CST) - RHP Felix Jorge (1-4, 4.38 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Jupiter (5:30 CST) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez (1-1, 1.83 ERA) 

Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (6:30 CST) - RHP Tyler Beardsley (0-2, 3.60 ERA)
Elizabethton vs. Burlington (6:00 CST)- RHP Miguel De Jesus (0-2, 3.21 ERA)
GCL Twins vs. GCL Red Sox (11:00AM CST) - TBD

Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games.

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