Thursday, June 8, 2017

Twins Minor League Report (6/8): Rodriguez Rocks, Gordon Homers

Photo Credit: Linwood Ferguson, Captive Photons
The dog days of summer are quickly approaching and many of the Twins affiliates need to push for the playoffs. Three leagues hand-out first half playoff spots while Rochester has a full-season battle ahead of them.

Rochester entered play on Thursday 11.5 games behind Lehigh Valley in the International League North. The Iron Pigs are going to be tough to catch so the Red Wings might need to focus on the Wild Card race where they trail by six games. Chattanooga currently trails Montgomery by half a game for the top spot in the Southern League North.

Fort Myers sits nine games out of first place and five games under .500. There are four teams ahead of them in the standings so the first half title is likely out of reach. If the Midwest League playoffs started today, the Kernels would be in as the first half winners of the Western Division. They are currently a game up on Kane County for the division lead. The division winner and runner-up for each half qualify for the MWL playoffs.

Rochester 2, Syracuse 3
Box Score

Syracuse was threatening in many of the early innings but Aaron Slegers continued to find ways to get out of the jam. The Chiefs had runners in scoring position in the first, second, and fourth innings before they eventually broke through in the sixth. A pair of doubles and a pair of singles would sink Slegers. In 6.2 innings, he ended up allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking three. 

Rochester tried to answer back in the bottom of the sixth. Engelb Vielma and Zach Granite started the frame with singles. With one out, Matt Hague lifted a sacrifice fly to center. Granite would come around to score after two wild pitches from Chiefs' starter AJ Cole. However, the two runs wouldn't be enough. 

Many Twins fans are on bullpen watch as the big league squad could use some help. Michael Tonkin allowed base runners in both innings he worked but he worked out of it with a couple strikeouts. Ryan Pressly struck out the side in the ninth but he also allowed a pair of hits. 

Chattanooga 2, Jackson 3

Box Score
Chattanooga wasted a strong start from Ryan Eades as Jackson wasn't able to score until the Lookouts' bullpen got into the game. Eades only allowed one hit and struck out three in five innings. Randy LeBlanc struggled in the sixth as he surrendered three runs on four hits. Todd Van Steensel struck out two and walked two in an inning. Jake Reed pitched two scoreless frames by allowing one hit.

Before the bullpen blow-up, the Lookouts held a 2-0 lead. Ryan Strausborger and TJ White started the second with a pair of doubles. With one one out in the inning, Nick Gordon brought in Strausborger for the first run. In the fifth inning, Gordon crack his fifth home run which is already as many home runs as his first three professional seasons combined.

Jonathan Rodriguez reached base four times in five at-bats with a double and a pair of walks. Gordon, Strausborger, and Ryan White all had multi-hit efforts. The team went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and out hit Jackson 10 to 6.

Fort Myers 1, Tampa 2 (Game 1- 7 Innings)
Box Score
Fort Myers jumped out to an early 1-0 thanks to a lead-off home run from Max Murphy. The hits would be few and far between for the rest of the game. The Miracle went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Murphy was the lone batter to finish with multiple hits as he added a double and reached on a walk. Nelson Molina went 1-for-3 with a double.

Brady Anderson suffered his second loss in as many starts. In the top of the third, he allowed a one out walk that came back to haunt him. The next batter would knock a two-run home run that turned out to be the difference in the game. Anderson stuck out four and walked two in six innings. Williams Ramirez pitched a scoreless seventh with a strikeout.

Fort Myers 2, Tampa 1 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
Box Score
Fort Myers turned things around on Tampa in the second game of the double-header. Much like the Miracle did in game one, the Yankees jumped out to an early 1-0 first inning lead. Derek Rodriguez allowed a triple and single to the first two batters of the game. He would settle in from there and go on quite the run.

Rodriguez retired 11 straight batters at one point on his way to a complete game (even if it was only seven innings). He struck 10 batters for only the third time in his career. It was the first time he had accomplished this feat since last July. There have only been three starts this season where he has allowed more than three runs.

Murphy was in the middle of the offensive action for the second straight game. He tripled to lead-off the fourth inning. Alex Perez would knock him in with a single. After two straight walks to load the bases, Kevin Garcia grounded into a double play that pushed in the second run. Fort Myers only had three hits but that's all they would need.

Cedar Rapids 1, Clinton 4
Box Score
The Kernels struggled to get the bats going in this one and found themselves in an early hole. Domenick Carlini allowed four runs on eight hits while taking his fourth loss of the season. He struck out eight and didn't give up a walk. Logan Lombana only allowed one base runner over the last three innings to keep the game close. All four LumberKings runs were scored with two outs in the inning.

Cedar Rapids' top six hitters in the line-up combined to go 3-for-22 with no extra-base hits in the loss. Brandon Lopez went 2-for-3 but failed to come around and score. Ben Rortvedt collected his fifth double and drove in the team's lone run. Lewin Diaz and Mitchell Kranson each went 1-for-4.

With the loss, the Kernels drop to 34-26 and they still hold their playoff destiny in their own hands. It was only the third series loss for Cedar Rapids this season.

Pitcher of the Day – Dereck Rodriguez, Fort Myers Miracle (7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K, 1 BB)

Hitter of the Day – Max Murphy, Fort Myers Miracle (3-for-6, HR, 3B, 2B, BB 2 R)

Rochester vs. Syracuse (6:05 CST) - LHP Adam Wilk (0-0, 4.26 ERA)
Chattanooga @ Montgomery (7:05 CST) - RHP Fernando Romero (4-5, 3.51 ERA)
Fort Myers vs. Tampa (6:05 CST) - RHP David Fischer (3-4, 4.02 ERA)

Cedar Rapids vs. Burlington (6:35 CST) - RHP Clark Beeker (5-2, 2.51 ERA)

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

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