May 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Have a great Memorial Day today, everyone. I hope you all have a chance to take a breather from your everyday life. Here are a few Facts for you to chew on before today’s series finale.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Brandon Webb will indeed be the RoughRiders’ starting pitcher today, with Richard Bleier slated to enter the game after Webb is finished. Webb will wear number 39 today in his first minor league effort since three appearances with Triple-A Tacoma in 2003.
  • Julio Borbon will lead off and be Frisco’s designated hitter. Borbon’s presence in the lead-off spot forces Mike Bianucci to left field and pushes Leonys Martin to the three hole in the order, which will be the first time all season that Martin will hit outside of the top spot. Borbon will wear number 10.
  • Borbon played in 60 games with the RoughRiders in 2008. He hit .337 with five homers and 22 runs batted in while here in Frisco. His last appearance in the minors came in 2009 with the Rangers’ former Triple-A affiliate, Oklahoma City.
  • When Webb and Borbon suit up for the ‘Riders today, they will not be wearing the typical red unis. The RoughRiders will don camouflage uniforms today in honor of Memorial Day. Frisco will also wear those uniforms on the Fourth of July.
  • Jonathan Greene continued his recent surge by going 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and RBIs. In his last two games, he has driven in five runs. Greene really loves Dr Pepper Ballpark, as he owns a .412 average in 19 home games. Four of his five home runs and 15 of his 23 RBIs have come in North Texas. Compare that to Greene’s .205 average away from home.
  • Justin Miller was able to notch a save for the first time since May 7 with an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief. Miller is now just 3-of-7 in save opportunities this year even though he has a respectable 3.76 ERA.
  • We are planning a few new features for you. First off, look for Aaron Goldsmith to be posting on here a few times each road trip with his take on life on the road in the Texas League. He and I will be splitting the blog coverage up during those trips.
  • Also, Aaron and I will both begin to weigh in during the Extra Bases Blog at home games. Reid Copeland will continue to give you his great coverage, and Aaron and I will drop in here and there to give the radio booth’s perspective on things. We encourage you to join the conversation for all games–home and road!

Pre-game coverage for some Memorial Day baseball begins at 3:35. First pitch is set for 4:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

10,000+ Yet Again

Today’s intro goes out to all of you RoughRiders fans who continue to pour into Dr Pepper Ballpark. Yesterday, 10,812 fans watched Frisco’s 9-8 win over Tulsa, which was more than enough to push the season attendance over the 200,000 mark.

More than 10,000 fans have been at Dr Pepper Ballpark for 13 of the 26 home games thus far this season. The ‘Riders average almost 8,000 fans per game.

It is always fun to play in front of a big crowd, and I’m sure the RoughRiders appreciate it. So far, the club has rewarded the fans in the stands, as Frisco owns a 16-10 home record–second in the Texas League.

Without further ado, here are a few Facts before today’s 2:05 game.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Robbie Erlin is with the RoughRiders and here for today’s start. To this point in his minor league career, Erlin has mustered some eye-popping numbers. Last year in low-A Hickory, Erlin went 6-3 with a 2.12 earned run average. This year while in high-A Myrtle Beach, the southpaw went 3-2 with an ERA of 2.14.
  • Drafted out of high school in the third round of the 2009 Draft, Erlin began his first full year with the Rangers in low-A Hickory last season, which is quite a jump for a young prospect. He impressed so much that Baseball America listed him as the Rangers’ number four prospect.
  • “I was very excited when they told me,” Erlin said about his Double-A promotion. “It has been sort of a grind…but I enjoy every day of it. Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful to be here.
  • Erlin will throw a fastball, curve and change. “I try to be aggressive,” Erlin said. “I really depend on commanding the baseball and not trying to do too much, and just kind of getting after hitters.”
  • He certainly has gotten after hitters during his first few years in the Rangers’ system. In 173.1 innings, Erlin has struck out 196 batters. That translates to 10.2 whiffs per nine innings. Compare that to just 23 walks against the 663 batters he has faced. That means that Erlin has walked one every 28.8 plate appearances.
  • By the way, Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com has a feature and an interview with Robbie Erlin on his site, and it is available free to the public. Cole does a great job on the television broadcasts for the RoughRiders on TXA 21, so I suggest you check it out here.
  • In the bullpen, 40-man right-hander Fabio Castillo has begun to settle into the closer role. He has converted three saves in his last four outings, and he has surrendered only one hit in four innings during those chances. Since May 13, Castillo has allowed just three runs (all of which came in one outing) over nine innings.
  • The back-to-back homers from Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene snapped some long homer skids for both. Bianucci, who still leads the team and is third in the league with 12 homers, had not gone yard since May 10, a period that spanned 13 games. Greene had not homered since May 5, which was a 15-game drought.
  • Frisco’s nine-run output was the highest since May 14, when the ‘Riders clubbed Corpus Christi 11-2. However, the RoughRiders have steadily climbed the league’s hitting ladder and now sit in second place in batting average at .272. Only San Antonio (.289) leads Frisco.

Pre-game coverage begins at 1:35, with the first pitch at 2:05. Catch it on the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

Representing the Texas League

Jumping from Double-A to the big leagues is not common practice, but it has happened a few times this season. Today has been a big one for the Triple-A leapfrog.

Not only is Juan Nicasio–a former Tulsa Driller who just threw seven innings against Springfield Sunday–starting for the Colorado Rockies today against St. Louis, but two San Antonio Missions–Kyle Phillips and Blake Tekotte–drove in the only two runs for the Padres in their 2-1 win over Washington this afternoon.

There are no RoughRiders from yesterday’s roster in the Rangers’ lineup today, but we still have plenty of Facts to discuss on this Saturday.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The big news yesterday was Brandon Webb’s successful bullpen session yesterday in Arlington. Webb is now scheduled to start for the RoughRiders in a rehab effort Monday afternoon. It will be the first time that Webb has started in a real game since April of 2009 for the Diamondbacks, the team he had spent his entire career with prior to signing with the Rangers during the offseason.
  • It is easy to forget how successful Webb was during his run with Arizona. Webb is 87-62 with a 3.27 earned run average in his career, and he won the 2006 Cy Young Award. The next two years, Webb finished second in the voting.
  • In his career, Webb has logged five seasons with at least 200 innings and six years with an ERA below 3.60. Obviously, this is a much different Webb because of the shoulder issues, but he has shown incredible ability in the past. Webb was a low-risk, high-reward signing. The reward part of the equation will begin to be revealed very soon.
  • Leonys Martin is back in the lineup today after leaving yesterday’s game in the ninth inning with a stomach cramp. Frisco trainer Carlos Olivas came out to check on Martin during his at bat in the ninth inning, but he did stay in the game long enough to single. A few pitches into the next at bat, Martin once again felt pain and jogged off the field. He is in center field and hitting first like usual.
  • Speaking of today’s lineup, a few everyday players–Tommy Mendonca and Guilder Rodriguez–are getting the day off. At short, Renny Osuna switches over there from second base and Davis Stoneburner takes that spot. On the flip side, the third base replacement is a little more unique. Jonathan Greene will make his first start at third this season. He is hitting fifth.
  • Even though this is Greene’s first start at third this year, he is still a veteran of the hot corner in his minor league career. Of his 387 games in affiliated baseball, Greene has started at third base 226 times. His career fielding percentage (.913) isn’t very good at third, though.
  • Here’s a fun fact: Greene has played five different positions (first, third, catcher, left and right). He has played at all of those spots at least 15 times. A way to make yourself more valuable in the minors is to be versatile, and Greene has done that.
  • After tonight, the ‘Riders will have played every team in the Texas League at least once. Like last year, the final team is Tulsa. Last year, the RoughRiders went 6-5 against the Drillers. So far this year, the Drillers own a 25-21 record, which is only percentage points behind Northwest Arkansas (23-19) for first place in the North.
  • Tulsa’s best player to this point has been leadoff man Tim Wheeler. Wheeler leads the league in RBIs (45), is tied for the lead in homers (14) and sits eighth in batting average (.324).
  • Tonight’s game is once again on TXA 21 in the DFW area. Aaron Goldsmith will handle the play-by-play duties, and Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com will provide color commentary. Coverage begins at 7 p.m.
  • Finally, there are a couple of events coming up at Dr Pepper Ballpark that may interest you. Acute Kids Movie Night is set for June 4, and Whataburger Food Bank Night is slated for July 23.

Our coverage on the radio tonight begins at 6:35. First pitch is set for 7:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

Fair Warning

The NBA Finals are set. It will be Miami against Dallas beginning Tuesday night in South Beach, just like I accurately predicted.

If you were gullible enough to click that link, I apologize. Actually, I picked the Lakers over the Bulls. For what it is worth, those two teams went a combined 1-8 against the two teams that will play for basketball’s ultimate prize. As you can tell, I’m really good at predicting.

Not only do the Mavericks have the support of the DFW area, but they are also gaining support from all those who dislike Miami and its “Big Three.” I fall into this category, and I’m in the most passionate subset of it because I’m a Cleveland fan.

I’m just warning all you Mavericks fans–it isn’t a great omen to have Cleveland on your side. The city doesn’t exactly thrive in these situations. I’ll tell you this, though. If the Mavs pull it out, then Dirk and the guys will get quite an ovation in their trip to Cleveland next year.

Let’s go Mavs, and let’s go Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Before we get into a few thriving RoughRiders, there was a trade today. Right-hander Chris Mobley was sent to the Reds for a player to be named later and cash. Mobley split time between Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock and had a 4.67 earned run average in 14 outings.
  • “This is probably one of those moves that is great for the player. There’s a Triple-A job open in Louisville,” Frisco manager Steve Buechele said about Mobley’s departure. “He’s a great kid. Hopefully, he’ll go out and help them.”
  • He’s no Dirk Nowitzki right now, but Frisco starter Martin Perez has been on fire as of late. In his last four starts, Perez has four quality starts, 25 strikeouts, and a 0.68 ERA. Yesterday, Perez left with the lead for the fifth time this season, and he finally received his first win in those situations. His only other win (and decision, for that matter) came in that rain-shortened perfect game April 19.
  • So far this season, it has been easy to tell whether or not Perez has it going. Perez, the Rangers’ top prospect, has given up a combined nine runs in the first and second innings and just four in the rest of the game. He owns a 1.07 ERA from the third inning on.
  • Finally, Perez is dominating in situations that he should dominate. Against fellow left-handers, he has allowed only seven hits in 44 at-bats (.159). For what it’s worth, lefties hit .267 against Perez a year ago. Also, when Perez is ahead in the count, his opposition is hitting .113.
  • With a top prospect, the question of a promotion pops up. “No doubt,” Buechele said when he was asked about it. “You look at the Texas League stat sheet, and he’s the number one pitcher in this league. Certainly, those thoughts start crossing your mind, and I would have no problem recommending him a promotion. I think he could handle Triple-A right now. His improvement from last year to this year has been incredible.”
  • Buechele said that the biggest keys to Perez’s jump have been the improved command of his fastball and the ability to keep some rough innings under control. Perez has given up more than one run in an inning only three times this season.
  • Leonys Martin continues to perform well for the ‘Riders. He has hit safely in 10 of his 13 games this year, and his average sits at .315. When you look at his game-by-game average, Martin has never had it dip below .273. He is hitting better against lefties (.320) than he has against righties (.310).
  • What has been most impressive to me when looking at his stats is his performance in “clutch” situations. He is swinging at a .583 clip (7-for-12) with men in scoring position. Within that figure, he is 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position and two down. Overall, when men are on base, Martin has a .421 average.
  • On the flip side, it has been a rough period for Engel Beltre. Since returning from his 15-game suspension, Beltre is hitting .154. He has yet to drive in a run or steal a base during these nine games. He has struck out eight times and walked only once.
  • In these nine games, Beltre has played in right field four times, left field three times and center field twice. Martin has only played outside of center field once as a RoughRider.
  • Finally, here’s a pretty cool new blog from Neil Wagner, a pitcher for the Midland RockHounds. He had a funny blog about his time in Frisco during Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz’s rehab stint. I hope he continues to update it.

Join us for the pre-game show at 6:35 along the RBN. First pitch is set for 7:05.

- Brian

Stay Safe Out There

A week ago, few people knew about places like Joplin, Mo., Denning, Ark., and Edmond, Okla. However, more severe storms have rolled through the nation’s heartland, and these three towns experienced powerful tornadoes.

Keep those who have been affected by these storms in your thoughts. Unfortunately, the threat remains for the next few days before this system blows through.

Let’s get you ready for this home stand with today’s installment of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Since the beginning of the season, Frisco manager Steve Buechele has said that his club will not win many “easy” games. That thought was well-represented Monday afternoon in San Antonio. Before Saturday night, the ‘Riders had only lost one game when they had held a four-run lead. In the last three contests, San Antonio twice erased four-run deficits and eventually won one of those two games.
  • With the way the last few weeks have transpired for the RoughRiders, I decided to go back through every win and see how the ‘Riders have notched these victories. Frisco’s 23 wins have come by a total of 66 runs, or 2.9 runs per game.
  • Of those 23 wins, though, 18 have come by three runs or less. Thus, there are obviously some outliers that skew this average. Those five other wins have come by 4, 7, 11, 7, and 9 runs. So, if you throw out those five victories, the ‘Riders have won 18 by a total of 28 runs. That computes out to 1.6 runs per game, which is pretty astounding when you think about it.
  • The efforts of Davis Stoneburner have continued to shine. Stoneburner’s solo shot Monday gave Frisco one of its most improbable wins, and it capped off a four-hit, three-run game. He went 6-for-12 in the four-game set at San Antonio, and he has hit .432 during his ten-game hitting streak. This run has raised his average up to a season-high .263.
  • The RoughRiders made a roster move today, placing Elio Sarmiento on the seven-day disabled list with a hamstring strain. Robbie Diaz is back with the club after spending more than a month with Triple-A Round Rock. Diaz played in 13 games and hit .346 (18-for-55) with a homer and three RBIs.
  • The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are in town tonight through Friday. Last year, the Naturals won their first Texas League title by defeating Midland in the championship series. Frisco went 7-5 against Northwest a year ago.
  • The Naturals have a loaded roster once again this year. Northwest Arkansas is Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate, and the Royals have the best farm system in baseball. Four of the Royals’ top eight prospects (according to Baseball America) are here in the Texas League. Unfortunately, only two–last year’s first-round pick Christian Colon and left-handed starter Chris Dwyer–are active. Outfielder Wil Myers and southpaw John Lamb are currently on the disabled list.
  • By the way, I mentioned Denning, Ark., which is in the northwestern part of the state. Fortunately, Springdale, Ark., where the Naturals originate from, is about an hour and a half away from Denning.
  • Finally, if you missed it Monday night, there was a 23-inning game in the Florida State League. Jupiter defeated Clearwater 2-1 in one of the wackiest games you’ll ever read about. It lasted 5:37, and only 330 attended the game. I’m sure everyone stayed the whole game, though.

Catch all of the coverage of tonight’s game at 6:35 on the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

A Special Treat

When you live far from home, it is tough to live life in the way that you are used to living it. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, so it is tough for me to keep track of my childhood club–the Indians.

Things sometimes work out, though. Tonight, the Indians play Boston (by the way, Aaron is a closet member of Red Sox nation), and it happens to be on national television. Somewhere, the Texas League gods were shining on me by making today’s RoughRiders game an 11:05 a.m. game.

Hopefully, the ‘Riders can carry some momentum into an off day (and a half). Here’s today’s version of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • It was a rough start for Jake Brigham yesterday. He allowed more runs (5) in the second inning than he had in an entire game all season long. He also walked a season-high-tying four men, all in that frame. His earned run average rose to 4.53, which is still pretty solid. Brigham just ran into a red hot Missions offense, and he stumbled. No shame in that every once in a while, especially after he retired the first 19 San Antonio swingers he faced May 6 at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
  • Jose Ruiz continues to hack it for the ‘Riders since returning from the Temporary Inactive List. Ruiz, who went 2-for-3 yesterday to extend his hitting streak to seven games, is hitting .438 (14-32) since his return to Frisco. During that span, he has three homers and seven runs batted in.
  • Speaking of the Missions, here are some ridiculous numbers regarding their start to the season. San Antonio’s 18-3 record is the best in the minor leagues. They have won 11 straight at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium, which is the longest winning streak in the facility’s existence.
  • Offensively, the Missions reached home run number 60 as a team Saturday, which was the club’s 42nd game. Last season, San Antonio did not reach that plateau until July 26, which was game number 98. Also, the team has scored 294 runs, which was not reached until late June of last year by San Antonio.
  • I was asked this on the Extra Bases Blog yesterday: does San Diego’s Triple-A club need any players? Well, the Tucson Padres are 19-25 this year, and their offense is sixth in the Pacific Coast League in average and third in runs scored. The T-Padres need pitching help, as the club ranks 14th in the 16-team league with a 5.66 ERA.
  • This morning/afternoon’s game marks the 32nd straight game for the RoughRiders against South Division foes. Frisco has tomorrow off before meeting Northwest Arkansas for the first time this season. It’s the opening of a six-game home stand that features a pair of squads new to the ‘Riders–the Naturals and the Tulsa Drillers. Like at the beginning of the season, Frisco will head to those two teams’ homes after the six-game home stand before reentering South play to end the first half.
  • The rehab assignments were successful for Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. The duo played three games at Triple-A Round Rock this weekend, and both are expected to be in uniform for the Rangers tonight when Texas opens a series with the White Sox in Arlington. During his five-game assignment, Hamilton went 4-for-18 (.222) with two homers and six RBIs. Cruz went 9-for-23 (.391) with three homers and five RBIs in six games.

Catch the pre-game show today at 10:35 a.m. For those listening on 1630 KKGM, please note that today’s game will be broadcast on tape delay. Coverage is slated to kick off at 6:35 p.m. Enjoy!

- Brian

That Was Ugly

It was an ugly, frustrating loss for the RoughRiders last night in San Antonio. But hey, at least they didn’t look like the Red Sox and Cubs did at Fenway Park last night. The Cubs are playing in Boston for the first time since the 1918 World Series, and both clubs decided to sport a retro look for the game.

Honestly, I don’t think they are AS bad as people are saying. I still think they are pretty atrocious, though. Take a look at 45 “traditional-looking” pictures for yourself. I bet new San Diego top prospect Casey Kelly, who was shipped from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is thrilled he won’t have to wear those uniforms.

Unfortunately, we need to get into the ugly loss last night in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Kyle Blanks’ game-winning, 11th-inning grand slam was the third bases loaded home run allowed by the RoughRiders this season. The other two–Mike Trout, the Angels’ number one prospect, hit one at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and J.D. Martinez hit one into the pool at Whataburger Field–have been notable. But this one was a game-winning blast on a 2-0 pitch with two down.
  • The game seemed destined for a 12th inning, as Ramon Aguero retired the first two men he faced in the 11th. Credit the Missions offense. Both walks in the inning came after the count ran full, and Daniel Robertson’s single followed a battle back from 1-2 to 3-2.
  • Here’s a stat that shocked me. The RoughRiders’ staff had been doing a tremendous job when faced with a bases loaded situation. Even with that grand slam, Frisco’s pitching staff has held its opponents to just a .175 (10-for-57) average with no bases open. To put it into perspective, the ‘Riders’ offense is hitting .273 (6-for-22). It is also important to note that the ‘Riders have been in that many bases loaded situations (i.e., 35 more than the offense).
  • You have to feel for Martin Perez. It’s amazing that he still has only one win (and one decision overall) this year, when he very well could be something like 5-2. He has exited with a lead four times this season, and the ‘Riders’ bullpen has allowed 21 runs in those games. Frisco is 2-2 in those contests.
  • Still, wins and losses are negligible in Perez’s case as long as the development is there. And it certainly is. He has had four  outings of 0 earned runs this season, which already surpasses his total from last season (three) in 24 outings. In the other five starts, Perez has never allowed more than three runs. He surrendered four or more tallies TEN times last season.
  • It was good to see Mike Bianucci back in the order after getting a pair of days off Thursday and Friday. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored.
  • How about Davis Stoneburner? He has been in and out of the lineup for the last week, but he extended his hitting streak to eight games with that three-run double in Engel Beltre’s absence. This hitting streak spans 16 games. Stoneburner has raised his batting average from .185 to .239 during the span.
  • Speaking of Engel Beltre, he left the game yesterday with a hand injury after being hit by a pitch yesterday. No word on his condition, but we should know more by air time this afternoon.
  • Both Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton went yard for Triple-A Round Rock yesterday in the Express’ win over Colorado Springs. Reports are saying that the duo could return to the big leagues in a day or two. If that were to happen, I would imagine that there would be a significant trickle-down effect within the outfield ranks in the Rangers’ system.

We take the air at 3:35 p.m. for the pre-game show. First pitch is set for 4:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

Peaks and Valleys

Right now, Mavericks fans are feeling the valley of a game two loss after being on a peak prior to that contest. Ultimately, I think the Mavs will pull off this series, but it will not be easy.

Reid, our media relations stud, is a big time Dallas fan. I know he will be on pins and needles like everyone while following tonight’s game. I’ll say Dirk goes in and gets a road win with another 30+ point performance, but hey, I’m also one who said the Twins were a World Series contender.

Don’t forget about a big Texas League series continuing tonight between the ‘Riders and the Missions. Let’s get into today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The Missions scored more runs yesterday than they had in any of the previous eight meetings with the RoughRiders. It also pushed San Antonio up in the season series 5-4. Only Arkansas (4-2) has a better record against the ‘Riders this season.
  • Travis Adair had a big night last night. After playing only twice during the eight-game home stand, Adair hit two home runs, the first ones of his Double-A career. Before yesterday, Adair only had four home runs in his professional career.
  • Renny Osuna also had a great effort Friday night. Osuna became the second ‘Rider (David Paisano being the first) to notch a four-hit day. In the ninth, Osuna had a chance to become the first Frisco swinger to have five hits in a game since Joey Butler did it April 16, 2010, in Springfield. However, Osuna grounded out.
  • Osuna is now fourth in the Texas League in batting average (.336). The ‘Riders have three in the top ten in average. Jose Ruiz (.339) is third, and Tommy Mendonca (.314) is ninth. Only one other team (Corpus Christi) has more than one hitter in the top ten.
  • The recent pressure on the bullpen continued last night, but only a pair of arms were needed to eat up four and two-thirds innings. Mike Perconte allowed two runs in three innings, and Tyler Tufts struck out three of the five men he retired. Tufts did not surrender a run. In the last three games, Frisco’s ‘pen has tossed 17 and two-thirds innings and allowed only five runs.
  • After starting in the first 39 games of the season, Mike Bianucci has not played in the last two. We’re not sure why, but it is something to monitor. Bianucci is tied for second in the league with 11 home runs and tied for six with 31 runs batted in.
  • During Aaron’s pre-game interview with manager Steve Buechele, fans got an idea on how the team will handle the open spot in the rotation. Frisco will not need a fifth starter until next Sunday (May 29) because of the off day Tuesday. As for that starter, Buechele said, “TBA is the word of the day.” He also said that he has not heard any news on Miguel De Los Santos, who was the fifth member of the rotation until a shoulder injury.
  • If this same process is used into June, then the next “open” slot would not come until June 5. There are a few pitchers in high-A Myrtle Beach who have pitched well, so that is a possibility moving forward, too.
  • In Triple-A Round Rock, Nelson Cruz went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run into Dell Diamond’s swimming pool in right field. Josh Hamilton went 1-for-4 and was the other run to score on that splashing blast. They are both scheduled to continue their rehab assignments tonight for the Express.
  • Finally, tonight’s starter for San Antonio, Rob Musgrave, will make only his 21st start in the minor leagues. He has appeared in 123 games, including eight this year (six for the Missions and two for Triple-A Tucson). Five of those appearances this year are starts, and he has struggled in those outings. He is 1-1 with a 5.55 ERA.

Catch the pre-game show at 6:35 on the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

Season-Changing Afternoon

It was the afternoon of April 26, and the RoughRiders were in San Antonio. Mike Bianucci had just hit a ball that, while originally called a three-run home run, netted him an RBI double in the top of the ninth. Instead of leading by one, Frisco trailed by that same margin and would eventually lose by that margin.

The loss pushed the ‘Riders to 6-12, dead last in the South. Since then, though, Frisco is 16-6, including a 4-2 mark against first-place San Antonio since that April 26 loss dropped the ‘Riders to 0-2 against the Missions.

It was easy to dismiss the RoughRiders on that day because of the slow start, but baseball truly is a long journey. Tonight, the Missions and RoughRiders meet again in San Antonio in what is the most important series in the Texas League. It should be interesting.

Here’s some Facts on this Friday.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders improved to 7-1 against Midland with the 7-4 victory last night, but the ‘Riders have outscored the ‘Hounds by only 10 runs (41-31). Here are the differentials in the eight games this year, with any extra innings in parentheses: +1, -1, +3, +1 (11), +1, +1, +1, +3.
  • As you can tell, Frisco has won its fair share of one-run games against the RockHounds this year. With this recent run of success in close games, the ‘Riders pace the Texas League in one-run wins with nine. San Antonio actually has a slightly better winning percentage in that kind of game. The Missions are 8-5, while Frisco is 9-6.
  • The Missions and RoughRiders also boast the top two records within their divisions in the Texas League. The Missions are an absurd 20-8, while the ‘Riders are 17-11. San Antonio and Frisco’s season series is tied at 4 wins apiece.
  • How about the bullpen in the last two games. Seven different relievers have combined to pitch 13 innings. They have allowed three runs on eight hits. Yesterday, the ‘pen notched seven scoreless innings to give the offense a chance to come back.
  • It will be important for the Frisco rotation to eat up some innings early on in this series to give this bullpen to catch its breath. Fortunately, Richard Bleier is starting tonight. Bleier worked 11 combined innings in his first two starts, and he was the top innings man for Frisco last year. He failed to work through five innings in only six of his 28 starts last year. He notched at least seven innings of action ten times in 2010.
  • Jose Ruiz has now hit safely in six straight starts, and here is an incredible stat. His season batting average has been under .300 following only one game this year–the first game, when he went 0-for-3. Since then, Ruiz has never been lower than .306. His average currently sits at .337.
  • After making a rehab start with the ‘Riders last weekend, Scott Feldman made a solid start with Triple-A Round Rock yesterday. He picked up a win with six innings of work, allowing three runs and throwing 81 pitches. There is no word yet on the next step for Feldman.
  • Speaking of Round Rock, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz will play with the Express against Colorado Springs tonight. Both outfielders are expected to play all three games this weekend for the Express. Hamilton went 2-for-7 with the ‘Riders over two games, while Cruz went 2-for-11 in three contests.
  • I meant to put this up here yesterday, but there was a no-hitter earlier this week in the Midwest League. Sugar Ray Marimon and Chas Byrne combined for a no-no for the Kane County Cougars, the low-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Kane County beat Cedar Rapids 2-0 in the game Wednesday. I saw Byrne pitch last year with short-season Burlington in the Appalachian League, and he has really good stuff. Don’t be surprised to see him with Northwest Arkansas in a year or two.

Catch the biggest series of the weekend in the TL beginning tonight, as Frisco takes on San Antonio. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:35 along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

15 Minutes Means Much More

One of the many lessons I have picked up during my time broadcasting baseball is that, ultimately, professional baseball players are just like you and me. They just happen to have a special talent that interests a large group of people.

Josh Hamilton, believe it or not, is just a normal person. I must admit, though, that having him in Frisco is quite an experience. People will look at the home run (spoiler: we will do that here in a moment) as the most memorable moment of an awesome Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, but I want to recognize something that happened after the game.

With the lights dimmed and the team in the clubhouse, Hamilton signed autographs for almost 15 minutes for the hundreds of fans who stuck around after the game. It was a classy way to leave by a classy guy, and it capped off a fantastic evening.

Now, more on Hamilton and the RoughRiders in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • After being off the field for more than a month, Hamilton went to the plate willing to swing and swing early. In his four at bats, he saw only seven total pitches. His home run came on the first pitch of his second at bat.
  • Speaking of that Hamilton homer, you can view it here. By the way, we will be adding some video and audio to that player in the coming days and weeks, so keep an eye out for that. Aaron, Reid and I will all contribute to it. Once we really get it going, I’ll promote it even more on the blog. Don’t claim you didn’t get fair warning about our shameless self-promotion.
  • Hamilton is back in the order batting third and acting as the ‘Riders’ designated hitter. However, Hamilton is the only big leaguer in the lineup. Nelson Cruz will not play for the RoughRiders tonight. He is scheduled to continue his rehab in Triple-A Round Rock this weekend. Ruiz spent three games with Frisco and went 2-for-11, including a hitless effort in four at bats last night. Cruz, like Hamilton, was a blast to have in Frisco.
  • For the second straight day, Jose Ruiz was the hero for the RoughRiders. His third home run in the last five days pushed the ‘Riders ahead 8-6 in the eighth inning. Ruiz is now 8-for-16 with five RBIs and five runs scored in the five games since returning from the temporary inactive list.
  • That Ruiz home run lifted the ‘Riders to their sixth win in seven tries against Midland, and five of those victories have come in Frisco’s last at bat. In fact, in the seven games against the RockHounds, Frisco has scored 12 times in their final offensive inning.
  • Carlos Pimentel struggled yesterday, only lasting into the fourth inning and failing to record an out in that frame. It was the first time since May 5 that a Frisco starter did not last at least five innings. For Pimentel, it was his second shortest outing of the year. He had worked at least five and two-thirds in four of his previous five starts.
  • Today, Chris Mobley will get the call as the ‘Riders’ starter, which is a rare occurrence in his career. Mobley has only made six starts in 304 career outings in affiliated baseball. All six of those game with the Jamestown Jammers, the short-season, New York-Penn League affiliate for the Florida Marlins. By the way, the Jammers’ logo is pretty awesome.
  • Mobley will throw about 60 pitches, or four innings, if all goes to plan. Pitching coach Jeff Andrews likes his ability to get out of jams and his presence as a veteran.
  • Finally, thanks to all of our readers for making us a Top 50 Pro Blog for the month of April based on readership. It is great to crack this list after only a few months of existence, so we thank everyone who makes the ‘Riders Insider Blog a part of their day.

The ‘Riders and ‘Hounds wrap up this four-game series tonight at 7:05. Pre-game begins at 6:35 on the RBN. Enjoy!

- Brian

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