May 2011

We’re Back

It’s been almost a week since our last blog because of the MLBlogs renovation, but we are back in action. Kudos to MLBlogs for redesigning this format. It looks much improved.

Let’s get right into what is a very busy day with the long-awaited revival of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • It is official: Josh Hamilton will begin a rehab assignment with the RoughRiders tonight. How long Hamilton will be with the ‘Riders, however, is unknown. Thus, enjoy him while he is here.
  • Hamilton will wear number 32 and hit third for Frisco tonight. He will be the designated hitter.
  • This will be Hamilton’s second rehab game with the RoughRiders in his career. Back in 2009, he went 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI in Frisco’s 5-4 victory over Corpus Christi June 29. Just to pique your interest a little bit, Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak also drove in a run apiece for the ‘Riders in that game.
  • Hitting behind Hamilton is Nelson Cruz, who will play his third straight game at Dr Pepper Ballpark. So far, Cruz is 2-for-7 with an RBI. He was in the designated hitter spot the last two games, but he will shift out to right field this evening.
  • I did not think I would say this less than a week into Leonys Martin’s stint in Frisco: he is the third most compelling outfielder on the RoughRiders’ outfield roster. That will obviously change once Cruz and Hamilton depart, so let’s discuss the new member of the 40-man roster.
  • Martin is hitting .318 (7-for-22) with a homer and six RBIs. He has hit safely in four of his first five starts. Here’s an interesting split, though. Martin is hitting .500 (5-for-10) against right-handers but just .167 (2-for-12) against lefties.
  • Frisco starting pitchers have continued to thrive. The RoughRiders’ starter has gone five or more innings in 11 straight games dating back to May 5. That includes three starts from Jake Brigham, who has worked through the fifth inning in all eight of his starts. Over Brigham’s last four outings, he has tossed at least six innings. His ERA sits at 2.45 during that span.
  • Not sure if this is a one-start deal or if he is the new member of the rotation, but Chris Mobley will be Frisco’s starter tomorrow night. It will be Mobley’s seventh affiliated start and his first since his time in the New-York Penn League in 2004 with Jamestown.
  • During the blog’s hiatus, Frisco won five of its six games and pulled within five games of San Antonio for first place in the South. Maybe we should stop this thing, but I won’t.

Be sure to tune in tonight along the RoughRiders Baseball Network beginning at 6:35. Enjoy!

- Brian

A Bit of a Break

Unfortunately, this will probably be the last blog until Monday or so. The entire MLBlog universe will undergo a migration to a different server, so we will not be able to upload any new posts. The details are discussed here.

In fact, you won’t even be able to view this blog. When you type in our URL (or any MLBlog’s URL), you will be directed to the community blog. It’s really too bad they are doing this during the season, especially at an exciting time like this one for the RoughRiders.

But, we will try to bulk up our coverage to you on Twitter. We will give plenty of updates there, including some extra coverage to the newest RoughRider–Leonys Martin. If you missed yesterday’s blog, check it out for plenty on Martin’s introductory press conference yesterday in Arlington.

Here are some Facts before the opener of this four-game series.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Leonys Martin is indeed in the lineup in center field tonight. He will hit first and wear number 20. Martin arrived early and is gearing up for the first affiliated game of his career.
  • To make room for Martin on the 24-man roster, starter Miguel De Los Santos has been placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. De Los Santos’ turn in the rotation was supposed to be tomorrow night. Carlos Pimentel will move up a day and start, which will be on normal rest because of the off day Wednesday. The “to be announced” label shifts to Saturday night’s game with regards to Frisco’s starter.
  • Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report came out with his monthly Minor League Players of the Month, and a few RoughRiders made the cut. On the offensive side, Jonathan Greene was fifth on the list, with Mike Bianucci one spot below him. Myrtle Beach’s Mike Olt topped the countdown. Olt also earned the Rangers’ minor league award for April.
  • Speaking of Bianucci, he has homered in consecutive ballgames for the second time this season. He has also gone deep in three of his last four games. Through 32 contests, Bianucci has 11 homers, which is tied with San
    Antonio’s Cody Decker for the Texas League lead. In other words, he has
    homered once every 11.4 at bats. He also sits fifth in the TL with 28
    runs batted in.
  • As for the pitchers, Martin Perez, the only ‘Rider on Lucas’ list, was fifth. Round Rock’s Neil Ramirez took home that honor along with the Rangers’ pitcher of the month award.
  • In his first Triple-A appearance, Mark Hamburger worked a scoreless seventh and eighth in Round Rock’s 7-5, 10-inning victory at Tucson last night. The former RoughRider whiffed two and scattered three hits. 
  • Here’s a key nugget for this weekend’s series with the Hooks–J.D. Martinez has been placed on the seven-day disabled list. The move was just made, but Martinez can return whenever he is healthy. He has not played in a game since May 5 (seven days ago). Martinez leads Corpus Christi with 30 RBIs, which puts him in a tie for second in the league. He is also fourth in the TL in batting average (.340).
  • Martinez’s replacement in left field has been Jake Goebbert. Since being promoted from high-A Lancaster, Goebbert has hit .294 (5-for-17) with two RBIs and two runs. This is Goebbert’s first crack at the Double-A level.

Again, this will likely be our last blog until Monday. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news and notes over the weekend. We’ll be back early next week.

- Brian

The Newest Ranger/RoughRider

Aaron Goldsmith and I just returned from Arlington after a fun day. It is official–Leonys Martin is a member of the Rangers organization. He was introduced to the media at noon today, prior to the “game that didn’t actually happen because of rain” between Oakland and Texas.

Plenty of notes on Martin, and a few others, in an off-day edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Martin will debut with the RoughRiders Thursday night against the Corpus Christi Hooks. He is expected to be the leadoff hitter for the ‘Riders. In five extended spring training games in Surprise, Arizona, Martin batted .438 (7-for-16) with three walks.
  • Here are a couple of thoughts from Martin as spoken by a translator, who was Bill McLaughlin. McLaughlin is the Rangers’ Manager of Cultural Enhancement and an international scout. Keep in mind that McLaughlin, at times, uses third-person when speaking for Martin.
  • “He is very happy to be a part of the organization. It’s an organization that has a lot of union, and he’s happy to be here.”
  • “I thank them for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this organization, and I have the confidence in me to help bring a championship to the organization.”
  • A few other thoughts from Martin during the press conference. He hasn’t had a chance to watch a lot of big league baseball, but he did say that he patterns himself after the Mets’ Jose Reyes. He also said that he is good friends with current Frisco first baseman Jose Ruiz. Ruiz, also originally from Cuba, is currently on the Temporary Inactive List while attending the birth of his child.
  • In his five seasons in the Cuban League, Martin hit .314 with 38 homers and 190 runs batted in. During the 2009-10 campaign, his last in the league, he hit .326 with a .935 OPS.
  • Martin does not speak English, but he does realize that it will be one of the most challenging aspects of his acclimation process. Based on the way he conducted himself at the presser, Martin seems like a very respectful young man. He appeared to get a little choked up during his opening remarks. The Frisco community should look forward to Martin’s time in the Texas League. It should be a lot of fun to watch.
  • Another thing that will be interesting to watch is the ‘Riders’ outfield once Engel Beltre returns from his 15-game suspension Friday. We don’t know how Frisco manager Steve Buechele will put those two in the order and in the outfield, but it will be something to monitor.
  • Congratulations to reliever Mark Hamburger, who got the call up to Triple-A Round Rock for the first time of his career. Hamburger was 1-0 with a 1.83 earned run average in 11 appearances out of the Frisco ‘pen. He was the team leader with four saves.
  • Back with the ‘Riders is fellow reliever Chris Mobley. Mobley, who ended up starting the season with the Express even though he broke spring training with the ‘Riders, was very solid in his time with Round Rock. The right-hander was 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA. Opponents hit just .194 against him in his 20.2 innings of work.
  • Being new to the area, I had not been to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington before. It was a really impressive park, and I enjoyed my time there. Looking forward to catching a game there at some point this summer.
  • Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting Rangers play-by-play broadcaster Eric Nadel while at the press conference today. What was most impressive to me was the fact that he was fluent in Spanish. He carried a conversation with Martin after the presser. I asked him how long he has been working on his Spanish, and he said since 1990. He seemed like he knew his stuff. But who I am kidding, I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

Enjoy your Wednesday night. We’ll talk to you again tomorrow for the lid-lifter of an eight-game home stand.

- Brian

Congrats

It is in order for the Dallas Mavericks, who swept the two-time defending champion Lakers in the second round. It was swift. It was surprising. It was impressive.

And it was pretty awesome.

I’m a huge fan of parity in sports. I don’t like repeats or three-peats, so I’m excited that the NBA Champion this year will be a different team. And the Mavericks are definitely at or near the top of the list of favorites after embarrassing Los Angeles in Game 4.

Good for the Mavs. Let’s get into today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • We have talked about the bullpen’s recent string of success, and this stat, among other ones, proves it: Tyler Tufts’ loss yesterday was the first loss for the ‘Riders’ bullpen since April 26. During that span of 11 games, Frisco relievers boasted a 6-0 record. The starters, on the flip side, went 1-4. In other words, when the starters kept Frisco in the game, the ‘pen seemed to nail down the win. If not, the RoughRiders were in trouble.
  • On the flip side, the offense continued to struggle yesterday. Frisco matched a season low with only three base hits, dropping the team batting average to .263. That mark is still fourth in the Texas League, but the RoughRiders are last place in runs per game (4.4).
  • The RoughRiders have scored six or more runs in only three of their last 16 games. It is quite an achievement that the club is still 7-9 during this span. Even if you throw away the first six games in that span when the ‘Riders were only 1-5, Frisco has hit .237 in the last ten contests.
  • Individually during the last week and a half, one player (Renny Osuna) is hitting above .300. Two others–Travis Adair and Mike Bianucci–are above the .250 plateau. 
  • Despite the low batting average as of late, Frisco leads the Texas League in home runs during the month of May. The ‘Riders have clubbed 11 home runs, three more than anyone else. Because of this spurt, the RoughRiders are tied for second overall with 32 homers. But first-place San Antonio (47) is still far away.
  • The two teams in action yesterday at Citibank Ballpark were the two Texas League clubs that led the league in one- or two-run games. Frisco’s mark has been very respectable in both instances–5-5 in one-run games and 4-3 in two-run games. However, Midland is one of the best in what the cool kids call “nail biters.” The RockHounds are 10-7 in games decided by two runs or less. Only Tulsa (9-3) is better in those situations.
  • Congrats to former RoughRider Taylor Teagarden for hitting three home runs in Triple-A Round Rock’s 18-9 annihilation of Nashville yesterday. Teagarden became the second player in the Pacific Coast League to hit three home runs in a game. The other was another former RoughRider–Round Rock’s Chris Davis, who did it on April 9. 
  • Only six players in all of minor league baseball have hit three home runs in a game. I just mentioned Teagarden and Davis, who are both in the same organization. The other four belong to two teams: the Cleveland Indians (Columbus’ Chad Huffman and Lake County’s Jesus Aguilar) and the Houston Astros (Lexington’s Telvin Nash and Chris Wallace).
  • Corpus Christi’s J.D. Martinez missed his fourth straight game this afternoon after injuring his leg Thursday. Martinez, the Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year, has 30 RBIs in 27 games.
  • By the way, we’ve had some cool features over the weekend. Check out our first Texas League Power Rankings and the RoughRiders’ Mothers Day special.

The ‘Riders and ‘Hounds get going at a unique time of 6:30 tonight. Pre-game coverage along the RoughRiders Baseball Network begins at 6:00. Enjoy!

- Brian

Unending Praise

UPDATE: If you missed it during the pre-game show, check out the Mothers Day segment. Many RoughRiders said Happy Mothers Day to their moms.

MothersDayTributeFinal.mp3
_______________________

I have been almost unfairly blessed in my life with plenty of great things. Above all, though, is having the two parents that I have. My mom and dad have been extremely supportive of me through the years, even though my ambitions have taken me away from them geographically.

My mom has always been the one to comfort me when times got tough. She is also the one who will always say I sounded good on the air even if I thought my performance was awful.

But even my mom can point out a flaw or two. After my first ever broadcast, a baseball game in central Michigan in the end of March, my mom pointed out a few mistakes I made. It was safe to say, I had a long way to go as a broadcaster.

But to all the moms out there, Happy Mothers Day! And to my mom, thanks so much for being there through it all. I love you.

A few Sunday Facts before the ‘Riders meet the RockHounds.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Be sure to tune into the RoughRiders pre-game show today for a special tribute to the women behind the ‘Riders. We’ll have special hellos from the players to their moms during our second segment in the pre-game show. It is great, so be sure to catch it.
  • After the bullpen was stellar during the brief home stand earlier this week, the offense bailed out the RoughRiders with that Travis Adair three-run double. Due to that big hit, a reliever has still not been saddled with a loss since April 26.
  • Speaking of Adair, this guy continues to play extremely well since getting the call up to Frisco for the first time. Over the last seven games, Adair has hit .385 (10-for-26) with five runs batted in. 
  • Frisco starter Miguel De Los Santos hasn’t had the best start to the season, but he is continuing his incredible rate of strikeouts. He whiffed nine in five innings to increase his season total to 38 in 28 innings. Per nine innings, he’s striking out more than 12 batters.
  • The RoughRiders hit three or more runs in a game for the fifth time this season last night. Tommy Mendonca and Mike Bianucci’s back-to-back home runs marked the first such occurrence this season.
  • Tommy Hunter is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock tomorrow against Nashville. Hunter pitched four innings for the RoughRiders Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark. He has not pitched this season.
  • Finally, three nights after Neftali Feliz also rehabbed with the ‘Riders, Feliz earned a save for the Rangers against the Yankees last night in Arlington.

Catch the pre-game show at 1:30. First pitch is set for 2. Happy Mothers Day!

- Brian

Texas League Rankings

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Texas League lasts almost exactly
five months. Since the season began on April 7th, I’ll go through my
unofficial rankings after a few Facts after last night’s game.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The story of the game was Frisco starter Jake Brigham. Perfect
    through six and a third innings, Brigham allowed a one-out single to
    Jaff Decker that immediately preceded an RBI double from Kyle Blanks.
    After throwing only 69 pitches in the first six innings, Brigham
    couldn’t get through the seventh after 23 pitches, three runs and four
    hits.
  • Still, Brigham’s efforts should be applauded. For six innings,
    Brigham pitched as good, if not better, than any pitcher in the Texas
    League. Here’s a feature from the TL on Brigham’s outing
  • Offensively, the RoughRiders never got it going last night. The
    ‘Riders set a season low with only three base hits, and San Antonio’s
    pitching staff only faced three more than the minimum.
  • The bullpen continued its good work, working two and a third
    scoreless innings. The most notable effort was Fabio Castillo’s, who got
    out of a bases loaded situation in the eighth and tossed a scoreless
    ninth. Castillo’s ERA still sits at 12.79, but he has only worked six
    and a third frames. Believe it or not, Castillo has only given up runs
    in two of his five outings.

OK. Without further ado, here are the rankings.

1. San Antonio (18-10): The Missions almost lost their top spot
by dropping three of four to Frisco earlier this week, but San Antonio
was the class of the league through the first month. After starting the
season 1-3, the Missions ripped off 12 of 15 to seize first place in the
South.
HIGH POINT (April 23): The Missions crushed Midland 21-8 for their third
offensive output of 20 or more runs. It was the second of seven
victories over Midland in the season’s first month.
LOW POINT (May 5): San Antonio dropped its third straight to the
RoughRiders in Frisco. Coming into the series, the Missions had only
seven losses.
KEY STAT (.300): San Antonio’s batting average through 28 games, a Texas League high.

2. Tulsa (16-10): Before losing last night, the Drillers had
actually caught San Antonio for the TL’s best record. Tulsa limped
through the season’s first two weeks (6-7) before winning 10 of 13 to
seize a strong hold on the top spot in the North.
HIGH POINT (May 5): The Drillers won their fifth straight, 4-2 at
Springfield. After play that day, the Drillers had the best record in
the TL (16-9).
LOW POINT (April 11): At the time, no one knew about the vaunted San Antonio offense. Then, the Missions spanked Tulsa 23-10.
KEY STAT (1.88): Juan Nicasio’s earned run average over five starts. The
defending Texas League Pitcher of the Week, Nicasio is 4-1 with 40
strikeouts and only four walks.

3. Midland (14-14): Beyond the top two, the Texas League is a
mess. You could rank teams three through eight in any order, and no one
could accuse you of being totally wrong. I give this spot to the
RockHounds, though, because they are 13-7 against teams not named San
Antonio. Midland was the best team in the league during the first few
weeks.
HIGH POINT (April 26): Down by three to Corpus Christi in the ninth, the
RockHounds tied it with a pair of homers. In the tenth, Matt Sulentic’s
walk-off home run pushed Midland’s record to 12-7.
LOW POINT (May 2): The Missions swept Midland, capping it off with a
17-6 win. The RockHounds are 1-7 against San Antonio this year.
KEY STAT (77): The number of runs the RockHounds have allowed against
San Antonio. Against everyone else, Midland has surrendered only 101 in
20 games.

4. Northwest Arkansas (12-12): Even though I have the Naturals in
the top half of the league, they may be the coldest team right now.
However, the talent level remains high and Northwest got off to a great
start to earn this spot.
HIGH POINT (April 12): After four straight one-run wins, the Naturals
clubbed Corpus Christi 14-4 to start 5-1, which was best in the TL.
LOW POINT (April 15): San Antonio crushed Northwest Arkansas 26-5, which
started a rough run for the Naturals. Since April 14, Northwest is just
7-11.
KEY STAT (.282): That’s Jamie Romak’s batting average, which happens to
be the highest personal batting average of any Natural regular.

5. Springfield (12-15): Give the Cardinals some credit. In a
league that features four organizational number one prospects,
Springfield is hanging around without anyone from St. Louis’ top 20.
They certainly closed this period strongly, taking three of four from
Northwest Arkansas.
HIGH POINT (May 5): A 5-2 victory over the Naturals gave Springfield its first three-game winning streak this season.
LOW POINT (April 8): After dropping the opener, Springfield had a 6-2
lead over Frisco in the seventh. However, the ‘Riders sent the game to
extra innings and won on a throwing error in the tenth.
KEY STAT (.248): The team’s batting average, which is last in the league.

6. Frisco (12-16): Four days ago, the RoughRiders were a shoe-in
to finish last in these rankings. But, the ‘Riders took three of four
over San Antonio to jump back into the race for second place in the
South. Despite the poor record, the RoughRiders are third in the league
in hitting and fifth in ERA.
HIGH POINT (May 4): In game two of that series with the Missions, Frisco
walked off with a 3-2 victory after a Mike Bianucci sacrifice fly in
the tenth. So far this year, the ‘Riders are 4-4 against the Missions.
LOW POINT (April 26): Bianucci’s home run was overturned to a double,
Frisco went from up one to down one, and a post-game altercation cost
the RoughRiders their center fielder for ten days. It was a rough day in
San Antonio, that’s for sure.
KEY STAT (30): The number of runs the Missions have scored against the
‘Riders in eight games. In its other 20 games, San Antonio has scored
168.

7. Arkansas (10-13): The Travelers have been plagued by terrible
weather and spotty play. However, a positive sign is that the club is
10-9 after an 0-4 start. And hey, they get to watch Mike Trout,
baseball’s best prospect according to many experts.
HIGH POINT (April 18): The Travelers defeated Frisco 4-3 for their
fourth straight victory. The Travelers had recovered from that 0-4 start
to sit at 6-5.
LOW POINT (April 26): It was the Travs’ fourth straight postponement.
Arkansas has only played 23 games, which is five fewer than most teams
in the league.
KEY STAT (.310): Trout’s batting average through 23 games, which is second to Orlando Mercado on the club.

8. Corpus Christi (12-16): Houston’s farm system is down, and the
Hooks are currently tied with the RoughRiders for the league’s worst
record. Plus, Houston’s minor leaguer of the year, J.D. Martinez,
injured himself two nights ago. No word on his condition, but that’s
never good.
HIGH POINT (May 4): Corpus’ only three-game winning streak happened on this night, a 4-2 victory over the RockHounds.
LOW POINT (April 12): Believe it or not, the Hooks have only had one
three-game losing streak. The final loss came on this night at Northwest
Arkansas. At the time, the Hooks were 1-5.
KEY STAT (30): Martinez’s RBI total, which is second in the Texas League.

Thoughts? Comments? Feel free to shoot them our way. We kick off coverage tonight at 6:30 from Midland on the RBN. Enjoy!

- Brian

Successful Trial Run

After a few games with the RoughRiders at the beginning of the season, outfielder Joey Butler got the call up to Triple-A Round Rock. During his 15 games with the Express, Butler was a consistent bat. He hit .276 with a homer and eight runs batted in.

Today, Butler, who was carrying a ten-game hitting streak, was sent back to Frisco. For a young man who was one step from the big leagues for the first time, this was a very impressive showing. He made the most of his short time with the Express, which will only make it easier for him to get another crack in Round Rock sometime soon.

Notes on Butler and others in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Prior to that ten-game hitting streak, Butler got off to a slow start with Round Rock. He went 3-for-22 (.167) in his first six games. After that, though, Butler settled in and went 13-for-36 (.361) with seven RBIs, six of which came in his final two games of this Triple-A stint.
  • Before departing Frisco, Butler went 6-for-19 (.316) with two homers and four RBIs. He also walked six times, which gave him an on-base percentage of .500. He is back in the order tonight in right field. He will bat third.
  • The ‘Riders made one other roster move today. First baseman Jose Ruiz was placed on the Temporary Inactive List to travel home for the birth of his child. When on the TIL, one must sit out at least three games. On the year, Ruiz is hitting .306 with a homer and six RBIs. He has started at first base for the ‘Riders 22 times thus far this season.
  • The bullpen continued to thrive last night for the RoughRiders. The quartet of Tyler Tufts (3.0 IP), Ben Snyder (0.2), Ramon Aguero (0.1) and Mark Hamburger (1.0) allowed only one hit and struck out eight. With apologies to the other three, Tufts’ showing was the most impressive. He inherited a bases loaded, nobody out situation in the fifth and did not allow a runner to score. He then set down the Missions in order in the sixth and seventh.
  • In this three-game series, the ‘Riders’ bullpen (excluding Tommy Hunter’s rehab effort behind Neftali Feliz) has worked 14 and a third innings and has not allowed a run. Over that span, the relievers have struck out 20 and surrendered only five hits. Impressive stuff.
  • Martin Perez’s sixth start of the season was fairly similar to a few others this season. Perez labored through four innings and threw a season-high 94 pitches. He allowed three runs on six hits, and it could have been worse if not for Tufts’ Houdini act in the fifth.
  • In the four starts during which Perez has allowed at least two runs, he has averaged 19.8 pitches per inning. On the flip side, during his two shutout efforts, Perez has only tossed 14.8 pitches per frame.
  • A few lineup notes for tonight: Guilder Rodriguez is getting the day off, just his second of the season. Travis Adair, who has hit safely in the last five games, moves up to the two-hole. Davis Stoneburner moves up to the seventh spot after homering last night.

Enjoy tonight’s series finale, as the ‘Riders aim for their first sweep of the season. Pre-game along the RBN begins at 6:35. And again, look for the Texas League Power Rankings this weekend.

- Brian

Just Get It Over With

If you go to a basketball game, you will most likely hear the final buzzer less than three hours after the opening tip. In football, setting aside three-and-a-half hours is almost always sufficient. As for baseball, uh, who knows.

Last night, the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-3 in 13 innings. There was a rain delay of more than two-and-a-half hours. Not only that, but the game featured a two-run ninth from the Red Sox and an out at the plate in the 12th. In other words, mother nature and the baseball gods didn’t want this one to end.

Finally it did, a little shy of 3 a.m. EST. And yep, you guessed it. They had an afternoon game scheduled for today.

Oh baseball. You did it again. Let’s get on with the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • First, the two rehabbing Rangers. Neftali Feliz pitched the first inning and struck out the side following a lead-off single. From this eye, he threw 16 fastballs and six off-speed pitches. According to the radar gun at Dr Pepper Ballpark, which is known to be fairly accurate, Feliz averaged around 97 miles per hour on his fastballs. He hit 100 on the gun twice.
  • 14 of Feliz’s 22 pitches were strikes. Two of the three strikeouts were of the swinging variety, and the right-hander induced five swinging strikes altogether. The one single came on a fastball at 95 miles per hour.
  • Now, Tommy Hunter’s specifics. The righty threw 71 pitches (41 strikes and 30 balls). He threw at least 16 pitches in all four of his innings of work. He threw 21 pitches in his third inning of work, which was the highest number of tosses. Hunter went four innings and gave up two runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a solo home run. He scattered three hits and struck out five, four of which were swinging.
  • Hunter sat around 93-94 miles per hour and peaked at 96 on the stadium gun. He did miss very badly on a pitch that hit Cody Decker in the helmet. Fortunately, he would stay in the game.
  • Enough about the former RoughRiders. Let’s get to the newest ‘Rider, the man who followed the Feliz-Hunter show. Richard Bleier, who pitched in a game that “counts” for the first time this season, went three and two thirds scoreless. After giving up a lead-off double to the first man he faced, Bleier sat down nine of the next ten he faced. He will be used as a starter now, and his next outing is scheduled for Monday at Midland.
  • Continuing the theme of pitching, Frisco reliever Justin Miller continued his good work last night. He went retired four of the five men he faced to earn his second victory. It was Miller’s fifth-straight scoreless outing. Over that span, Miller has allowed one hit over seven and a third.
  • Now, to the offense. Three RoughRiders had multi-hit games last night, and all three of those efforts are noteworthy. Renny Osuna went 3-for-4 to increase his batting average to .319. Since returning from the disabled list, Osuna is hitting .345 (10-for-29) with five RBIs.
  • Jonathan Greene had two hits last night, which matched his total from the previous four games combined. Greene was due to slow down at some point, seeing as he was hitting above .400 late last week. Still, that two-hit effort puts him at .333 for the campaign.
  • Also notching two knocks was Travis Adair. Adair, who debuted at the Double-A level a week ago today, has raised his average to .269. He began the season 0-for-11, but Adair has gone 7-for-15 since.
  • Two hitters saw streaks come to an end last night. Mike Bianucci’s 12-game hitting streak is no more, but I’m sure he will take the game-winning sacrifice fly instead. Also, Jose Ruiz had reached base in 12 straight games before going 0-for-4 last night.
  • Frisco manager Steve Buechele is giving Tommy Mendonca the night off. It is just his second day off of the season. Only Bianucci has played in every game so far this year for the ‘Riders. Ruiz takes over the clean-up duties, and Osuna will play at third base.
  • Programming note: Since the Texas League season is almost exactly five months, I’m planning on doing monthly Power Rankings. So, this weekend, I’ll delve into all eight teams within the TL. It’ll be a separate blog post.

Martin Perez, the Rangers’ number one prospect, will start tonight for Frisco. The ‘Riders and Missions meet at 7:05. Pre-game at 6:35 along the RBN. Enjoy!

- Brian

Frisco Time Machine

The day was June 27, 2008. Tommy Hunter scattered three hits in six
scoreless innings in a RoughRiders victory over Springfield. Hunter
would get the call up to Triple-A a few days later.

Ten days later, young Neftali Feliz donned the ‘Riders’ red for the
first time. He made only ten appearances that year, and he jumped up to
Triple-A to start 2009.

Those two missed each other at the Double-A level by that much during their rise to the big
leagues. Tonight, they will return to Frisco and pitch together at Dr
Pepper Ballpark for the first time.

Details on that, and more, in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Once again, if you haven’t heard, Feliz will pitch the first
    inning, and Hunter will follow for three to four frames. Behind that,
    Richard Bleier will toe the rubber for the first time this year. Bleier
    was just added to the roster yesterday, and he has assumed Wilfredo Boscan’s spot in the rotation.
  • Beyond today, the rotation will not change. Thus, Martin Perez will pitch on four-days rest tomorrow night, and Jake Brigham will follow Thursday with normal rest, also.
  • Just for fun, here are Feliz’s stats for the RoughRiders during
    2008: 4-3, 2.98 earned run average in ten appearances (all starts); 75
    strikeouts in 77.1 innings.
  • And here are Hunter’s numbers during his two stints (’08 and ’09) in North Texas: 5-2, 4.18 earned run average in 13 appearances (11 starts); 44 strikeouts in 74.0 innings.
  • The ‘Riders will get Feliz and Hunter one night after a big victory.
    Not only did Frisco win its third game of the season after trailing
    through five innings, but it was the RoughRiders’ biggest comeback since
    downing Springfield 7-6 in 10 innings April 8. That game and last night’s 5-3 triumph are the only two
    games this year during which Frisco overcame a multi-run deficit to win.
  • With an RBI single in the sixth, Mike Bianucci extended his hitting streak to a team-high 12 games yesterday. In his 25 games this year, Bianucci has hit safely in 21 of them. Only twice this year has the primary designated hitter failed to reach base in a game.
  • The most impressive part of Bianucci’s season? His ability to drive in runs. He is tied with Tommy Mendonca for the team lead in RBIs (21). With men in scoring position, Bianucci is hitting .500 (11-for-22). With two down and someone at second and/or third, Bianucci is hitting .625 (5-for-8).
  • Outfielder David Paisano has only played once in the last four games after appearing in all of the previous 21 games to start the season. Not sure what to make of that, but I thought I’d throw it out there, especially because the roster is short on outfielders at this point. For the year, Paisano is hitting .233 with 11 runs scored and four RBIs.
  • Since returning from the “Temporary Inactive List” April 19, reliever Mark Hamburger has been tremendous. The right-hander has given up just one run on two hits in 11 and two-thirds innings. During that span, Hamburger has whiffed 10 and walked five. 
  • Because of Springfield’s win over Northwest Arkansas earlier today, the Texas League only boasts two teams with records above .500. The third-best club in the TL (Northwest Arkansas) is 11-11, while the top two teams (San Antonio and Tulsa) are a combined 32-17.

Pre-game coverage along the RoughRiders Baseball Network begins at 6:35. Enjoy the unofficial “Rehab Day” at Dr Pepper Ballpark tonight!

- Brian

Wham With The Right Hand

For the first time since 2006, my favorite basketball team–the
Cleveland Cavaliers–is not involved in the postseason. They had this
LeBron James guy who helped them win a lot of games, and now his
“talents” are in South Beach. That may be the reason why.

The Cavaliers’ franchise will need to replace another key contributor
next season. This need comes on the broadcasting side, not the personnel
side. Joe Tait, the “Voice of the Cavaliers” for 39 seasons, called his
final game a few weeks ago. I had a chance to listen, and even though I
knew it was his last game, I didn’t totally comprehend it.

However, this official release
snapped me into reality. The team is now accepting applications. The
great broadcasters are the ones who you take for granted until they are
gone. Detroit had to cope with life without Ernie Harwell. Dodgers fans
are starting to realize that Vin Scully’s time behind the microphone
will be over soon. And one day, hopefully not for a while, men like the
Cowboys’ Brad Sham and the Rangers’ Eric Nadel will retire, too.

It is an honor to listen to some of these broadcasters, and I’ll miss hearing Joe Tait sign off with his “Have a good night, everybody.”

Now, onto a Tuesday, series-opening set of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders’ release in advance of “Rehab Day” at Dr Pepper
    Ballpark is online. In case you missed it, former ‘Riders and current
    Rangers Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz will be pitching for Frisco
    tomorrow night. For more information on the game or a contact number for tickets, you can click here.
  • There was a roster move by the ‘Riders this afternoon. Starter
    Wilfredo Boscan, who was 1-3 with a 6.95 ERA in five starts, has been
    sent down to high-A Myrtle Beach. Southpaw Richard Bleier has been added
    to the roster from extended spring training. Last year with Frisco,
    Bleier went 7-11 with a 5.04 ERA in 28 starts.
  • Also, Ramon Aguero has been activated from the disabled list. He is expected to pitch tonight.
  • Let’s tackle the good from last night’s loss before getting to the
    bad. Mike Bianucci continues to rake. He hit his eighth homer of the
    season, tying him for second in that category within the Texas League. Bianucci also became the eighth player in the TL to reach 20 runs batted in this year.
  • Bianucci started extremely hot and then cooled down. Now, he is
    back on a hot streak. He’s now on an 11-game hitting streak. During that
    time, Bianucci has hit .378 (17-for-45) with three homers and nine
    RBIs.
  • It was a rough go for Frisco starter Miguel De Los Santos, who
    allowed nine runs in two and a third innings yesterday. That run total
    was the highest by a Frisco arm this season. Michael Dammon of Chatter from the Pressbox told us that De Los Santos allowed the most runs by a Frisco pitcher since Omar Poveda also allowed 9 runs against San Antonio on August 10, 2009. 
  • The new opponent for the RoughRiders is San Antonio, the best team in this Texas League
    by three games. Frisco dropped three of four in San Antonio last week,
    but the ‘Riders held the Missions’ offense in check. San Antonio scored
    only 4.8 runs per game against the RoughRiders in those four games.
  • What about the rest of the Missions’ opponents this year? Well,
    here are the runs per game figures for the Missions against the other
    three teams they have played: 9.6 v. Midland, 8.8 v. Northwest Arkansas, and 6.3 v. Tulsa. The Missions had a 20-plus run output in a game against each one of those teams.
  • Overall, the Missions are scoring 7.8 runs per contest and hitting .318 as a team. It’s pretty scary that when you go to the “Team Batting Stats” page on the Texas League web site, the Missions are at the top of 14 of the 17 categories. The only categories that the Missions do not lead are at-bats (second), triples (tied for second), and stolen bases (fifth).
  • Finally, remember the J.D. Martinez grand slam in the third inning? Well, there are two promotions at Whataburger
    Field that were in effect. Not only did a fan win free tires for a grand
    slam being hit, but someone won a free in-ground pool. The promo in
    Corpus Christi says that if a home run is hit into the pool in the third
    inning, someone wins a pool. Crazy stuff.

Pre-game coverage along the RBN begins at 6:35. First pitch is set for 7:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

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