Results tagged ‘ Martin Perez ’

Remember When…

The All-Star Break will be gone before we know it. That’s how these short breaks work, especially when they are only two days long.

The last time there were two straight days without a RoughRiders game that counted? April 5 and 6, right before the 2011 regular season started. A few Texas League clubs (I’m looking at you, Northwest Arkansas and Arkansas) had some games washed out because of rain. Not the RoughRiders.

Let’s take you back to the last time this club enjoyed an off day similar to this one. What was this world like back on April 6? Let’s tell you about it in an All-Star edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Dr Pepper Ballpark had been without a meaningful baseball game for 209 days.
  • Texas League fans’ lasting memory of San Antonio was that the club’s offense was bad.
  • Tommy Mendonca and Martin Perez were hoping for bounce-back seasons. Wish granted.
  • The most ridiculous stat of them all: defending MVP Josh Hamilton had not posted a Double-A home run. He hit his first this year.
  • Martin Perez had not had a perfect game in his career.
  • Leonys Martin was very much a free agent.
  • The Rangers won their sixth straight game to start their A.L. pennant defense.
  • Baltimore, Kansas City and Pittsburgh were a combined 13-6.
  • Boston and Tampa Bay were a combined 0-12.
  • South Carolina’s baseball program had only won six straight College World Series games.
  • California’s baseball program was not scheduled to survive past 2011.
  • The Dallas Mavericks were an afterthought.
  • The greatest poll ever had not been created: Can you name the player who has won an NBA Title between LeBron and Dirk?)
  • Kemba Walker was the talk of the basketball world.
  • The NFL was in a lockout. Oh wait…
  • VCU and Butler’s application numbers were going up. Big time.
  • Osama bin Laden was alive.
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri, looked very different.
  • I had never heard of a “Royal Wedding.”
  • Oprah was still on the air.

There are many more changes than those 20, but this is a good start. Enjoy another day away from the RoughRiders. We’ll be back with you for more coverage in advance of the ‘Riders and the Springfield Cardinals Thursday.

- Brian

RoughRiders ABCs

Over the course of nine years, hundreds of players have donned the RoughRiders red. So, who are the best players by letter? We are going by the first letter of former RoughRiders’ last names. And yes, rehabs count.

The year(s) with the ‘Riders is/are in parentheses.

Elvis Andrus (2008): Currently with the Rangers, Andrus was second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2009. He made the All-Star team in 2010 and was an integral part of Texas’ journey to the World Series. (honorable mention: Antonio Alfonseca, Joaquin Arias)

Hank Blalock (2008): Blalock, who originally came through the Rangers system before the RoughRiders existed, stopped by in 2008 for six rehab games. Blalock hit 153 home runs in his big league career, a total that does not include his game-winning blast in the ’03 All-Star Game. (honorable mention: Kris Benson, Jason Bourgeois)

Nelson Cruz (2010, 2011): Cruz rehabbed with the ‘Riders late in the 2010 season and early this year. Not much explanation needed here. He’s a candidate to hit in the Home Run Derby this year. (honorable mention: Frank Catalanotto, Endy Chavez)

John Danks (2005-06): This one is close between Danks and Chris Davis. Danks pitched in 31 games for the RoughRiders before ascending to Triple-A and eventually the bigs. The lefty is 49-52 with a 3.99 ERA in the big leagues (honorable mention: Davis)

Cody Eppley (2010): Eppley made it to the big leagues for the first time earlier this season. There have only been seven people with a last name that starts with “E” play with Frisco. Watch out for the current one listed here. (honorable mention: Robbie Erlin)

Neftali Feliz (2008): Last year’s American League Rookie of the Year, Feliz has struggled a bit as the Rangers’ closer this year. Still, he is an exciting young arm who figures to be in the majors for a long time. (honorable mention: Scott Feldman, Frank Francisco)

Adrian Gonzalez (2003): Little did we know that the inaugural RoughRiders unit had such a good player. Gonzalez is tearing it up in his first season in Boston. This letter is loaded, by the way. (honorable mention: Eric Gagne, Armando Galarraga, Craig Gentry, Doug Glanville, Cristian Guzman)

Josh Hamilton (2009, 2011): I’m just going to say this–sorry to the honorable mentions. This rehabbing Ranger takes it, easily. After all, he did homer for Frisco last month. (honorable mention: Jerry Hairston, Jr., Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter)

Jesse Ingram (2006-2007): A right-handed reliever, Ingram is the ONLY “I” to ever play for the ‘Riders. He never made it to Triple-A, but he’s at the top of this list!

Andruw Jones (2009): Another rehabber, Jones has played with five different teams over 16 seasons. His middle name is Rudolf, so that’s cool. (honorable mention: Brian Jordan)

Ian Kinsler (2004, 2009, 2010): Kinsler climbed the organizational ladder during the early days of the RoughRiders, and he liked Frisco so much that he returned for a brief visit in ’09 and ’10. He has manned second base for the Rangers for a while. (honorable mention: Steve Karsay, Michael Kirkman)

Josh Lueke (2010): Lueke emerges out of a group with 12 players in it. The hurler was a part of the Cliff Lee deal, and he made it to the big leagues for the first time earlier this year.

Gary Matthews (2005): Matthews went 2-for-5 in his one and only game as a RoughRider. He played in 1281 games at the big league level. There are plenty of M’s in Frisco history, but not many good ones. (honorable mention: Ron Mahay, Nick Masset)

Laynce Nix (2003-2004): Nix played in 94 games with the RoughRiders in their first two seasons of existence. He has appeared for four different major league teams, including suddenly above average Washington this year. (honorable mention: Jeff Nelson)

Alexi Ogando (2010): Ogando blew through Double-A while with the ‘Riders last season. He is 7-3 and an All-Star candidate in his first season in the bigs. Only five “Os” have been in RoughRiders uniforms (honorable mention: Darren O’Day).

Martin Perez (2009-2011): OK, so this may not be totally true yet, but I’m confident Perez can have a better big league career than the three guys I mention honorably. (honorable mention: Vicente Padilla, Chan Ho Park, Herbert Perry).

Daisy Q‘RuffRider (yea right): Of course there haven’t been any Q’s in Frisco. If you know of a RoughRider fan whose last name starts with Q, comment here and we can add him/her.

Nick Regilio (2003): Not a lot of substance with “R.” Regilio made 24 career appearances with the Rangers in ’04 and ’05. He last played professional baseball with Triple-A Toledo in the Detroit organization in ’09.

Justin Smoak (2009): Smoak was the cornerstone of the Rangers’ trade for Cliff Lee last year. So far in Seattle this year, Smoak is hitting .260 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. (honorable mention: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Pedro Strop)

Mark Teixeira (2004, 2007): He’s really, really good at baseball. My dad, a fantasy baseball player, would always call him “Mark Tex-e-air-uh.” (honorable mention: Taylor Teagarden, Chad Tracy)

U (2003-2011): All of you for being such great fans throughout nine seasons! Really, this is just a cop out because, surprisingly, there has not been a “U” in a ‘Rider uniform, but you can still enjoy it!

Edinson Volquez (2005, 2007): Volquez equaled Josh Hamilton. That’s good enough for me.

C.J. Wilson (2003, 2005, 2006): Brandon Webb has better overall numbers at this point in his career, but Wilson has more upside. (honorable mention: Webb).

X: I have nothing cute or witty about this. The letter is worth 8 points in Scrabble, though.

Chris Young (2004): There have only been three “Y’s” in RoughRiders history. This one is pretty good. His is 49-34 with a 3.74 ERA in his career in the majors.

Z: I need some Zs after this countdown. Hope you enjoyed.

- Brian

First Half By The Numbers

It is hard to summarize a 70-game period, but we are going to try with the beauty of numbers. I’m not a stat genius like Michael Damman, the head of the RoughRiders Statistical Research Department and the writer of this blog. However, I’m going to put on my best Damman-esque performance and give you a “First Half By The Numbers” edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • 76 – The number of days it took for the RoughRiders to complete the 70-game half.
  • 203:19 – The combined time of the 70 games in the first half, shown in hours and minutes.
  • 8.47 – That’s the equivalent in days to the time shown in the bullet above.
  • 266,774 – The number of fans that passed through the Dr Pepper Ballpark turnstiles during the 34-game home schedule. That’s good for an average of 7,846, which is by far the best mark in the Texas League.
  • 40 – The number of wins for Frisco, which is the tied for the sixth-most in a half in the history of the franchise.
  • 69 – Frisco’s home run total, which is one better than the RoughRiders’ home run count for all of the 2010 season (68).
  • 386 – The number of runs the ‘Riders scored in the first 70 games. That amounts to 5.5 per game.
  • 2746 – The number of batters that Frisco pitching faced during the first half.
  • 22 – The combined total of at bats for Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton while with the RoughRiders on rehab stints. That trio played in a combined seven games with Frisco during the first half.
  • 78 – Martin Perez’s strikeout total, which was second in the Texas League. Only Corpus Christi’s Xavier Cedeno (79) had more.
  • 65 – The number of transactions that the RoughRiders made, which included things such as a trade with Cincinnati, a promotion from Low-A Hickory, a $15.5 million-dollar addition, and much more.
  • 17 – Frisco’s come-from-behind victories during the first half. This means that the ‘Riders trailed at some point during 42.5% of their wins.
  • 2 – The number of days that the RoughRiders spent in a tie for first place. Frisco never had the top spot to itself because of the dominance of San Antonio (49-21 in the first half).
  • 9 – The number of RoughRiders who will head to San Antonio for the 75th Texas League All-Star Game.
  • 44 – The number of players who have appeared for the RoughRiders this season. 24 of those are pitchers.
  • 2.8 – The percentage of the second half that has been completed.

That last number means that there is still a long way to go in 2011. Join us for game three of half two tonight along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:35 for the ‘Riders and the Hooks. Enjoy!

- Brian

Perez Headed to XM All-Star Futures Game

Frisco left-hander Martin Perez will represent the Texas Rangers Sunday, July 10, in the XM All-Star Futures Game, as announced today by Major League Baseball. Perez will play for the World Team.

The only other Ranger farmhand is shortstop Jurickson Profar, who has hit .269 with six homers and 26 RBIs for Low-A Hickory. Profar trails only Perez in Baseball America‘s list of Texas prospects.

The game takes place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., at 5 p.m.

Why is Perez going to the Futures Game (at least statistically)? Let’s tell you about it in a Perez version of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Perez is near the top of many categories in the Texas League. He is second in strikeouts (78), tied for third in innings pitched (82.1), fourth in earned run average (3.28), and sixth in WHIP (1.32).
  • Obviously the most frequently used numbers for Perez have dramatically improved from last year to this year (5-5, 5.96 ERA in ’10; 4-2, 3.28 ERA in ’11).
  • In 2011, Perez is averaging almost five and a half innings per start. During those efforts, he has given up an average of 2.2 runs on 5.1 hits. He has struck out 5.2 and walked only 2.1.
  • Compare that to last year, when Perez only mustered an average outing of a little more than four frames per start. The averages for last year came out to 3.0 runs, 4.9 hits, 4.2 strikeouts and 2.1 walks.
  • Two other situational improvements have aided Perez’s game. The difference in his performance against lefties (.267 to .188) has been profound, as has his ability to retire the leadoff man (.313 to .240).
  • Plus, that perfect game thing that he threw. That was a boost, obviously. It also allowed him to win this honor.

Congrats to Martin Perez. He deserves it, no doubt. Good luck to him and Jurickson Profar once they head to the Southwest next month.

The ‘Riders and ‘Hounds wrap up this four-game series tonight at 7:05. Pre-game coverage at 6:35 on the RoughRiders Baseball Network or online right here. Enjoy!

- Brian

First Half Countdown

April 7 seems like a long time ago. September 5 seems like a long time from now. Welcome to the halfway point of the 2011 season. The RoughRiders finished up the first half at 40-30, which is good for the second best record in the Texas League.

Before the ‘Riders begin the second half, let’s take a look back at the first half. It’s a Top 10 edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS (Top 10 moments from the first half):

10. Three straight blowouts (June 15–Frisco 14, Midland 7)
The RoughRiders were rolling on the road in the month of June, and the trend continued in a big way at Midland. Frisco posted double-digit run totals in three consecutive games for just the second time in franchise history. In those three contests, the ‘Riders scored 37 runs on 54 hits. This game, a 14-7 beating at Citibank Ballpark, capped off the three-day dominance. Frisco was 9-1 on the road in June after this one.

Mike Bianucci is second in the Texas League with 16 home runs (James Garner).

9. Bianucci’s blast sinks Hooks (June 18–Frisco 9, Corpus Christi 6)
You don’t have to look too far for this one. Saturday night, Mike Bianucci crushed a three-run home run off Kyle Greenwalt to give the ‘Riders the lead for good in the 13th inning. This blast rewarded Adalberto Flores, who set highs in innings pitched (4) and strikeouts (6) by a Frisco reliever in a single game, with his second win of the season. Bianucci leads the club and is in the top five in the Texas League with 16 home runs.

8. Adair’s single stuns San Antonio (June 10–Frisco 5, San Antonio 4)
After San Antonio finally mustered a hit (and four runs) against starter Robbie Erlin, Travis Adair decided to save the day. His RBI single in the bottom of the ninth kept the ‘Riders in the playoff chase. Unfortunately, the Missions would go on to clinch the first half title. Still, it was a memorable moment in front of a Fireworks Friday crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

7. Adair’s two-out, bases-clearing magic (May 7–Frisco 9, Midland 8 )
This one foreshadowed the dominance that the ‘Riders would have over the RockHounds this year. Midland took an 8-6 lead in the bottom of the eighth with three runs. In the top of the ninth, the ‘Riders packed the bases with two down. Travis Adair, a new outfielder fresh up from High-A Myrtle Beach, doubled home everyone with a shot down the left field line. It was a big win for a club starting to come into its own.

Jose Ruiz's three-run blast clinched a perfect road trip June 6 (James Garner).

6. Ruiz’s shot clinches 6-0 trip (June 6–Frisco 9, Tulsa 4)
The score wouldn’t indicate it, but this game was close throughout. The RoughRiders took a 5-4 lead into the ninth and scored four more, capped off by Jose Ruiz’s three-run home run. The win wrapped up Frisco’s first perfect road trip since April 29–May 2, 2008. At that point, the ‘Riders had won 24 of 34 games.

5. Throwing error hands ‘Riders win (April 8–Frisco 7, Springfield 6)
In front of the first of many 10,000+ crowds at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the RoughRiders erased a four-run deficit and completed the comeback when Richard Castillo overthrew first base on a sacrifice bunt try by Tommy Mendonca. The win gave Frisco an early 2-0 start.

Leonys Martin is a Texas League All-Star in his first minor league season (James Garner).

4. Leonys Martin thrives in debut (May 12–Frisco 10, Corpus Christi 7)
Days after signing a $15.5 million dollar contract with a $5 million signing bonus, Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin went 3-for-5 in his debut with the ‘Riders. In his first at bat, Martin doubled to deep center. Martin drove in a run and scored one in a game that was decided by a three-run eighth.

3. Ruiz walks off with a RoughRiders win (May 17–Frisco 1, Midland 0)
Scoreless game. Two down. Bases empty. Bottom nine. The game was destined for extras, until Jose Ruiz corked a towering home run over the right field fence. To this point, it is the only walk-off home run for the RoughRiders this year, and it was the most dramatic Frisco win during a four-game sweep of the ‘Hounds in mid May.

2010 A.L. MVP Josh Hamilton played in two games with Frisco (James Garner).

2. Hamilton homers in rehab start (May 18–Frisco 8, Midland 7)
The defending American League Most Valuable Player made a stop at Dr Pepper Ballpark before heading back to the Rangers following a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for more than a month. Swinging at the first pitch in his second at bat, Hamilton lined a two-run home run to left field. Hamilton finished the day 2-for-4 and helped the ‘Riders win a close one against the RockHounds. He also made many RoughRiders fans very happy after the game.

1. Perez tosses rain-shortened perfect game (April 19–Frisco 1, Arkansas 0)
Martin Perez, the Rangers’ number one prospect, set down the first 15 men he faced. In those situations, with a pitcher that is as talented as Perez, it is easy to start thinking about history. However, mother nature wanted to make sure Perez made history. Severe thunderstorms rolled through North Little Rock, Ark., forcing the game’s umpires to call the game in the top of the sixth inning.

Perez’s perfecto was the fifth in Texas League history and the second in RoughRiders history. Not only was it a historic night, but it showed that Perez was going to improve upon his 2010 numbers when with the ‘Riders. So far, so good for Perez, who boasts a 4-1 record and a 3.30 ERA.

What does the second half have in store? You can find out beginning tonight from Dr Pepper Ballpark. Pre-game coverage along the RoughRiders Baseball Network begins at 6:35. Enjoy!

- Brian

Early Starts Mean Late Endings

The RoughRiders lead the league in extra inning games this season. Frisco has played bonus baseball in 12 games. Considering today is the final game of the first half, the ‘Riders are on pace to play almost a month’s worth of extra inning games by the end of the season.

The main culprit for the frequency of bonus baseball? Day games. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but there is a trend.

Here are the eight games that began at noon or earlier. Notice the extra baseball.

  • April 12: Arkansas 9, Frisco 4: No extra innings here. In fact, this one was tied for the most lopsided early game of the year. Mike Trout, the Angels number one prospect, hit a pair of home runs, including a grand slam that hit his head shot on Rider Vision. I promise, it gets better from here.
  • April 18: Arkansas 4, Frisco 3 (15 innings): This one was a marathon. To this point in the season, it is the longest game in terms of time (4:26). It looked like the game would end in 13 frames when Robbie Diaz blooped in the go-ahead run in the top half. However, Trout was at it again, as he homered to lead off the bottom of the inning. That loss sent Frisco to 4-7 on the year.
  • April 26: San Antonio 6, Frisco 5: It wasn’t an extra-inning game, but it was crazy. Quick version: San Antonio scored three in the eighth on a Cody Decker homer to take a two-run lead. Then, Mike Bianucci hit a ball to the wall that was originally ruled a three-run bomb. It was overturned to an RBI double. The game took almost three hours, and it was the ultimate seesaw battle.
  • May 10: Frisco 4, Midland 3 (11 innings): The ‘Riders took a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning, when the ‘Hounds scored three times. Tommy Mendonca hit a go-ahead solo shot in the 11th to win it for the RoughRiders. The victory clinched a series win at Citibank Ballpark.
  • May 17: Frisco 1, Midland 0: It looked destined for extras. Two down, nobody on, tied game, bottom 9. Then, Jose Ruiz crushed a home run down the right field line to prevent the trend from continuing. The ‘Riders swept Midland in that four-game set.
  • May 23: Frisco 6, San Antonio 4 (10 innings): Frisco dominated this game until the ninth inning, when the Missions scored four runs to tie the game at 4 apiece. The ‘Riders regained all the momentum in the top of the tenth on a Davis Stoneburner home run and salvaged the finale in that four-game series at the Wolff.
  • May 26: Frisco 3, Northwest Arkansas 0: Along with the first early game, this one was the other “outlier.” Martin Perez tossed seven scoreless innings, and the game ended in a quick 2:14. The ‘Riders scored runs in three different innings.
  • June 6: Frisco 9, Tulsa 4: The ‘Riders and Drillers were locked in a good one until the top of the ninth, when Frisco scored four times. Jose Ruiz’s three-run bomb was the big blow in that frame. The victory completed a perfect 6-0 road trip to Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa.

Overall, the ‘Riders are 5-3 in these games, and those five wins came after three losses in April.

The run differential in those games: +5.

Average innings played: 10.1.

Likelihood of today’s game going down to the wire: very good.

Pre-game coverage begins at 10:35. First pitch is shortly after 11. Enjoy!

- Brian

More Power to the RoughRiders

The RoughRiders are making a jump in our second edition of the Texas League Power Rankings. Exactly how far they jump is available below. But first, here are a few Facts on Frisco’s great month of June.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders have a six-game winning streak, which is the club’s longest since it won seven straight from June 22-28. All seven of those games, believe it or not, were also away from home.
  • Frisco swept a road trip for the first time since April 29-May 2, 2008 when the ‘Riders took all four at the Wolff against San Antonio.
  • Since May 1, the ‘Riders are 24-10. Unfortunately, during that span, the team has only gained ONE game on San Antonio for first place in the Texas League South. The deficit is six games with 14 to go, which sets up a huge four-game series against the Missions tomorrow through Saturday. We’ll preview that set tomorrow.
  • By the way, check out our new feature on the main site. It’s called the Dr Pepper Ballpark Planner, which previews the upcoming home stand on and off the field. If you are planning on coming out to a game this week/weekend, that is a must read.

The season is two-fifths of the way over. Time for our second installment of the Texas League Power Rankings. Like last month, we will include a high point and low point of the month plus a key stat.

1. San Antonio (38-18; April Ranking: 1): Despite a strong charge by Frisco, the Missions have basically held their ground since the last rankings. The offense is still strong (.290 batting average as a team) despite a ridiculously strong start. And the pitching is second in the league with a 3.81 earned run average.
HIGH POINT (June 5): The Missions defeated Springfield 4-3 with a two-run ninth. It was San Antonio’s fourth walk-off win in the previous five games. Because of that, the Missions are 5-1 in June.
LOW POINT (May 16): San Antonio dropped its third in four games at Corpus Christi on this night. But, the Missions responded with a six-game winning streak. The reality is that this club has had few “low points.” Their lead has never been truly threatened.
KEY STAT (9): San Antonio’s magic number with 14 games left. A split or better at Frisco in the next four games would pretty much clinch the first half for the Missions.

2. Frisco (32-24; April Ranking: 6): The RoughRiders were the biggest climbers from April to May. Without a late surge at the beginning of May before I compiled the rankings, the ‘Riders may have been in last in those rankings. Now, Steve Buechele’s squad is hanging around a race it had not business being in a month ago. With Robbie Erlin arriving in Double-A and other starters like Richard Bleier and Carlos Pimentel settling in, the ‘Riders may have the best rotation in the league. That is, unless Martin Perez gets that call up to Triple-A.
HIGH POINT (June 6): This one is easy. Frisco completed a sweep of a six-game, North Division road trip with a 9-4 win at Tulsa. The ‘Riders outscored the Naturals and Drillers on that trip by a combined 27 runs. Really, that run is the reason the North is so competitive now.
LOW POINT (May 21): San Antonio’s Kyle Blanks crushed a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning. It was the second of three straight losses at San Antonio for the ‘Riders, who did manage to salvage the finale of that set. They will need more wins this week to stay alive.
KEY STAT (2.60): Martin Perez’s earned run average, which is second in the Texas League. He has won his last three starts.

3. Northwest Arkansas (26-25; April Ranking: 4): The next four teams are North Division teams, and they are all pretty even. I’ll bank on the Naturals because they just came off a six-game losing streak, and I expect them to take the North. But, I could just as easily see the Naturals in second, third, and fourth when all is set and done.
HIGH POINT (May 16): The Naturals rallied from a one-run deficit in the ninth at Tulsa to win 5-4 and claim their sixth straight win. Since then, it has been a jostling for first between Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa. Right now, the Naturals’ have a percentage-point lead on the Drillers.
LOW POINT (June 4): What a strange game. Christian Colon hit a solo shot on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. Then, Midland scored seven times in the top of the 10th to win 16-9. That was the Naturals’ sixth loss in a row.
KEY STAT (12-18 months): The recovery time for Natural and highly-touted hurler John Lamb, who found out in late May that he needs Tommy John surgery. Tough break for a tremendous prospect.

4. Springfield (26-29; April Ranking: 5): Last month, I put the Cardinals above their standings because they were playing above their talent level, in my opinion. Now, I’m putting them here because they are my sleeper pick to take the North. The Cardinals have never had a share of first place, but they have some more talent now. St. Louis’ top two prospects–Shelby Miller and Zack Cox–are on the roster now. Watch out for these guys.
HIGH POINT (May 27): A 12-4 blowout of Corpus Christi completed a sweep and extended the Cardinals’ winning streak to a season-high five games.
LOW POINT (June 5): This loss snapped a three-game winning streak, which may seem a little harsh to name this as the “low point.” But, the Cardinals had a chance to clinch a series win at San Antonio, and they allowed two in the ninth to lose 4-3. The next day, Springfield lost 11-1.
KEY STAT (4): Games back of first-place Northwest Arkansas in the loss column. The Cardinals play four at Northwest June 16-19.

5. Tulsa (28-27; April Ranking: 2): The Drillers may be the most inconsistent club in the league. They got off to a great start, but the team has begun to struggle again. Once again, I would not be surprised if the Drillers won this division in the first half. But I don’t know if they have enough offense or enough in the bullpen.
HIGH POINT (May 9): It is tough to find a high point when a team hasn’t won more than two games in a row during a month. On this day, the Drillers clinched a two-out-of-three series take at Northwest Arkansas with a 6-4 win. The Drillers’ record at that point was 18-11.
LOW POINT (June 6): Jose Ruiz’s three-run homer in the ninth was the exclamation point on Frisco’s 9-4, sweep-clinching win over Tulsa.
KEY STAT (6-11): The Drillers’ record in the last 17 games. That’s why the North is so close.

6. Arkansas (25-26; April Ranking: 7): No disrespect to the Travelers, who enter play today just one game back of first place in the North. The Travs have been hanging around, and they have the pitching to compete down the stretch. Arkansas leads the Texas League with a 3.80 team earned run average. The offense just isn’t that strong.
HIGH POINT (May 28): A 5-4, ten-inning win against Corpus Christi pushed the Travelers back above .500 for the first time since April 27. It also capped off a 7-2 run over nine games.
LOW POINT (June 3): The Travelers outplayed the Missions through eight innings in all three games in San Antonio. However, the Missions walked off with three wins to earn the sweep. June 3 was the finale, a 6-5 San Antonio win.
KEY STAT (10): Ten games over the next eight days beginning tomorrow for the Travs, all at home. Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas will play two doubleheaders–Wednesday and Friday. These games will go a long way to deciding who wins the first half.

7. Midland (23-33; April Ranking: 3): The RockHounds fell further than anyone in the Texas League, and it is understandable why. Since our last rankings in early May, the club is 9-19. Midland has been eliminated in the first half chase, and they are nine games back of the ‘Riders for second.
HIGH POINT (May 8): On that day, the ‘Hounds defeated Frisco 2-1 to improve to 15-15. Midland hasn’t sniffed .500 since.
LOW POINT (May 22): The RockHounds lost their eighth straight game 3-2 at Corpus Christi. Since then, the team has not recovered.
KEY STAT (11-23): The RockHounds’ record since May 1, which is tied for the worst mark in the Texas League.

8. Corpus Christi (20-36; April Ranking: 8): No change for a Hooks team that, like Midland, is 11-23 since the start of May. During the month, the Hooks had to cope with the absence of stud outfielder J.D. Martinez for a significant time period.
HIGH POINT (May 22): The Hooks took their first three games against Midland, capped by a 3-2 win on that day. That matched a season-high in consecutive wins this year.
LOW POINT (May 14): An 11-2 loss at Frisco sent the Hooks to a Texas League-high ninth straight loss.
KEY STAT (3): The Hooks had three losing streaks in the month of May: a nine-game streak May 5-14, a three-game skid May 17-19 and a five-game streak May 23-28.

Agree? Disagree? Share your rankings!

Feeling of Freedom

The month of June is upon us, believe it or not. Back in the day, June meant freedom to me because summer vacation was here. Because of that, June was, by far, my favorite month.

On the baseball calendar, June is quite the opposite. June is the month where the beginning of the season is too far in the past to remember, and the end of the season is too far away to imagine. This is the time of the season where baseball’s season turns into a grind.

Throw in the warmer temperatures and the fact that the season’s first half ends in less than four weeks, and you’ve got an interesting month of baseball.

Let’s set the table for June 2011 in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • There are 20 games left in the first half of the season, and the RoughRiders trail San Antonio by seven games for the top spot in the Texas League South. Unfortunately, the schedule makers did not give the ‘Riders any breaks for a possible June surge. Frisco will play 14 of those final 20 games away from home, while the Missions get 14 of 20 at home during that stretch. San Antonio has the best record in the league at home this season (18-4).
  • Four of Frisco’s six home games do come against San Antonio, though. The four-game series begins next Wednesday. It is pretty safe to say that if the ‘Riders want to have a fighting chance in the race down the stretch, they need at least three of those four games.
  • This year, it pays to be in the North. If the RoughRiders were in that division, they would be a half-game back of first. Springfield, the last place team in the North, is only three games back of the top spot, and the Cardinals would be nine and a half games away from San Antonio if they were in the South.
  • Still, as we have talked about on the broadcasts some, the RoughRiders are in a pretty good position with regards to the playoffs. San Antonio is playing the part of juggernaut thus far this year, and if the Missions win both halves, then the team in the division with the second best record throughout the season would get the other spot. Frisco is five games better than Midland and eight up on Corpus Christi.
  • Last season, Northwest Arkansas cruised to a pair of division titles, but Springfield pushed the Naturals to the limit in a first round series. The Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead before Northwest rallied to take the series 3-2.
  • By the way, do not be fooled by the Texas League All-Star Break. The first half of the season comes to an end after play on June 21st, which is the 70th game of the season. All eight teams are scheduled to be six games into the second half when the All-Star festivities take place.
  • Martin Perez returns to the mound tonight for the opener of this three-game series at Northwest Arkansas. Perez rolled the Naturals lineup Thursday morning, going seven scoreless innings and striking out five.
  • Perez leads the Texas League in earned run average (2.01), and he is near the top of many other categories. He is second in stirkeouts per nine innings (8.9), second in opponents batting average (.222), third in strikeouts (53), and eighth in WHIP (1.25).
  • The Rangers’ number one prospect will face off against a below average offense. The Naturals come in hitting .258 as a team, which is seventh in the league. The Naturals are averaging 4.8 runs per game, good for sixth in the league.
  • After a rough day with the ‘Riders Monday in his rehab debut, Julio Borbon played well in defeat with Triple-A Round Rock. Borbon went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and steals in the Express’ 7-5 loss at Oklahoma City. Borbon is expected back in the Express’ lineup tonight.

The ‘Riders make their first appearance at Arvest Ballpark tonight for a 7:00 showdown with Northwest Arkansas. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30. 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

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

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