Results tagged ‘ Mike Bianucci ’

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

“Dad, wanna play catch?”

Every Father’s Day I can’t help but think of that scene from Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad (once your done reading you can watch it here).

I’m not ashamed to say it makes me cry every time.  I wanted to ask some of the ‘Riders what some of their favorite baseball memories were with their dads, and I’m glad I can share their answers with you.

Manager, Steve Buechele: From playing in little league, to college baseball at Stanford, all the way to the major leagues, Boo’s dad supported him the entire way.

“To this day, I remember my dad, and my mom, always being there and watching every game my brothers and I played.

I then asked Boo about the first time his dad got to see him play in the major leagues.

“We were playing the Angles and I had a bunch of friends and family come out to the game.  I remember hugging my dad after the game and him telling me that he had tears in his eyes during the National Anthem.”

LHP, Robbie Erlin: Growing up in Santa Cruz, Calif., Erlin’s father probably never imagined that his son would be the Rangers’ No. 4 prospect at just 20-years-old.  But as Erlin’s coach in the Scotts Valley Little League, he greatly influenced his son’s future career.

“When I was 9-years-old my dad told me that before I could throw a curveball, I had to be able to locate my fastball.  He and I worked after practice on throwing a curve and finally one day during a game I was pitching he signaled to our catcher to call for a curveball.”

As we all know, Robbie’s curveball is now one of the best in the Rangers’ minor league system.  I then asked Robbie if 9-years-old was a bit early to be throwing a curve.

“Not if you know how to throw it.”  

3B, Tommy Mendonca: By now, we all know how well Tommy has been playing lately.  And we all know how hard he’s been working out.  Most are aware of the magical ride he went on when playing for Fresno State University in 2008 when the Bulldogs won the College World Series and Mendo was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore.

“Both of my parents were at every game in Omaha during our playoff run.  My dad was my little league coach and it was great having him and my mom watching me and supporting me when we were playing in such big games.”

RHP, Jake Brigham: One of seven kids (four brothers, two sisters) , Jake grew up in Florida where his dad was a barber.  He had to cut a lot of hair to support all those hungry mouths and thus had one day off a week: Wednesday.

“Every Wednesday afternoon he’d take us seven kids to Barnett Park and we had practically enough players to field a team.  I remember him pitching to us … We all got a chance to field, catch, hit, and play the outfield.”

LF/DH, Mike Bianucci: “Nuch” had the big blast last night in the 13th inning to give the ‘Riders the win, but it was his dad who saw him hit has a kid.

“It was great having my dad coach me in Babe Ruth League.  Once I turned pro, he first had a chance to watch me play in Hickory.  My best memories are of him watching me in high school, though.  It was great then because I always had lots of family at the games.”


 

2B, Davis Stoneburner: His real name is Ralph, which, so conveniently for today’s article, is his father’s name.  After asking him a baseball memory he shared with his dad, Stoney gave me an answer in a way that only he could.

“The first time my dad saw me play as a professional was in Clinton, Ia. when I was playing for the LumberKings.  I was a shortstop at the time and he came out to watch me play a four-game series.  Bad part was I didn’t get a single hit.”

Fortunately, he’s now riding a nine-game hitting streak.  Looks like he’s recovered.

We’ll have more of a tribute to Father’s Day on the pre-game show tonight.  Along with Mother’s Day, it’s one of my favorite pre-game segments all season long.  First pitch tonight in the series finale in Corpus Christi crosses home plate at 6:05, pre-game coverage kicks off at 5:35.

If for some reason you miss the pre-game segment of all the ‘Riders wishing their dad’s a happy Father’s Day but would like to hear it, feel free to email me at agoldsmith@ridersbaseball.com and I’ll send you the .mp3 version.

Talk with you tonight,

AG

RoughRiders on the Green

I am not a golf fanatic. In fact, I haven’t golfed more than twice in a summer since high school, mainly because my skill level is just below awful. I don’t know what word describes “just below awful,” but it can’t be good.

However, I make sure to watch as much of pro golf’s four majors as possible. As I’m perched in my room watching the U.S. Open’s third round, let’s take a look at how some golfers compare to those who are down at Whataburger Field this weekend. It’s a special edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS (U.S. Open style):

  • Rory McIlroy (-11; first place) = Tommy Mendonca: McIlroy has dominated the U.S. Open so far with a first-round 65 and a second-round 66. He heads into day three with a six-stroke lead. We have talked about Mendonca recently on this blog. Since that post, Mendonca has gone 3-for-7 with a homer and two RBIs. In June, the ‘Riders’ third baseman is hitting an absurd .433 with 21 RBIs. Both men are dominating their field right now.
  • Y.E. Yang (-5; second place) = Renny Osuna: Both men are undersized a bit (Yang: 5’9″, 190 lbs; Osuna: 6’0″, 180 lbs), yet both have had solid years and careers. Yang took down Tiger Woods (well get to him in a bit) in the ’09 PGA Championship, but he still is a surprise in this year’s event. Osuna continues to hit well, but other RoughRiders tend to get the attention. Osuna is hitting .304 with a career-high five home runs. He’ll have plenty of chances to blow that old career high in homers (four) out of the water.
  • Phil Mickelson (+1; T-26th place) = Mike Bianucci: Mickelson is very much on the outside looking in this weekend, but he is probably the most marketable golfer on tour right now with Woods on the shelf. Bianucci has struggled a bit lately, too. However, Bianucci still sits in a tie for third in homers (14) and a tie for fourth in RBIs (49). Fortunately for Bianucci, he has more than half the season left. Mickelson has 36 holes and a scorching up-and-comer 12 strokes ahead. Advantage: Bianucci.
  • Sergio Garcia (-2; T-third place) = Jake Brigham: Both Garcia and Brigham are not flashy, but they both tend to hang around and give themselves a chance to win at the end. Garcia posted a 69 in round one and followed it up with an even-par 71 yesterday. Brigham has gone at least five innings in all but one of his 13 starts this year. Tonight’s starter has allowed more than three runs only three times. These two won’t grab the headlines, but they get the job done.
  • Michael Barbosa (+24; last place) = Corpus Christi Hooks: This is not me unnecessarily ripping on the Hooks, I promise. Both Barbosa and the Hooks had rough starts to their week/season, and next week both will get a chance with clean slates. I’m sure they are thrilled.
  • Tiger Woods (DNP – injury) = Josh Hamilton: Woods has been in the PGA Tour this year. Hamilton has been with the RoughRiders this year. Thousands follow Woods around when he is on the course. Thousands waited for Hamilton to sign some autographs when he visited Dr Pepper Ballpark, and he rewarded many of them. Golf fans hope Woods returns soon. However, I think RoughRiders and Rangers fans alike would like Hamilton to stay right where he is for the rest of the season.
  • Other quick connections: Davis Love III (-1; T-eighth place) and Guilder Rodriguez = thriving veterans; Patrick Cantlay (highest-ranked amateur) and Robbie Erlin = future stars; Louis Oosthuizen and Davis Stoneburner = names that flow; Chubby Chandler (McIlroy’s manager) and Steve Buechele = successful managers.

Catch the pre-game coverage for tonight’s 6:05 showdown at 5:35 along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

Breaking Buckeye Hearts

No, this is not a rip on Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who still insists on staying in the news. It is praise for Derek Holland, who tossed a complete game, five-hit shutout in his home state in front of some friends and family. Holland, who grew up in Newark, Ohio, dominated, and a pair of former rehabbing RoughRiders this year–Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz–went deep again.

Look out for the Rangers, folks. They are clicking for the first time since the season’s first week.

But the RoughRiders are impressing some folks, too. Does Frisco have one surge in it for a chance at a first half title? We break that down, plus more, in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The ‘Riders are the only team still without a loss during the month of June, which is impressive considering the fact that Frisco has been on the road facing the third and fourth best teams in the Texas League: Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa.
  • Overall, since May 1, Frisco is 22-10, which is the best record in the Texas League. The ‘Riders’ Pressbox did the research, and they say that the RoughRiders have the second best Double-A record during that span. The Trenton Thunder (24-9) are in the top spot. Overall in the minors, the club is tied for fifth in record since the beginning of May.
  • However, despite all of this, the ‘Riders have only gained one game on San Antonio since May 1. That’s why the Missions have a six-game lead with 16 games to go in the first half.
  • One of the two season-long road on-base streaks came to an end last night. Mike Bianucci went 0-for-4, which snaps his 24 game streak on the road. Bianucci had been tied with his buddy Tommy Mendonca, and Mendonca did extend his streak to 25 games right away with a first-inning double.
  • These two streaks are impressive for anyone in the order, but think about where these two players hit. The asset of getting on base is a focal point for men at the top of the order, but Bianucci and Mendonca are middle-of-the-order mashers. However, they have been steadily finding a way to make an impact, whatever that may be, all season long.
  • With their recent surge, the RoughRiders have started to climb the team rankings. Not only is Frisco the second best club in the league now, but it is also second in hitting (.270) and third in earned run average (4.45).
  • Individually, Bianucci and Mendonca each have 12 homers, which is tied for fourth in the league. Both Bianucci (40) and Mendonca (38) are also in the top 10 in runs batted in, and Renny Osuna (.321) and Jonathan Greene (.309) are in the top 11 in batting average.
  • Speaking of Greene, he has been huge for the RoughRiders in his last eight games. He is hitting an absurd .446 (13-for-29) with two homers and 11 RBIs. He has posted multi-hit efforts in six of his last eight contests.
  • Leonys Martin has missed the last two games with lower back tightness. He was a late scratch from Friday’s game because of that injury. Martin is currently day-to-day.
  • Good for Jose Ruiz, who fell into his first slump of the season this week. His leadoff double in the seventh inning not only sparked Frisco’s game-winning three-run seventh, but it snapped an 0-for-20 skid. Ruiz is still hitting .295 for the season, which shows you how strong he was swinging the bat before this brief rough patch.
  • Finally, kudos to my man Aaron Goldsmith for a great blog post from Tulsa yesterday. He will post on the blog a couple of times each road trip.

Today’s pre-game begins at 1:35, with first pitch at 2:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

Checking In From Tulsa

It’s a warm, sunny morning here in Tulsa, Okla., and while Brian is back in Frisco getting his usual Saturday morning massage and facial, this seemed the perfect opportunity for me to hijack the blog. In all seriousness, Brian has done a fantastic job on the blog this season (and will continue to do so), but we both agreed that it would be fun for me to check in with you while on the road a couple of times each trip.

FRIDAY NIGHT

If you didn’t catch last night’s game in Springdale, Ark., you missed out on what will probably be the most lopsided win for the ‘Riders we’ll see for a while.  In the fifth inning my phone vibrated with a text from my wife that simply read “13-1???”  And that wasn’t even the final.  At the end of nine innings, the RoughRiders thumped the Naturals 18-5, setting their season-high in runs scored.  It marks the most runs Frisco has scored since July 4, 2009 at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. when they crushed the Cardinals 18-4 (happy Independence Day, Cardinals’ fans).  The win also represented Frisco’s first road series sweep since June 25-28 of last year at Corpus Christi.  Lastly, Mike Bianucci drove in 1/3 of Frisco’s runs while Carlos Pimentel went a season-high seven innings and earned his second win of the season.  (My scorebook from last night above).

WHY TULSA IS SO GREAT

Well, there are a number of reasons.  ONEOK Field is my favorite in the league, the drive back to Frisco is a short one, and the team hotel is one of the best in the league.  But the number one reason is because of the picture to the right (photo credit: Aaron Goldsmith).  Yes, there is a Panera Bread within walking distance from the hotel.  If you’re like millions of Americas you enjoy the endless coffee, free WiFi, and soothing music Panera has to offer. However, odds are that you take for granted the fact that you can drive to Panera virtually whenever you want. When you travel with a minor league baseball team, your lunch options are limited to restaurants within walking distance of the hotel and, in many cases, the options are limited and uninspiring.  Not the case in Tulsa.  I’m the happiest guy in this Panera right now.

A STAR HAS BEEN BORN

If you follow the ‘Riders on twitter (@ridersbaseball), or are a “fan” of the team on Facebook, you’ve probably seen some of the videos we’ve been posting lately about an hour before first pitch each night.  I’m happy to report that under my direction, RoughRiders’ Strength and Conditioning Coach Eric McMahon has developed into an overnight multimedia sensation.  Our video with Eric the other day has over 100 views, which I think has caused him to now hire a talent agent.  He’s new to twitter (@ericlmcmahon) and we plan on doing a weekly “Trainer’s Tip” video segment with him each week.  Eric is a great guy who loves what he does and will be a fantastic addition to the team’s video coverage – as long as his agent doesn’t ask for too much.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR

The first time the ‘Riders traveled to Tulsa last season (June 5-7), the final game of the series was canceled because of wet grounds and was never made up.  It was a clear, warm afternoon, but no baseball was played because the field wasn’t covered the night before when it poured rain.  The infield took so much water that it looked like a wet sandbox.  I remember that road trip well because instead of driving back to Frisco on the bus with the team, I flew home to St. Louis where I was married days later to my wonderful wife Heather.

Tonight is the first of three against the Drillers … Brian is on with the pre-game show at 6:35 p.m., first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.  Talk to you then!

- AG

Shaq Diesel

The career of center Shaquille O’Neal has come to an end, and he went out in style. Shaq invited the media to his house, and he treated them to lunch and a laugh-filled press conference.

O’Neal played for six franchises, and he was a winner everywhere he went. However, his lasting legacy will be the incredible personality that he had. It was awesome to watch him joke his way through a “goodbye” press conference.

Oh, and one more basketball note: Dirk Nowitzki is really, really good at basketball. And Miami is spinning with that reality right now.

Now, some baseball in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • We talked about Renny Osuna in yesterday’s blog, and he came through yet again. But, Osuna would not have been the hero without Tommy Mendonca’s big blast in the ninth. Mendonca has been great in the late innings this year. He has hit five of his 12 homers in the eighth inning or later, and he has a .302 batting average in the “late innings.”
  • It looked very bleak for the ‘Riders going into that final inning. Frisco had mustered only a walk in four innings against the Northwest Arkansas bullpen. Both Mendonca and Mike Bianucci, who led off the ninth with a single, had been 0-for-3 prior to the frame. The single and homer extended both men’s road on-base streak to 23 games, which spans the entire season.
  • For what it is worth, Osuna was also hitless in three at bats when he gave the RoughRiders their first lead of the game in the tenth inning. His long ball was the catalyst to the club’s sixth extra-inning win and 11th comeback victory.
  • Jake Brigham had to labor through his outing yesterday, but the righty found a way to gut through five innings. Over his last three starts, Brigham has not had his best stuff (9.26 ERA), but he still has worked through five innings in ten of his 11 starts this season.
  • Jose Felix’s shoulder injury, which put him on the disabled list yesterday, will give Robbie Diaz and, likely to a slightly lesser extent, Elio Sarmiento a chance to shine. Diaz figures to get a few more starts that Sarmiento during the process, but that’s just my educated guess. Diaz has hit well while in Frisco, boasting a .308 average. During his month-plus in Triple-A Round Rock, Diaz hit .346 in 13 games.
  • The RoughRiders just cannot catch a break in the standings. Despite a pair of narrow victories in the first two games of this series, the ‘Riders have not gained any ground on San Antonio. The Missions have won back-to-back games in walk-off fashion at home against Arkansas. Frisco remains seven games back of San Antonio with 18 left in the first half. The Missions’ magic number is 12.
  • On the flip side, Tulsa leads the North by one game on Northwest, two on Arkansas and three on Springfield. If the ‘Riders were in the North, they would be in first place.
  • Programming note: Aaron Goldsmith will blog from Tulsa tomorrow here in the Insider Blog. He will chat about life on the road in the Texas League along with some news and notes.
  • Aaron has also begun to load some videos to our Twitter account, and I will do my best to link those to the blog. Here is his chat with strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon from yesterday, and here is his talk with newly activated lefty Corey Young.

Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 tonight. 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

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

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