Results tagged ‘ Nelson Cruz ’

Why I Love Baseball

Note: The post below doesn’t involve the RoughRiders. It does, however, have everything to do with baseball. We will still have a RoughRider-related post later today. Enjoy!

Aaron, Reid, Stephen and I are incredibly lucky to be here with the RoughRiders and follow baseball on a daily basis. As much fun as baseball is, the game is mentally and physically taxing for everyone involved. By the end of the season, the ‘Riders will have played 140 regular season games in 152 days.

I will never be able to relate to the toll baseball takes on players in the minors. Still, a broadcaster at this level needs some self-motivation here and there during the long season, and this day provides a much-needed jolt for me.

On this day ten years ago, I truly fell for baseball.

I was always a fan. I went to a no-hitter at the age of one (don’t remember that one), a World Series game at the age of five and an All-Star Game at the age of seven while growing up in Cleveland during the glory days of Indians baseball.

This picture sparks many emotions for Rangers fans.

If you are reading this, you have probably been a fan for a long time, too. But for many baseball fans, there is that ONE moment when everything came together. Many Rangers fans experienced that moment last October. Maybe Nelson Cruz’s homer in Game 6 against the Yankees? Or Neftali Feliz’s strikeout of Alex Rodriguez to clinch the pennant? (Aaron’s moment, by the way, is buying the first hot dog in new Busch Stadium’s history. Seriously.).

My “moment” was August 5, 2001. I had tickets to the Indians-Mariners game, which was on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. After a family emergency that day, it didn’t look like I would get to go, which, at that point, was completely understandable.

About 30 minutes before first pitch, my dad changed his mind. We went to the game hoping for a pick-us-up.

By the time we got there, the Mariners were in the process of taking a 12-0 lead in the third. And this was the Mariners team that finished 116-46 and went to the ALCS. At that point in the season, they boasted a record of 80-30. The main point—they were good.

Going into the bottom of the seventh, it was 14-2. As the probability chart shows near the middle of this page, things weren’t looking good for Chief Wahoo’s crew. We stuck around as the Sunday night, sold-out crowd started to dwindle and as the likes of Eddie Taubensee, Wil Cordero and Russell Branyan replaced some of the Indians’ starters.

The Tribe plated three in the seventh to make it 14-5. In the eighth, the Indians scored four runs and had only one out. All the momentum went away, though, when a potential run was cut down at the plate, and Seattle took a 14-9 lead into the ninth.

During the top of the ninth, my dad pointed at the scoreboard. He said, in what had to be a showing of sarcasm, that the Indians wanted three in the seventh and four in the eighth in order to score five in the ninth.

After an emotional day at home and an ugly night of baseball, my dad said, “I have a feeling.”

Whether or not he truly believed that, I don’t know and I don’t care. He was incredibly correct.

The celebration was on in Cleveland after one of baseball's biggest comebacks.

With two out and a runner at first, four straight runners reached. Bases loaded and two outs in a 14-9 game, and Omar Vizquel (my favorite Indian) was at the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, Vizquel laced a bases-clearing, game-tying triple down the right field line that still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.

Two innings later, in-game addition Jolbert Cabrera drove home the game-winning run for the Indians. Less than 10,000 people were still at Jacobs Field shortly after midnight when Kenny Lofton scored the game-winning run. Still, I’ve never heard a crowd like that one. I’ve never attended a game like that one.

Every year, I relive the play-by-play calls of that magical night, which takes me back to a time, albeit a short one, when baseball was perfect.

Baseball is a game that must be approached with realism, humility, and grit. Every team experiences peaks and valleys. Patience is key, and one streak (positive or negative) does not define a season.

But everyone who has watched this game enough has at least one of these experiences. Baseball keeps bringing us back because we all want to experience something better. Is that likely? Not exactly.

Neither was the Rangers’ run to the Fall Classic. Neither was a win for the Indians on that incredible night ten years ago, either. But these things did happen, and they were perfect.

No matter what happens to our favorite teams, we’ll always have that one moment. And ten years later, mine is still perfect.

- Brian

Former RoughRiders Thriving In Arlington

The Texas Rangers are in first place in the American League West at 58-43 through 101 games. In those 101 games, the Rangers have used 37 different players.

Of those 37 players, 21 of them appeared at one point or another with the RoughRiders. That’s almost 57 percent of the roster!

Who are the former RoughRiders contributing to the Rangers’ push for consecutive playoff appearances? The list is pretty impressive.

Elvis Andrus: A RoughRider during the 2008 season, his first in the Rangers’ system, Andrus is batting .278 with three home runs and 35 RBIs. The shortstop was 19 years old for much of his time in Frisco, and he hit .295 while with the ‘Riders that year.

Julio Borbon: RoughRiders fans saw Borbon during a brief rehab stint earlier this season. Borbon, who is currently on the disabled list, also played 60 games in Frisco back in 2008, rolling through Texas League pitching with a .337 average.

Nelson Cruz played in three games with the 'Riders in 2011 (Photo: James Garner).

Endy Chavez: Chavez had a brief four-game rehab stint with the RoughRiders last season, his first in the Rangers’ system. So far this year, Chavez has been a huge in-house addition to the Rangers (.328 average in 39 games).

Nelson Cruz: Cruz has been with the RoughRiders in back-to-back seasons for brief rehabs. He has gone 6-for-25 (.240) in those six games. In the bigs, Cruz has a team-leading 22 home runs to go along with 65 RBIs.

Chris Davis: Davis is back with the Rangers after Adrian Beltre was placed on the disabled list a few days ago. Davis played 76 games with the ‘Riders in 2007 and 2008. He hit .319 with 25 homers and 67 RBIs, which is just ridiculous.

Cody Eppley: Eppley, who made his big league debut a few months ago, boasted a 1.19 earned run average in 19 games with the ‘Riders in his only season in the Texas League last year.

Scott Feldman: Feldman made a few starts with the RoughRiders this season in a rehab assignment. The righty also made his way through Frisco on his journey to the big leagues, appearing in 46 games and posting a 2.36 ERA in ’05.

Neftali Feliz: Feliz joined the RoughRiders in 2008 for ten starts. The right-hander went 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA. Feliz returned to Dr Pepper Ballpark for a rehab outing earlier this year, and he struck out the side in his only inning.

Craig Gentry: A tenth-round pick in ’06, Gentry has been a valuable reserve for the Rangers in the outfield this year. He spent most of 2008 and all of 2009 with the ‘Riders. He is a lifetime .293 hitter in the Texas League, which is the league he has spent more of his time than any other league.

Josh Hamilton homered in his two-game rehab stint in Frisco back in May (Photo: James Garner).

Josh Hamilton: Who can forget Hamilton’s rehab assignment earlier this year in Frisco? He homered in his second at-bat and helped the ‘Riders to a pair of wins over Midland. By the way, he is still really good in the big leagues.

Matt Harrison: A former Atlanta farmhand, Harrison made nine appearances with the ‘Riders in 2008. He also rehabbed in Frisco in 2010. Harrison has been a solid addition to the Rangers’ rotation (8-7, 3.05 ERA).

Derek Holland: During Holland’s fast track to the majors, he made a brief four-appearance pit stop in Frisco. In those four starts, Holland gave up only two earned runs in 26 innings.

Ian Kinsler rehabs with the 'Riders in 2010 (Photo: James Garner).

Tommy Hunter: RoughRiders fans saw Hunter earlier this season for a rehab start. The ‘Riders also had Hunter in ’08 and ’09 when he went 5-2 with a ERA barely above 4. Hunter is currently in the Rangers’ bullpen.

Ian Kinsler: Kinsler has been a “normal” RoughRider and a “rehabbing” RoughRider in his time within the Rangers’ system. In his 79 games in the TL, Kinsler hit .290 with 52 RBIs.

Michael Kirkman: A RoughRider alum from 2009, Kirkman went 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA. Kirkman has bounced around from Round Rock and Arlington, and he is currently in Triple-A.

Mitch Moreland: Moreland, who has been a regular for the Rangers this season, spent 73 games with the ‘Riders in 2009. He hit .326 with eight home runs and 59 RBIs in Frisco.

Darren O’Day: O’Day, who has only made 11 appearances with the Rangers this year, has one career appearance with the ‘Riders, which came earlier this season. He allowed a run in an inning of work.

Alexi Ogando spent part of '10 in Frisco (Photo: James Garner).

Alexi Ogando: Ogando only spent 2010 in stateside minor league baseball, and his quick journey to the bigs went through Frisco. In seven appearances, Ogando gave up two runs in almost 16 innings of work. He had a WHIP of 0.57.

Pedro Strop: Strop, who has made 11 appearances with the Rangers, spent much of his 2009 campaign in Frisco. The reliever went 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 36 appearances, all of the out of the ‘pen.

Taylor Teagarden: Teagarden was with the RoughRiders in 2007, 2008, and 2010, and he has been bounced between Triple-A Round Rock and Arlington this season. In 97 games with the ‘Riders, Teagarden hit .245 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs.

C.J. Wilson: Four of the five current Rangers’ starters were with the RoughRiders at some point in their career, and that group is headlined by Wilson. Wilson spent parts of his ’03, ’05 and ’06 minor league seasons with the RoughRiders. He is 7-13 with a 4.39 ERA in the Texas League.

- 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

A Special Treat

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

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

That Was Ugly

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

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

Peaks and Valleys

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

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

Season-Changing Afternoon

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

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

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

Here’s some Facts on this Friday.

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

15 Minutes Means Much More

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

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

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

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

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