Results tagged ‘ Richard Bleier ’

Golf Plays Role As Release for Baseball Players

On Sunday, the third of the four major golf championships finished up in wild fashion. Adam Scott, who entered the final round of the British Open with a four shot lead, was up by four shots with four holes to go. He finished the round by bogeying the final four holes and watched the tournament slip away to Ernie Els, who began the day six shots off of the lead.

According to ESPN, the four shot lead was the first time a player gave away a four shot lead or bigger entering the final round of the British Open since Jean Van De Velde’s infamous blow up in 1999.

With golf and baseball being in the same season, it could make following golf tough.

“It’s hard to follow professional golf during the season because we’re always at the field but we always see the highlights on Sportscenter and it’s on in the clubhouses usually so it’s a big deal for us,” RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel said.

When they do get the chance though, golf can be a fun sport to watch for those that have played it.

“Just knowing how hard of a sport it is for me and it’s fun to watch them be successful and hit such good shots and knowing how hard it is,” RoughRiders pitcher Richard Belier said.

Despite it being tough to follow at times, golfers still have their favorites. Asked about their favorite golfers, Richard Bleier was quick to say “Tiger Woods”. Buckel had a lesser known favorite golfer.

“I don’t know if you know that I wear PUMA every day and I actually got a chance to meet Rickie Fowler so he’s a pretty cool guy and my favorite player to follow.”

I don’t have the facts to prove it, but generally speaking the only activity that baseball players do more than golf, hunt, and fish is play baseball. If you ask a player what he likes to do in the offseason, a large majority of the players are going to say something along those lines.

For Bleier, golf can be a way to get away.

“I would say it’s stress free but it really isn’t because I’m so competitive. It’s just a lot of fun getting out there with some of the guys and doing something different other than baseball for a little bit.”

Buckel agreed with that assessment.

“The day after you whether you have a good outing or a bad outing, it’s good to get out there and have fun with the guys and just hit the golf ball as far as you can and play around. Yeah. It’s a little bit of time away from the field and get to hang with friends.”

Golf can also be a bonding sport for baseball players, especially pitchers.

“When I signed and became a pro it became a big thing for pitchers to go out and golf.”

 

Written By: Michael Damman

Game 3 Preview – San Antonio at Frisco

Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Friday, September 9 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Series tied 1-1

GAME 3 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders return home to Dr Pepper Ballpark for a crucial Game 3 after nipping the San Antonio Missions 2-1 Thursday night in Game 2 of this best-of-five series. The ‘Riders scored twice in the top of the fourth and upheld that lead behind the pitching of starter Ben Snyder and relievers Richard Bleier, Johan Yan and Justin Miller. This will be the RoughRiders’ 17th meeting at home against the Missions this year, and each team has won eight of the previous 16 contests.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – RHP Carlos Pimentel (7-9, 4.74 ERA): Pimentel was the only RoughRiders pitcher to remain in the starting rotation throughout the regular season. Pimentel led the ‘Riders in innings pitched (142 1/3) and quality starts (12), and he finished second in strikeouts (110). Since August 7, Pimentel is 2-1 with an earned run average at 1.60. The righty is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA in seven starts against the Missions this year.

San Antonio – RHP Casey Kelly (11-6, 3.98 ERA): After a sluggish first half, Kelly boasts a 5-3 mark and a 3.21 earned run average since starting the Texas League All-Star Game June 29. One of the key prospects in the Padres’ deal with the Boston Red Sox for Adrian Gonzalez, Kelly went 1-1 with a 3.10 earned run average against Frisco this season. Over his last 13 innings of work, Kelly has allowed just one earned run and six hits.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders are 1-3 all-time in Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece. The lone victory came in the Texas League Championship Series against Round Rock in 2004, when the ‘Riders won their first and only league title.
  • Frisco’s starting pitchers have worked 12 innings and given up just one run in this series. During those 12 frames, the Missions have stranded 13 base runners.
  • Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene went a combined 0-for-9 in Frisco’s Game 1 loss. Last night, the trio went 5-for-12 and scored both of the ‘Riders’ runs. Each notched a hit in the RoughRiders’ two-run fourth.
  • Want proof that this series has been pitching-heavy? The two teams have hit a combined .157 (19-for-121). Only five hitters have mustered two hits in the series.
  • The RoughRiders’ Game 4 starter has not been officially announced yet, but whoever it is will square off with a former Frisco hurler. Robbie Erlin will take to the mound for the Missions in Game 4, either trying to keep San Antonio alive or hoping to eliminate his former team from the postseason.
  • There have been only ten runs scored through two days of the Texas League playoffs. This series has featured six runs, while Arkansas’ battle with Northwest Arkansas has only brought with it four runs. The Travs lead the series 2-0 thanks to a pair of walk-off wins.
  • Triple-A Round Rock faces elimination tonight at Omaha, trailing 2-0 in that best-of-five set. Low-A Hickory is also one loss away from elimination. The Crawdads host Greensboro in Game 2 of that three-game series. High-A Myrtle Beach spoiled a five-run lead in an 8-6, 11-inning loss to Kinston. That series is even at 1-1.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele in addition to a player or two on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Playoff Perspective – Game 2

Tonight’s game embodied everything that is exciting, fascinating, frustrating, and gratifying about playoff baseball. The ‘Riders edged San Antonio 2-1 to even this best-of-five South Division Series at one game apiece. Here are some thoughts.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

- Knowing what we know now, San Antonio lost this game in the first three innings. The Missions stranded seven runners in those frames against Ben Snyder (I’ll get to him in a moment). After that, they only mustered five more runners. With Simon Castro on the bump and their awesome bullpen, the Missions could have made this series 2-0 with a few key hits in the early innings.

- Snyder did not have his best stuff, but he battled to post six scoreless innings. This outing was just as impressive as Robbie Ross’ effort last night in Game 1. Snyder has now posted six straight quality starts, and he has been one of the biggest reasons the ‘Riders succeeded in the regular season. His moxie in tough situations tonight kept the RoughRiders in the game and the series.

- Snyder’s escapes in the first three innings were impressive, but the biggest pitch of the game came in the seventh. Richard Bleier allowed a double and an RBI single to begin his relief appearance. Then, Bleier induced a double play to erase the possible tying run from the bases. The Missions did not get another hit the rest of the game.

Johan Yan has a 0.31 ERA with the 'Riders this season (James Garner).

- I know two runs may not seem like much, but getting a pair off Castro is tough. Frisco’s offense rolls when the heart of the order–Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene–is swinging well. In Game 1, the trio went 0-for-9. Tonight, they went 5-for-12 with both runs scored. Each notched a hit in the RoughRiders’ two-run fourth.

- Johan Yan has been incredible for the RoughRiders. If you include his work in Games 1 and 2, Yan has a 0.31 earned run average. That’s one earned run in 29 innings. Tonight, Yan zoomed through the heart of San Antonio’s order and retired all four he battled, two of those outs coming on strikes.

- He has been the ‘Riders’ best arm in the bullpen since his promotion in mid-July. However, this was the first time this year that Yan has worked in back-to-back games. The righty threw 20 pitches in Game 1 and another 15 this evening. I would be surprised to see him available for Game 3.

Justin Miller earned the save in Game 2 Thursday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

- Justin Miller’s efforts in the ninth inning always seem to get a bit interesting, but the right-hander always seems to get the job done. Miller has recorded 14 saves this year, and he has not blown a save since May 23. Tonight, the mid-season All-Star recorded another great showing out of the ‘pen.

- The theme of the Texas League playoffs through two days has been pitching. This series has featured six runs, while Arkansas’ battle with Northwest Arkansas has only brought with it four runs. The Travs lead the series 2-0 thanks to a pair of walk-off wins.

- Friday night’s Game 3 is the biggest contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark since September 15, 2008, which was Game 5 of the TL Championship Series. Hope you can come out to the yard for what should be a tremendous game. Tickets are still available, so join us for a pivotal Game 3.

- Brian

24 Hours of the RoughRiders

Note: This is a running diary of a typical day in the life of the RoughRiders’ media department. The updates are available in chronological order, so scroll down for the latest updates.
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10:45 p.m. Sunday (all of us): Well after the RoughRiders’ 6-5 victory over the San Antonio Missions, the media department departs Dr Pepper Ballpark. The game story is up, the information is distributed to local media, the equipment is packed, and the lights are off. We will be back here before we know it.

1:00 a.m. (Brian): I’m the night owl of the group, it seems. After a quick bite to eat following the game, I sit down and prepare the content for PlayBall! The text is already set to go for today’s edition, but I need to turn in the draft for Wednesday’s edition. In order to get the PlayBall! programs ready for each home game, much of the content is due 2-3 days in advance.

Once I sent that to Alex, our terrific graphic designer and an avid reader of the blog, I’m done for the night. Aaron will be with you early, and I’ll follow shortly after as we continue to give you an inside look at our day-to-day life. We’ll have pictures and everything, so enjoy!

10:30 a.m. (Aaron): After waking up around 9 a.m. and saying goodbye to my wife Heather who left earlier this morning for work, it’s time to start working on tonight’s game notes.  This is a daily task that virtually every broadcaster in the minors deals with.  These notes are used by both the home and road broadcaster along with visiting media, scouts, etc.  It’s about 13 pages of news, stats, bios, and trends.  The idea is that you can flip through the notes and have a pretty good idea what that team has been up to lately, even if you haven’t seen them play.  We always post our notes to our website as well.

11:14 a.m. (Aaron): Notes are taking longer today because we have a new starter tonight, Derek Hankins.  I’ve just finished looking up all his career stats and bio information.  I use information to make a dedicated page in our games that focuses on the starting pitcher.  It’s always exciting getting a new starter, but it means a longer day for the game notes to create and format the pitcher’s page.

Everyone in minor league baseball loves the cheetah.

11:30 a.m. (Brian): I woke up around 10 a.m., ate some breakfast, and caught up on e-mails for a bit. The first job every day for me is to update the web site. The best part about the “newsroom” that allows us to post, archive, update, etc., is the “cheetah.” While the site is in the process of generating, we are greeted to the running cheetah that you see to your left. Once I’m done with updating the story, the game story will be down, a few new exciting RoughRiders promos will be on the home page, and the “Extra Bases Chat” will be ready to go for tonight’s series finale.

12:27 p.m. (Aaron): Game notes are done.  I sometimes stand up and wave pom-poms when this is completed. I mentally have a hard time moving on with my day until I know this is behind me.  In addition to writing them, I’ve also emailed them out to our distribution list that includes media members from around Dallas-Fort Worth, the Rangers, and their affiliates.  After I emailed the notes out in PDF form, I then posted them to our website.  The cheetah must have had a light breakfast, he (she?) ran pretty fast for me.

Renny Osuna is one hit away from history.

12:45 p.m. (Brian): Everything online is updated, and a few new promotions are available for viewing at ridersbaseball.com. Now, the goal is to get ready for some possible history at Dr Pepper Ballpark tonight. With two hits yesterday, shortstop Renny Osuna is tied with Steve Murphy for the all-time hit lead in Frisco history.

This means that Osuna is one hit away from setting a very important record. As a result, we are preparing for it now. We already have a script for John Clemens, the “Voice of Dr Pepper Ballpark,” to read if/when Osuna breaks the record. Also, Alex has designed an image for us to put on the home page of our website. The sneak peak to that image is to the left. Now, time to get ready and head into the office for all of the tasks at the stadium. First pitch time is in about six hours!

Frisco's starting nine for tonight.

2:00 p.m. (Brian): I am alone in the office right now, but Stephen came in here earlier today to print out rosters and stat packs. Stat packs are distributed to all managers, coaches and media members, and they contain overall stats, situational stats, the Texas League’s daily report, and much more. For a stat nerd like me, it is an important part of my preparation.

Now, it’s time to get the lineups set to go. We have already received Frisco’s lineup from skipper Steve Buechele. It looks pretty similar to what we’ve seen from him lately, especially because the club only has one extra player right now (Jose Felix is the odd man out today).

I remember when I first started covering baseball, I thought that the lineup card would be very formal and magical. Well, you can be the judge. And don’t get your hopes up.

2:30 p.m. (Brian): After enjoying some free pizza in our conference room (always a sign of a good day), it’s time to start getting our paperwork around to both teams and to the press box. We’ve nicknamed our printer “T.K.” and it is very busy during this part of the day. Once the printing is done, I’ll walk it up to the booth in the chilly North Texas weather. By that point, our whole force will be in here getting ready for tonight’s game!

2:33 p.m. (Aaron): Once the notes were done I got some lunch and did some work around the house.  Trying to have a marriage and work in minor league baseball is a tough assignment.  Like all of us, I’m at the ballpark eight nights a week and am out of town so often it’s hard to be very helpful at home.  My wife Heather does so much for us in-season I try to help out when I can.  Once I got caught up on some emails, I picked up the house (my messes, of course), emptied the dishwasher, paid some bills, and did some general husbandly duties that I (rarely) excel at.

The RoughRiders saved some trees today.

3:15 p.m. (Brian): The RoughRiders’ media quartet is in the office to prepare for the game this evening, which is actually Frisco’s 26th straight day with a game. Reid is filing away with some “clippings,” which are used to document how much outside coverage the RoughRiders get. Stephen is working on a blog for tomorrow on a “behind the scenes” look at Dr Pepper Ballpark. I am doing this blog and writing a feature for Sports Page Dallas.

Aaron appears to have the most important job of all. It is easy to lose track of things during the grind of a minor league season, and one thing that slipped all of our minds was our “recycle box.” As you can see on the left, it was quite full today when Aaron decided to usher in the off day tomorrow with a clean recycle box. Admirable.

To be honest, I’m not sure if that bad will be able to hold all of the paper for the long term, but it is worth a shot. Three hours until the pre-game show. Plenty of work to do!

All of those green peaks and valleys represent the volume coming out of our microphones.

4:20 p.m. (Brian): By this time of the day, everyone is gearing up for the game in their own way. For me, as the pre- and post-game show host, I need to be prepared for the Texas League and Texas Rangers’ scoreboard. To do that, I keep some updated information on each game within the league. The sheet I used was featured back in this blog post.

I will also pre-record an intro for the top of the pre-game show, which features a highlight from the previous night. To record, I use a nifty-looking program called “Adobe Audition,” which you can see to your right. Plenty of green, which is my favorite color.

4:35 p.m. (Brian): We just found out about the pitching situation for tonight. Derek Hankins will pitch no more than four innings, and then Richard Bleier will work behind the newest ‘Rider. Hopefully this duo can give Frisco’s ‘pen a much-deserved night off this evening!

4:45 p.m. (Aaron): Each day I try to talk with some of the guys in the clubhouse and find out some information for the broadcast.  Some days it’s nothing more than pointless chatter (like when I talk with our trainer, Carlos Olivas).  Other times I get some good stuff.  Along with Carlos, today I checked in with our pitching coach Jeff Andrews.  He gave me the game plan for tonight that Brian mentioned about regarding how many innings Hankins will go.  Normally this time of night I’m finding someone to interview for our pre-game show.  However, I already recorded my interview with Robbie Erlin yesterday to play on tonight’s pre-game.  Now all I have to worry about is getting dinner and filling out my scorebook.

5:20 p.m. (Brian): Speaking of dinner, everyone in the office was treated to some Sonny Bryan’s barbeque before the game. As we were eating, clubhouse manager CJ Allen came into our four-person office and offered up some of his delicious lasagna that was left over from the RoughRiders’ clubhouse. So, the ‘Riders’ baseball and media teams have been fueled by the same dinner tonight!

The view from the broadcast booth at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

5:45 p.m. (Brian): Wonder what happens before the gates open? Well, after arriving in the press box a bit ago, we have been treated to some warmups by “The Crew” and some of San Antonio’s batting practice. Oftentimes, the evening’s national anthem singer will give it a whirl before fans enter the stadium.

Also, if you are looking to collect a baseball from a Double-A game, try to get to Dr Pepper Ballpark early. There are always a handful of baseballs in the outfield berm following batting practice. I saw a few bombs sail out of here this afternoon. Always a nice way to get a fun souvenir.

6:10 p.m. (Brian): Above is a view from our press box, the highest press box in the Texas League. First pitch is less than an hour away, and our pre-game begins in 25 minutes!

6:35 p.m. (Brian): The pre-game show has begun! You can listen live at this link. We will still update this periodically throughout the night. After all, we promised 24 hours of the RoughRiders!

7:13 p.m. (Brian): Renny Osuna’s first chance at history tonight resulted in a strikeout at the hands of Robbie Erlin, the former RoughRider and tonight’s starter for San Antonio. Osuna is still one hit away from the all-time record, so he’ll get a few more chances tonight.

Former RoughRider Robbie Erlin allowed just one run in six innings for the Missions (Photo: Alex Yocum-Beeman)

8:00 p.m. (Brian): So far, the ‘Riders lead 1-0 in what has been a good game. Aaron calls the play-by-play in the first, second, fifth, sixth and ninth innings, while I take the rest. So, I’m off the air until our scoreboard update at the end of the fifth. Plenty of great action tonight in the Texas League and in the Rangers’ system.

8:46 p.m. (Aaron): Was really fun to watch Robbie pitch again tonight.  Too bad for him he allowed the only run so far over 6.2 innings tonight.  Brian has the play-by-play now until the ninth inning.

9:07 p.m. (Brian): What a change of events in this one tonight. The ‘Riders go from up one to down one in the top of the eighth. Now, Reid is scrambling to change up his game recap, and Aaron is cutting up the highlights. It is much more work here in the booth when the game is close, and that’s what we have tonight!

9:41 p.m. (Brian): A late rally propelled the Missions to a 3-1, series-clinching victory over the RoughRiders tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Unfortunately, the loss did not bring with it any history. Renny Osuna finished 0-for-4, so his hits record will have to wait at least another game.

While the crowd leaves, our work continues. Aaron is busy cutting up the highlights while I prepare for the “Scoreboard Show” that follows every game. Reid is working on the game story for the website, and Stephen is wrapping up the Extra Bases Chat and getting a head start on game notes for Wednesday. The night is almost over for us after another busy Monday.

10:15 p.m. (Brian): My night is pretty much over, outside of overseeing the posting of the game story. I just signed off on the Scoreboard Show, and Reid is about done with the story. The end is most certainly near.

10:30 p.m. (Brian): The game story is posted. The booth is clean. The media are alerted. The night is over. Almost 24 hours after we left last night, and 2,229 words later, our day is over. Thanks so much for following along!

RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team

With the NFL lockout over and August underway, football is in the air.  The ‘Riders have some solid athletes this season which prompted the question “who would play where if the RoughRiders were a football team”? Seems logical.  After consulting with Frisco strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon, here is the ‘Riders All-Gridiron Team. Feel free to leave comments with your opinions.  -AG

Offense

Quarterback: Ben Snyder
Although he was a two-time All-State wide receiver in high school, Snyder like the logical fit as QB. He has good athleticism, is a veteran, and has the intelligence the position demands.

Wide Receiver/Flanker: Justin Miller
At 6’4″, Miller is the prototypical deep threat. He has nice leaping abilities and is will force matchup problems for opposing defensive backs. “Snyder to Miller” is something we’ll be saying a lot.

Wide Receiver: Carlos Pimentel
He might be the most athletic pitcher of the ‘Riders staff. Pimentel has a quick burst off the line and is the perfect over-the-middle compliment to Miller going deep.

Running Back: Davis Stoneburner
Although he’s not the prototypical pounding back some might desire, Stoneburner possesses the quickness and elusiveness to to run effectively. What he lacks in size he makes up for in determination and confidence. Stoney is a nice open field runner who also contributes in the passing game.

Wide Receiver/Running Back (Flex): Corey Young
His quick hips and burst make Young a versatile offensive weapon both in the backfield and in the slot. He can lineup in a split-back set with Stoneburner, or can run complimentary routes over the middle with Pimentel in-between the first and second layers of the defense. His run after the catch abilities can turn a five yard dump pass into a 15 yard pick up.

Tight End: Tanner Scheppers
This is a natural fit. At 6’4″ with a long wingspan, Scheppers is the perfect red zone target for Snyder. He’s great over the middle of the field and, as a former short stop in college, has more athleticism than anyone on the line.

Right Tackle: Adalberto Flores
Big, tall, and physical, Flores shoulders the responsibility of protecting Snyder’s blindside. He has the quick feet and powerful arms to move quickly and keep a clean pocket.

Right Guard: Robbie Ross
With a low center of gravity, Ross wards off the blitz well. He also has enough quickness to pull on running plays and open up holes for Stoneburner.

Center: Jose Felix
Another natural fit. “Chief” is the anchor of the offensive line.

Left Guard: Richard Bleier
Bleier has the intelligence to read the defense and the athleticism to pull.

Left Tackle: Fabio Castillo
Pound-for-pound the biggest guy on the line.  Fabio is aggressive with string hands and a wide upper-half.

Defense

Defensive End: Mike Bianucci
Has the size to stay in on running downs, but the athleticism and burst to rush the passers. His low center of gravity helps keep him on his feet, and his motor will wear down offensive tackles by the fourth quarter.

Defensive Tackle: Jose Ruiz
As one RoughRider told me, if Jose joined a Division I football program today, in four years he’d be an All-American. Ruiz has elite lateral movement and a sharp burst. He’s a beast clogging up the middle and has the speed to rush the passer.

Defensive Tackle: Jake Brigham
Fear the beard.  Brigham has the strength and aggressiveness to compliment Ruiz next to him. He also has the long arms to knock down passes when rushing.  He brings the intensity and heart his position demands.

Defensive End: Johan Yan
Love this choice. His height and weight profiles as a rush defensive end. He runs well, has a long wingspan, and is big and strong enough to play the run.

Outside Linebacker: Elio Sarmiento
Thick and strong, Sarmiento can stuff the run but also has the quickness to cover a tight end who releases from the line. He can cover the flat and is disciplined enough to be trusted take down a running back in the open field.

Middle Linebacker: Jonathan Greene
His physical build and tools make Greene a nice choice here. He stuffs the run well and isn’t afraid of contact.

Middle Linebacker: Tommy Mendonca
Like Greene, Mendonca has the build to stuff the run. His strong forearms help him wrap up well and he has the quickness to move in a confined space well.

Outside Linebacker: Mitch Hilligoss
Aside from having a linebackers neck, Hilligoss can drop back like a safety, rush like a defensive end, and stop the run. Like Sarmiento, Hilli is a good fit here.

Cornerback: Engel Beltre
Beltre has big play, pick-six potential. His elite speed matches up with any wide receiver. He has all the makings up a shut-down corner.

Cornerback: Renny Osuna
While Renny may not have the speed of Beltre, he is ultra reliable and can cover the run as well. Has the athleticism to cover all types of receivers and has a nose for the ball.

Free Safety: Tyler Tufts
Perfect combination of size and speed to cover the entire third layer of the defense. Tufts has nice range and is a sound safety blanket for Renny and Osuna on the outer thirds. His big hits make receivers think twice before coming over the middle.

July Is For Pitching

It has been a good month for the RoughRiders yet again in July. Frisco is 14-8, which means the club is on pace for more wins in July than it has had in any month this season.

The offense has been solid as usual, posting a .282 batting average. That is one point higher than the ‘Riders’ team average in June (.281).

But the RoughRiders’ pitching staff has been the group that has improved the most in the first 22 games of July. The staff, which owned an ERA around 4.50 throughout the first three months of the season, boasts a season-best 3.60 ERA this month. Opponents are averaging only 4.2 runs per game against the ‘Riders, and 12 times the opposition has managed less than four runs in a game this month.

Today, we delve into the statistics and find five RoughRiders hurlers who have posted season-best ERAs for a month in July, along with three others who are at or close to their season low.

SEASON LOW ERAs:

Richard Bleier: Bleier has been bounced around all season long, from the disabled list into a few piggyback outing, to the rotation and then the bullpen and back into the rotation. Hopefully you kept up there. Bleier is back in the rotation and set to start tonight. The southpaw is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in July, a month during which Bleier has made three starts and three bullpen appearances. He will start for the ‘Riders tonight as they aim for their fifth sweep of the season and their second at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Jake Brigham: Like Bleier, Brigham began the season as a starter but is now in the bullpen. After a rough start in the ‘pen, Brigham has settled in nicely. The right-hander currently owns a 2.13 ERA in July, which is more than two runs better than his previous best. He has struck out 16 batters in 12 and two-thirds innings of work. Brigham has not pitched since Thursday, so fans can expect to see him again soon.

Robbie Erlin is 5-2 in his young Double-A career (Photo: James Garner).

Robbie Erlin: The Rangers’ number four prospect has been pretty steady during his first two months at the Double-A level, and Erlin has been at his best in July. The left-hander has a 3.75 ERA in four July starts, but his record is only 1-2. In July, the strikeout-per-inning ratio has gone down a bit from June (1.2 in June to 0.8 in July), but Erlin has not walked a single batter in 24 innings this month. The next start for Erlin will be Tuesday against Midland.

Tanner Scheppers: Scheppers has been with the RoughRiders for more than a month, and he has shown flashes of dominance during his time in the Texas League. In July, Scheppers has an ERA of 3.38, but that includes a tough start to July when he allowed four earned runs in three appearances. Since then, the righty has posted six scoreless innings of work in his last five outings. Scheppers has some of the best stuff in the Rangers’ system, and he doesn’t figure to be in Frisco for much longer based on his recent performances. Triple-A Round Rock could be the next destination soon.

Joe Wieland: Wieland’s successes have been documented here on the Insider Blog, and he continued that good work last night with six scoreless innings against Corpus Christi. Wieland’s ERA is at 1.54 in Double-A, and it sits at just 1.50 in July. In all six of his starts, Wieland has worked at least five innings and allowed two earned runs or less.

DESERVING MENTION:

Justin Miller: It was going to be tough for Miller to best his effort in June because, well, he didn’t allow any earned runs in 13 and two-thirds innings of work. Here in July, Miller has recorded 11 and a third frames, and he allowed his only run of the month at Springfield July 9. Throw out that single tally, and the midseason All-Star has not surrendered a run since May 23 in a game at San Antonio that he went on to earn the victory.

Yohan Yan has yet to give up a run for the 'Riders (Photo: James Garner).

Yohan Yan: Yan has been great with both Myrtle Beach and Frisco. So far with the ‘Riders in three appearances, the side-winding right-hander has crafted five and a third scoreless innings of relief. He has held the opposition to just two base hits. Thus, his ERA with the ‘Riders is at its lowest in July because this is his first month here, but he deserved inclusion on this list. So far, so good for the ‘Riders’ newest arm.

Corey Young: Young is almost in the same category as Miller. He gave up just one run in June for an ERA of 0.87. Here in July, Young has only given up one run in three fewer innings, so he could still go on to post a season-low for a month with a few more appearances. When Young went on the disabled list with a back injury in late April, he had an ERA at 9.00. That mark has since dropped to a very healthy 3.51.

- 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!

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

Just Get It Over With

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

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

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

Frisco Time Machine

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

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

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

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

- Brian

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