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Rochester Red Wings:Francisco Liriano showed once again why he is considered a future star on Thursday. In guiding the Red Wings to a 14-4 win over Louisville, Liriano threw seven innings of two-run ball, while striking out eight. The left-hander with unlimited ability notched his first AAA win, as he struck out seven or more for the third straight time. His ERA dipped to 3.32, although a he finally gave up a hit to a left-handed hitter. Batters are now batting .145 against him in 19 innings of work. If he continues at this pace, you may see Liriano donning a Twins uniform very soon. Ricky Barrett, who like Liriano started the year in AA New Britain, threw the final two innings, allowing two runs. He struck out two batters, finally breaking the streak of appearances without a K at three. The two earned runs were the most he has let up since May 26, a span of 12 games.
It is not often a team scored 14 runs and doesn’t knock one out of the yard, but that is just what the Wings did on Thursday. Jason Tyner extended his hitting streak to nine games by going 2-5 with a run, and four RBI. The four RBI were a season high for Jason and he has now scored in three straight games. In June, the centerfielder hit .322 with seven doubles and 14 RBI. Kevin West stayed hot at the dish by going 4-5 with three runs and two-RBI. He now has 11 hits in his last seven games including six in his last two. Nick Punto got his first hits of his rehab assignment with a 2-5 day, and Chris Heintz drove in four runs. Heintz has been on fire lately, sporting a ten-game hitting streak. Even more impressive, Heintz has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 contests, and the game he didn’t get a hit was a pinch hit at bat. The catcher hit .362 in June, raising his average from .257 to .308. The Wings finish their series with the Bats on Friday before welcoming Scranton/Wilke Barre to town for a two-game weekend series.
New Britain Rock Cats:The Cats lost the finale of the Binghamton 6-4 on Thursday, blowing a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. Glen Perkins, making his second start since being promoted from Fort Myers, pitched well in his seven innings of work. The left-hander allowed three earned runs, but he did strike out six for the second straight outing. The 22-year old is now sporting a 3.46 ERA and batters are hitting .280 off of him. Pat Neshek took the loss and got a blown save in this one, allowing three earned in his one inning of work. He gave up a three-run, pinch-hit home run to Brett Harper, Harper’s first of the year. In fact, it was Harper’s first at-bat since being called up from St. Lucie the day before. The loss was Neshek’s first since June 4 against Portland.
The Rock Cats bats had a decent day on Thursday, with big names coming up with big games. Luis Jimenez hit his 12th home run of the year, a solo shot in the fourth inning. It was Jimenez’s first home run since June 14, a span of 13 games for the slugger. He did, however, extend his hitting streak to six games. Daniel Matienzo went 2-4 with a run and an RBI, giving him his second multi-hit day in a row. He drove in a run for the third straight game and he finished off June with 28 RBI. Alex Romero went 2-4, extending his hitting streak to three games and Doug Deeds drove in a run for the third straight day. Denard Span stayed hot since his call-up earlier in the month, going 3-3 and has now hit safely in five of his first six AA games. The Cats lay out the welcome mat for the Bowie Baysox on Friday, the start of a three-game set.
Fort Myers Miracle:The Miracle won the much anticipated “Battle of the All-Star Hurlers” 6-1 on Thursday. Nick Blackburn outdueled Yankee ace Tyler Clippard to pick up the win for Fort Myers. Blackburn went seven innings, allowing one earned run on eight hits. The 23-year old right-hander has now won his last two starts, allowing only two earned runs in 16 innings of work. He only struck out one batter on Thursday, a season-low for a guy who averages around five strikeouts per nine innings. Chris Schutt shut the door for the save, going two scoreless innings. The save ended a great June for Schutt as he went 1-0, with a save, and boasted a 1.38 ERA. In his 13 appearances, batters hit .239 off him and didn’t let up a single home run.
Brock Peterson found the home run he needed for the cycle on Wednesday on Thursday, blasting a two-run shot in the sixth inning. His 2-4 day gave him his third multi-hit game in a row and the two-RBI gave him three in the last two games. In his last five games, he has raised his average from .225 to .246. Matt Tolbert led off the game with a home run, his second in the last three games. The shortstop now has six RBI over his last three contests. Trent Oeltjen knocked in a run and went 2-4 with two doubles. It was the sixth time in the last eight games that Trent has knocked in a run. With his two base hits, Oeltjen has now hit safely in eight of his last nine games. Matt Moses got a base hit to extend his hitting streak to three games. He has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games. The Miracle finish their series with the Yankees on Friday, looking for a sweep as they send Scott Tyler (5-3, 3.72) to the hill.
Beloit Snappers:Beloit lost their series opener against Dayton, 4-3 on Thursday. Dayton scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to seal the win. Kyle Waldrop was stellar in picking up the no decision, going eight innings and allowing three earned runs. The right-hander struck out three and allowed four hits. The eight innings were a season-high for him and he finished the month of June at 2-0. Kevin Culpepper picked up the loss in relief, allowing an earned run to score in the ninth. It was the third time in his last four outings that he has let up at least one earned run, and he has not won since May 24. He was 0-2 in June with a 4.11 ERA.
The Snappers scored only three runs on Thursday, with Deacon Burns having the only multi-hit game. Burns went 2-3, giving him six hits in his last four games. He has hit safely in six of his last eight games. Luke Hughes drove in a run for the second straight day and he extended his hitting streak to eight games. Mark Zamojc drove in his sixth run in his last six games and Korey Feiner drove in his sixth run of the year. It is the end of a terrible month for Feiner, as he hit .086 and drove in only three runs. Beloit takes on Dayton on Friday night for game two of the series.
Elizabethton Twins:Elizabethton lost game one of their series with Kingsport, 4-2 on Thursday. Ryan Mullins threw a great game, throwing six innings of one-run ball. He struck out six while allowing only four base hits. Mullins now has 13 strikeouts on the year and is 0-0 despite a 2.70 ERA. Batters are hitting .194 off of him while lefties have not gotten to the left-hander all year. Armando Gabino took the loss in his only inning of work, allowing two earned runs on two hits. Originally a third baseman, Gabino has struggled with being a pitcher. He has a 7.20 ERA and has yet to strike a batter out. Ryan Gehring threw a scoreless ninth, keeping his ERA at 0.00. In 3.1 innings over three appearances, Gehring hasn’t let up a single base hit.
Juan Portes continued to mash the ball for the Twins. He is 5-9 in the last two days, and has three multi-hit games in his last four. In the last four games he has raised his batting average from .167 to .308. With his two doubles on Thursday, he now has three in the last two games. Edward Ovalle wrapped two hits on Thursday, giving him his second multi-hit game in a row. He has now hit safely in four straight games and has only one 0-for all season. Caleb Moore drove in his sixth run in three games and Dustin Bensko drove in his third of the year. Bensko failed to get a hit for the first time in six games. E-Town takes on Kingsport on Friday for the second game of a three-game set.
GCL Twins:In a shortened game on Thursday, the GCL Twins lost 6-1 to the GCL Pirates. Jose Castillo took the loss for the Twins, despite throwing four innings and allowing two runs (one earned). He struck out one batter in his first home start as he was much approved from his first outing, where he gave up two earned runs in two innings. Matthew Williams gave up three runs (two earned) in two innings of work. They were his first earned runs of the season as he failed to win his third straight decision. Aaron Craig worked the ninth, allowing an unearned run on one hit. The hit was the first allowed by the 19-year old right-hander all season long. His ERA stayed at 0.00 as batters are hitting .083 against him.
Hits were few and far between for the Twins against the Pirates, as only three players wrapped hits. Richard Sojo went 2-3 for his second multi-hit game in his first five appearances. Michael Lysaught also got two hits, extending his hitting streak to three games. He has two multi-hit games in three contests this season and has scored at least one run in each game. Danny Santiesteban did what he always does, drove in a run. His 11th RBI of the year drove in the only run for the Twins and Danny has now driven in a run in every game this season. Although his five-game hit streak was broken, Santiesteban has shown during his first six games that he is a legitimate prospect.