Rochester Red Wings: The Rochester Red Wings got their season off on the right foot, as they defeated the Syracuse SkyChiefs 5-3. Boof Bonser (1-0) got the Opening Day call, and was excellent, striking out eight in six scoreless innings of work to pick up the win. Ricky Barrett allowed all the Chiefs’ runs, as he let up three earned in a third of an inning of work. Kevin Cameron and Dennys Reyes pitched the next 1.1 innings combined before handing the ball off to Patrick Neshek to close out the game. Although he made it interesting, Neshek did in fact nail down his first International League save, striking out two in 1.1 innings of work.
Offensively, four Red Wings put together multi-hit games, with Luis Maza leading the way with three. He also drove in three runs, and stroked his first double of the year. Shortstop Jason Bartlett got off to a hot start to the season, smacking a double and a triple, and scoring twice. Jason Tyner also scored twice while picking up two hits, and catcher Chris Heintz scored and drove in a run with his two base knocks. The Red Wings play Syracuse on the road again Friday, with Ryan Glynn taking the ball for the Wings. Their home opener is scheduled for Saturday, when they will again take on the SkyChiefs.
New Britain Rock Cats: The Rock Cats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning in their Opening Day game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, but would lose their home opener 5-3. Ace Glen Perkins (0-1) look the loss for the Cats, but he looked sharp throughout the game. In five innings, he allowed two earned runs, and struck out seven. He left in the top of the sixth after allowing two consecutive singles, and Levale Speigner could not bail him out of the jam. The Fisher Cats would score three in the inning and never look back. Speigner allowed one earned run of his own in two innings of relief, before handing off to Chris Schutt. Schutt struggled, allowing two earned in his one inning of work, as New Hampshire put the game away. Tristan Crawford pitched a flawless ninth, striking out two.
Denard Span got the Cats on the board in the first, blasting a leadoff home run in his first at-bat of the 2006 season. He would end the day 2-4, and was pretty much the only member of the New Britain offense that did anything. Felix Molina drove in the other run for the Cats, and Trent Oeltjen walked twice and stole a base. The meat of the order, Matt Moses, Danny Matienzo, and Doug Deeds, combined to go 2-11, with none of them getting an extra-base hit. Game two of a four-game set is scheduled for Friday, with Errol Simonitsch or Nick Blackburn taking the ball for the Rock Cats.
Fort Myers Miracle: Highly touted prospect Matt Garza (1-0) got the Opening Day assignment for the Miracle on Thursday against the Sarasota Reds, and picked up the win in his Florida State League debut. The right-hander went 5 innings, allowed only two runs (one earned), and struck out four. He also failed to yield a walk, and allowed only two hits. Tim Lahey came on to pitch the sixth and seventh innings, and also fared well. He allowed one earned on two hits, and struck out one in his FSL debut. Julio DePaula pitched the final two innings for the Miracle, and look great, holding the Reds to no runs on two hits to finish off the 7-3 win.
At the plate, Alexi Casilla proved to be big pickup this past off-season, as he drove in three runs during his two hit day. He also scored a run, and played some solid second base. The big hit of the night belonged to Luke Hughes, who smacked a three-run home run in the third inning. The blast gave the Miracle the lead for good, and was his only hit of the night. Garrett Guzman, who missed all of the 2005 season, stroked two hits in his return to the Miracle lineup, where he hit .269 in 2004. Centerfielder Deacon Burns hit a double, and Jeremy Pickrel scored two runs for the Miracle as well. The Miracle face Sarasota again on the road on Friday, before opening up their home season on Saturday. Anthony Swarzak should take the ball for the Miracle on Friday, with Jay Rainville taking the ball in the home opener on Saturday.
Beloit Snappers: The Beloit Snappers overmatched the Cedar Rapids Kernels in their home opener on Thursday, blanking the Kernels 4-0. Battling through a power outage, the Snappers rode the right arm of Kyle Waldrop to pick up the win. Waldrop (1-0) went 5.1 scoreless innings, struck out six, and allowed only three hits. He then handed the ball off to Daniel Powers, who was just as impressive in his 2.2 innings of relief. He struck out three, walked none, and allowed only one hit. Eduardo Morlan came on to seal the victory in the ninth, and made the Kernels’ hitters look silly, striking out the side.
Henry Sanchez made his full-season debut a special one, as the young slugger blasted a solo home run in his first Midwest League at-bat. It would be his only hit of the night, as he finished 1-3 with a walk. Eli Tintor had a good day at the plate, smacking two doubles in four trips. Andrew Thompson accomplished something you don’t see everyday, stroking two triples on the day. He also scored twice, drove in a run, as he showed good production from the leadoff spot. Leadoff hitter Steven Tolleson also recorded two hits, and Paul Kelly drove in two. The Snappers take on the Kernels again on Friday, as the second game of a four-game set.