Tag Archive | "Same Game"

Moustakas and Hosmer giving hope to Kansas City Royals’ nation

Mike Moustakas blasted a walk-off homer in the 13th inning to give the Kansas City Royals a 7-6 win over the Mariners on Thursday. In the same game, Eric Hosmer had two hits, bringing his season average up to .300. The standout performance by the duo was more of the same in a post All-Star break campaign that has been marked by a vast improvement for the sluggers.

MooseAndHos

While a playoff spot this season is improbable for the Royals, a strong second half by Moustakas and Hosmer should have Royals fans feeling good about the future.

The start of the season was rough for the two young cornerstones for Kansas City. In 80 games before the All-Star break, Moustakas floundered to a slash line of .215/.271/.327, with six home runs and an embarrassing 17 RBI.

In just 36 second half games, the talented third-baseman is hitting .287/.333/.465 and the power has come around to the tune of five home runs and 19 RBI.

Hosmer didn’t even hit a home run until May 9 and in 344 first half at-bats only notched nine long-balls.

In just 193 at-bats after the All-Star break, Hosmer has six home runs and 30 RBI. His slash line is extremely impressive at .326/.391/.477.

These corner infielders should be fixtures in the Kansas City lineup for years to come. It was widely assumed that this would be a breakout year for the duo, but the slow start had Royals’ fans concerned about where these two would lead the team in the future. After trading Wil Myers to Tampa Bay, the Royals’ offense is counting on Moustakas and Hosmer to deliver in a big way.

The strong second half by Moustakas and Hosmer has been mirrored by the team as a whole. In the first half, the Royals were 24th in the MLB in runs and 14th in batting average. In the second half, the team is up to 6th in the majors in scoring and in batting average.

The Kansas City offense is often viewed as a weak point of the team. The rotation, led by James Shields and Ervin Santana, has been great the whole year. Greg Holland has been lights out as the closer and the bullpen as a whole has been dominant.

If Moustakas and Hosmer can lead a turnaround of the offense, the Royals should finish this year strong and have a lot to look forward to next season.

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Is Hands Off Best For Jaime?

Jaime Garcia has, at times, been one of the best pitchers the St. Louis Cardinals have on staff.  At other times, he has been erratic.

JaimeGarcia

It is a subject that has been poured over many times, but Jaime Garcia can go from “lights out” to “nobody’s home” with just a bad call or missed play behind him.  The lefty has shown moments of brilliance and moments of complete confusion, sometimes in the same game.  Much has been said about it and, behind the scenes, much has been analyzed about it.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has said in interviews that he fully believes that he could have helped prevent the amazing collapse of Rick Ankiel on the mound had he not been hurt and not on the field during the 2000 playoff run.  He has stated that earlier in that season, Ankiel had struggled and he was able to bring him back into focus and get through the situation.

Thirteen years later, Jaime Garcia has Matheny for a manager and the two are trying to find the best way to help the pitcher overcome mental lapses and realize his potential on the mound.

During a recent interview, Matheny has revealed that the team will attempt to take some pressure off of Garcia by not looking into every detail of the starter’s games.  It seems there is some concern that he tries to adjust his mechanics too often, becoming too much of a perfectionist and getting inside his own head.

“I’m not dissecting everything he’s doing,” Matheny insisted after the win. “I know everybody else likes to right now. I’m just watching him go out there and do his thing. He did a nice job of pitching without reading into every situation that he gets into or out of. … I made a commitment to myself not to microscope him.” –from StlToday.com

Garcia will need to continue to pitch at the level he projects at in 2013 for the Cardinals to remain successful.  In addition, with the young talent being developed in the system, Garcia may be pitching to secure a spot on this team in the near future.

Either way, getting Garcia out of his head and into a routine will be a good thing for everyone involved.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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A positive sign for May

After a rough start down in Houston the St. Louis Cardinals picked up right where they left off in April. With Tyler Greene leading the charge.

Second baseman Tyler Greene showed all those offensive skills Sunday that have labeled him still a prospect although he more often than not has been suspect at the big-league level.

Greene, mostly a reserve who was starting at second base against Houston LHP J.A. Happ, clubbed two homers and a double and drove in four runs as he bumped his average to .256. He stole one base and nearly had another and he also turned in a nifty double play in the field as the Cardinals captured the finale of a three-game series from the Astros, 8-1.

First baseman Allen Craig, knocked out for two months last May when he slid into a railing here and suffered a broken right kneecap, got his revenge on Minute Maid Park by homering and doubling and knocking in three runs.

As the Cardinals stopped their losing streak at three games and the Astros’ winning streak at five, RHP Adam Wainwright did what he always does against the Astros. Wainwright, winning his second straight, held the Astros to one run on seven singles in seven innings and struck out seven. It was Wainwright’s 10th win in 11 career decisions against the Astros and his earned-run average for that body of work is 1.54.

But what Greene did certainly was less expected than the feats of the other two. In fact, he did what no other Cardinals second baseman ever has done.

According to SABR research, Greene is the first Cardinals second baseman to have as many as four RBI, three hits and two homers and at least one stolen base in the same game.

“Hopefully, I was able to earn a couple of days out there (in Arizona),” said Greene. “Everybody wants to be out there every day. You just take whatever circumstance you’re given and do the best you can with it.”

A few notes

–1B Allen Craig is hitting .375 and slugging .750 after his first four games, including three doubles and a homer, after leaving the disabled list. “I can’t wait for the year I can see 500 to 600 at-bats from that guy,” said hitting coach Mark McGwire.

–RHP Adam Wainwright is getting closer to the form he displayed in 2009-10, when he won 39 games for the Cardinals before losing last season to an elbow operation. After pitching poorly in his first three starts this season, amassing an unsightly 9.88 ERA along with three losses, Wainwright is 2-0 and 2.70 since then, including a one-run, seven-hit allotment over seven innings on Sunday. “You could see he had a good feel for all his pitches. I don’t think (Wainwright) is very far away now,” manager Mike Matheny said.

–CF Jon Jay turned in his sixth spectacular play of the three-game series when he avoided LF Matt Holliday, who had pulled up, and made a sliding catch on Justin Maxwell‘s drive to left center in the fifth inning.

–Injured 1B Lance Berkman ran in the outfield for some 10 minutes before the game and said his strained left calf “felt a lot better than the other day. Marked improvement.”

–Matheny had pondered giving 34-year-old SS Rafael Furcal a day off Sunday. But too much was happening for Furcal and not enough was happening for the Cardinals.

–Furcal, matching Lou Brock in 1974, had led off six straight games with hits and he had scored in the first inning after five of them. Matheny said, “He was excited about getting in there and facing a lefty (J.A. Happ). And there’s no question that everybody’s pretty excited about winning a game here.” The Cardinals won but Furcal’s streak was snapped with a first-inning fly out.

–St. Louis has scored in the first inning for eight games in a row.

–The Cardinals’ five homers in Monday night’s game were their most since hitting six on July 5, 2007, against Pittsburgh.

–Beltran needs two stolen bases to become the eighth player in major-league history with at least 300 steals and 300 homers.

–Westbrook followed his most difficult outing of the season — a 6-3 home loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates — with his most dominant. He has as many quality starts through this season’s six outings as he managed in the first 16 in 2011

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Albert And Carp

When a fan asks a question and we can find time to provide a in depth answer, we jump at the chance here on i70. Such an instance jumped out at me while on Twitter.

Carp and Pujols

Shortly after the game ended Saturday night and the Cardinals had put the finishing touches on a two to one victory over the Florida Marlins, a tweet came across my screen that caught my eye.

I'd like to know how many times Albert has hit a home run and Carp has gotten a win in the same game over the years. Its a lot. #stlcards
@FishSTL
Michael Fisher

Michael, I am glad you asked. It is a valid question and caused a little digging into some stats.

The two superstars of the St. Louis Cardinals have played together in St. Louis since 2004. There have been injuries over that time but when you put two players of their caliber together, you expect some results. Those results are not disappointing.

Chris Carpenter has pitched in 184 Games for the St. Louis Cardinals and according to Baseball-Reference, posts an impressive record. The Cardinals veteran ace has won 91 games as a Cardinal while losing only 41. A 3.09 career earned run average since joining the team, 19 complete games, 8 shutouts, and 276 walks to 1003 strikeouts makes him one of the most dominant pitchers in recent memory for the Cardinals. As dominant as he can be, does it mean that a player like Albert Pujols performs at a higher level for him? Maybe not, but the team certainly benefits when the two are on the same page.

The simple answer here is 47. That would be the number of regular season games that Chris Carpenter has pitched in since joining the Cardinals that Albert Pujols has also hit a home run in. Slightly more than 25% of the time when Carpenter takes the mound, Pujols will leave the yard in the same game. What may be most impressive is a deeper look into the stats.

Albert seems to be on his “A Game” during these 47 games, for sure. Over the course of regular season games that Carpenter pitches and Albert homers, Pujols is hitting .460 with 54 home runs, 86 runs batted in, and 76 runs scored. Carpenter is no slouch, when the Cardinals first baseman puts one over the fences, Carpenter posts a 3.34 earned run average with 260 strikeouts, 31 wins and 5 losses.

The Cardinals as a whole enjoy it when Carpenter is pitching and Albert goes deep, they have won 39 games and only lost 8 when this occurs.

The post-season has only seen this occur twice, though one of them was memorable. Both times that Carpenter has pitched on a day when Albert homered in the post-season, the Cardinals would win. Carpenter would receive the win in the contest with the Padres on October 3, 2006. Perhaps the most memorable post-season game for this to occur would put a win in the Cardinals hands, if not their starting pitcher’s. That game happened on October 17, 2005 when Albert ruined Brad Lidge‘s night in Houston and quieted the home town crowd who thought they were witnessing their team reaching the World Series, just to see that postponed due to a long home run from the Cardinals’ Most Valuable Player.

There were a few notable games that popped up while digging through box scores for the information on the two superstars.

- April 9, 2004 - Carpenter would go six innings, giving up five runs, walking one and striking out three. Albert would hit a solo home run but go on to score three times on one hit and two walks. When the dust settled, the Cardinals would beat the Diamondbacks 13-6 and Chris Carpenter would gain his first victory while wearing the birds on the bat.
- June 14, 2005 - Pujols would hit a two run home run in the contest against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Carpenter would show his old team just how dominant he could be as he posted his first double-digit strikeout total in a game where Pujols would homer, striking out 10 Blue Jays. He would also grab his first shutout and throw his first complete game in such a game.
- June 25, 2005 - It would not take long for Carpenter to repeat that feat and do it one better as the Cardinals played the Pirates in front of the sea of red in Busch Stadium. Carpenter would once again throw a shutout, going the distance and striking out eleven while Pujols would hit a three run shot in the seventh inning of that contest, his 20th of the season.
- September 8, 2005 - The two superstars were well on their way to winning a Cy Young Award and a Most Valuable Player Award in the 2005 season when September rolled around. This time, the Busch fans would witness the first multi-home run game for Albert while Carpenter was on the mound. In addition to seeing Albert leave the yard twice, the fans would also see Carpenter throw seven shut out innings, striking out seven Mets, and winning his 21st game of the year.
- June 4, 2009 - Our final game to point out was one that seen Carpenter go toe-to-toe with Reds hurler Aaron Harang in a pitcher’s duel that would see both starters go the distance for their teams. Carpenter would only surrender one run and Harang would only struggle with one hitter. Albert would hit a two run home run in the bottom of the third and add another run batted in on a double in the sixth giving the Cardinals the only three runs they would get that day. It was the only three runs Carpenter would need.

With two top quality players on the field for their eighth season together, it seems it would do the team a lot of good if they could match up on a few more games down the stretch of the 2011 season.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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A Bro-Mance For The Ages

It was 2004 when the Cardinals handed the reigns of their pitching staff over to a young, talented, and defensively sound Yadier Molina. The younger brother of Major League catchers Bengie and Jose, Yadier arrived in St. Louis being regarded as a player who was defensively ready, however, fans were warned that he would be learning to be a hitter at the Major League level.

APandYadi

Very early in Molina’s career, the Cardinals’ up-and-coming superstar, Albert Pujols, seemed to have taken the backstop under his wing. It was not long before the St. Louis organization had a behind the scenes “bro-mance” on their hands.

A baseball bro-mance should yield some results for the fans, writers, and followers of the ball club. Two players being connected on the same team for such a long period of time begs the question of their combined production. Not just the production of their combined season statistics but also a look into just how they feed off each other in individual games.

The interesting standpoint here is that we are dealing with two very different players. This is not Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle. This is a player that is regarded as the best in Major League Baseball defensively at his position. It is another player that is regarded as possibly the best hitter baseball has ever seen.

That defensive player has seen himself evolve into a player that is becoming respected for his bat. That reason alone led this writer into researching just how many times the members of this relationship had achieved the pinnacle of power, the home run, in the same game.

Molina was brought to the big league club in 2004, but it was not until his third career home run on May 18, 2005 that he and Albert Pujols would go deep in the same game. It would happen in the top of the third inning as Pujols, with Larry Walker on first base, would put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 on a two ball, two strike delivery from Jon Lieber of the Philadelphia Phillies. The home run was the 170th of Albert’s still young career. Later in that same inning, Molina would drive the first pitch he seen out of the park with Mark Grudzielanek and Abraham Nunez on second and third, putting the Cardinals ahead 5-0. It is the only time to date that the duo has gone deep in the same inning. The team would go on to win the game 8-4 and our bro-mance begins to take hold.

The tandem would not wait long for a repeat performance and would not waste the curtain call on a road crowd this time. Back in the confines of Busch Stadium, it would be Molina who would put his name in the box score first with a solo shot off the Pittsburgh Pirates starter Mark Redman in the bottom of the third inning of a scoreless game on June 25, 2005. The Cardinals would be ahead 5-0 when Pujols would step to the plate against reliever Ryan Vogelsong. Chris Carpenter and David Eckstein would score from second and third on Albert’s dinger, his 180th of his career, and the final runs of the Cardinals 8-0 win that day.

Two years and a combined 114 home runs would pass before the two hitters would find themselves going yard in the same game again. During a game in St. Louis that the Cardinals would go on to win 6-4 on August 22, 2007, Albert’s two run homer in the bottom of the first inning off Florida Marlins’ starter Scott Olsen would plate So Taguchi and mark the 280th career long ball of his career. It was the 20th home run of Yadier Molina’s career, a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth off of Olsen, that would put the duo’s name in the box score side by side for the third time.

May 3, 2008 would mark the first time the pair would go deep in the same game with no one on base as the Cardinals would drop a game to the rival Chicago Cubs 9-3. Molina would touch the Chicago Cubs’ Ted Lilly for a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth while Albert would follow suit in the bottom of the sixth.

Albert would once again reach the thirty home run plateau on September 1, 2008 as he would take one of the best left handed hurlers of the time, Randy Johnson, out of the ballpark in Arizona in the top of the third inning with Ryan Ludwick on second base. While Johnson could seem untouchable at times, it was Molina that actually reached him first with a solo shot in the top of the second that day, his sixth of the year and 28th of his career. Johnson would get the last laugh as the Diamondbacks would hold on to win 8-6.

The Pittsburgh Pirates starter Ian Snell would take the mound in St. Louis and yield a two-run home run to Albert Pujols in the bottom of the third, scoring Colby Rasmus. The game was already out of hand with the Cardinals leading 8-1 by the time Yadier Molina would take relief pitcher Donald Veal deep for a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, but the teammates had left the ballpark in the same game for the sixth time and the team would hold on to win 9-3.

Not quite a month later, the subjects of our discussion would again enjoy some home cooking and find themselves producing a pair of solo shots on Cinqo De Mayo 10-7 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was Molina taking Brett Meyers out of the park in the bottom of the fourth and Albert greeting his old friend Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth to achieve the feat this time.

The eighth such game would occur once again in St. Louis, this time against the Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals would lose 11-4 but it would mark the third time in one season that the pair would go deep in the same game, more than any other year to date. Rockies starter Jorge de la Rosa would give up solo shots to the pair in the bottom of the sixth for Pujols and bottom of the seventh for Molina.

The only time the two would leave the yard in the same game in 2010 would also be the only game featuring multiple home runs from one of them. The Cardinals would visit the Cincinnatti Reds to open the season on April 5, 2010 and Aaron Harang would find himself in trouble early, giving up a solo home run to Albert in the top of the first. Albert was not done for the day and would hit a two run homer in the top of the seventh off Mike Lincoln, driving in Brendan Ryan from first. Yadi would get to put the nail in the coffin on this day as he would take Nick Masset out of the yard in grand fashion, emptying the full bases and driving in Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Felipe Lopez, giving the Cardinals an 11-6 opening day victory.

June 16, 2011 in the Nation’s capital would find the backstop and first baseman reaching the bleachers once again. It was the Nationals’ Tyler Clippard surrendering a solo shot to Albert in the eighth and his bullpen mate Drew Storen who could not contain Yadier Molina in the ninth from a solo shot of his own. The team did not fair as well, dropping the game 7-4.

The eleventh and most current game to feature the two men hitting home runs in the same game would occur on July 22, 2011 in Pittsburgh. Pirates starter Paul Maholm would serve up a two run bomb to Pujols, his 430th of his career, scoring Jon Jay from first. Chris Resop would be on the mound in the eight when Yadi would find a way to drive the ball over the fence for the 47th time in his career, giving the Cardinals a 6-4 victory over the suddenly competitive Pirates.

The duo will continue to grace the field in the same uniform for the remainder of 2011. Beyond that, the story has yet to be written, but time will tell if the career numbers might continue to coincide for years to come or fans may need to relish the few games they have left with two superstars in the same lineup.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Farm Report: July 21st

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) went 3-4 over the last week, bookending a three-game win streak with a pair of losses on either side. Most importantly, the Storm Chasers have lost two of the first three games of their key series against the Memphis Redbirds, their prime competition in the league’s American Northern Division. Omaha still holds a two-game lead over Memphis and has secured the head-to-head tiebreaker should it come into play.

Who’s Hot

Luis Mendoza had an incredibly eventful night on Monday, no-hitting the Redbirds through eight innings. In the ninth, a controversial play was first ruled a two-base error, giving Mendoza a no-hitter. Memphis then tried to get the play changed to a hit, but Omaha did not go along with the ruling, leaving Mendoza’s no-no intact for the time being. The Redbirds then field a formal appeal with the PCL, who overturned the ruling once and for all, wiping away the no-hitter. Still, Mendoza’s complete-game shutout continued his impressive season, lowering his ERA to 2.30. Offensively, Johnny Giavotella racked up 14 hits in six games last week, raising his batting average to .340.

Who’s Not

After two consecutive strong starts, southpaw Mike Montgomery had a pair of rocky outings last week, losing against both New Orleans and Memphis. On Wednesday, Montgomery allowed five runs in five innings and saw some of his control issues return, walking three against two strikeouts. In what was a generally solid offensive week for Omaha, infielder Lance Zawadzki went just 3-for-18 at the plate, striking out seven times.

Double-A

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) pushed themselves right back into the North Divison’s second half race with a 5-2 week that included the team’s first no-hitter and first triple play – in the same game. The Naturals enter Thursday with a chance to sweep the first-place Arkansas Travelers and pull even in the standings.

Who’s Hot

Tuesday was one of the most historic nights in Naturals’ history, as starter Will Smith and ace reliever Kelvin Herrera combined to face the minimum in the club’s first-ever no-hitter. Smith issued two walks to open the fifth but promptly erased them by inducing a 5-4-3 triple play. Herrera set down all six batters he faced and now has 39 strikeouts against only three walks in Double-A. Jamie Romak is in the midst of an offensive surge, as he has an active eight-game hitting streak that includes four two-hit games in his last five. Romak has also launched seven home runs in his last 13 games.

Who’s Not

Southpaw Chris Dwyer is still looking to get back on track. Though he pitched into the sixth inning on July 16 – his deepest outing in his last four – Dwyer still allowed five runs and took the loss. In his last four starts, Dwyer has walked 20 batters and struck out just eight. Returned to Double-A after being unable to find consistent playing time in Omaha, Paulo Orlando has just two hits in his first four games with the Naturals.

Class-A Advanced

A five-game losing streak cost the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) ground in the Northern Division standings last week. The Blue Rocks did stem the tide with Wednesday’s win at Myrtle Beach, but the team went just 1-5 since last week’s report. Wilmington is now in third place, 5.5 games behind both Frederick and Potomac.

Who’s Hot

Outfielder Nick Van Stratten got off to a scorching start with the Blue Rocks before going into a bit of a slump in early July. But in the last week, Van Stratten has put together a four-game hit streak. Van Stratten enters Thursday’s action with five hits in his last two contests. In a rare shaky week for Wilmington’s starting rotation, Michael Mariot gave up just three runs – one earned – in seven innings on Wednesday, earning his team’s only win of the week. The outing was the longest of the season for Mariot, who has worked out of both the rotation and the ‘pen.

Who’s Not

Left-hander Noel Arguelles endured his worst outing of the season on July 15, allowing five runs in just an inning and two thirds. Arguelles also walked four Frederick hitters, a third of his season total of 12 bases on balls allowed. Still, it is a testament to Arguelles’ body of work that his ERA sits at 2.99 despite this last start. Outfielder John Whittleman recorded just two hits in 19 at bats last week, striking out six times in five games.

Class-A

Like their Advanced-A brethren, the Kane County Cougars also snapped a five-game losing streak within the last few days. The club has now won two straight as they begin a six-game road trip. After posting a 2-4 record, Kane County is now 15-10 in the second half and tied with Quad Cities atop the league’s Western Division.

Who’s Hot

Another start brought yet another solid stat line for right-hander Greg Billo. Billo allowed one run over five innings against West Michigan on Wednesday, striking out four. Notably, this outing actually raised his ERA from 1.38 to a still-sterling 1.41. Billo continues to lead all qualifying full-season minor leaguers in earned run average. 18-year-old Cheslor Cuthbert continued his recent tear this week, as though his average “fell” to .329, Cuthbert worked four walks last week to maintain an impressive .383 on-base percentage.

Who’s Not

Outfielder Brett Eibner has continued to stumble at the plate, as his batting average stayed at .192 through last week’s play. After his late-June home run tear, Eibner has only homered once since June 30 and has just two extra-base hits since July 2. Both Yowill Espinal (.187) and Orlando Calixte (.204) are still looking to get themselves established at the plate as well.

Short Season

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) went 2-4 last week, allowing at least nine runs in all four of those losses. At 12-17, the Chukars remain in third place in the league’s South Division, seven games behind first-place Ogden. To get back in the race, Idaho Falls will look to improve on its 5.92 team ERA.

Who’s Hot

Runey Davis compiled another strong week in what is turning into an outstanding campaign for the outfielder. Davis had five hits and drew six walks in his four games since last week’s report, raising his on-base percentage to a remarkable .478, a figure that leads the league. Fellow outfielder Tyler Chism also turned in a great performance on the plate, cracking a pair of home runs as he raised his batting average from .262 to .288.

Who’s Not

Arkansas native Jonathan Dooley endured a rough outing in his last start, allowing nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against Missoula on July 17. Dooley has now walked 22 batters in 28 innings with a 9.96 ERA. Catcher Tyler Smith was hitless in two games last week and is now just 1-for-20 with the Chukars this season.

The Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) experienced an up-and-down seven day stretch, going 3-4 in the last week. At 11-18, the Royals have work to do to climb back in the league’s East Division. They currently reside in last place, six games behind the first-place Bluefield Blue Jays.

Who’s Hot

Slugging first baseman Murray Watts continues to crush Appy League pitching. Watts belted another pair of home runs to raise his league-leading total to 11. Watts has also drawn at least one walk in each of his last six games, raising his on-base percentage to a healthy .378. Infielder Justin Trapp has also been a key figure in the Royals’ offense, putting together a five-game hitting streak last week. Trapp’s 25 RBI put him three behind Watts for the team lead. Though he didn’t have a particularly remarkable week, Jovan Pickett’s body of work earned him a promotion to Kane County.

Who’s Not

On the mound, Robinson Yambati had another rough outing as he gave up four runs on five hits in just 2 1/3 innings against Bluefield. Yambati is allowing opposing hitters to bat .449 against him through six starts. Catcher Kenny Swab had just two hits in five games last week as he is now hitting just .135 in his first 10 games with Burlington.

Down in Surprise, Ariz., the AZL Royals (Arizona League) matched both Wilmington and Kane County with a five-game losing streak. The club went 1-5 since last week’s report, dropping their overall record to 9-15, 7 ½ games behind the Rangers’ complex league affiliate.

Who’s Hot

Infielder Nick DelGuidice racked up another three multi-hit games this week as he continues to make a great impression in Arizona. Though his average “plummeted” last week, DelGuidice is still hitting a remarkable .434. Outfielder Anthony Howard hit safely in his first seven games with the AZL Royals and is batting .400 through eight contests with the club. On the mound, reliever Andrew Stueve has allowed just two earned runs in 11 appearances, racking up 29 strikeouts against just two walks.

Who’s Not

Left-hander Cesar Ogando had a pair of rocky starts last week, allowing a total of eight runs in just an inning and two thirds. He has now walked more batters (13) than he has struck out (12). The AZL Royals are hitting an impressive .276 as a team, though Alexander Marquez is just 2-for-20 in the seven games in which he has played.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

A change of scenery seems to be suiting Blake Johnson very well. After struggling in Omaha prior to his release from the Kansas City organization, Johnson fired four consecutive scoreless innings to begin his stint with the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. Johnson did allow two runs in as many innings on Wednesday but still has a solid 3.38 ERA. Fellow PCL reliever Dan Cortes had a solid week for the Tacoma Rainiers, firing three scoreless outings as he tries to get back on track.

At the plate, Corey Smith recorded just three bases hits for Triple-A Albuquerque but did crack his seventh home run as a member of the Isotopes. Over in the International League, Jordan Parraz has a six-game hitting streak for the Yankees’ affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Right-hander Juan Abreu finally saw his scoreless streak come to an end on Tuesday, taking the loss against the Louisville Bats. Abreu had not allowed a run since June 8, a stretch encompassing 14 straight scoreless outings. Abreu still has a rock-solid 2.14 ERA this season.

After his batting average fell to .218, utility man Ed Lucas was sent from Gwinnett to Double-A Mississippi, where he joins other formal Naturals Rowdy Hardy, Ben Swaggerty and Ernesto Mejia. Hardy allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings last week, while Swaggerty has not pitched since June 22. Swaggerty spent time on the disabled list and has yet to appear in a game since being re-activated. At the plate, Mejia had a bit of a slow week as he collected just three hits, with only a double going for extra bases.

Elsewhere, Chris McConnell is batting .214 with four extra-base hits for the Harrisburg Senators, while down in the Florida State League, Jose Duarte notched a pair of multi-hit games last week for the Jupiter Hammerheads. He is now joined in that league by Harold Mozingo, who recently signed with the Blue Jays and was assigned to Advanced-A Dunedin.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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