Oakland A's MLN: Two Starting Pitching Debuts

A couple of starting pitching debuts highlight Tuesday night's headlines for the Oakland A's affiliates. Dallas Braden made his first appearance since his promotion to AA-Midland and Brad Knox made his season debut after a rehabilitation stint in extended spring training. Find out how they fared and how the rest of the affiliates did in this edition of A's Minor League Notebook…

Braden Continues Winning Ways On New Squad

Starter Dallas Braden's zip code may have changed, but his fortunes on the mound have not. After cruising through seven starts for Stockton and posting a perfect 6-0 record with a 2.68 ERA, Braden was promoted to AA-Midland. He made his debut on Tuesday and, while the ride wasn't quite as smooth against AA hitters, Braden still had the upper-hand on the opposition.

The lefty scattered seven hits and two walks over 6.2 scoreless innings to lead the Rockhounds to a 5-3 win over Corpus Christi. Braden's streak of consecutive double-digit strikeout outings ended on Tuesday, but he still managed to up his minor league-leading strikeout total to 69 Ks.

The top four hitters in the Rockhounds' batting order (Steve Stanley, Omar Quintanilla, Andre Ethier and Brant Colamarino) combined to go 8-16 with three RBIs and they scored all five of the Rockhounds' runs. Colamarino hit two doubles and drove in two while upping his batting average to .333. Ethier also went 2-4 and pushed his team-leading batting average to .384. Evan Fahrner pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings to pick up his third save.

Knox Shaky In Season Debut

Last season, starter Brad Knox was one of the best starting pitchers in the Midwest League. Coming into the 2005 season, expectations were high for the young right-hander. However, those expectations had to wait as Knox worked to recover from back problems in extended spring training. He made his season debut with the high-A Stockton Ports on Tuesday night and found the going a little rougher in 2005 then it was in 2004.

Knox lasted only four innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out two. The Ports struggled on offense all game, as the San Jose pitching staff combined to limit the Ports to two hits and six walks over nine shut-out innings. The Ports fell 5-0 to the Giants. Kurt Suzuki and John McCurdy were the only two Ports to collect hits.

Drucker Saves 10th As Cougars Win

Kane County Cougars' closer Scot Drucker has been almost automatic this season and he continued that dominance on Tuesday, as he racked up his 10th save of the season with a scoreless inning of work. The 2004 draft pick has a 1.42 ERA over 18 appearances for Kane County. Jared Trout also had a strong game, throwing two scoreless innings to bridge the gap between victorious starter Derek Tharpe and Drucker. The Cougars beat Clinton 5-2.

Centerfielder Javier Herrera went 1-3 to continue his recent hot streak. He has now raised his batting average to .280. He was at .184 as recently as nine days ago. Wes Long clubbed his first homerun of the season in the 7th inning to up the Cougars' lead from 3-2 to 5-2. Kory Wayment also chipped in two RBIs for the Cougars.

Sacramento Falls In Slugfest

The River Cats racked up 14 hits and eight runs, but it wasn't enough to prevent Sacramento from dropping its third straight game. Sacramento's depleted pitching staff couldn't keep New Orleans off the board, as the Zephyrs scored nine runs on 11 hits. Adam Morrissey had four RBIs for Sacramento to pace the River Cats' offense.

A number of Sacramento prospects had good games on Tuesday, in addition to Morrissey. Dan Johnson went 2-4 with three runs scored, as he upped his batting average to .318. Catcher John Baker continued his red-hot May with a 2-5 day at the plate. Baker clubbed his ninth double of the season and collected his 18th RBI. The left-handed hitting catcher has 15 RBIs in the month of May and has raised his batting average nearly 100 points from the low .100s to .228. Francis Gomez, who is filling in for Jermaine Clark as Clark waits to see if he clears waivers, went 2-4 while playing second base. Gomez is hitting .500 for the River Cats and he has scored five runs only three games played.

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