Oakland A's MLN: Banwart Still Cruising

Travis Banwart is looking a lot like the 2008 version of Vince Mazzaro for the 2009 Midland Rockhounds right now. Banwart put together another strong outing on Wednesday and moved to 4-1. We have details of his game and the other action around the Oakland A's system inside...

Banwart Lowers ERA To 2.08 In Win

Travis Banwart is making a run at giving the Double-A Midland Rockhounds back-to-back Texas League ERA champs. Last season, Vince Mazzaro won the league's ERA title as a member of the Rockhounds. This year, Banwart is making a bid. The right-hander lowered his season ERA to 2.08 with another strong outing in Midland's 7-4 win on Wednesday night.

Currently, Banwart is second in the league in ERA and is first among pitchers with more than 30 innings this season. In 39 innings this season, Banwart has allowed 37 hits and 10 walks while striking-out 20. The Wichita State alum is 4-1, which is the best record in the league.

On Wednesday, Banwart allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in 6.1 innings to earn the win. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in any start this season. In 2008, Banwart struggled with a shoulder injury, but he still managed a solid 3.59 ERA in 100.1 innings split between Low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton.

Banwart received good offensive support. The big blow was from third baseman Tom Everidge, who blasted a three-run homer. It was his fourth homer of the season. He is batting .311 and he now has 32 RBIs on the season. Everidge led the Texas League in RBIs last year.

Josh Horton added another multi-hit game to his ledger on Wednesday. He has three straight multi-hit games and is batting .342 over his last 10 games. He has a .310 average on the season. Matt Sulentic also added two hits. Every Midland starter had at least one hit except for Mike Affronti.

Sacramento Holds On

Chris Schroder's two scoreless innings of relief helped the Sacramento River Cats hold onto a 6-5 win over Albuquerque on Wednesday night.

Dana Eveland got the start for Sacramento, his second since being demoted from Oakland's rotation. In his first outing, Eveland allowed five runs on 10 hits in six innings against Las Vegas. On Wednesday, he improved on that effort, allowing three earned runs on five hits in six innings. He walked four, however, and struck-out only two. It was enough to earn him his first win of the season for Sacramento, however.

On offense, the River Cats were led by third baseman Gregorio Petit, who had three hits, including a double, in four at-bats. He drove-in three runs. Since returning to Sacramento from Oakland, Petit is eight-for-17 with a walk.

Aaron Cunningham continued his hot streak since being activated off of the DL. He hit his second homerun is as many games and drove-in two. He has eight RBIs in six games this season. Daric Barton added a hit and socred twice. He and Cunningham were each hit by a pitch. Barton is slowly digging his way out of his early season slump. He has a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .278 with six RBIs over the last 10 games.

Danny Putnam added two hits and is three-for-seven in his return to the Triple-A level. He hit second for the River Cats on Wednesday.

Ports Fall Just Short

A four-run rally in the ninth inning was not quite enough for the Stockton Ports to complete a terrific comeback against Inland Empire. The Ports lost by a score of 6-5.

Stockton was being shut-out until the eighth inning, when Alexander Valdez hit a two-out single to drive home Toddric Johnson. Down 6-1 in the top of the ninth, the Ports mounted a spirited rally, collecting five hits and two walks. The game ended with Yusuf Carter stranded at third on a Christian Vitters ground-out.

The bottom of the Ports' order was productive. Valdez, Vitters, Frank Martinez and Michael Richard each had two hits. Richard had the Ports only extra-base hit, a double.

Craig Italiano got the loss for Stockton. He allowed five runs in six innings, but pitched better than his final line-score. The right-hander gave-up two homeruns, but he struck-out eight against two walks. Italiano has gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts and he has struck-out eight in each of his last two outings. He has 38 strike-outs in 36.2 innings this season.

Kane County Washed Out, But Roster Shifts

Only rain can slow down the Kane County Cougars these days. The Cougars' tilt with Burlington was postponed by rain. The two teams will play a double-header today.

There was some roster movement for Kane County on Wednesday. Right-handers Jason Ray and Mickey Storey were added to the Cougars' roster, while reliever Leonardo Espinal was promoted to High-A Stockton and closer Jose Guzman landed on the DL with a back injury.

Ray returns to the mound after missing the last year-and-a-half with an elbow injury. He last pitched in early 2007 with the Stockton Ports. Ray was a member of the Cougars in 2006.

Storey was a 31st round pick of the A's in 2008 out of Florida Atlantic University. He pitched for the A's Rookie League team in 2008, posting a 3.27 ERA in 14 relief appearances. He had been at extended spring training.

Espinal moves up after getting off to a terrific start. The side-armer had an 0.93 ERA in 9.2 innings for Kane County. He had allowed only five hits and two walks and he had struck-out 13. Espinal made his debut with Stockton on Wednesday, working a scorless inning with two strike-outs, a walk and a hit allowed.

Guzman lands on the DL with a 6.75 ERA in eight innings this season. He has four saves.

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