The Midland Rockhounds are battling down-to-the-wire for a spot in the Texas League playoffs and that season-long effort was reflected on Monday when the Rockhounds were well represented among the Texas League award winners for the 2009 season.
The big awards went to first baseman Chris Carter and manager Darren Bush. Carter was honored with the league's Player of the Year award. He hit .337 with 24 homers, 108 runs scored and 101 RBIs to earn the award. Carter is the third Rockhound to take home the prestigious award since 1999. Adam Piatt (1999) and Andre Ethier (2005) were the other two.
Bush earned the Manager of the Year award. The first year Rockhounds' skipper has led Midland to a 74-59 record, tops in the league. The Rockhounds have a two-game lead in the South division for the second-half title. Bush led the High-A Stockton Ports to a California League championship in 2008.
In addition to Carter and Bush, Adrian Cardenas and Graham Godfrey earned post-season honors. Both were named to the league's post-season All-Star Team, Cardenas as a utility player and Godfrey as a starting pitcher. Cardenas hit .326 in 79 games for the Rockhounds before being promoted to Sacramento, while Godfrey has an 11-8 record and a 3.64 ERA in 27 starts for Midland.
Rockhounds Earn Big Win Over Frisco
On the same night that four Rockhounds were honored for their 2009 accomplishments, Midland earned a huge win over Frisco. The Rockhounds had lost two in a row to second-place Frisco and had seen their division lead trimmed to one. Thanks to a solid effort by Travis Banwart, the Rockhounds earned a big 5-2 win and doubled their division lead to two games.
Banwart out-dueled top Texas Rangers prospect Martin Perez by tossing six innings. He allowed only one earned run on four hits and one walk. Banwart struck-out six and earned his 10th win of the season. The Midland bullpen combined to toss three scoreless innings to secure the win. Carlos Hernandez, promoted from Stockton earlier in the day, tossed two-thirds of an inning. He was followed by Dewon Day (one-third of an inning), Steve Sharpe (one inning) and Jared Lansford (one inning). Lansford earned his 12th save and lowered his ERA to 2.42.
On offense, the Rockhounds received multi-hit games from Josh Donaldson, Shane Peterson, Corey Brown and Matt Sulentic. Sulentic had two RBIs. Jemile Weeks reached base twice and is batting .323 with nine RBIs and three stolen bases over his last 10 games.
Carter Leads River Cats' Offensive Explosion
Sacramento might have already clinched a playoff spot, but the River Cats' bats aren't taking the rest of the year off. The River Cats collected 20 hits and 17 runs en route to a 17-6 thrashing of the Reno Aces.
Chris Carter was the star for Sacramento, crushing his first three Triple-A homeruns and driving in seven runs. Carter is now batting .321 with 12 RBIs in six games with the River Cats. On the season, he has 27 homers and 113 RBIs.
Carter had plenty of help on Monday night. Tom Everidge and Matt Carson both homered. Everidge drove-in three and reached base three times. Carson's homer was his 24th of the season. He had four hits and he scored three times while driving in three. Chris Denorfia (three hits, two RBIs), Brett Wallace (three hits, one RBI), Aaron Cunningham (two hits) and Adrian Cardenas (two doubles) all had big games. Only Eric Munson failed to collect a hit in the game for Sacramento.
Chad Reineke earned the win despite allowing six runs in 5.2 innings. It was his ninth win of the season.
Stockton's Carter Makes Cal League All-Star List
Monday was a big day for another Carter in the A's system: Stockton Ports' catcher Yusuf Carter. Carter was named as part of the California League's post-season All-Star Team as a utility player. Carter, who is on the disabled list with a hand injury, hit .318 with 14 homeruns in 91 games for Stockton this season. It is his first year in the A's organization after beginning his career in the Chicago Cubs' chain.