Nippert Tosses Shutout; Carlos Gonzales Streaks

Billy Murphy had his best outing of the year, going seven shutout innings; Dustin Nippert appears to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and his complete game shutout is proof; Unearned runs are killing the JetHawks; An offensive explosion, led by Cesar Nichols, Carlos Gonzales and Augie Murillo, powers the Silverhawks in a barn burner.

Salt Lake 1 @ Tucson 3

There was marked improvement in lefty Bill Murphy's last start, but Tuesday there were results.  Murphy went seven innings giving up just two hits and one unearned run as the Sidewinders knocked Salt Lake off at home.  Murphy still struggled with his command at times, walking four on the day, but his electric stuff, and two solid innings of relief pitching got him his second win of the season.

The only run Salt Lake would score came in the sixth inning when Salt Lake's Brian Specht tried for a bunt single to lead off the inning.  Murphy threw the ball away down the third base line allowing Specht to score all the way from first.  Officially the play was ruled a single with a three base error.

Kerry Ligtenberg made his first appearances since being sent back down to the minors, and allowed singles to the first two men he faced, putting runners on first and third with no outs.  Ligtenberg would retire the next hitter before being lifted for Kevin Tolar, who got top Angels farmhand Casey Kotchman to ground into a double play to end the inning.  Brandon Medders came on for a perfect ninth inning to tally his seventh save of the year.

With Matt Kata in the leadoff spot Andy Green has been bumped down to the two hole, but both players seem to like it just fine.  Kata was the only Sidewinder to get two hits on the day, going 2-4 with a run scored, while Green was 1-2 with a walk and a solo homer in the first inning.

Despite getting a hit in eight of his last nine games Conor Jackson's batting average is falling...all the way down to .369 after Tuesday's 1-4 day.  Guess that's the price you pay for flirting with .400.

Tennessee 2 @ Birmingham 0

It was the Dustin Nippert show Tuesday night in Birmingham.  The right hander threw a five hit complete game shutout that might not have been the most dominant outing, but showed Nippert's poise and ability to get outs when they counted.

Nippert allowed base runners in each of the first five innings but used double plays in the second and fifth to stay out of trouble.  In the sixth Nippert hit his stride, retiring nine straight, striking out three and allowing only one ball out of the infield.  When Nippert came out for the ninth inning it appeared he might be out of gas, allowing back to back singles to start the inning, but once again, Nippert was able to collect himself, getting the next hitter to pop out and then striking out the final two batters of the game.

On the day Nippert would K a season high nine hitters, leaving Smokies broadcaster Tom Hart impressed.

"It might not have been Nolan Ryan, blowing guys away with 98 mile per hour heat, but for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery, it was as impressive as any complete game shutout I've seen."

All the offense Nippert would need was supplied in the first inning.  With one out center fielder Jarred Ball doubled, and two batters later Jesus Cota had a double of his own to drive Ball in.  Ball was 2-3 with a walk on the day, while Cota was 2-4, and is now 6-10 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored in the last two games.

Bakersfield 5 @ Lancaster 2

Who can blame Chris Kinsey for trying to be perfect.  After allowing 13 walks in his first nine starts Kinsey has walked 11 in his last five, including Tuesday's three walk performance.  Why?  It could be Kinsey has been charged with at least one unearned run in 10 of his 13 starts this season, or 19 unearned runs in 13 starts.  Kinsey lasted only four innings Tuesday giving up six hits and five runs, only three of which were earned.

This time the culprit was Erik Schindewolf, who's two out error in the fourth allowed the two unearned runs to score.  Schindewolf did his best to make up for the gaffe at the plate, going 2-4 with a walk and a run scored.

The JetHawks left 12 runners on base in the game, 10 in the last five innings.

After hitting a homer in each of his last two games Stephen Drew was 0-3 Tuesday and left the game for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.  No word as of yet on why.

Dayton 11 @ South Bend 12

It isn't often you'll see two teams combine to score 23 runs and hit only two homers between them, but that was the case Tuesday as South Bend held off Dayton. 

The big blast was off the bat of Cesar Nichols, giving him three homers and 10 RBI in his last five games.  Nichols was 4-5 on the day with four RBI, raising his average back up to .307 on the year.

There was plenty of offense to go around for the Silverhawks.  Including Nichols there were four players with two or more hits, eight different Silverhawks scored runs, and six grabbed at least one RBI. 

Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio must have thought he was in the movie Groundhog Day.  For the second straight day Bonifacio was 2-4, he scored three runs both days, walked once on Monday and again on Tuesday, and stole a base each night as well.  Tuesday he upped the ante with a lone RBI.

Third baseman Augie Murillo is on another one of his crazy good runs.  In his last three games Murillo has gone 8-14 with four doubles, eight RBI, and four runs scored.  In his last seven games Murillo has reached base 18 times in 27 at bats.

Right fielder Carlos Gonzales continued his hot hand as well, going 3-4 with two runs scored.  Gonzales hitting streak currently stands at 13 games, during which time he's had five three-hit games, three two-hit games, scored 11 runs and driven in eight.  He's hitting an incredible .481 in June.


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