Vern Sterry flirts with perfection

Jake Gautreau had just arrived, via cab, to the ballpark for his first night this year as a member of the Portland Beavers when we spoke to him. He didn't play, but the now potent lineup produced. Clark Girardeau moved into Lake Elsinore for his first start as though he lived there all year. He takes the place of Gabe Ribas who moves up to Mobile. Chris Tierney was sent to Fort Wayne after some terrible outings. Vern Sterry flirted with perfection in Eugene, a gem for the Ems. is expected to talk to Jake Gautreau on Wednesday as he had to get into the park after just arriving from the airport.

Portland won 7-2

The top six batters in the Portland order are all batting above .289 after play on Tuesday and five are above .300.

Yamid Haad struck the big blow, hitting a three run homer in the third inning to cap a five run inning. Haad is 6-for-15 in his last four games and has hit five of his seven homers in the last 17 games he has played in.

Jon Knott has picked up where he left off. Playing in his second game in Portland since being sent down from San Diego, Knott is 4-for-6 with two doubles and four runs scored.

Ditto Xavier Nady. Nady has hits in all five games since being jettisoned from San Diego. He is 8-for-19 with four homers, a double and nine RBI's.

Steve Watkins pitched a gem, arguably his best outing of the year. He went eight innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits. His one mistake was a home run that followed a J.J. Furmaniak error. Watkins struck out a season high 11 batters, the second time he has reached double digits in that category. Watkins struck out ten in his first start for Portland after having a season high of nine with Mobile. Minus one bad start where he allowed seven runs, Watkins has not surrendered more than three runs in any Portland outing and has given up two runs or less in four of his six starts.


Gabe Ribas moves up to Mobile after posting a 4-5 record with a 4.35 ERA in 13 starts for Lake Elsinore. Ribas was the Padres Minor League Pitcher of the Year last year. He has gone through his struggles this year but has only allowed more than three earned runs in two starts this year. He should benefit from the move up to Mobile.

Lake Elsinore won 4-3

His Fort Wayne numbers were deceiving as he got smacked around in one game for nine earned runs and took two games into the ninth before he was hit for a few earned runs. Clark Girardeau made his first start for the Storm and performed well. In six innings of ball, Girardeau allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks. The first run that scored was on a double steal with Jesus Guzman stealing home to score an unearned run made possible on a Luis Cruz error.

Josh Carter has eight hits in his last four games, notching two hits in each game. He has smacked five doubles during that time frame and has knocked in five.

"I have a lot of power that is there but I can hit for average as well," Carter said. "It is something that is factoring into my swing right now. Over the course of the year it will start coming out more."

Inland Empire stole five bases off Andres Pagan on Tuesday, the most he has given up all year long. He did throw out one runner trying to steal.

Jesse Roman played in his first Cal League game this year and went 1-for-4 with a double and run scored. He also grounded into a double play. Roman was demoted after hitting .169 with Mobile.

Fort Wayne

Chris Tierney was demoted on Tuesday. Tierney has gone through a rough stretch, allowing five runs or more in each of his last three starts, including seven earned in two of the three. He has allowed four runs or more in six of his ten starts.

Eugene won 4-0

Rule V draftee Mark McRoberts had his first hit since joining Eugene and his first homer of the year. McRoberts drove in two with his blast in the first inning after leadoff hitter Brian Fryer stole second and third base. It was the only offense the Ems needed.

Vern Sterry got the nod as a starter after making a brief appearance as a reliever in the opener. Sterry had the magic touch on Tuesday. He had a perfect game going into the eighth inning and after striking out the first batter he faced, Sterry got touched for a double. Stephen Ghutzman tried to turn it into a triple and was thrown out at third trying to stretch it. Sterry was pulled right after the hit.

All of the young players have a pitch count they stick to but when the perfect game was broken, manager Roy Howell decided he had enough and pulled the North Carolina State alum despite just 77 pitches thrown.

Sterry ended the day after allowing just the one hit in 7.2 innings of work with nine strikeouts. Vern Sterry retired twenty-two batters in a row, highlighted by the sixth inning as he sat down all three Dust Devils on only four pitches. Sterry became the first pitcher in NC State history ever to start a season with 11 consecutive wins, which also is the longest single-season winning streak ever for the Wolfpack. He is 1-0 in his career as a Padre minor leaguer.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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