Varner Saves Two; Sean Thompson Allows Two Hits

Tim Redding rehabs in Portland while Adam Hyzdu continues to get on base...without hitting; Sean Thompson likes his new arm slot, but opponents don't, many people like our minor league recaps, but apparently Jason Clements took issue with yesterday's; Clark Girardeau is getting stingy again, while Steve Baker is gunning runners down all over the field; Fort Wayne sweeps a double header, and Matt Varner nails down both saves. All this and more in MadFriars extended minor league recap.

Portland lost 2-0


Tim Redding got the start on a rehab assignment from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday and pitched four innings of scoreless ball, allowing four hits and striking out four.  He also hit a batter and was called for a balk.  It was his first start in the PCL since playing for New Orleans on Sept. 3, 2004.  Redding was 1-3 in five starts last year in the PCL with a 6.04 ERA.  He held the opposition to a .270 batting average against while striking out 26 in 28.1 innings.


The scheduled starter, Brian Sweeney, came on in relief of Redding and took the loss, courtesy of a two-run homer in the sixth.  Sweeney went four innings and gave up the two runs on five hits while not walking any or whiffing any.  Sweeney has walked just three batters over his 22.1 innings of work and all came in one start.  He has held the opposition to a .100 batting average against with runners in scoring position (RISP) while playing for the Beavers. 


Adam Hyzdu owns a .396 on base percentage (OBP) – amazing considering his .236 batting average this year.  He walked two more times on Tuesday, the only Beaver to reach base twice, to give him 28 walks in 32 games.  Hyzdu is hitting .316 for the month of June with a .458 OBP.  He has eight multi-walk games compared to just six multi-hit games on the year.


Mobile won 7-2


The Mobile BayBears have announced that Hank Aaron will be the special guest of honor at the 2005 Southern League All Star Game on July 13th, played at the stadium named after the slugger.  In addition to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Hammerin' Hank will be the featured guest of honor at the Southern League All Star Luncheon to be held in the Z Technology Center at Hank Aaron Stadium at 12 noon the same day.


Bill Shanahan, President/General Manager said, "We are honored to have Mobile's Own, Hank Aaron, to be a part of such a special star studded event for the City of Mobile. I'm just thinking about how excited these Southern League's Top Prospects are going to feel when they get a chance not only to see the all time home run king up close, but to get to shake his hand at Mobile's Green Diamond Jewel, Hank Aaron Stadium. I believe this speaks volumes about Hank Aaron and his love for his hometown of Mobile, Alabama."


Mobile BayBears announcer Tim Hagerty caught up with left-handed reliever Craig Breslow prior to Tuesday's game:


On the mood of the club:


"These last few games in this half are going to be important.  We want some momentum heading into the second half. It is nice that we will get a fresh start in a couple of days."


On the catchers:


"Guys have to shake off the catchers less here than in other organizations."


On pitchers in the bullpen that you admire:


"We all have been doing a pretty good job of being intelligent pitchers and not being over-analytical.  I can't pick one name.  We have a pretty diverse group of guys.  Everyone does a good job of pitching to their strengths."


Breslow, coincidentally, pitched two innings of scoreless ball in the victory.  He did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out one in his first game action in a week.  Breslow has appeared in 24 games for Mobile and has allowed runs in six.  The walk was his first in 12 innings.  Breslow has a 0.53 ERA at home this year and has limited the opposition to a .167 average against as opposed to a 4.41 ERA away from home with a .306 average against.


Sean Thompson was given a rare lead and made it stick to earn his first win in Southern League play.  The left-hander allowed one hit through six and the second hit, a homer, completed his final tally of two runs yielded, one earned, over seven innings of work. 


"I shouldn't have given up that home run," Thompson told MadFriars after the game, "but it feels good to pitch like that again."


The outing was particularly important for Thompson, who was pitching from a new arm angle.


"I'm going more three quarters.  I used to do it for a pitch here or there, because I get more velocity and it changes the eye line of the hitter, but if I did it two or three times in a game my arm would just be killing me after.  Now the coaches have gotten me to go to it full time."


It was the second two-hitter of the season for Thompson.  He walked two and struck out eight and it was his error on a pickoff attempt that led to a first inning run.  Thompson has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts, and the new arm slot appears to be a keeper.


"The thing with tonight was that I was rearing back on almost every single pitch and throwing the ball as hard as I could," Thompson said of the new arm slot, "I did that on 99% of the pitches I through tonight."


That would equal 89 pitches, as it took Thompson only 90 tosses to throw seven innings.


"That was a nice change, to go seven throwing 90 pitches instead of throwing 95 pitches through three innings."


Still Thompson isn't satisfied yet, "Now if we can just go to a National League park and I can get a couple of doubles, then I won't worry about the home run I gave up so much.  Plus, I think I can get the coaches to take the reigns off me and I can get one of those SB's [stolen bases] because I know I'm faster than 80% of this team."


Ronnie Merrill went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI's.  For the third time in his last six games, Merrill plated a run with a sacrifice fly.  Merrill has seven RBI's over his last six games but has just five hits over that same span.  The shortstop is hitting .311 for the month of June after hitting .188 in May.


One day after we talked smack about Jason Clements he goes a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs scored.  Paul McAnulty extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a 2-for-4 night.


Lake Elsinore won 5-1


Clark Girardeau turned in a stellar outing but came away with a no-decision.  The righty threw six innings and allowed one run on five hits and three walks, leaving the game with the score knotted at 1-1.  It marked the fourth time in 13 starts (spanning two leagues) that Girardeau has allowed one run or less and the third time in his last seven starts, all with Lake Elsinore.  Sandwiched in between are six games where he surrendered four runs or more.  Girardeau entered the game with a 5.48 ERA at home and lowered it to 4.61 with his performance on Tuesday.


California League All-Star Steve Baker recorded his eighth outfield assist of the season on Tuesday.  Baker nailed a runner at first base and has nabbed four runners in his last five games (three at second base).  He has tallied two other assists at second base and two at home plate.  Baker, you may remember, separated his shoulder last year.


"I did a lot of rehab and I didn't really have the go ahead to start going baseball wise until about November," Baker said of the rehab process.  "I just did mainly rehab.  Once I got the ok and my shoulder felt good, I made sure I hit the weights pretty hard.  Not too hard but did it effectively to strengthen that shoulder.  I did a lot of shoulder exercises and once I got confident it was feeling right then I went into my normal baseball routine."


Howie Pence relieved Girardeau and pitched two innings of scoreless relief to get the win.  After allowing ten runs in a three game span (1.2 innings), Pence has rolled off five innings of shutout ball.  He struck out three on Tuesday and allowed one hit, getting his first win since May 10. Pence did not uncork a wild pitch after doing so in three consecutive games.  There is some significance to that…


"Colt Morton caught me one time and I threw a fastball to a guy and it sunk to the inside corner," Pence explained.  "And I threw a fastball next time and it cut to the outside corner and the hitter came up to him and he said, ‘Do you have any idea where it's going?'  Colt said, ‘Nope, and neither does he and that makes three of us.'"


Fort Wayne won 6-3, won 5-2


Luke Steidlmayer got the start in game one of the doubleheader and the win.  While he hit a batter, issued a free pass to three, suffered six hits, including a homer, Steidlmayer ended up serving up three runs in six innings of work.  He has not allowed more than three runs in his last six starts and has given up eight earned runs during that span, although one outing was a rain shortened affair last time out.


In game one, Colt Morton went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI's to give him a team leading 38 on the year.  It also moved him into the top five in the Midwest League.  Morton has 11 RBI's over his last 12 games.  He has also struck out just 11 times in his last 18 games while drawing ten walks.  While he is hitting .284, Morton holds a .380 OBP.  His one struggle is RISP with two outs where he is hitting .179.


Matt Varner saved both games in the doubleheader, running his scoreless streak to 12 straight appearances and earning his 20th and 21st saves of the year.  Varner has allowed one run over his last 22 appearances, earning 19 saves and a win in the process.  He is six ahead of his closest competitor in saves, pending the outcome of Tuesday's games.  Varner has allowed seven baserunners on five hits and two walks over his past 11 outings.


Lachlan Dale has an eight game hitting streak after getting a hit in each game on Tuesday.  Yet, he is just 8-for-30 over the streak with exactly one hit in each game for those who could not do the math.

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