Brian Whitaker PCL debut; Adam Bourassa still hot

Brian Whitaker debuted in Portland with a no-decision. Jared Wells believes Mobile got three great pitchers from the California League. Adam Bourassa keeps the hot hand and talks about the fresh start. Wilmer Villatoro is promoted again. Chris Kolkhorst keeps knocking in runs. Josh Geer wins his second game on a solid outing. Willy Crafort is showing a little pop, despite not logging a hit.

Portland lost 8-6

The Beavers scored three runs on seven hits off former Beaver Dennis Tankersley. Opposite Tank, Brian Whitaker made his Triple-A debut. Whitaker went five, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk. The right-hander, 4-11 in 19 starts with Mobile, had not given up more than three runs in his previous six starts in Double-A. He has, however, given up four runs or more in nine of 20 starts on the year.

Brad Baker blew his ninth save of the season, and his second in a row on Saturday. The right-hander gave up four runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. He has given up runs in three of his last four appearances. Baker has given up runs in 11 of his 45 outings and three runs or more in six of those. The opposition is hitting .302 off him with runners in scoring position.

Mad that his franchise tying 17-game hitting streak ended, Ben Johnson smashed two balls out of the park – his second multi-homer game of the year.

Mobile lost 6-1

The BayBears managed just three hits on the day in support of starter Luke Steidlmayer. The right-hander, making his second start in Double-A, went six innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits while striking out a season-high nine, including a grand slam homer. Early in his Double-A career, Steidlmayer has a .360 batting average against. He had a combined .237 average against during his tours in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore.

"I think people will see that these pitchers who started the year in the California League are very strong," pitcher Jared Wells of his counterparts, Steidlmayer and Cesar Carrillo. Carrillo will start on Saturday, his Double-A debut.

Ronnie Merrill drove in the only run for Mobile with a triple in the first inning. Merrill has RBI's in three straight games and leads the team in three-baggers with five. Merrill began the year with a .291 April but has not hit above .250 in any other month. In July he is batting .241, two points above his season average.

Wilmer Villatoro was promoted to Double-A on Friday. It is the second time he has joined the Mobile club. In his first tour with the BayBears, Villatoro went 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA and six walks in 5 1/3 innings. He takes the spot vacated when Craig Breslow was promoted to San Diego.

Lake Elsinore lost 10-8

Arturo Lopez was pulled after four-plus innings, getting charged with ten runs, five earned, on ten hits. One of his errors led to four unearned runs crossing the dish. His double digit totals in hits and runs allowed were season highs. It is the ninth time in 21 starts that he has given up four or more runs and over six July starts he has a 5.88 ERA, a full run higher than any previous month.

Adam Bourassa is in the midst of an eight game hitting streak after going 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI. He is 12-for-34 over the current streak and hitting .356 in 47 games as a member of the Storm. During that time he has struck out just 12 times while drawing a walk on 24 occasions. He has also played solid defense, registering seven outfield assists.

"Sometimes a change of scenery is a good thing I guess," said Bourassa. "I have gotten a chance to play here everyday and it is nice to know coming to the field that you are probably going to play."

Coincidentally, the Storm hit four triples on Friday night.

Fort Wayne won 9-4

Chris Kolkhorst went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games. It was his first multi-hit game of the streak. Kolkhorst has driven in runs in six of the last seven contests and nine over that span. That accounts for nearly one-third of his season total of 30. Kolkhorst has driven in 14 runs this month, more than any two month period prior to the start of July. The centerfielder is having his best month at the plate, hitting .323.

Jonathan Ellis made his second start of the year on Friday and earned the win after allowing three runs on seven hits while whiffing seven. Ellis has won three of his last four appearances, going 1-1 as a starter in the last two. He has a 5.40 ERA as a starter and a 2.68 ERA as a reliever. Similarly, the opposition is hitting .350 off him as a starter and .239 as a reliever.

Eugene won 7-2

Brandon Gottier had his first multi-hit game of the year and trumped his season RBI total of one with two more on Friday night. The free agent catcher signed out of Pacific has seen action in eight games over the last two weeks after playing in just four games over the first month of the season. Gottier entered the game with four hits in 30 at bats before going 2-for-4. He also threw out the only baserunner attempting to steal and has tossed out seven of the 23 attempting to steal on him.

Josh Geer allowed two runs over seven innings on six hits to pick up his second win of the year. He did allow a homer, his fourth over the last three games – but all have been solo shots. Geer has allowed just two hits in 18 at bats with runners in scoring position this year but the opposition is hitting .303 off him with the bases empty.

AZL Padres lost 8-4

John Hussey three runs on six hits over five-plus innings of work, walking one and striking out six. He also hit his fifth batter of the year and uncorked his fourth wild pitch. Hussey was perfect through five, allowing all three runs in the sixth. It was the first time in four starts that he has given up three runs or less and the fourth time in eight starts that he has accomplished the feat. The opposition has 15 hits in 38 at bats off the righty with runners in scoring position.

Willy Crafort went 0-for-3 but did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly. He has notched an RBI in three straight games and contributed defensively with an outfield assist, gunning down a runner at second base, his second outfield assist of the year. Crafort has 15 hits on the year and eight have gone for extra bases. He is, however, hitting just .217 with runners in scoring position.

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