Kottaras a hit in debut; Knott slams again

A system sweep: Jon Knott hits his third grand slam of the season. George Kottaras goes deep in his first PCL game. Jack Cassel was money over seven in Mobile. Nick Hundley has three more RBI's in Lake Elsinore. Kyle Blanks flashed the stick for Fort Wayne. A ninth inning homer from Craig Cooper sent Eugene home a winner. Two players are struggling with the Padres DSL team.

Portland won 12-4 over Tacoma (Mariners)

Jon Knott hit his third grand slam of the season, padding his Pacific Coast League lead in RBI's with an extra five to push his total to 69 for the year. The homer, his 20th, tied him for the league lead. It is the ninth time this year Knott has driven in three or more in a game. Knott ended the night with three hits in five at bats. He is now 9-for-19 with 29 RBI's with the bases loaded on the season. Over his last ten games, Knott is hitting .333 with four homers and 13 RBI's.

George Kottaras made his Triple-A debut and showed off the stick that got him there, crushing a ball over the wall and adding a double in four at bats to go along with two RBI's. The catcher hit .276 over 78 games with Double-A Mobile with 19 doubles, eight homers, and 33 RBI's. He also drew 50 walks while striking out 68 times. Kottaras did, however, ground into a double play on Thursday.

Terrmel Sledge homered for the second straight game sandwiched around the All-Star game and has now gone deep in five of the last seven games he has played. He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored on Thursday and has gone 13-for-30 with the five homers, eight runs scored and eight RBI's over the seven-game span. Eight of his 12 homers have come with the bases empty.

Mobile won 3-1 over West Tenn (Cubs)

Jack Cassel was masterful over seven innings, allowing just a run on two hits and two walks while striking out a season-high eight to earn his first win with Mobile since August 26 of last year. Cassel has given up four runs over three starts with Mobile and has held the opposition to a .194 average against. In Portland, Cassel posted a 6.48 ERA and .306 average against in 18 games, 11 starts. He gave up eight homers over his last seven starts but has not given up a dinger in Mobile over 19 innings.

Colt Morton struck out twice with the bases loaded and ended his Mobile debut 0-for-3 with a walk. In 53 games with Lake Elsinore, Morton hit .227 with five homers and 22 RBI's. After hitting .289 in April, Morton his .180 with 18 hits in 100 at bats. He did draw 36 walks but managed a .152 average with runners in scoring position. He is now 1-for-10 on the season with the bases loaded, striking out four times and grounding into two double plays.

Stephen Smitherman has taken over first base since Michael Johnson went on the disabled list and his bat has shown signs of life. He went 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBI's. He has RBI's in three straight games, netting five over that time. After hitting .198 over the first two months of his season with Mobile, Smitherman is batting .316 over his last eight games with six walks and just four strikeouts. In June, Smitherman whiffed 23 times and drew just three walks.

Lake Elsinore won 9-6 over Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)

While Nick Hundley hammered home another three runs to give him five RBI's over his first two California League games, Peter Ciofrone reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a walk, scored three runs and knocked in two. Ciofrone, who does not have enough plate appearances to qualify among the leaderboard, would rank second in the league with his .339 average. Over his last 26 games, Ciofrone is hitting .391 with 28 RBI's. In 47 games he has knocked in 45. He is one shy of the team lead, despite playing in 40 fewer games than the team leader.

Matt Hagen notched two hits in three at bats and drew a walk, the first time since May 27 that he recorded a multi-hit game and reached base safely three times. Hagen has driven in five runs and has two homers over his last six games. That matched his RBI total of the previous 31 games. Hagen was 2-for-29 during the month of June. The right-handed hitter has batted .302 off left-handed pitching but just .094 off righties.

Fort Wayne won 6-4 over Lansing (Blue Jays)

Kyle Blanks worked out three hits in four at bats, including a double. He also scored three runs and added an RBI. It was the first time in 79 games that he has scored three times in one game and the first time since July 5, 2005 that he accomplished the feat. Blanks has knocked in a run in three straight games. He upped his average to .286 over his last 11 games after hitting .216 during the month of June. Blanks has drawn one walk over his last 12 games.

Seth Johnston hit his eighth homer of the year and second road homer in less than a week after not having any before this recent stretch. Six of his eight homers have come with the bases empty. He ended the night going 2-for-4 and has hits in eight of his last nine games with four multi-hit games. Batting seventh, as he was on Thursday, Johnston is hitting .226 over nine games with his first RBI from that spot in the lineup coming this night.

John Madden earned his seventh save of the year, striking out two of the three hitters he faced. Madden had given up runs in three of the last four road games he has pitched in. The right-hander has a 4.60 ERA in 17 road appearances but has saved six games on the road. At home, Madden possesses a 0.52 ERA with one earned run allowed in 17.1 innings but has just one save. He has limited righties to a .152 average and has not given up an extra base hit in 79 at bats by righties.

Eugene won 3-2 over Yakima (Mariners)

Andy Underwood gave up five hits over 4.2 scoreless innings, falling one out shy of qualifying for the potential win had the game not been tied up in the eighth. The right-hander has given up two runs, one earned, over 9.1 innings as a starter, a 0.96 ERA. In three relief appearances, Underwood has compiled an ERA of 4.26. Left-handed batters are hitting just .174 off him, although three of their four hits have gone for extra bases.

Craig Cooper hit a leadoff homer in the ninth inning that held up as the game winner. The first baseman ended up with three of Eugene's seven hits and knocked in two runs. Cooper has reached base safely in 19 of his first 20 games to open the year and he is 14-for-31, a .452 average, with runners in scoring position. His 18 runs scored rank third best in the Northwest League and his .350 average is amongst the top-five.

Brian Lauderdale made his debut with Eugene after seeing action in three games with the AZL Padres where he went 5-for-12 with a double and two RBI's. The little brother of Matt Lauderdale, the Padres catcher in Double-A Mobile, plays second base and went 0-for-2 on Thursday with a sacrifice bunt.

AZL Padres had the day off

DSL Padres Update

Seventeen year old centerfielder Cesar Sosa has struggled mightily to open the year. A right-handed bat, he has just five hits in 54 at bats to open the year and has struck out 33 times, 61 percent of the time. Sosa has just one hit in 32 at bats with the bases empty and is two for his last 42, including 14 straight games without a hit.

Simon Castro, an 18-year old right-hander, is 0-2 and has the highest ERA on the team at 8.18. In 11 innings over four starts he has given up 13 runs, ten earned, on 14 hits and ten walks. He has walked three or more in three of his four starts, not going more than 3.1 innings in any outing. The opposition is hitting .364 off him with runners in scoring position and the leadoff man of an inning has a .500 on base percentage. He has not pitched since July 2.

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