Johnson goes yard; Ayala stifles Mavs

Jack Cassel finds tough sledding in the PCL – for the third start in a row. Michael Johnson goes yard in a win. Manny Ayala takes control for the Storm. Nathan Culp not so perfect this time.

Portland lost 6-1 to Fresno (Giants)

Jack Cassel gave up four runs in his first two innings of work and was pulled after four frames and 89 pitches. He was on the hook for those four runs on seven hits and a walk in the loss, his second of the year. Cassel also hit a batter and was called for a balk. The right-hander has surrendered 13 runs over 12.1 innings to begin the year on 21 hits and seven walks – a WHIP of 2.27.

Royce Huffman produced the only run of the game for the Beavers with a solo shot in the seventh – one of just four hits Portland managed on the afternoon. Huffman has knocked in a run in five of his last six games and seven of his last nine. Huffman is batting .400 when he is ahead in the count but batting jut .091 when he is behind in the count.

Royce Ring pitched 1.2 scoreless, stranding an inherited runner in the process, walking one and striking out one. The left-hander has allowed one run on three hits over 6.2 innings to begin the year. He has given up one hit in 12 at bats with runners on base. Last season, the opposition hit .344 off him with runners in scoring position for Triple-A Norfolk.

San Antonio won 5-2 over Wichita (Royals)

Michael Johnson connected on his second homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth and ended his night going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Johnson entered the game in a 2-for-20 funk after beginning the year with five hits in his first seven at bats. The first baseman hit 10 homers last season in Double-A Mobile, five of them solo shots. He is hitting .353 off lefties this year and hit better against southpaws last season, hitting .263 versus his .222 average versus righties.

Josh Geer pounded the strike zone over six innings, surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out three to pick up his second win in as many starts. The right-hander won his first three decisions for Fort Wayne last year. While the opposition is hitting .375 off him with the bases empty, he has held opponents to a .167 average with runners on base – four hits in 24 at bats.

Paul Abraham tossed a 1-2-3 inning of relief to pick up his second hold of the season. The right-hander has allowed two hits over 7.1 innings to begin the season and has yet to allow the leadoff man of an inning to reach base. Last season, the leadoff man had a .323 on base percentage off Abraham. Of the two runners he has inherited on the year, neither has scored.

Lake Elsinore won 4-1 over High Desert (Mariners)

Manny Ayala struck out seven over his first four frames, as both teams entered the fifth amidst no-hitters. The first hit would come off Ayala and produce the first run – a solo homer. It would be the only blemish for Ayala, as he picked up the win by going 7.2 strong, giving up three hits, one walk and whiffing eight. The right-hander whiffed the side in the second inning but a wild pitch on strike three led to a baserunner. He also hit a batter in the first inning.

John Madden picked up his first California League save, setting down the side in order in the ninth while whiffing two. The right-hander had given up four runs over his first two outings but has rebounded to pitch three straight scoreless innings. The first of Madden's 20 saves last year came on April 20 and at the end of June he had just six before collecting 14 over July and August.

Jose Lobaton was the star on offense, responsible for three of Lake Elsinore's four runs. He went 1-for-2 with a walk, a double, a RBI and two runs scored. He also caught the only runner attempting to steal. The catcher has RBIs in four of his last six games and has been on base in all but one of his last seven, despite a .192 average. He is batting .429 with runners in scoring position.

Fort Wayne lost 8-1 to Dayton (Reds)

One batter into the game, Nathan Culp's bid for continued perfection was over. After throwing six perfect innings in his first outing, Culp gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk over 4.2 innings, striking out six. While Dayton executed a double-steal off Culp, the left-hander did pickoff a runner. A solo homer in the fifth off Culp was the first long ball surrendered this year by Fort Wayne pitching. He has not allowed a hit to left-handed batters this season.

Javis Diaz led off the bottom of the first with a homer on a 3-2 pitch, his first in well over a year. Diaz' last homer came on August 19,2005 – one of only two bombs previously hit by the outfielder stateside. And his first came a day before the second. He was, however, picked off first base in the third inning after a single. Diaz is 4-for-9 off right-handed pitching this year but just 1-for-8 off lefties.

Ernesto Frieri went an inning and a third, yielding one walk and striking out two to keep his ERA at 0.00 for the year. The right-hander has given up one hit to open the year but has walked three. Frieri made just one appearance for the Wizards last year, giving up four runs, one earned, on one hit and five walks over one inning. The majority of his season was spent in the Northwest League where he went 3-3 with three saves and a 3.82 ERA over 27 appearances.

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