Steve Delabar fell one out shy of tossing a no-hitter in a shortened seven-inning game. The hit, coming with two outs in the top of the seventh, was a no doubter up the gut. The right-hander hit the first batter of the game before retiring the next 20 batters in a row. Only one ball left the infield until the hit – a fly our to center in the fourth. He retired 12 batters via groundouts and whiffed six. Delabar was removed from the game after the hit and R.J. Rodriguez closed the door for his 15th save.
"(Pitching coach) Wally Whitehurst told me, ‘Just have a good tempo,'" said Delabar. "So I tried to go out and have a good tempo like I did a few weeks ago.
"You can't expect to throw a no-hitter. Say they hit a ball in a gap – what if it was the second inning he hit the ball in the gap? It is nothing you can expect."
Fort Wayne also managed just one hit in the opener, a single by Jodam Rivera in the fifth. It was a first inning walk, however, that scored the lone run. Michael Epping led off the contest by drawing a base on balls, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and came around on a sacrifice fly from Cedric Hunter. Epping would go 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the nightcap – one of two hitters to reach base in both halves of the double-dip.
Stephen Faris was perfect through his first 3.2 innings, retiring the first 11 batters he faced. After allowing successive singles, the right-hander mowed down the next seven hitters before Derek McDaid tossed a perfect seventh to complete the shutout. Faris has earned the win in three of his last four outings. The Clemson alumnus has gone 10 innings without surrendering a run and has allowed three earned over his last 20.2 frames.
"Even though in the books it looked like I was getting behind hitters early, 2-0 and 2-1 counts, I was able to throw the two-seam fastball and really they were just rolling over the pitch and I was getting easy ground ball outs," Faris explained. "They would get under a few and there was a couple pop ups. If I got ahead of the hitters than I was able to sneak a fastball by and got a couple chasing on the slider.
"For the most part it was having command of my fastball in and out and keeping them off-balance."
Portland won 7-3 over Tacoma (Mariners)
Having struck out in seven of his last nine at bats coming into the game it was one hit that mattered for Pete Laforest, a grand slam in the third inning that sparked a seven-run frame. Eight of his last nine hits have left the yard and those eight homers have come over his last 11 games. He is homering once every 8.94. He is 3-for-5 with the bases loaded and all of his hits have been grand slams. Laforest went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his other at bats and is hitting .204 on the year but his 18 dingers place him fifth in the Pacific Coast League.
Steve Watkins got the spot start, working three scoreless innings and allowing two hits while striking out three. Twenty-two of his 30 pitches were strikes. After allowing nine runs over his first 8.1 innings, Watkins has given up 11 runs over his last 41.2 innings – sporting a 2.40 ERA. He has given up runs in 11 of his 23 outings of long relief and start.
San Antonio lost 3-2 to Tulsa (Rockies)
Fresh off his All-Star appearance, Will Venable collected two hits in four at bats along with a walk. He also added an RBI and stole two bases from the leadoff spot in the lineup. The outfielder has 23 hits in 66 at bats when he bats first in the order but the stolen bases were just his second and third from that spot, despite 11 thefts on the year. He is hitting .258 when he bats elsewhere in the lineup.
Sean Thompson averted trouble with double plays in the first and second innings, squeezed out of a bases loaded jam in the third and got another double play in the fifth before allowing three runs in the sixth on a single, homer, double and sacrifice fly. He ended the night with three runs in on a season-high 10 hits and two walks before being lifted after 6.2 innings. The homer was only the second this season that has come with men on base. He had given up just one run in the fifth inning this year, spanning 12.1 innings.
Lake Elsinore lost 10-7 to High Desert (Mariners)
Chad Huffman upped his RBI total to 60 on a 2-for-5 evening with two RBIs. While Huffman has four RBIs over his last two games, the outfielder had been myriad in a 6-for-37 slump that saw his average dip from .318 to .296. While he is hitting .241 during the month of June, he has collected 17 RBIs over that 22-game span. He is tied for fifth in the California League in RBIs.
Brent Carter dropped his fifth decision by allowing seven runs on 11 hits over 5.1 innings. While the lefty has seven wins to his credit, he is sporting a 7.07 ERA on the year. His ERA has risen from 4.68 over the last eight starts. Over that span, Carter has allowed 46 runs on 60 hits over 41.2 innings. The southpaw has allowed double-digit hits in five games this year and has surrendered five runs or more on six occasions.
Brian Giles went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer in the seventh inning and two runs scored. He was also credited with an outfield assist in the first inning when he hit the relay man, Matt Antonelli, who fired it home for the out. He did, however, ground into a double play.
Eugene lost 5-1 to Boise (Cubs)
Brian Lauderdale accounted for the only run of the game for the Emeralds, hitting a solo homer in the seventh inning – his first hit of the season. The second baseman had opened the year without a hit in his first seven at bats and is 1-for-11 on the year. Lauderdale hit .237 with one homer and five RBIs over 28 games last year for the Ems, drawing just two walks while whiffing 31 times.
Andrew Parrino accounted for three of the Ems five hits, going 3-for-5. It is the third time in his last four games that he has notched a multi-hit game. Parrino did whiff for the eighth time in 27 at bats and has struck out in all but one of his seven games played compared to just one walk. The infielder batted second for the first time this year after appearing in the eighth and ninth slots in the lineup.
Adam McDaniel pitched to just one better, inducing a pop out to shortstop. The right-hander came into the contest with three runs allowed over his first 3.2 innings, giving up four hits and five walks. A 19th-round pick this year, he was an infielder his first two years at Georgia before moving to the mound. He went 4-1 with a 7.94 ERA in his final two seasons. Overall, he made 36 appearances on the mound and tallied 47.2 innings with 41 strikeouts and 37 walks.
AZL Padres won 9-3 over AZL Cubs
Angel Mercado belted his first homer of the year, a two-run blast in the ninth inning, and added a seventh inning double to plate another two. They were the first four RBIs of his professional career. He has four hits in his last nine at bats with three extra base hits. A 23rd-round pick, he led Bethune-Cookman in batting average (.404) while finishing second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in the same category. He was also in the top five in the league for several other categories including On Base Percentage (4th), Slugging Percentage (2nd), Runs Scored (t-5th), Hits (2nd) and Homeruns (t-3rd).
Geoff Vandel earned the win, tossing five innings of one-run ball. He surrendered four hits and whiffed three before exiting the game with a 5-1 lead. The lefty had given up four runs on 10 hits in his first outing of the year. Vandel has given up one run or less in six of his eight career starts, dating back to his draft year of 2005. He has also allowed one run or less in four of his last five starts, dating back to last year.
Robert Perry went 1-for-4 with a triple while also being plunked by a pitch. He also stole two bases, his fourth and fifth thefts, and scored twice. His five stolen bases pace the Arizona Rookie League and his seven runs scored rank fourth. He has reached base in each of his first five games and has scored a run in all but one of those contests. Perry has also been hit by two pitches in the early going. A 16th-round pick out of Long Beach State, Perry led the Dirtbags in average (.335), runs (50), triples (4) and RBIs (52) in 2007, batted .323 in two seasons at The Beach and .317 in four Division-I seasons. He was named all-conference three times, earning first team accolades in 2007, following second team honors as a junior and honorable mention All-West Coast Conference honors while at Santa Clara in 2004.
Recently signed 30th-round pick Dylan Axelrod made his debut, striking out a pair in a scoreless inning of work. The right-hander went 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA over a team-leading 34 appearances, including four starts, for UC-Irvine. In 72.2 innings, he allowed 68 hits and 23 walks while striking out 79. The opposition hit .246 off him for the year.
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