Josh Geer was pristine on Thursday, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out one. He hit a batter and recorded eight ground outs during a 79-pitch effort across six innings. Geer surrendered 17 runs in 14.2 innings across five starts this spring, ending his bid for the fifth spot in the San Diego rotation. The right-hander went 8-9 with a 4.54 ERA across 166.2 innings last year with Portland. He allowed two runs or less while going five innings or more seven times in 27 starts.
Eliezer Alfonzo had two hits, including a double, and added a sacrifice fly to net an RBI against his former team. He was 0-for-1 in throwing out base runners. Alfonzo went 10-for-36 this spring with San Diego, collecting five extra base hits and nine RBIs across 19 games. The backstop hit .310 with 16 extra base hits in 116 at-bats last year for Fresno.
Mike Ekstrom allowed a walk over his scoreless inning of work. The right-hander was roughed up for six runs on 11 hits in 3.2 innings this spring with San Diego. Once he moved to the bullpen in San Antonio last season, Ekstrom went 9-3 with a 2.34 ERA across 50 innings of work. He had posted a 5.86 ERA across 15 starts prior to the move. Called up to San Diego late in the year, Ekstrom went 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA.
San Antonio (1-0) won 7-2 over NW Arkansas (Royals)
Stephen Faris performed admirably over six frames, giving up a single run on six hits while striking out two for his first win of the season. The right-hander did not walk a batter, tossing 53 of his 83 pitches for strikes. Sixty-three percent of his pitches went for strikes a season ago with the Missions. Faris went 8-5 with a 3.85 ERA across 26 starts last season. He allowed two runs or less while going five or more innings 15 times in 2008.
Cedric Hunter, the minor league leader in hits last season with 186, put his first two on the board on Opening Day. The outfielder also scored a pair of runs, added an RBI, and stole a bag. Hunter went 5-for-22 in big league camp this spring. Hunter hit .318 with 98 runs scored and 84 RBI a season ago. He also stole 12 bags in 18 attempts with the Storm. Hunter tallied 58 multi-hit games last season.
Travis Denker became the first Padres farmhand to go yard, hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning – his lone hit of the night. Denker, playing third, committed two errors in the field but neither led to a run. He was also caught stealing. Denker went 7-for-31 this spring with the Padres after being claimed from the Giants organization. In six minor league seasons, Denker hit .276 before getting a major league call up with San Francisco last season. He hit .243 in 37 at-bats for the Giants.
Lake Elsinore (0-1) lost 6-5 to Visalia (Diamondbacks)
If Corey Kluber could take back the first three hitters, his night might have ended differently. The right-hander gave up three straight hits to open the game, including a two-run double, while not allowing a hit in the rest of his five innings. He did walk three while striking out three and was charged for three first-inning runs. The right-hander posted a 6.01 ERA across 19 outings and 85.1 innings with Lake Elsinore last year. He went down to Fort Wayne and posted a 3.21 ERA across 56 innings and 10 starts.
"That double really hurt him," manager Carlos Lezcano said. "After that he settled down and really did a good job."
"I didn't have very good command," Kluber said. "Even though I didn't give up any runs after the first, I still threw too many pitches. The first three hitters – that one pitch on the double. I can take positives that I was able to regroup."
Felix Carrasco hit a two-run triple in the eighth inning to bring the Storm within two and scored a batter later. It was just the fourth triple of Carrasco's career – with the last one coming on August 15, 2007. Carrasco had struck out in two of his first three at-bats. The first baseman had 32 extra base hits in 117 games last season but also struck out 41.7 percent of the time.
Brad Chalk was the only hitter to notch a hit off Max Scherzer. The outfielder lined a single straight back up the middle off the major leaguer, plating a run. Chalk also added a ninth inning single and was on third base with two outs but would not score. Chalk hit .275 last year in Fort Wayne but scored just 39 runs in 104 games. The outfielder, who stole his first base of the year, had 19 thefts in 21 attempts a year ago.
"They only difference between those guys (major leaguers) and us is they are more consistent," Chalk said. "He has above average stuff and was throwing cheese, hitting 98, but you have to slow the game down and stay short to the ball – that is what I did.
"Facing a big leaguer for the first five innings was tough," Lezcano said. "We made him throw pitches and had runners on base. They battled and kept playing hard, regardless of the score.
Luis Martinez caught three runners attempting to steal and made a stellar defensive play ranging to the backstop. He did, however, go 0-for-3 at the dish with a pair of strikeouts. Martinez was also hit by a pitch.
"I wish my offense came to me as naturally as my defense," Martinez said. "Defensively, I work hard but everything just clicks – calling games, throwing out runners, blocking balls.
"Max Scherzer was so smooth. He was up to 97 and 98. He struck me out the first time and the second time he nailed me with a 95 mph fastball. He is an unbelievable talent. He is one of the better pitchers I have faced in my career."
"You can see he knows what he is doing out there," Kluber said of Scherzer. "Even when he was wild, he didn't get flustered. You watch the way he works – in and out and changing speeds."
Fort Wayne (1-0) won 4-0 over Lansing (Blue Jays)
Anthony Bass got the opening nod for the TinCaps and pitched six shutout innings, striking out four while allowing three hits in an efficient performance that earned him the win. Bass spent his debut season as a reliever, closing games for Eugene. He went 2-2 with seven saves in eight chances while posting a 2.10 ERA for the Emeralds, as the Padres saved his arm after a long college season. The right-hander fanned 41 in 34.1 innings of Northwest League play, holding the opposition to a .197 average.
Drew Cumberland had a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs in five at-bats. The shortstop also added his first stolen base of the season. Cumberland had 27 hits in his final 60 at-bats with Fort Wayne last season before going down with injury in late June. He had nine multi-hit games over his last 16 contests last season, batting .286 in 53 games overall. Cumberland also swiped 16 bases in 20 attempts.
Sawyer Carroll, who had an impressive spring where he notched six extra base hits in 20 at-bats, kept the hot hand, netting two hits in three at-bats with two walks. Carroll led the Northwest League in extra base hits prior to his promotion to Fort Wayne, hitting .299 with 25 extra base hits in 46 games for Eugene. He went on to play 18 games for Fort Wayne where he hit .219 in 64 at-bats. It is the first time with Fort Wayne that he has reached base safely four times in a game, a feat he accomplished three times with Eugene.
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