Wade LeBlanc – the final pitcher cut from big league camp as the team defined its 25-man to begin the year – gave up four runs on seven hits across five innings, striking out eight. The left-hander tossed 84 pitches and saw three extra-base hits, including a homer. LeBlanc went 4-9 with a 3.87 ERA across 24 games, including 20 starts for the Beavers a season ago.
Dusty Ryan broke up a no-hitter with one out in the fifth by sending a ball out of PGE Park. It was his lone hit in four at-bats. The backstop spent most of the 2009 season with Toledo of the International League within the Detroit Tigers farm. He his .257 with 10 homers across 63 games. Ryan also played in 12 games with the big league club, hitting .154.
San Antonio (0-1) lost 5-1 to NW Arkansas (Royals)
Nathan Culp was pulled after 3.2 innings with two men on. While both would be stranded, the left-hander was on the hook for five runs on eight hits and three walks in a 75-pitch outing. The southpaw went 8-9 with a 4.21 ERA for San Antonio last year, giving up 172 hits in 158.1 innings of work. Culp allowed five runs or more in eight of his 28 starts last season for the Missions.
Cedric Hunter had two of the Missions four hits – both coming against top prospect Aaron Crow. He singled and doubled but did not figure into the scoring. The outfielder his .261 with the Missions a season ago in 131 games. He notched 28 extra-base hits and scored 71 runs while driving in 54.
Matt Buschmann worked an inning and one-third scoreless, stranding two inherited runners in the process, as part of a bullpen that tossed 4.1 scoreless frames without yielding a hit. The right-hander retired all four batters he faced, striking out one. Across two leagues a season ago, Buschmann worked with just four inherited runners, stranding two. He was 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA for the Missions last year across 16 games.
Lake Elsinore (1-0) won 4-3 over High Desert (Mariners)
Anthony Bass gave up a single on the second pitch of the game on a ball that skipped over the open glove of Allan Dykstra – a ball he should have corralled for an easy out. Bass would pitch out of the inning without issue. On a 2-1 pitch with two outs in the fourth, after retiring 11 straight after a the leadoff single to open the game, Bass saw a ball go deep into the night, over the monster wall in right field. He would toss 71 pitches across five frames, giving up the one run on three hits while striking out three. Bass went 3-0 with a 3.51 ERA across 10 outings for the Storm last season.
"He kept the ball down," pitching coach Dave Rajsich said. "If you remember the game against the Padres, he was overthrowing and up and the zone. Today, he was in control and finishing his pitches to keep it down in the zone. That is the Anthony Bass we know. He had fastball command and mixed his pitches."
"Fastball command inside and outside," Bass said of his success. "I mixed in my two-seam with all the left-handed hitters and got a lot of ground ball outs and broken bats – I think that helped me."
A first-inning single on an 0-2 pitch that Cole Figueroa bounced off the big wall in right was stretched into a quasi-double – thanks to an error on the shortstop. They had him nailed at the bag by a few feet, but the push by Figueroa made the fielding gaffe. Cody Decker than drove a 2-2 fastball into right with a line drive single to push Figueroa across.
"They really want us to be aggressive this year and it really puts pressure on the defense," Cumberland said. "Any time we can take an extra base to try to make them hurry a throw is to our advantage."
"That is what we want to do, be aggressive and put the pressure on the defense," manager Carlos Lezcano said. "Make the outfielders move a little quicker, the infielders have to make the throw. They have to do it right all the time. If you play relaxed baseball, they play relaxed and will make the plays all the time."
Decker again pushed the Storm ahead with a homer over the left field wall on a 1-1 pitch to lead off the bottom of the fourth. The Arizona Rookie League MVP of 2009 came up with the bases loaded in the seventh in a 4-3 game but struck out on three pitches. He went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
"It was a fastball in and I was actually looking for a fastball out," Decker said. "I was able to get my bat around inside of it and get a good piece of it.
"I am just looking for a pitch to hit," Decker said of his bases loaded strikeout. "I thought it was a good pitch but it was a little low. My goal is to put a good swing on the ball. It was a little out of the zone and I really shouldn't have swung at it. That at-bat, I felt like I put two good swings on the ball.
Drew Cumberland drilled a 1-0 pitch over the 342 sign in right field for a solo homer – right where the monster wall ends and the shorter wall begins with one out in the fifth. The shortstop had two homers through 77 games with Fort Wayne last season. Cumberland also lined a 2-2 pitch into right field with the infield drawn in to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh. Cumberland also added two stolen bases, swiping second and third in different innings. He had three hits and two RBI.
"I was really looking for something up in the zone to try and get a sacrifice fly, man on third with less than two outs," Cumberland said of his approach with the infield in. "He got ahead of me real quick, and I was trying to stay short to the ball. He gave me a fastball and I was looking to drive something up the middle.
Yefri Carvajal gunned down a runner at home plate to end the sixth inning and preserve a one-run Storm lead. On a single, he tossed a perfect strike to Michael Collins to apply the tag with a stride to spare.
"That was very huge," Lezcano said. "The game would have been tied and we would still be playing so it was very important."
After getting picked off first by the catcher earlier in the game, Dan Robertson hustled out a triple to open the bottom of the seventh. The ball was hit to left field and got a funky carom. With Robertson running full go from the start there was no play at third.
Fort Wayne (1-0) won 7-2 over Bowling Green (Tampa Bay)
Nick Greenwood did what everyone is accustomed to by now – tossing six innings of shutout ball to pick up the win in a 71-pitch outing. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out five while inducing a half-dozen ground ball outs. He also tossed a wild pitch and picked off a runner at first. The southpaw won the Northwest League ERA title last year, going 4-1 with five saves and a 1.71 ERA. Greenwood also didn't allow a regular season run in three innings for the TinCaps last season and provided a boost in the playoffs.
Nate Freiman got out of the gat in a hurry, hitting a two-run homer in the third inning. The cleanup hitter went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs. Freiman led the Northwest League in RBI with 68 a season ago, hitting .336 with runners in scoring position. He pounded out 33 extra-base hits a year ago with 11 bombs. Dating back to last year, Freiman has homered in three straight games.
Jeudy Valdez had two hits in four trips out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. The second baseman notched a pair of doubles, scored a run and drove in one. Valdez, who missed a chunk of last season after suffering a fractured wrist, hit .212 for the TinCaps a season ago with 14 extra-base hits in 49 games. His only game that produced multiple extra-base hits last year came in game 35.
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