Padres MLN: Oramas two outs from perfection

Juan Oramas comes two outs from a perfect game and we have reaction from a Lake Elsinore Storm win. Lance Zawadzki returns to Portland with a bang. Jeremy Hefner can't buy a win, despite consistently performing. Matt Clark does provide a walk-off. Fort Wayne loses an early lead but pulls it out in extras.

Portland (16-22) won 4-3 over Nashville (Brewers) in game one, lost 2-1 in game two

Lance Zawadzki made a successful return to Triple-A, hitting a solo homer – his first of the year – in the fourth and adding an RBI on a force attempt in the sixth, pushing across the eventual winning run. The shortstop went 2-for-11 with the Padres, scoring the winning run in one game and getting a knock in his first major league at-bat.

Mike Baxter reached base in all three of his game one at-bats, going 3-for-3 with a solo homer, his third, and two runs scored. The outfielder, who has played first and third this season, is 6-for-12 over his last three games with a pair of homers, five runs scored and three extra-base hits. Baxter also upped his on-base percentage to .403 for the year, breaking a string of three games where it fell under .400 for the first time all season.

Sean Gallagher worked three innings as the starter in the nightcap, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five. He labored in deep counts, throwing 70 pitches while hitting a batter. The right-hander has given up three runs on nine hits across seven innings with the Beavers. He allowed runs in four of his nine relief appearances with the Padres.

Chris Stewart accounted for the lone Portland run in the second game of the doubleheader. The backstop hit a solo homer – his third – with one out in the ninth inning to break the shutout bid. It was his lone hit on a 1-for-3 day. Stewart has an RBI in three straight games. He has, however, gone without a multi-hit game since April 22.

San Antonio (18-18) won 1-0 over Corpus Christi (Astros)

Jeremy Hefner worked seven scoreless frames, yielding five hits, not walking a batter and striking out a season-high eight during a 96-pitch outing. He also had a single but earned a no-decision despite the blanking. Hefner had lost three straight games. He has given up two runs or less in six starts but owns just two wins. The opposition has a 161 average off Hefner with runners in scoring position.

Matt Clark clubbed a solo homer to leadoff the ninth inning, providing the Missions with a walk-off win. It was his fourth homer of the season and just the sixth hit of the game for San Antonio. The homer was his first at Nelson Wolff Stadium but his third in four games. He has hit two bombs in the ninth inning and is batting .308 in that frame.

Craig Italiano was credited with the win, moving to 2-1. The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out two in the top half of the ninth. Italiano lowered his ERA to 1.04 on the year. While the leadoff hitter of an inning has amassed a .444 on-base percentage off Italiano, he has limited the opposition to three hits in 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Lake Elsinore (26-13) won 1-0 over Lancaster (Astros)

Juan Oramas retired the first 25 batters he faced before a 1-0 offering on his 94th pitch of the game went for a Brandon Barnes single. The left-hander struck out nine in the game before he was taken out of the game with 8.1 innings of one-hit ball to his credit.

"I told him, ‘You did your job,' manager Carlos Lezcano said. "We have our closer. He would have stayed in if the perfect game was still going on or an error for the no-hitter. When a guy has a perfect game like that, and it is 1-0, there is an emotional letdown. He did a great job."

The California League has seen four perfect games in its 67-year history, the last coming on June 14, 1999 against the Storm by Marco Castillo. Oramas has given up two hits across his last 13 innings of work. He has struck out 12.36 batters per nine innings across two leagues and moved to 2-0 in the Cal League.

"It was unbelievable," said Lezcano. "He had an explosive fastball with good command and an above-average curveball. They got the hit on a low and away fastball, broke his bat and got over the shortstop's head. An outstanding job."

"I saw an exploding fastball that he had command of most of the game," pitching coach Dave Rajsich said. "He was able to spot it and maintain it. He kept his poise and composure the whole game. He had quick innings. The only time he had trouble was in the fourth when he was 3-0 and 3-1 and came back to get a strikeout and fly out.

"He handled it very well. The fastball was exploding on the hitters. They had difficulty with it. His curveball was a 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) all night. It had bite to it with big, sharp break. He was tough."

Brad Brach closed the game out to earn his 49th save in his last 51 chances over the last two seasons. He came on with one on and saw runners on the corners with one out. A strikeout and force out followed to close the game. He leads the California League and all of Minor League Baseball with 16 saves in 17 chances. He has stranded five of the six runners he has inherited this season.

Cody Decker's 14-game hitting streak came to an end with a 0-for-4 night that included a double play grounder to score the lone run of the game. Three straight hits had opened the game. The Storm have won eight straight and 18 of their last 21.

"The kids are playing well," Lezcano said. "We have a good identity. They play hard, run the bases hard, the starting pitching has been very good of late – our bullpen, all the way from the long guys and middle guys to setup and closer have been outstanding. Everything is gelling. They believe they can win and are going out and doing it."

"I have had a no-hitter with a kid in Low-A back when I was with the Brewers but never seen a perfect game," Rajsich said. "That was impressive. Very impressive. The line drive to third base in the seventh was about the only ball hit hard. It was impressive."

Fort Wayne (17-21) won 8-6 over South Bend (Diamondbacks) in 12 innings

Michael Watt allowed five runs, four earned, across four innings. The southpaw yielded six hits, tossed two wild pitches, and walked four while fanning five. Three of the runs came in the seventh. Watt has allowed five runs in three straight outings. Left-handed hitters are batting .394 off him with a .444 on-base percentage and the leadoff batter of the inning is reaching base 39.5 percent of the time.

Miles Mikolas earned his first win of the year, tossing a pair of scoreless innings while wiping out three via strikeout. The right-hander has not allowed an earned run over his last 19.1 innings to lower his ERA to 1.00 for the year. He has held the leadoff hitter of an inning to a .167 on-base percentage with three singles and a walk in 24 frames started. Just three of his 20 hits have gone for extra bases.

Jeudy Valdez reached base four times with two singles, a double – his 12th – and a walk. He plated his 17th and 18th runs of the season but was caught stealing for the fifth time. He is tied for third in the Midwest League in two-baggers and is tied for third with 17 extra-base hits. Valdez has a .319 average with runners ins scoring position.

Griffin Benedict's second single led to the go-ahead run. Replaced by a pinch-runner, they scored his spot on a sacrifice fly.

Extended Spring

Third baseman Duanel Jones, an international free agent sign during the month of April, has provided a solid bat in the middle of the lineup down in extended spring. The 17-year-old originally signed with the San Francisco Giants but had his contract voided after failing a team administered drug test. He will be suspended for 50 games when he is assigned to a minor league team.

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