W - Hamburger (2-3)
SV - Strop (4)
47-34, 5.0 GU
The streaking Express are playing confident baseball right now, and they came back with a whopping five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to steal the victory.
After winning six of their last seven contests, Round Rock has opened a season-best five-game division lead. Second-place Albuquerque has dropped eight consecutive games.
Friday's game was an all-around team effort from both the offense and pitching. Third baseman Brian Barden, one of the club's two PCL All-Stars, exercised his July 1 opt-out date prior to the game. And scheduled starter Brandon Webb was scratched just before the game due to discomfort in his right shoulder.
Derek Hankins came off the disabled list and made an emergency start. Though he threw just 28 of 51 pitches for strikes, he kept the Sounds off the board through 3.1 innings. Hankins gave up two hits, walked one, and fanned two.
Former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen allowed two runs in 1.2 frames, and lefty Zach Phillips gave up a run in two innings.
After Mark Hamburger tossed a 10-pitch scoreless top of the eighth, the Express offense went to work.
Shortstop Omar Quintanilla came through with the biggest hit, a two-run triple––his fourth of the season––to put his club ahead.
Second baseman Matt Kata (1/3, 2B) and rehabber Mike Napoli (1/3, 2B, BB) also doubled in the inning.
Left fielder Chris Davis batted cleanup and went 2-for-4 with his eighth double.
Fireballing righty Pedro Strop nailed down the save with a blank ninth inning. The 26-year-old worked around a single and a base on balls, striking out one.
L - Pimentel (3-5)
HR - Ruiz (9)
3-5, 3.0 GB
The RoughRiders went up against––and were ultimately beaten by––Cardinals top prospect Shelby Miller on Friday night. The Brownwood native and former first-round selection held Frisco to two runs over six innings, fanning five without walking a batter. He ran his fastball up to 98 mph.
On the flip side, Carlos Pimentel didn't have one of his better nights. The Dominican Republic native threw 91 pitches in five innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. He walked and struck out three.
First baseman Jose Ruiz added a solo homer––his ninth––for his lone hit in four trips.
Engel Beltre (2/4, 2B) and Jose Felix (1/4, 2B) both got their eighth double of the season. Renny Osuna and Mike Bianucci had two singles each in four at-bats.
Fresno State alum Justin Miller (2.36 ERA/.203 BAA) was one of Frisco's lone bright spots of the night. The reliever retired all six batters he faced, striking out three.
The Bakersfield native may be looking at a promotion to Triple-A in the near future. In addition to solid stuff that includes much-improved command of a 93-96 mph fastball, Miller hasn't allowed a run in his last 10 relief appearances––17.1 ip, 9 h, 0 r, 4 bb, 19 k.
L - Kelly (2-4)
HR - Prince (4)
5-4, 2.0 GB
Left-hander Robbie Ross out-dueled Indians prospect Drew Pomeranz––the Carolina League's earned-run average leader––through the first six innings of Friday's game. But the bullpen wasn't able to hold it.
Ross (2.49 ERA/.233 BAA) worked six innings of shutout ball, holding the K-Tribe to four singles while walking two and striking out seven. Two of the singles were infield hits, and he induced six groundouts and one flyout.
The 21-year-old has been particularly tough on fellow left-handed batters this year. They have posted a .203/.261/.266 line against him with a 30 percent strikeout rate.
DH Jared Prince launched a solo home run––his fourth of the season––for his only hit in four trips. David Paisano (2/4) and Andres James (2/4) both singled twice.
Left fielder Travis Adair batted fifth and went 1-for-4 with a double.
Cleanup man Vin DiFazio (.230/.404/.389) struck out once and walked three times. The 25-year-old backstop has just as many walks (26) as hits on the season.
The game got away from the Pelicans in the seventh and eighth, when hard-throwing reliever Ryan Kelly (4.96 ERA/.271 BAA) surrendered five runs (two earned) on five hits in 1.2 innings. He struck out four.
Lefty Chad Bell recorded the final four outs without yielding a run, dropping his ERA to 3.60.
Bell now has the following line in his last nine relief appearances––17 ip, 12 h, 2 r, 2 bb, 20 k. He had a 6.92 ERA in 10 appearances before the current stretch.
L - McBride (0-1)
HR - Villanueva (8)
5-4, 1.0 GB
Much like their High-A counterparts, the Single-A Crawdads failed to capitalize on a dominant effort from the starting pitcher.
For Hickory, it was 19-year-old righty Cody Buckel (2.28 ERA/.240 BAA), who punched out a career-best 10 batters while yielding just one hit and one walk in 5.1 scoreless innings. He allowed two balls to leave the infield during the start.
Since joining the Crawdads out of extended spring training in late-April, Buckel has fanned 61 and walked 13 in 47.1 innings. The prospect has also punched out more than 33 percent of the right-handed batters that he has faced this season.
After Buckel exited in the sixth inning, scuffling right-hander Nick McBride allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. It was the Greenville's only scoring of the game, but it was also all they'd need for the victory.
The former fifth-round pick has worked scoreless ball in four of his eight appearances at Hickory. But he has allowed at least three runs in the other four outings.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva (.277/.346/.465) flashed some pop by going 2-for-4 with a triple and a solo home run. While Villanueva is certainly young at 19, he has whiffed in only 44 of his 292 plate appearances this season.
Jurickson Profar (1/4, 2B) and Andrew Clark (1/3, 2B, SF) both doubled once.
Odubel Herrera (1/3, HBP) and Tomas Telis (1/4) had the Crawdads' only other hits.
The Drive had only four hits in the game, but three of them came consecutively in the sixth inning, leading to all three runs.
Righties Joe Van Meter and Ben Henry both walked one and fanned two while working one hitless, scoreless frame apiece. Henry has struck out 27 while yielding 13 hits in his first 20.2 innings of full-season ball.
L - Kukuruda (0-2)
8-7, 1.0 GB
Switch-hitting leadoff man Hirotoshi Onaka (.318/.559/.636) entered the night with 11 walks and three hits in his first six professional games. While the 22-year-old didn't walk on Friday, he fell just a homer short of the cycle. Onaka was 4-for-4 with his first double and his third triple.
Now, Onaka is 7-for-22 (.318) with a double, three triples, 11 walks, and four strikeouts in seven contests. He is also 3-for-3 in the stolen base department.
Onaka had half of the Indians' hit output for the game. Brett Nicholas (1/2), Nick Vickerson (1/4), Guillermo Pimentel (1/4) and Edwin Garcia (1/4) all singled. Nicholas left the game with an injury.
Starting pitcher John Kukuruda induced eight groundouts in four innings, but he yielded six runs (four earned) on seven hits. The California native fanned three while walking one.
Carlos Melo's control problems continued, as he walked two and plunked one in 1.1 innings, allowing three runs. The 20-year-old has now walked 10 and struck out eight in four innings with Spokane.
7-2, 2.0 GU
The Arizona League was off on Friday. The division-leading Surprise Rangers return to action against the AZL Cubs (6-3) on Saturday night at the Nolan Ryan field of the Surprise Recreation Campus.
W - Gil (1-2)
SV - Grullon (2)
19-9, 0.5 GU
Five Dominican Summer League Rangers pitchers combined in leading the club to its third straight win on Friday afternoon.
Six-foot-six starter Jose Valdespina carried the bulk of the load, working three innings of one-hit, shutout ball. He walked two and struck out two.
Left-hander Geuris Grullon earned his second save by punching out two in a scoreless ninth inning.
Curacao native Christefer Obispo went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, giving him six on the season. DH Luis Cedeno (1/3, 2B, SF) also had a two-bagger.
Leadoff man Chris Garia bumped his batting average to .303 with two singles in four at-bats. The 18-year-old speedster has that .303 average to go along with 17 walks in his first 25 games from the top of the Rangers' batting order.
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