W - Hamburger (3-3)
HR - Tracy (17), Deeds (7), Napoli (1, 2)
48-34, 6.0 GU
The Express got it done with the long ball on Saturday.
Rehabbing catcher Mike Napoli hit a pair of home runs in the game, and the second was particularly huge. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Round Rock down by three runs, Napoli launched a clutch three-run bomb over the left field fence against former Rangers farmhand Danny Ray Herrera.
The Express offense stayed silent until the 12th inning, when left fielder Doug Deeds ended it with a walkoff two-run homer. Deeds also doubled earlier in the game.
Chad Tracy (2/6, 2B, HR) doubled and homered as well.
Starting pitcher Eric Hurley pitched well early but ran into trouble later in his outing. He worked 5.1 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out two. Hurley threw 83 pitches.
Lefty Beau Jones gave up a run in his inning, but right-handed relievers Ryan Tucker (1.2 IP), Cody Eppley (2 IP) and Mark Hamburger (2 IP) teamed up for 5.2 innings of shutout ball.
The 24-year-old Hamburger is flashing a fastball up to 96 mph to go with a much-improved upper-80s slider lately, and his results have improved in his last eight outings––15.2 ip, 5 h, 1 r, 6 bb, 12 k.
W - Bleier (2-3)
SV - Tufts (2)
HR - Martin (4)
4-5, 2.0 GB
Shortstop Guilder Rodriguez's (.270/.336/.318) two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning ultimately proved to be the game-winning knock for the ‘Riders on Saturday. The two-bagger was his career-best ninth of the year.
Making his second Double-A start, 21-year-old righty Joe Wieland allowed one run in six innings, throwing 52 of his 86 pitches for strikes. He scattered five singles, walked three, and struck out one.
Wieland, who entered the start having walked four batters all season, had a bout with control in the sixth inning. In that frame, Wieland walked three––nearly doubling his season total––and allowed his only run on a sacrifice fly.
After the game, Wieland talked about the start and the odd control issues in this Q&A on the subscriber message board (last post).
Leadoff hitter Leonys Martin (.347/.438/.589) led off the game for Frisco by launching a no-doubt homer into the pool in right-center field. He later drew a walk and stole his 10th base, as well.
Mike Bianucci (1/4, 2B) doubled while Jonathan Greene (1/3) and Engel Beltre (1/3) both added singles.
Wieland and Frisco relievers Richard Bleier and Tyler Tufts helped strand 10 Springfield runners on base during the game.
Bleier threw 13 of 14 pitches for strikes in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a single and fanning one. Tufts punched out one in 1.2 shutout frames to earn his second save of the season.
Bleier, who recently moved into the bullpen, threw his fastball anywhere between 89-93 mph. Tufts sat in the 92-95 mph range.
Before the game, I answered some questions about Frisco starting pitcher Joe Wieland on the CBS DFW website.
L - de los Santos (0-1)
HR - Prince (5)
5-5, 2.0 GB
Left-hander Miguel de los Santos' mixture of plus stuff and often bouts with command certainly makes him one of the more frustrating prospects in the Rangers' organization.
The hurler got the start on Saturday and worked through a rough first inning in which he yielded four runs on four hits and a walk. Then he struck out all three batters he faced in the second inning.
Overall, de los Santos allowed four runs in four innings, giving up five hits, walking two, and striking out five.
Righty sinkerballer Kenny Gomez (2.34 ERA/.230 BAA) was excellent in relief of de los Santos, as he helped keep the Pelicans within striking distance. The 23-year-old gave up one run in three innings, and for his nine outs, he induced eight groundouts while getting one strikeout.
Zach Osborne, another sinker specialist, got three groundouts in a shutout eighth.
The Lynchburg leadoff hitter on Saturday was former Rangers prospect Marcus Lemon, who played in left field. He began the season at Double-A Mississippi but was recently sent back to High-A.
Right fielder Jared Prince (.274/.364/.376) went 2-for-4 with a homer––his fifth––and three RBI. The round-tripper was his second in as many nights.
Andres James (2/4, 2B) singled and doubled while Zach Zaneski (2/4) and Jared Hoying (2/4) both singled twice.
Speedy centerfielder Ryan Strausborger went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .290. The 23-year-old has scuffled of late––he is just 6-for-39 (.154) in his last 10 contests.
L - Marban (1-3)
5-5, 1.0 GB
Roman Mendez (4.33 ERA/.278 BAA) bounced back from one of his worst outings of the season to post one of his better efforts on Saturday. Pitching against his former team, the hard-throwing 20-year-old allowed two runs in seven innings, scattering six hits and two walks. He struck out a season-best 10 batters.
Mendez was matched by Greenville starter and University of Texas product Brandon Workman, who permitted just one run on one hit over five innings, striking out nine.
Hickory's offense whiffed 16 times in the 11-inning game. Centerfielder Jake Skole got the worst of it, as he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.
The Crawdads notched just four hits in the game. Nine-hole hitting left fielder Jonathan Roof led the way by going 2-for-4 with his 11th double. Yefry Castillo (1/4, 2B) also doubled while Jurickson Profar (1/3, BB) singled, walked, and laid down a sacrifice bunt. Both Profar (9) and Roof (13) had stolen bases.
Although the Hickory bullpen has been excellent all season, they ran into some control troubles that ultimately cost them the game on Saturday.
Ryan Rodebaugh (0.42 ERA/.173 BAA) gave up an unearned run to tie it in the bottom of the ninth after he had walked three batters in 1.2 innings. Jorge Marban (4.62 ERA/.196 BAA), who worked 1.1 frames, allowed the walkoff run in the 11th.
After starting the 11th with a strikeout, Marban plunked a batter, who quickly stole second base. Then a wild pitch moved the runner to third, and he scored on a ball four wild pitch to end the contest.
L - West (0-1)
8-8, 2.0 GB
Spokane starting pitcher David Perez had an interesting night. The talented 18-year-old prospect punched out the first four batters he faced. Overall, he would get eight strikeouts in 3.2 innings, but he also walked five. He gave up two runs on two hits.
Perez has the following line through four starts with Spokane––13.2 ip, 15 h, 12 r, 8 bb, 24 k.
Third baseman Nick Vickerson (.255/.387/.431) provided a little pop with a double and a triple in five plate appearances. Supplemental first-round selection Zach Cone (1/3, 2B, BB) added his fifth double and his fourth stolen base.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro brought his average up to .250 with three singles in five at-bats. He also picked off a runner at second base.
Second-round pick Will Lamb, a left-handed pitcher out of Clemson, worked two strong innings. He allowed a hit, walked a man, and struck out four. Dartmouth product Kyle Hendricks followed by going six up, six down with two punchouts.
Fireballing closer Matt West allowed his first runs of the season, getting stuck with both the blown save and the loss. West allowed a run to tie it in the bottom of the 10th before giving up a walkoff solo home run to lead off the 11th.
The walkoff homer came right after both Indians manager Tim Hulett and hitting coach Josue Perez were ejected by the home plate umpire.
L - Martinez (1-1)
7-3, 1.0 GU
The Surprise Rangers have been perhaps the hottest-hitting club in the Arizona League thus far, but they were no-hit into the eighth inning on Saturday night. Centerfielder Jordan Akins broke it up by leading off the eighth with a fly ball single to left field.
Left fielder Jeremy Williams, who had an infield single in three trips, and first baseman Kevin Torres (1/3, 2B) had the Rangers' other hits.
Nick Martinez made his first professional start and allowed two runs in three innings, scattering seven hits and fanning one.
Tall right-hander Shawn Blackwell yielded two runs in four innings of work. He gave up three hits while walking one and striking out three.
Lefty Greg Williams, who was drafted this year out of Marshall University, permitted an unearned run in two innings of work.
Surprise Rangers manager Hector Ortiz was ejected by the home plate umpire between the bottom of the eighth and the top of the ninth.
W - Gomez (3-0)
20-9, 1.5 GU
The Dominican Rangers created some cushion in their division with a victory over the second-place DSL Yankees1.
Left-handed starter Nerfy Nunez (3.21 ERA/.327 BAA) posted four innings of shutout ball, working around five hits and two walks. He fanned one. The 18-year-old has fanned just four batters in his first 14 innings, but he has also allowed only five earned runs.
Right-handers Jose Gomez (1.2 IP) and Jose Leclerc (1 IP) combined to retire all eight batters they faced, getting a pair of strikeouts.
First baseman Christefer Obispo (1/4) and DH Alex Gonzalez (1/4) both singled once and struck out three times.
Chris Garia (1/4, 2B, BB) and Luis Marte (1/3, 2B, BB) doubled and walked once. Both Garia and Marte are batting over .300 for the season now, and Marte added his eighth stolen base.
Jose Gonzalez (2/3, BB), Alberto Triunfel (1/3, BB) and Ramon Urias (1/3, BB) also reached multiple times.
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