W - Hamburger (7-4)
SV - Strop (11)
HR - Butler (12)
78-52, 13.0 GU
With Monday's Round Rock victory and Albuquerque loss, the Express' magic number now sits at two games. If the Express win and Isotopes lose again on Tuesday, Round Rock will officially clinch a PCL American Southern Division title and a postseason berth.
Mark Hamburger (3.94 ERA/.236 BAA) turned in yet another strong start, as he threw 90 pitches in six innings, giving up two runs on four hits. The righty walked one and struck out four.
Hamburger entered the evening with a scoreless streak of 18.1 innings over his previous seven outings. He now has the following line in three starts––15.1 ip, 9 h, 2 r, 3 bb, 13 k.
Before he joined the Express' rotation on August 12, Hamburger hadn't made a single start during his professional career, which spans parts of five seasons.
After a rough day at the office on Sunday, right fielder Joey Butler (.333/.390/.523) got back on the right track by going 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, and four RBI.
Butler's 14 home runs between the Double- and Triple-A levels this season are already a career best.
Third baseman Esteban German (2/4) singled twice while Brad Nelson (1/3, BB) and Val Majewski (1/3, BB) both singled and walked. Catcher Kevin Cash was 0-for-1, but he also drew three walks.
After going 0-for-3 on Monday, first baseman Jose Ruiz is just 6-for-26 (.231) with one double in his first seven Triple-A games. He batted .275/.344/.443 in 106 contests with Double-A Frisco this season.
Righty relievers Cody Eppley (2 IP) and Pedro Strop (1 IP) kept the Zephyrs off the board for the final three innings.
Strop (3.30 ERA/.276 BAA) was particularly impressive, striking out two in a perfect frame while throwing 11 of his 15 pitches for strikes. His fastball also reached triple digits on the radar gun, per the Newberg Report's Scott Lucas.
The 26-year-old Strop struggled initially after being sent back to Triple-A at the beginning of May, but he has been much better since––34.1 ip, 34 h, 8 er, 16 bb, 41 k.
W - Flores (5-3)
SV - Miller (9)
HR - Bianucci (28), Greene (18)
29-27, 8.0 GB
Starting pitcher Neil Ramirez struck out five batters in three innings, but he also surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk.
After Ramirez exited, long reliever Adalberto Flores (2.90 ERA/.227 BAA) was the star of the game for Frisco. The 6-foot-7 Puerto Rico native hurled 4.2 innings of one-hit, shutout ball while striking out six without issuing a walk.
Flores retired the first 14 batters he faced before allowing an infield single.
Richard Bleier (0.1 IP) and Justin Miller (1 IP) closed the game by retiring the final four batters after Flores was lifted.
Right fielder Jonathan Greene was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk. He also picked up a pair of outfield assists. Cleanup man Mike Bianucci added a solo home run––his 28th––and a single in five trips.
Bianucci's 28 round-trippers rank third in the Texas League behind Springfield's Matt Adams (30) and Tulsa's Tim Wheeler (29). Tom Mendonca, who is fourth with 23 homers, was 2-for-5 with a double on Monday.
Middle infielders Renny Osuna (3/5) and Davis Stoneburner (1/2, 2 BB) both reached base three times.
Engel Beltre was hitless in four at-bats. Following an improved performance in July, the 21-year-old has a disappointing .191/.257/.221 slash line in 20 games this month.
27-29, 3.0 GB
The Pelicans were off on Monday. They'll return to action on Tuesday, beginning a three-game home series against Lynchburg.
W - Lamb (1-0)
SV - Mendoza (4)
32-24, 2.0 GB
The Crawdads went up against––and ultimately defeated––rehabbing Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on Monday evening.
Strasburg recently faced the Rangers' High-A affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, in a rehab start.
Strasburg allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings pitched, giving up two hits while walking one and striking out six.
Leadoff man Jurickson Profar was hit by a Strasburg pitch to lead off the game, and he stole second while Odubel Herrera struck out swinging. Then catcher Tomas Telis knocked a ground ball single to center, scoring Profar.
The other run against Strasburg came in the third inning, when Odubel Herrera scored on a throwing error. Herrera had reached on an infield single before stealing second base, his 30th swipe of the year.
Despite the Strasburg mania, the real story of the game for Hickory was starting pitcher Will Lamb, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
In his second full-season start, the Rangers' second-round pick worked five innings of one-hit, shutout ball while walking two and striking out six. He has yet to surrender a run in 9.2 innings over his first two starts with Hickory.
Righty Roman Mendez allowed one run––a solo homer––while fanning four in two innings. Ben Rowen then followed with a perfect eighth inning.
Closer Francisco Mendoza (3.78 ERA/.246 BAA) struck out the side in a blank ninth, working around a hit and a walk. The 23-year-old has 24 punchouts and four walks in 16.2 innings since his promotion to Hickory.
Aside from Herrera (2/5) and Telis (1/4), first baseman Alejandro Selen (2/3, 2B, BB) was the only other Hickory player with a knock.
Both Herrera and third baseman Christian Villanueva stole their 30th base of the season on Monday. With two steals in the game, Profar now has 20.
W - McBride (2-2)
HR - Alfaro (6)
12-15, 4.0 GB
With two consecutive road victories at first-place Tri-City, the Indians have cut two games off their deficit in the division.
After a gem of an outing by Chris Hanna on Sunday, righty Nick McBride (3.94 ERA/.275 BAA) matched it by yielding one run in 5.1 innings on Monday. The 20-year-old retired the first nine batters of the game. He then scattered five singles and walked one.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro (.324/.368/.528) was 2-for-4 with a home run and five runs batted in.
In 111 official at-bats between July and August, the 18-year-old Alfaro is hitting a robust .351 with nine doubles and five home runs.
Hirotoshi Onaka (1/3, 2B), Edwin Garcia (2/5, 2B) and Brett Nicholas (1/4, 2B) all doubled once. Guillermo Pimentel (3/5) and Ruben Sierra (2/5) both had multiple singles.
Scuffling third baseman Drew Robinson fanned three times in four at-bats without a hit. After a strong performance in extended spring training and a hot start with the AZL Rangers, the 19-year-old is batting only .170/.266/.281 in 40 Northwest League contests.
Tall right-hander Jerad Eickhoff picked up a hold with 2.2 scoreless innings, yielding one hit and fanning one.
Arlett Mavare (0.93 ERA/.152 BAA) punched out the side in the ninth inning, as he allowed a hit and a walk but didn't permit a run. Mavare has 49 strikeouts in 33 innings between the AZL and Spokane this summer.
L - Wiser (0-1)
32-18, 8.0 GU
The Rookie Rangers pitched well on Monday until the bottom of the eighth inning, when relievers K.C. Wiser (0.1 IP) and Leonel de los Santos (0.2 IP) coughed up four runs apiece.
A converted catcher, de los Santos pitched well in spring training, extended spring training, and early on with Spokane. But he appeared to tire late in his stint with Spokane, and the results fell off.
The 21-year-old has struggled mightily in six appearances with the rookie club––6.2 ip, 14 h, 9 r, 4 bb, 3 k.
On the bright side, starter Andrew Faulkner (2.25 ERA/.193 BAA) retired all nine batters he faced in three perfect innings, striking out five.
The 18-year-old South Carolina native was the Rangers' 14th-round pick in this year's MLB Draft. He has entered the system by pounding the lower portion of the strike zone (4 bb, 25 k in 24 innings) with a 90-92 mph fastball.
Shawn Blackwell, working piggyback with Faulker, allowed two runs in four innings of work.
The Rangers' offense produced a statistical oddity in the game. Of the club's eight hits, six were triples.
Third baseman Ryan Rua had two triples in four at-bats, giving him four on the season. Nick Urbanus (1/4, 3B), Kevin Torres (1/3, 3B, BB), Jordan Akins (1/4, 3B) and Luis Marte (1/4, 3B) all tripled once.
Marte, 17, was playing in his first state-side game after coming over from the Dominican Summer League.
Left fielder Jeremy Williams went 2-for-4 with his sixth two-bagger, raising his average to .348.
41-30, 5.5 GB
The Dominican Rangers failed to qualify for the Dominican Summer League playoffs despite posting a strong 41-30 record. The club finished in second place, 5.5 games behind the DSL Cubs2.
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