L - Bell (2-1)
38-51, 13.5 GB
Round Rock lost its fifth consecutive game on Friday. They've been outscored 44-17 during the losing streak.
Making his third Triple-A start, left-hander Chad Bell yielded six runs––four earned––in 5.2 innings. He allowed eight hits (seven singles) while walking five, plunking one, and striking out three.
Bell, who threw just 56 of his 103 pitches for a strike, was particularly erratic in the third inning, when he loaded the bases via two walks and a hit-by pitch. He surrendered three runs in the frame and got out of it by inducing a double play.
The Isotopes extended their lead against veteran right-hander Ross Wolf after Bell exited. The former Oakland A's hurler coughed up four runs on five hits and a walk in 1.1 innings.
Although the 29-year-old Wolf was dominant with Double-A Frisco, he's been a bit inconsistent thus far in Triple-A––9.1 ip, 12 h, 6 er, 5 bb, 6 k.
Sidearming righty Johan Yan (5.40 ERA/.259 BAA) didn't surrender a run despite walking two and throwing just 10 strikes out of 25 pitches in his inning.
Pacific Coast League right-handed hitters are only 4-for-31 (.129) against Yan so far, but lefties have teed off on him at a .435/.536/.783 clip through 29 plate appearances.
The Express offense plated one run––which came in the top of the ninth––on five hits. They had two at-bats with a man in scoring position all game.
Leadoff man Julio Borbon raised his batting average to .298 with a pair of singles in four at-bats. Ryan Spilborghs (1/4, 2B) hit his 15th double while Brad Nelson (1/4) and Joey Butler (1/4) also got a hit apiece.
The Round Rock bats were muzzled by Albuquerque starter Stephen Fife, who turned in perhaps his best outing of the season with seven frames of two-hit shutout ball.
W - Boscan (4-3)
HR - Prince (8), Zaneski (4)
6-8, 4.0 GB
Neil Ramirez exited Friday's contest after throwing four scoreless innings on just 49 pitches. There was no word or obvious sign of injury at the time, and his status (plus the reason for the quick hook) should become more clear in the coming days.
Despite the early exit, Ramirez pitched well. He gave up three hits and struck out two without issuing a walk in the four shutout frames. He also finished the outing by retiring the final eight hitters he faced.
As Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark stated in a recent interview, the Rangers sent Ramirez back to Double-A in order to get him working deeper into games and to give him another taste of success.
The 23-year-old prospect has pitched well in three Double-A starts thus far––15.0 ip, 9 h, 4 er, 5 bb, 16 k.
The bottom of the RoughRiders' order provided the power in Friday's 5-1 victory. Eight-hole hitting catcher Zach Zaneski (1/3, HR, BB) launched a two-run homer in the second inning. Right fielder Jared Prince (2/3, HR, BB), who batted ninth, added a solo shot in the fifth.
Left fielder Jared Hoying, hitting seventh, logged two singles in four trips to raise his Double-A batting average to .383.
Speedsters Ryan Strausborger (1/4) and Leury Garcia (1/4) each singled once and stole a base. Strausborger notched his 15th steal while Garcia swiped his 13th.
Top prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt both went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. The duo will miss the next couple games, as they'll head to Kansas City to participate in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.
Venezuelan righty Wilfredo Boscan earned his fourth victory after he allowed a run on three hits (all doubles) in two innings.
Tim Murphy, who recently moved to the bullpen after being activated from the disabled list, worked around a single in a blank frame.
Miguel de los Santos finished the game with two hitless, scoreless innings. The changeup specialist threw 25 of his 42 pitches for a strike while walking two and striking out two.
Although the 23-year-old de los Santos opened the season as a starting pitcher, he––like Murphy––is transitioning into a full-time bullpen role after a stint on the disabled list. The Dominican Republic native has scuffled a bit since returning––14.2 ip, 11 h, 10 r, 9 bb, 18 k.
L - West (0-1)
HR - Nicholas (4)
11-5, 1.0 GU
The Pelicans and Dash were deadlocked in a pitcher's dual through six innings––until hard-throwing reliever Matt West entered the contest.
West missed the first half of the season while rehabbing an elbow issue. He appeared in his sixth game on Friday and had his toughest professional outing to date. The 23-year-old righty was tagged for six runs–-five earned––in 1.1 innings. He gave up two hits but walked four and also committed a throwing error.
While it's too early to panic, West issued only one walk (while striking out 35) in 27 innings last summer. Since returning this year, he's walked nine and struck out five in 7.1 innings.
Francisco Mendoza finished the game for Myrtle Beach, but not before he allowed a grand slam to White Sox farmhand Juan Silverio. Three of the runs were charged to West.
On the much more positive side, fireballing starting pitcher Wilmer Font (3.84 ERA/.196 BAA) carried a no-hitter through 5.2 innings despite being left out of the decision.
Font, 22, surrendered a run on one hit in six innings while striking out seven and walking two. He's permitted only 46 hits (while striking out 85) in 68 innings this year.
While Font was a bit shaky in his July 1 start, his last six starts have been very promising––31.1 ip, 15 h, 6 r, 12 bb, 36 k.
Font's velocity has also returned as he gets further removed from Tommy John surgery. His heavy fastball has sat in the mid-90s during recent starts, and Rangers rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock says the prospect has touched up to 99 mph.
First baseman Brett Nicholas (.282/.340/.412) provided the Pelicans' lone run of the evening with a solo shot, his fourth round-tripper on the campaign.
Leadoff hitter Odubel Herrera (1/3, HBP) was the only Myrtle Beach player to reach base safely multiple times.
W - Martinez (5-2)
SV - Klein (6)
12-4, 2.0 GU
The Crawdads got all the offense they needed with a four-run second inning that included three singles, two walks, and two errors.
The run support was plenty for Fordham product Nick Martinez (4.02 ERA/.248 BAA), who hurled five innings of two-hit shutout ball while walking one and striking out four.
Martinez, 21, was mostly an infielder in college but pitched occasionally. The Rangers selected him in the 18th round of last year's MLB Draft and moved him to the mound full time. He went on to post a 2.30 ERA in 58.2 innings between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues.
The Miami native opened this season in the Crawdads' bullpen but moved into the rotation during late May. He had his share of ups and downs early on as a starter but has pitched well in his last five outings––27.0 ip, 24 h, 7 r, 6 bb, 22 k.
Jorge Alfaro, who played at first base, went 1-for-3 with a triple and a hit-by pitch. He's hitting .275/.353/.441 with nine walks and 32 strikeouts in 28 games this year.
Drew Robinson (1/3, BB) and Kellin Deglan (0/2, 2 BB) reached base twice. Nine-hole hitting second baseman Nick Urbanus had a single, a walk, a hit-by pitch, and two RBI in his three plate appearances.
Appearing in his second game with Hickory, reliever Taylor Dennis gave up two runs on two hits and three walks in two innings.
Closer Phil Klein (2.25 ERA/.217 BAA) worked around two hits and a base on balls in two scoreless innings before logging his sixth save.
L - Blackwell (1-1)
8-14, 5.0 GB
Playing in front of a season-high 6,934 fans at Spokane's Avista Stadium, the Indians dropped a 4-1 decision. The scuffling Indians offense has scored just three total runs over their last four games.
Although it's still relatively early in the summer, Spokane's bats rank last in the eight-team Northwest League with a cumulative .218 batting average. Their .638 OPS is seventh.
The Indians have also played their last six games against a Yakima pitching staff that leads the circuit with a 2.27 team ERA. Spokane's pitchers are sixth at 3.93 but third in strikeouts with 165 in 183.1 innings.
Starter Shawn Blackwell (3.60 ERA/.247 BAA) pitched relatively well despite suffering the loss. The Houston-area native gave up two runs in a season-high five innings. He yielded five hits, three walks, and a hit batter while fanning two.
One day after being held hitless through 5.2 innings, Spokane didn't get a runner aboard until there was one out in the fourth inning. The base runner was Gabriel Roa, who singled for his only hit in four trips.
Chris Garia (1/4), Barrett Serrato (1/3, BB), Cam Schiller (1/4) and Pat Cantwell (1/3) had the team's other hits.
Talented third baseman Smerling Lantigua struck out twice in three hitless at-bats. The 18-year-old prospect has struggled mightily after the aggressive assignment, going just 6-for-46 (.130) with four extra-base hits, zero walks, and 19 strikeouts in 13 games.
Outfielder-turned-pitcher Jon Edwards issued five walks, uncorked a wild pitch, and balked once during his 1.2 innings on the mound. The hard-throwing reliever gave up two unearned runs and struck out three.
In his first two appearances for the Indians, Edwards has walked nine, given up one hit, and struck out five in 3.2 innings.
Samford alumnus Joseph Burns (0.71 ERA/.150 BAA) closed out the game with 2.1 hitless, scoreless innings. He walked one and fanned two.
10-3, 3.5 GU
The Rookie Rangers had the day off on Friday. They'll return to action on Saturday against the Peoria Padres.
W - Larrazabal (4-1)
19-11, 1.0 GU
The Dominican Rangers regained sole possession of first place behind the strength of a furious four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
The walkoff hit was a three-run bases-clearing double from centerfielder Jose Cardona (1/5, 2B). It was his sixth double of the year.
Talented southpaw Yohander Mendez continues to get stretched out on the mound with each of his starts. On Friday, the Venezuela native hurled four innings without yielding a run. He gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out two.
The 17-year-old Mendez, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, signed for a reported $1.5 million bonus on July 2 last summer. He's given up five hits in 10 shutout frames over his last three starts, walking one and striking out seven.
The second-place Mets2 took the lead when Nerfy Nunez came on in relief and surrendered four runs in 2.2 innings. But Gabriel Larrazabal picked up the victory after he held the Dominican Mets to just an unearned run in 2.1 frames.
Alex Gonzalez (2/5), Belarmino Campos (2/3, 2 HBP) and Diego Cedeno (2/4) all singled twice.
Ramon Urias (1/3, BB), Ricardo Valencia (1/1, BB) and Jose Santos (1/3, BB) singled once and walked once.
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