Pensacola Wins Squeaker

Daniel Renken came into 2012 off a strong season at Dayton which landed him a spot in Bakersfield's rotation. He struggled in the California League all season, but the Reds still moved him up to Pensacola this year. That move looks like a good one after one start as he tries to regain 2011 form.

Pensacola got a 2-1 victory for their third win in a five game home set to open the season against Tennessee. Daniel Renken was strong on the mound in his first start. He had a shaky start after allowing a run in the first but that was all the Smokies would get on the evening and his final stat line was 7 IP/4H/1ER/2BB/5K. Logan Ondrusek relieved him with a scoreless inning and Lee Hyde got his first save by retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Offensively Brodie Greene went 2-2 with a walk to raise his average over .400 after five games. Devin Lohman tied the score with an RBI single in the fifth and Travis Mattair plated the go-ahead run when he doubled the next inning. The Blue Wahoos were held to five hits on the evening, but that would be enough behind the performance of their pitchers.

Renken is a 6'3"/190# right-hander who came into the Cincinnati organization out of Cal St. Fullerton with a 25th round selection in the 2010 draft. After coming out of a solid NCAA program he debuted at Dayton that fall and pitched in five games out of the bullpen. He returned there to start the next year in the Dragon rotation and kept a low-three ERA before a second half promotion to Bakersfield. Last season he was the opening-day starter for the Blaze, but struggled in the California League all season long, finishing with an ERA near six.

Of course the Cali League's high altitude venues are notorious for inflating ERA's and the Reds promoted him to the back-end of their AA rotation to start this season. Renken is a junk-ball pitcher with velocity topping out around the high-80's. His top pitch is a changeup which is considered one the best ones in the Cincinnati system. He has good sink keeping his pitches low and relies on precise location. His K rate at Dayton was around eleven per nine innings which was surprising given the absence of velocity. He's been unable to match that since promotion but his K/BB ratio was over two last year.

Now Renken might be considered a survivor, a late-rounder in an organization with a lot of higher-profiled pitching prospects. His performance two years ago probably had as much influence on his promotion as anything and he needs to put together a strong season this year. Thin air is especially challenging for pitchers without overpowering stuff that rely breaking pitches. Renken is now 23 and has started the season with a strong outing. It will be interesting to see if he can regain 2011 form now that's he's back closer to sea level.

Other Organizational News:

The Reds broke a 4-4 tie with a nine-run ninth inning to bury the Cardinals 13-4 in the opener at St. Louis. Mat Latos allowed four hits in six innings with five strikeouts and only one walk. He did allow four runs, but only one of them was earned. Alfredo Simon, Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover each threw a scoreless inning of relief with LeCure picking up the win.

Before the season there were some concerns over converting Shin-Sin Choo to center field. He made his first two errors of the season yesterday, but they were both more a product of lack of concentration with the leather rather than problems with his range. He continued his brilliant start offensively with a couple of hits, a walk, three RBI and two runs while raising his average to .379.

Jay Bruce led the way offensively by going 4-5 with a walk, RBI, and two runs scored. Brandon Phillips also continued swinging a hot bat with a home run in the sixth and a double that plated the first run in the ninth-inning rally. Chris Heisey also had two hits while Joey Votto reached on a single and two walks.

Louisville lost their series opener to visiting Columbus by a score of 7-2. Daniel Corcino made his AAA debut and took the loss. He started out well enough, retiring the first nine batters, but was lifted in the fourth when the Clippers tagged him with a five run rally that hung the loss on him. Nick Christiani relieved him with 2+ scoreless innings. Clay Hensley and Kevin Whelan each tossed a scoreless frame to end the game. Billy Hamilton went 4-5 and drove in both of the Bats' runs to raise his average to .500. He also swiped three bases to up his season total to six. Ray Chang added a couple of hits and a run.

Bakersfield dropped to 0-5 when they were shut out 4-0 at Visalia. Offensively Juan Duran had two of the Blaze's six hits. Starting pitcher Radhames Quezada had control problems, walking seven in two innings and allowed four runs for the loss. Carlos Gonzalez, Mike Dennhardt, and Brooks Pinckard combined for six scoreless innings of relief allowing only one hit.

Dayton was also shutout at South Bend, allowing five in the first inning in the 6-0 loss. Beau Amaral had two of their four hits. Wandy Peralta lasted only one inning and took the loss. Wes Mugarian and Alejandro Chacin held the Silver Hawks to one run over the final seven innings.

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