Blue Rocks snap three-game slide

The Blue Rocks were the system's only winner on Thursday, and the Royals' four affiliates have had a rough go of things over the past couple of days, dropping six of eight games. Inside, RC recaps Wednesday's and Thursday's action from around the Royals' minor leagues

Low-A: Burlington Bees

Wednesday: Burlington 8, Kane County 2
Thursday: Kane County 8, Burlington 4

Burlington won its first home game on Wednesday night, defeating the Kane County Cougars, 8-2. Brent Fisher got the start for the Bees and pitched well, surrendering one unearned run on six hits in four innings of work. He only struck one batter out, but he didn't issue any free passes. Manauris Baez and James Thompson combined to pitched the final five frames, and Baez got his first victory of the season with three scoreless innings. Thompson struck out four in his two innings of work, surrendering one run on no hits and three walks.

At the plate, the Bees crossed the plate three times in the first inning, thanks to a sacrifice fly by Kyle Martin and a two-run homer by Nick Francis, his second of the season. Francis finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, pushing his batting average to .400. Eric Hosmer was 1-for-3 with an RBI, while shortstop J.D. Alfaro was also 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.

The Bees failed to build any momentum off their win, however, as they dropped Thursday night's contest, 8-4. The Cougars scored six runs in the third inning off of starter Bryan Casey (2.1 IP, 1 ER) and Derrick Saito (2.2 IP, 5 ER). Casey was charged with the loss, his third of the season. Carson Bryant pitched the final four frames, yielding a pair of runs in four innings of work while striking out four batters.

The offense managed just five hits but pushed across four runs, thanks largely to a pair of home runs. Martin (1-for-3, 2 runs, 1 RBI) slammed a solo shot in the fourth inning, while outfielder Wilson Tucker (1-for-2, 2 RBIs) knocked a two-run shot in the seventh. The homers were Martin's and Tucker's first of the season. Hosmer finished the game 0-for-3, and his batting average now stands at just .154 on the young season.

The Bees (3-9) conclude their four-game series with Kane County on Friday evening, with Sam Runion likely on the mound for Burlington. Runion (1-1, 8.00 ERA) last pitched on April 16, when he picked up his first victory of the season against Beloit with a strong five-inning outing.

High-A: Wilmington Blue Rocks

Tuesday: Salem 11, Wilmington 4 (7 innings, completed on Wednesday)
Wednesday: Salem 6, Wilmington 4 (7 innings)
Thursday: Wilmington 4, Winston-Salem 3

The Blue Rocks dropped a pair of games on Wednesday to the Salem Avalanche. The first was a completion of Tuesday's suspended game, which the Rocks lost, 11-4. The game was halted by a rainstorm in the fourth inning on Tuesday. Ray Liotta got the start and picked up his first loss of the season after surrendering seven runs (five earned) in 3.1 innings pitched. He was on the mound when the game was suspended, so when it resumed on Wednesday, Eduardo Paulino took the hill. Paulino allowed three runs in two innings on three hits and five walks before yielding to Ben Swaggerty, who tossed 1.2 innings while surrendering a run.

At the plate, first baseman Clint Robinson was the star, slamming his first two home runs (both solo shots) while going 2-for-3. Anthony Seratelli and Jamar Walton were both 2-for-4, with Seratelli hitting his first home run of the season. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella was 1-for-3 with a double.

The Rocks struck first in the nightcap, with an RBI single by Giavotella in the first staking the club to a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Red Sox pushed three runs across the plate in the top of the second against Wilmington starter Mario Santiago. Those were the only runs Santiago allowed, however, in five innings of work. Santiago allowed five hits and three walks while striking out three. He handed the game off to Chris Chavez for the final two frames, and Chavez picked up the loss after surrendering three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk as the Rocks fell, 6-4.

Clint Robinson struck again for the offense, launching another home run (his third) in the second inning. Robinson finished the game 1-for-4. The red-hot David Lough was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Mike Moustakas was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run.

After dropping three of four to the Red Sox, the Rocks hit the road on Thursday and bounced back nicely, winning the opening game of a four-game set against Winston-Salem, 4-3. Wilmington raced out to an early 4-0 lead with single runs in the second and fourth innings sandwiched around two in the third. Lough was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, while Paulo Orlando also knocked in a run in a 1-for-3 night. Shortstop Jeff Bianchi was 2-for-4, while Moustakas was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

On the mound, starting pitcher Everett Teaford picked up his second straight win with another solid outing, going seven innings while surrendering just two runs on six hits. Craig Rodriguez pitched the eighth, yielding one run, before giving way to Aaron Hartsock, who picked up his third save of the season with a scoreless ninth.

The Blue Rocks (9-6) play the second game of their series with the Dash (formerly the WartHogs) on Friday night with Alex Caldera on the mound for Wilmington. Caldera (0-1, 4.85 ERA) will be looking to rebound from his first rough outing of the season on Sunday, when he surrendered five runs in four innings pitched in a no decision.

Double-A: NW Arkansas Naturals

Wednesday: Off-day
Thursday: Arkansas 4, Northwest Arkansas 3

The Naturals fell below .500 on Thursday with a tough loss to Arkansas. Blake Johnson started for NW Arkansas and pitched fairly well despite earning his second loss of the season. Johnson pitched 5.2 innings, surrendering four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out one. Carlos Sencion pitched the final 2.1 innings, blanking the Travelers on just two hits and a walk while striking out three. However, the Nats offense couldn't push any more runs across the plate as they fell, 4-3.

At the plate, both second baseman Kurt Mertins and catcher Jeff Howell were 2-for-3. Mertins pushed his batting average to .324, while Howell – who has played sparingly – raised his to .368 with his first hits since April 12. Outfielders Joe Dickerson and Jordan Parraz were both 1-for-3 with a walk.

Northwest Arkansas (6-7) continues its four-game series in Little Rock on Friday night, with Blake Wood (0-0, 7.00 ERA) on the mound for the Nats. Wood last pitched on Saturday, when he went three innings against San Antonio, surrendering a pair of runs on three hits and three walks.

Triple-A: Omaha Royals

Wednesday: Oklahoma City 7, Omaha 6 (11 innings)
Thursday: Oklahoma City 5, Omaha 4

After winning the first of what will be eight straight games against the Oklahoma RedHawks, the O-Royals lost a pair of one-run contests on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday night's game took extra innings to render a verdict, as Omaha lost when Roman Colon walked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th. Starter Brandon Duckworth yielded five runs in four innings before giving way to the bullpen, which was excellent despite the loss. Dusty Hughes three two perfect innings, and Carlos Rosa chipped in a scoreless seventh before turning the game over to Colon. Colon pitched the final 3.2 innings while picking up his first loss of the season.

At the plate, second baseman Tug Hulett continued swinging a hot bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Chris Lubanski also doubled in a 2-for-4 effort that included a pair of walks. Shortstop Luis Hernandez pushed his batting average to .370 by going 2-for-5, while DH Ryan Shealy was 1-for-4.

On Thursday, O-Royals starter Bruce Chen blanked the RedHawks for four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. He ultimately surrendered five runs in six innings of work while picking up his first loss of the season. Yasuhiko Yabuta, who joined the club when Brian Bannister was promoted to Kansas City, made his first appearance of the season in relief, pitching two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts.

Every O-Royal starter except Hernandez (0-for-4) had a hit, but the O-Royals managed just four runs. Lubanski and Travis Metcalf led the way by each going 2-for-4, while Shealy got the start at first base and went 1-for-4.

The O-Royals look to salvage a split on Friday, as they send Lenny DiNardo to the mound to make his first start of the season. DiNardo (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will occupy Bannister's spot in the rotation, at least temporarily. The 29-year-old southpaw has made four appearances out of the bullpen this season, and he last pitched on Sunday, going four shutout innings while striking out four batters and yielding just one hit.

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