Moose serves notice to Texas League pitching

The Naturals on Thursday night welcomed Mike Moustakas to the lineup for the first time, and he responded by promptly greeting the visiting Arkansas Travelers with a tremendous debut. Moustakas slammed home runs on his first two at bats, sparking the Naturals to an 11-0 victory. Click inside to read more.

Mike Moustakas made his Double-A debut on Thursday night, and it didn't take him long to make an impression. In his first at bat of a scoreless game in the bottom of the first, the 21-year-old third baseman stepped to the plate and drilled the third pitch he saw over the center field wall for a two-run home run. The dinger staked the Naturals to a 2-0 lead, and the score stayed that way until the bottom of the third, when Moustakas stepped up for his second at bat with two outs and nobody on. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Moustakas drove the next offering out to right-center for his second home run in as many at bats.

Moustakas walked on four pitches in his third at bat but was caught stealing, and NW Arkansas still led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth. The Naturals sent 10 men to the plate in that frame, exploding for seven runs on six hits, including an RBI double by Moustakas and a grand slam by catcher Manny Pina. They tacked on another run in the eighth for the final 11-0 margin. Moustakas finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk, two home runs, a double, and four RBI.

Making his third start of the season, southpaw Edgar Osuna (2-1, 0.00 ERA) was outstanding while picking up his second victory of the year. The 22-year-old protected his perfect ERA by tossing seven shutout innings and fanning six batters while scattering five hits and one walk. Eduardo Paulino preserved the shutout with two scoreless innings.

The Naturals (8-5) and Travelers (4-9) square up again on Friday for game two of their four-game set, with NW Arkansas' Mario Santiago (0-2, 4.09 ERA) facing off against southpaw Michael Anton (1-1, 3.60)

Elsewhere in the minors

  • Bryan Paukovits turned in what was arguably his best career start as the Burlington Bees knocked off the Clinton Lumber Kings, 4-2. The 6-foot-7 righthander held Clinton hitless for six innings, surrendering just one unearned run while fanning six. The no-hitter was finally broken up in the eighth inning, when reliever Nick Wooley surrendered a leadoff single to Clinton's James Jones. Harold Mozingo notched his first save since 2006 by retiring all four hitters he faced, including three on strikeouts. The struggling Bees' offense punched out 13 hits, including 3-for-4 performances from second baseman Deivy Batista and outfielder Allen Caldwell. Catcher Wil Myers was 1-for-3 with a walk. The win snapped an eight-game road losing streak for the Bees.

  • The Wilmington Blue Rocks split a doubleheader with the Kinston Indians. Southpaw Chris Dwyer got the ball for the Rocks in the first game, and he rebounded nicely from a rough outing his last time out. The 22-year-old Clemson product fanned six over five innings, surrendering just one run on three hits and three walks. Dwyer left the game in line to notch his first career victory, but the bullpen allowed the Indians to tie the game in the sixth and force extra innings in what was supposed to be a seven-inning affair. Kinston scored three runs off of reliever Manauris Baez in the ninth, and the Blue Rocks lost the first game, 7-4. Third baseman Jason Taylor hit his first home run of the season in the fourth inning, a solo shot to left field. First baseman Eric Hosmer continued his torrid hitting by going 2-for-4 with a walk.

    Alex Caldera started game two for the Blue Rocks, and he too pitched well as Wilmington prevailed in the nightcap, 4-3. The 24-year-old righthander recorded his first win of the season, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings while fanning seven hitters and walking one. Barry Bowden pitched the seventh and recorded his first save with a 1-2-3 inning. The Blue Rocks scored four runs despite managing just five hits. Hosmer was 1-for-3 with two RBI, and centerfielder Patrick Norris was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.

  • The Omaha Royals fell to the Round Rock Express, 5-2. Starting pitcher Anthony Lerew was tagged with the loss despite throwing well for the O-Royals (5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 k). Chris Hayes pitched two innings in relief and surrendered his first earned run of the season. On offense, outfielder Buck Coats and DH Marc Maddox chipped in two hits apiece to the O-Royals seven hit attack. Kila Ka'aihue, David Lough, and Jordan Parraz were all held hitless.

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