Minor League Notebook: 7/28

It wasn't as good of a day as Tuesday when the organization had a 4-1 day, but the farm clubs still combined to go 3-2 on the day. Once again led by Toledo - who continues to stretch its lead in the West division of the International League, the Tiger organization also got a pair of wins out of Lakeland - one from the L-Tigers and one from the rookie club. The good news however did not carry over to Matt Roney and the Erie Seawolves.

AAA Toledo 58-48, 1st place in West division
The Mudhens, behind another strong outing from Andy Van Hekken, got another victory on Wednesday, beating Buffalo 5-4. Van Hekken got the win to improve to 9-2 on the year, pitching 5 innings with 1 earned run. John Ennis closed the game out in the 9th for his 10th save of the year. Brant Ust was the star offensively, with a 3-run Home Run as well as an RBI groundout. Warren Morris also had 2 hits for Toledo.

Andy Van Hekken might not be producing the best of numbers, but he continues to get results for Toledo - as evidenced by his 9-2 record. His secondary numbers are respectable though not great (1.43 WHIP and 2.02 K:BB ratio), which means Van Hekken's success probably won't translate quite as well to the major leagues. Even with that, with the possibility of a starter being traded in the next few days - as well as Wilfredo Ledezma being shut down in August to keep his innings down - Van Hekken could find himself in the Tiger rotation come September, getting the chance he expected to get last year out of Spring Training.

AA Erie 53-47, tied 2nd in Southern division
The Seawolves lost big on Wednesday, falling 14-7 to Bowie. Matt Roney continued his slide - giving up 10 runs (including 4 Home Runs) in just 4 1/3 innings of work. Lee Rodney, typically very reliable, couldn't even stop the bleeding, giving up 4 more runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. At the plate, the top 4 hitters provided most of the offense, combining for 9 hits. Curtis Granderson was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, and Anderson Hernandez had 3 hits, including 2 doubles. Maxim St. Pierre did have 2 RBI from the bottom of the order.

It's hard to say if Roney is just going through a rough stretch, or if this is an actual indication of things to come. After a great start, Roney's ERA has now risen above 5 for the first time all season, and he's simply getting shelled every time he steps on the mound. Roney's start on 21st was a good one, but the other 3 of his last 4 have been poor. Over the stretch, he's gone 1-3 with a 10.32 ERA, including 6 Home Runs. Roney up until recently had been reliable, but his fall probably indicates that he's probably not at the same level as some of his rotation mates in Erie.

High-A Lakeland 13-21, 5th place in West division
The L-Tigers split a doubleheader on Wednesday with St. Lucie, winning the first game 3-2, but falling in the 2nd 2-0. Matt Parris got the win in the first, pitching 5 innings with 2 earned runs and 3 strikeouts. Chris Maples and Neil Jenkins each had 2 hits and a run scored for Lakeland. In the 2nd game, Lakeland got an excellent start from Humberto Sanchez, but the offense didn't support him, as his impressive effort was wasted with Lakeland managing just 3 hits. Sanchez went the distance (7 innings), giving up 2 runs on 5 hits with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts.

Sanchez appears to have worked through his struggles and is back to being a very good pitcher for the L-Tigers. Despite the loss Wednesday, Sanchez is 2-1 over his last 3 outings, sporting a 0.90 ERA, including 20 strikeouts in 20 innings of work. Sanchez has also lowered his ERA over a full point now, from 6.35 to 5.26, another great accomplishment after a rough May and June shot his ERA skyrocketing up. When Sanchez can command his pitches, he can plow through the opposition with relative ease, striking out batters at a regular pace. Joel Zumaya still has a higher ceiling, but Sanchez could be making a push for time in the big leagues come 2006.

Low-A West Michigan 13-18, 5th place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps were off on Wednesday, they start back up Thursday when they host Peoria.

SS-A Oneonta 18-19, 2nd place in Stedler division
The O-Tigers were off as well, but they return to action on Thursday to host Hudson Valley.

Rookie GCL Tigers 15-16, 2nd place in Northern division
The GCL Tigers got a big win on Wednesday, beating the GCL Braves 10-2. Dallas Trahern started and pitched 3 shutout innings, but Wilkins got the win in relief for his 4 innings on the mound, giving up 1 run. At the plate, Maximo Soto had 2 hits and 2 RBI. Jeramy Laster had a 2-run Home Run for the GCL Tigers, and Brandon Timm had 3 hits and 2 RBI for the rookie club.

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