Minor League Notebook: 7/31

The Tigers farm teams had 2 of their 6 games for the day called off, but in the 4 that were played they had a good day, going 3-1. Both Toledo and Erie got wins, as Toledo continues to hold its lead while Erie tries to climb its way back into contention. Plus, which minor league club is getting a new Shortstop (and why), and how 1 inning ruined a potential perfect day for the Tigers organization.

AAA Toledo 59-50, 1st place in West division
The Mudhens broke their 2-game skid on Saturday night with a 2-0 win over Indianapolis. James Baldwin got the win, pitching 7 1/3 innings, without a run scored, striking out 4. Franklyn German would close the game out for his 24th save. Danny Klassen drove in both of Toledo's runs - 1 off an infield single, and the other off a sacrifice fly. Nook Logan went 1-for-4 with a stolen base, also scoring both of Toledo's runs.

On Saturday, the Tiger organization reached an agreement with Benji Gil for him to take over as Toledo's starting Shortstop, after he was recently released by the Cubs organization. Why you ask do the Tigers need a starting Shortstop, when Danny Klassen is doing just fine in that role? Well, Klassen is doing well, and has played well all year, the Tigers are very content with his play for 2004. The problem? Klassen will be leaving the Mudhens shortly to go represent Canada in Olympics in Athens, and will be away from the team for 2 1/2 weeks. Klassen is hitting .271/.324/.405, solid numbers for a AAA shortstop. Klassen still would be nothing more than a utility Infielder if he ever returns to the Tigers, but he's certainly not being pushed out of the organization. Rather, he's receiving one of the greatest honors one can receive, representing his country at the Olympics.

AA Erie 56-47, 2nd place in Southern division
Erie got another win on Saturday in a high-scoring game, defeating Harrisburg 15-10. Preston Larrison was the starter and actually had a decent outing (4 1/3 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts), but the bullpen wasn't able to do much as far as slowing down Harrisburg. Luckily, the Seawolves offense came to play and gave the pitching staff plenty of support. 7 of Erie's 9 starters had 2 hits (the other 2 were Rich Gomez who had none, and Scott Tousa who had 3). Curtis Granderson went 2-for-3 with 3 runs scored, 4 RBI, 3 walks and his 11th Home Run. Kurt Airoso and Maxim St. Pierre also each had a Home Run and 3 RBI.

Don't look now, but Erie might be making a late push for the division crown. The Seawolves are now just 5.5 games behind Altoona, and are on a hot streak that could keep that gap closing. It's also not a coincidence that the win streak is directly related to the re-emergence of the offense. Over their last 7 games in which they are now 6-1, they are averaging nearly 9 runs/game, giving the pitching staff plenty of support - which is needed, especially after losing 2 of their better pitchers to the big league club. They obviously still have a ways to go, but if Granderson, Juan Tejada, and the rest of the team can keep up their hitting, they might not be out of the race yet.

High-A Lakeland 14-21, 5th place in West division
Surprise, surprise. Lakeland had another game rained out on Saturday due to the Florida storms, but they'll try and make it up on Sunday with a doubleheader.

Low-A West Michigan 14-20, 5th place in Eastern division
The Whitecaps fell in extra innings on Saturday, losing to Peoria 9-7 in 10 innings. Virgil Vasquez was the starter and had an excellent first 5 innings, but then gave up 7 runs in the 6th, putting the Whitecaps in a big hole. The offense was able to dig out of it and tie the score, but Anthony Tomey allowed a 2-run triple in the top of the 10th, and the offense couldn't make up the ground that time. Eric Rodland went 1-for-4 with 3 RBI, while Luis Sabino and Kody Kirkland each had 2 hits apiece.

An unfortunate result for the Whiteacaps - who rarely get the offensive support that they got on Saturday. It was a very rare outing for Vasquez, who has been the team's most reliable starter, especially after Andy Baldwin was promoted to Lakeland. However, despite the one bad inning, Vasquez shouldn't be given too much heat. His numbers all season long have been good, both his primary numbers (10-5, 3.70 ERA) and his secondary numbers (3.13 K:BB ratio, 1.20 WHIP) are strong, and he's proven to be durable, being a mainstay in the rotation all year long.

SS-A Oneonta 19-20, 2nd place in Stedler division
Oneonta's game with Hudson Valley on Saturday was cancelled, apparently with no makeup for the time being.

Rookie GCL Tigers 18-17, tied 2nd place in Northern division
The GCL Tigers, unlike the L-Tigers, were able to get their game in, and got a win, 7-3 over the GCL Yankees. Lucas French started, going 4 innings with 2 earned runs and 3 strikeouts, but Landon Harper got the win in relief. 2B Stephen Young went 1-for-4 with 2 RBI, while CF Brandon Timm went 1-for-3 with 2 RBI. C Cole Miller also had a pair of hits and an RBI in the win.

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