TMLN: Plouffe Continues Hot Start

In this edition of Twins Minor League Notebook, the Red Wings get a day off before opening a four-game set with Toledo, the Rock Cats win on a walk-off home run by Luke Hughes, the Miracle get shut out in both games of a double header, and Beloit gets eight solid from Alex Burnett in the win.

Rochester Red Wings
The Red Wings had the day off on Thursday, and will open up a four-game set with Toledo on Friday. The Wings have not yet announced a starter for the game on Friday, but whoever it is, they will be faced by Virgil Vasquez (2-2, 3.48). First pitch is slated for 7:00pm ET. The Wings are currently 9-3 through their first 12 games of the season, and have a 0.5 game lead over Buffalo for first place in the International League North Division. The team has won five straight games.

New Britain Rock Cats
Down 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth, the Rock Cats scored four times, including a three-run homerun walk-off home run by second baseman Luke Hughes, sealing a 11-8 victory. It was their third comeback victory in their last four games. Nick Blackburn got the start for the Rock Cats, allowing five runs (two earned) in only 4.2 innings of work. The young right-hander has yet to go more than five innings this season, and his three walks on Thursday were a season-high. Jay Sawatski was dominant in relief, tossing 2.1 innings of no-hit ball. Sawatski was coming off two sub-par outings, where he allowed a combined five earned runs in only 3.1 innings of relief. Brian Forystek was the final hurler of the night for New Britain, and although he blew the save, he picked up his first win of the season. For the second straight time in a save opportunity, Forystek allowed three earned runs, and blowing a save.

Shortstop Trevor Plouffe is off to the hot start that TCD predicted, and on Thursday he had another big day at the plate. Plouffe stroked four hits, including his third home run of the season, scored twice, and drove in two. It was his sixth multi-hit game this season, and he is now six for his last ten. Luke Hughes played the part of hero on Thursday, as his walk-off home run sealed the deal for the Cats. Hughes had two hits in the game, scoring twice, and although he has only appeared in seven games, he has now hit safely in six of them. Matt Allegra had two hits as well, raising his batting average above .200. Gil Velazquez had three hits, including a home run, and raised his average from .188 to .300.

Fort Myers Miracle
It was a day to forget for the Miracle, who were shutout in both games of a double header against Dunedin, 4-0 and 3-0 respectively. Both games were of the seven-inning variety, with top prospect Jay Rainville getting the start in the opener. Rainville had been one of the hotter pitchers in the organization coming into Thursday, but he struggled with his command in the loss. He walked three in only 3.2 innings of work, allowing four earned runs on five hits. It was his third loss of the season. Joshua Hill pitched great in relief, handcuffing the Blue Jays through 2.1 innings, while allowing only one hit. Hill has looked good through his last three outings, allowing only one earned run combined in 4.1 innings of relief.

No offense to speak of in game one, except for Whitney Robbins, who had two hits in the game. The Miracle mustered only three hits total, with Erik Lis getting the other knock for the Myers. The hits were the first for Robbins in the last four games, and Lis' hit extended his personal hitting streak to nine games.

In the nightcap, the Miracle got a decent outing from Yohan Pino, who was making his first start of the year. Pino worked 4.0 innings, allowing two earned runs, while striking out five. Previously, Pino had yet to allow an earned run through five relief appearances. Kyle Aselton was the only other pitcher for Fort Myers in the game, and he pitched well also, tossing 2.0 innings of one-run ball. His only mistake was a home run ball to Billy Butler in the fifth inning. Aselton has allowed earned runs in only two of his appearances, though he has allowed home runs in both of those leading to the runs.

The Miracle wrapped seven hits in game two, but left seven on base, as Dwayne White and Eli Tintor both had two-hit nights. White has come on as of late, posting multi-hit games in three of his last four starts. In that time, he has raised his average from .254 to .276. He has struck out only once in that span. Tintor has now hit safely in three of his last four starts, as he tries to get himself above the dreaded Mendoza Line. In the last three games, he has brought his average from a measly .133 to a much better .188. Lis went 0-2 in the night cap, ending his nine-game hit streak. Jeff Christy got a hit, extending his hit streak to five games, and Juan Portes picked up his first hit in three games.

Beloit Snappers
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Snappers scored four unanswered runs, leading to a 4-2 victory over Dayton on Friday. Alex Burnett was tremendous on the hill for the Snappers, as he picked up his first win of the season. Entering the game with the second highest ERA on the team, Burnett tossed eight stellar innings, allowing only two earned runs on four hits along the way. He also struck out five. Dan Leatherman picked up his second save of the season, allowing one hit in his only inning of relief. Leatherman has now allowed earned runs in only one of his six appearances this season. He also nailed down his second save in as many opportunities.

Sure they struck out nine times and left 14 runners on base, but the Snappers doubled the amount of hits the Dragons put up (10-5), and got another good game from first baseman Johnny Woodard. Woodard stroked two hits, upping his average to .310 on the year, and could be finally playing up to his potential. He has had multi-hit games in three of his last four outings, and has doubled in four of his last six games. Danny Santiesteban hit his second home run of the season, a two-run jack that tied the game up in the fifth. Santiesteban also recorded an outfield assist, throwing Justin Turner out at second base. Danny Valencia, who has hit everything this season, stroked two more doubles, bumping his average up to a robust .365. Valencia has hit safely in every game but two in 2007, including seven multi-hit games.

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