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Crooked Numbers: May in the Minors06/01/2009 6:47 PM ET
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
The purpose of "Crooked Numbers" is to take a look back at the month that was in the Minor Leagues, highlighting some of the many curious and absurd incidents that have taken place. Enjoy, and please don't hesitate to get in touch with suggestions for future editions.
Shades of Fisk and LoDuca: Getting two outs at the plate within the span of a single play is a rare occurrence indeed. It last happened in the Majors in 2006, when the Mets' Paul LoDuca tagged out two Dodger runners in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
But just such a freakish play occurred in the Minors this month -- in a game on May 1 between the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Great Lakes Loons. With one out in the bottom of the third inning, the Rattlers had Cutter Dykstra on second base and Juan Sanchez at first. What happened next? Timber Rattlers announcer Chris Mehring was kind enough to provide an eyewitness account:
"Brett Lawrie came up to bat and he lined a pitch to the gap in right-center. That was when the confusion started. Dykstra went back to second to tag up in case the ball was caught. But Sanchez was running all out to second on contact. Dykstra reversed course and headed for third as right fielder Jerry Sands tracked down the ball at the wall.
Both Dykstra and Sanchez rounded third and headed for home as the relay from second baseman Jaime Pedroza came to the plate. Catcher Tony Delmonico tagged out Dykstra, who slid to the back side of home plate, and Sanchez, who slid to the front side of the plate, within a split-second for an inning-ending double play."
Bunting for a Home Run: The Charlotte Knights defeated the Syracuse Chiefs by a score of 10-7 on May 3, and the Knights' margin of victory in the contest was the result of a highly unusual play. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Miguel Negron came to the plate with runners on first and second and laid down a bunt. In an attempt to force out the runner at third, Chiefs pitcher Jesus Colome threw wildly into left field. Not only did both runners score on the miscue, but the speedy Negron circled the bases as well. For those keeping score at home, that's a fielder's choice and a four-base throwing error.
Bunting for a Home Run, Part 2:The Bowie Baysox defeated the Altoona Curve, 8-7, on May 20, in a game that featured a three-run bunt by Miguel Abreu. With runners on first and second and no outs, Abreu laid down a bunt and came around to score on the very same play. This accomplishment was made possible due to throwing errors by catcher Steven Lerud and pitcher Kyle Bloom.
Let's Play ... Three? On May 29, the Greensboro Grasshoppers and Lake County Captains played 19 innings of baseball over the span of a "tripleheader." The two teams completed a nine-inning suspended contest from the night before (picking things up in the fifth inning), and then played a pair of seven-inning ballgames. Lake County won the suspended game, as well as the second of the seven-inning contests.
Repeat Performance: On April 25, Jeffrey Locke of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans faced the Salem Red Sox and pitched six no-hit innings before yielding a single to the first batter of the seventh inning. His next start came on May 1, and it was once again against the Salem Red Sox. Continuing with the déjà vu theme, Locke pitched six no-hit frames before allowing a leadoff single in the seventh.
Losing Control: In 10 of his 11 starts this season, Andrew Brackman of the Charleston RiverDogs has walked three batters or fewer. The exception came on May 26, when the first-round draft pick issued 10 free passes over 3 1/3 innings of work against Bowling Green. Brackman yielded three runs in this dreadful outing and but didn't get a decision as Charleston won, 9-4.
Getting Blanked and Then Doing the Blanking: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees suffered through a franchise-record 45-inning stretch this month in which they did not score a run, an ignominious streak that included four straight shutout losses. The Yankees finally scored a run on May 15, at which point the team's pitching staff was in the midst of its own scoreless inning streak. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hurlers eventually went 27 innings straight without allowing a run, just 5 1/3 innings short of the franchise record.
The 16th Time's the Charm: On May 3, Portland Sea Dogs pitcher Adam Mills obtained something that had eluded him in his previous 15 outing, a Double-A victory. The right-hander made 11 starts with the Sea Dogs in 2008 and went 0-5 despite compiling a respectable 4.05 ERA. This season, he went 0-1 over his first four starts before finally breaking through against the Connecticut Defenders.
Mills' victory was not a sign of things to come, however. In his next start he allowed 10 runs over 2 1/3 innings, but miraculously avoided the loss in an eventual 12-11 defeat at the hands of New Britain.
No Drama In This No-No: All no-hitters are not created equal. This was made painfully clear on May 4 when Aaron Poreda of the Birmingham Barons was credited with a no-hitter despite pitching just five innings. The former first-round draft pick faced off against West Tenn and walked five batters before rain halted the ballgame. The game was called 91 minutes later, giving the Barons a 3-0 victory.
"In the clubhouse, when we heard it over the loudspeaker, we had to celebrate a little because that's what everyone does," Poreda told MiLB.com. "My teammates were very happy for me."
The Number of the Beast: Over a three-game stretch between April 23 and May 2, Frederick Keys reliever Cliff Flagello allowed six runs on six hits and six walks over 6 1/3 innings while striking out six.
Lucky Sevens: The South Bend Silver Hawks defeated the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on May 9 by a score of 11-2. The Silver Hawks took a commanding lead in the ballgame after scoring seven runs on seven hits in the seventh inning.
Speaking of the Silver Hawks: First baseman Ramon Ramirez came to bat 321 times for the Silver Hawks in 2008, and he recorded nary a triple. But in the aforementioned 11-2 victory over Wisconsin on May 9, he hit two.
Speaking of Triples: On May 31, Jeffrey Cunningham of the Modesto Nuts tied a California League record when he hit three triples in one game. This matched the number of triples he had hit in his career thus far, spanning 722 at-bats and three seasons.
You Again?The Modesto Nuts and San Jose Giants each played 29 games in the month of May -- 15 of which were against one another. The Giants won eight contests. Making matters worse, each game required the visiting team to take a bus to and from the stadium. Modesto and San Jose are located 97 miles away from one another; Minor League rules require an overnight hotel stay for all trips over 100 miles.
In Bunches: Joseph Dunigan of the High Desert Mavericks has hit 14 homers this season, despite the fact that he has gone yard in just eight ballgames. From April 26-30, the 23-year-old slugger logged three two-homer efforts over the span of four games. Then on May 7, he slugged three home runs against the Inland Empire 66ers. Thus far, Dunigan has as many multi-homer games (four) as he does games in which he has hit one home run.
Not Dead Yet: Savannah's 6-4 victory over Greenville on May 6 was a reminder that it really ain't over 'til it's over. The Sand Gnats were trailing, 4-2, with two outs and no one on when Eric Campbell reached base on a passed-ball strikeout. Sean Ratliff followed with a walk and consecutive RBI singles by Joshua Satin and Kai Gronauer knotted the game, 4-4. Savannah went on to win the game, 6-4, in 10 innings.
A Rare Trifecta: Durham Bulls outfielder Justin Ruggiano was involved in a variety of unorthodox situations this month, all of which occurred within a four-day span. On May 6 in Charlotte, the 27-year-old outfielder protested a rain delay by laying down in front of the tarp (this attempt at non-violent resistance failed, as play was nonetheless halted for 92 minutes). Ruggiano was not in the starting lineup May 8, and he instead passed the time by working one of the cameras for that evening's television broadcast. The time behind the lens served him well as he blasted three home runs the very next night.
Better Late Than Never: Nashville Sounds pitcher Chase Wright is in the midst of his ninth professional season, and this month he was able to accomplish something he had never done before -- he got a hit. The 26-year-old laid down a bunt single against Portland on May 24, and he is now hitting .100 (1-for-10) on the season.
Better Late Than Never, Part 2: Indianapolis Indians hurler Virgil Vazquez did not accumulate a single at-bat over the first six seasons of his professional career, but now he's making up for lost time. The 26-year-old right-hander has hit safely in four of the five games in which he has come to the plate, and he has gotten on base at a .429 clip.
There Goes the McBride: Carolina League pitchers breathed a collective sigh of relief when hot-hitting Matt McBride received a promotion from Kinston to Double-A Akron. But no pitching staff was happier to see him go then that of the Salem Red Sox. In seven games against Salem, McBride hit .551 (16-for-29) with three home runs and 15 RBIs.
Who Wants It Less? On May 10, the Lansing Lugnuts defeated the Beloit Snappers, 6-3. But really, this is a game that no one deserved to win. The Lugnuts emerged victorious despite the fact that their pitching staff walked 12 batters. The reason that they were able to get away with such shoddy play is because the Snappers combined to go 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Don't Blame the Defense: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats turned five double plays against the Connecticut Defenders on May 10, and as icing on the cake catcher Brian Jeroloman threw out two of the three runners who attempted to steal against him. The result was nonetheless a 3-0 Defenders victory, as the Fisher Cats offense was limited to just one hit.
Cycling Slowly: The month of May featured two instances in which a player hit for the cycle over a two-day period. On the 9th, Greg Jacobo of the Cedar Rapids Kernels singled and doubled over two at-bats against the Quad Cities River Bandits. The game was halted due to rain after an inning-and-a-half of play and resumed the following afternoon. Jacobo then finished what he started the night before, homering in the fifth inning and tripling in the seventh.
The next player to accomplish a multi-day cycle was Brandon Tripp of the Jupiter Hammerheads. The 25-year-old tripled in his first at-bat against Lakeland on May 28, but the game was suspended in the fourth. The following evening he returned to action and hit a single in the fifth, a homer in the sixth and a double in the eighth.
Extreme Splits, Vol. 1: Casey Hudspeth of the Corpus Christi Hooks is 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA over five home starts. On the road, he is 0-4 with a 10.80 ERA over four starts.
Extreme Splits, Vol. 2: Nicholas Weglarz of the Akron Aeros hit .089 with a homer and six RBIs over 19 games in April. In May, he hit .329 with six home runs and 28 RBIs over 26 games.
An Unorthodox Route to Victory: On May 14, the San Antonio Missions defeated the Midland RockHounds, 4-3, despite the fact that they left 19 runners on base in the contest. This was just one shy of the all-time Texas League record, set by Oklahoma City on Aug. 22, 1949.
A Short Commute: Reliever Randy Newsom was traded from the Indians to the Pirates on May 17, resulting in a reassignment from Double-A Akron to Double-A Altoona. The two teams were playing one another at the time, meaning that Newsom simply had to relocate from the visitors' dugout to home. He ended up facing his old mates that same afternoon and took the loss, allowing three runs over a third of an inning.
It's Been a While: The Harrisburg Senators kicked off the 2009 season on April 9 with an extra-inning road win against the Reading Phillies. They then lost their next 15 road contests, a streak that was finally snapped on May 15 against the very same Reading Phillies.
Mr. Consistency: The Peoria Chiefs played a four-game series against the Beloit Snappers from May 16-19. The Chiefs' Josh Vitters collected three hits, homered and scored twice in each of the four games.
Dawn of a New Era: In 2008, not a single member of the Inland Empire 66ers managed to steal three bases in a game. On May 18, both Trayvon Robinson and Elian Herrera accomplished the feat against Lake Elsinore.
Who Would've Thought? Jeff Icenogle of the Lancaster JetHawks suffered through a horrible start May 21, allowing seven runs on seven hits while retiring just one batter. That batter was Cliff Floyd -- a veteran of 16 Major League seasons.
The Imperfect Game: On May 21, the Cedar Rapids Kernels lost to the Great Lakes Loons, 6-3, in 13 innings. Despite the disappointing result, four Kernel pitchers (Manaurys Correa, Andrew Taylor, Vladimir Veras, and Chris Armstrong) combined to retire 26 consecutive batters in the ballgame. This impressive streak began in the fourth inning and ended in the 12th.
One Streak Ends, Another Begins: After going 125 games and 265 at-bats without a home run, Albuquerque's Chin-Lung Hu hit two homers over two at-bats spanning two ballgames (May 26 and 27 vs. Colorado Springs).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.