Results tagged ‘ bobby jones ’
TOP 12 GAMES OF 2012
Throughout the fall, we’ll take a look at the top 12 games of 2012. Before we get to that list, here is a brief look at nine games that were considered but didn’t make the list.
April 15 vs. Iowa: Round Rock edged Iowa 11-10 in 13 innings – the longest home game this season and tied for the third-longest Triple-A game in The Dell Diamond’s history. Matt Kata’s sacrifice fly was the game-winner.
May 8 at Salt Lake: Five homers gave the Express an 11-9 victory. Dusty Brown, Joey Butler, Mike Bianucci, Yangervis Solarte and Brad Nelson provided the homers, and Round Rock scored in seven different innings at hitter-friendly Spring Mobile Park.
June 1 at Memphis: Despite getting out-hit 9-3, the Express blanked Memphis 3-0. Greg Reynolds scattered six singles and four walks with four strikeouts over seven innings. Elio Sarmiento and Dusty Brown had consecutive RBI singles in the second, and Joey Butler tacked on a ninth-inning solo homer.
June 17 vs. Oklahoma City: What a pitching matchup – Oswalt vs. Clemens. OK, the Clemens was Paul Clemens. Roy Oswalt allowed two runs on six hits and a walk over six innings with five strikeouts in his final game before joining the Rangers; it was his lone win with the Express. Greg Miclat homered in the second, and his two-run double in the sixth erased a broke a 2-2 ties as the Express won 4-2.
July 17 at Nashville: Round Rock scored two runs in the ninth to send the game to extra innings, and Luis Hernandez delivered a two-out RBI single in the 11th for a 5-4 Express win. Round Rock’s bullpen (Joe Ortiz, Aaron Heilman and Neil Cotts) tossed five shutout innings.
Aug. 3 vs. Tucson: After squandering a 6-0 lead over the final three innings, the Express plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth for an 8-7 victory. Julio Borbon’s two-run single was the game-winner.
Aug. 21 vs. Oklahoma City: In his final win of the season, Zach Jackson limited the RedHawks to one run on seven hits and no walks over seven innings with seven strikeouts for a 4-1 Express victory. It was Jackson’s 20th win with the Express – a franchise record. Joey Butler’s sixth-inning solo homer snapped a 1-1 tie, and Leonys Martin added a two-run shot in the seventh.
Aug. 22 vs. Nashville: One night later, the Express overcame a 6-3 deficit entering the bottom of the eighth and eventually won 7-6 in 11 innings. This was the closest of the honorable mention games to make the top 12. Ryan Spilborghs clubbed a two-run homer in the eighth to pull the Express within a run. Matt Kata tied the game in the ninth with an RBI fielder’s choice. Manager Bobby Jones was ejected after a peculiar call on a double-play ball later in the ninth, a play in which Kata collided with Nashville second baseman Adrian Williams. Spilborghs came through in the 11th with a two-out RBI single.
And now on with the Top 12 list, starting today with No. 12:
Aug. 15: Express 14, at Reno 1
Scoring 14 runs on 19 hits in the 4,400-foot elevation of Reno was no big surprise. However, the ability of Martin Perez to hold the eventual PCL-champion Aces to one run on six hits and five walks over eight innings was quite impressive. The lone run came on Konrad Schmidt’s eighth-inning, two-out solo homer, ending Perez’s bid for his first career complete-game shutout.
All nine Express starters hit safely as the Express won their fifth straight game – the season’s longest streak at that date (they won a sixth straight the following night). Brad Snyder’s two-run double keyed a four-run second inning, and Round Rock never looked back, adding three in the third and two in the fourth. Brad Nelson’s two-run homer pushed the Express lead to 11-0 in the seventh, and Koyie Hill tacked on an RBI single later in the inning. Hill capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the ninth.
Perez posted his first road win with the Express since April 27 at Oklahoma City. It was the deepest into a game he carried a shutout in what was his 28th career Triple-A start. Perez escaped trouble in the fourth, inducing an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
It was Round Rock’s fifth straight game with at least 10 hits as the Express won for the 15th time in 21 games. Eight of nine batters had multiple-hit efforts; ironically, the lone exception was Luis Hernandez, who snapped a streak of nine consecutive multiple-hit outings. Leonys Martin ended a streak of four consecutive games with a homer but enjoyed a 4-for-6 effort nonetheless.
WHY FIRE SHOWALTER?
A couple weeks ago, we talked about the Baltimore Orioles’ success this year and how several members of the 2011 Express squad have played a part. We also asked when the Orioles will fire manager Buck Showalter. Here is the reason for the question:
Showalter managed three teams previously – the Yankees (1992-1995), Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and Rangers (2003-2006). In each case, his tenure ended with a firing. And, in each case, the succeeding manager led the team to a world series.
In 1994, Showalter guided the Yankees to a 70-43 record and was named American League Manager of the Year. New York owned baseball’s second-best record behind only Montreal (74-40). But the season was cut short due to the strike.
The following season, the Showalter-led Yankees were 79-65 and claimed the American League wild card – New York’s first playoff appearance since 1981. However, the Yankees lost to the Mariners 3-2 in the division series. Game 5 was one of the best playoff games in the wild-card era as Seattle edged New York 5-4. Randy Velarde’s one-out RBI single snapped a 4-4 tie in the top of the 11th, but Edgar Martinez won the game with a two-run double in the bottom of the inning that scored Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr. Coming off the bench for the Mariners in that game was rookie Alex Rodriguez; he replaced Tino Martinez, who would join the Yankees the following season.
Showalter was shown the door following the loss. Joe Torre took over, and the Yankees won four of the next five World Series.
A year later, Showalter was named inaugural manager of the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks – two years prior to the club’s first season. The D-backs were 65-97 in the first season (1998) but thundered to 100 wins and a division crown the following season thanks to off-season acquisitions of Randy Johnson, Armando Reynoso, Todd Stottlemyer and Steve Finley. Arizona lost to the New York Mets in the division series, and Showalter was fired after a lack-luster 85-77, third-place finish in 2000.
His replacement, Bob Brenly, followed Torre’s suit and guided the Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001, defeating none other than the Yankees in one of the best Game 7s in World Series history.
Showalter was unable to lead the Rangers to a playoff appearance in his four seasons at Arlington. However, he was named American League Manager in the Year in 2004, skippering the Rangers to an 89-73 record in his second season after a 71-91 mark in 2003. Texas finished third in the division, three games back of Anaheim and two games behind Oakland. It was the Rangers’ lone winning season with Showalter at the helm. He was fired following an 80-82 mark in 2006.
Showing Showalter the door in Arlington was then-29-year-old general manager John Daniels, who then hired Ron Washington. Four years later, the Rangers reached the World Series for the first time ever and returned the following season. Washington currently has Texas atop the division in pursuit of the Rangers first division three-peat.
So, surely the Orioles will fire Showalter after the Birds dip to a sub-.500 record next season. We’ll prognosticate former or soon-to-be-former players as potential replacements: Chipper Jones (retires after this season), Scott Rolen (has played for heralded managers Tony La Russa, Dusty Baker, Terry Francona and Larry Bowa), Derek Lee (clubhouse guy has played for Jack McKeon, Lou Pinella, Bobby Cox and Showalter) or Todd Helton (quietly one of this generation’s best hitters). However, the best bet among former players surely is Hall of Famer and former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. – assuming he wants the job… and (of course) assuming it all comes to this.
By Will Weinstock
The 2012 Express season has been known for its inconsistencies. At the halfway point in June, the team was 32-40 and was 10.5 games back in the American Southern Division. Coming into the season expectations were tempered because much of the key contributors from the 2011 division champion team were gone. No longer could the Express count on timely hitting from Chad Tracy, Chris Davis, and Esteban German. But poor hitting has not plagued the Express this season.
At times, the E-Train’s inconsistencies have come from its inability to get consistent quality starts from the starting rotation. Coming into the year most thought that the rotation would hold down the fort till an overhauled lineup felt comfortable. But it has been the other way around. A projected rotation with top prospects Neil Ramirez and Martin Perez, Zach Jackson (who had a team-high 13 wins in 2011) and 2011 Express Pitcher of the Year Mark Hamburger looked formidable.
Things have not gone according to plan as the team is in the bottom third of the PCL in the ERA, 4.92. Even more telling, they are dead last in the league with only 485 strikeouts despite being in the top third with 700.1 innings pitched. Conversely, in the first 80 games, the Express have scored five or more runs 44 times.
There is hope that the pitching will improve. Left-hander Chad Bell had an impressive Triple-A debut on June 26, and when everyone is healthy in Arlington, the Express can expect reinforcements coming down from the big leagues in the second half.
Coming into the year the outfield was expected to be the strongest spot of the squad and they haven’t disappointed. The lone PCL All-Star selection, Joey Butler, has been the most consistent and has improved significantly from last year. In 2011, Butler became a fan favorite in Round Rock after hitting .322 with 12 HR and playing stellar defense. But there were still areas of his game he could improve. One was his lack of discipline at the plate as he led the team with 138 strikeouts in 113 games. The changes Butler has made have been noticeable. He leads the PCL in walks and already has more than he had last year, all while improving on his home run numbers (11 first-half home runs). Center fielder Leonys Martin has only played 31 games in Round Rock because of a thumb injury and a recent call-up to Arlington, but he has been productive in his short time here. Martin hit .344 with 22 RBI and 19 runs scored, and could be back in Round Rock before the season is over.
Last year’s team scored runs through its big power bats in the middle of the lineup. The 2012 squad has been productive offensively but in a much different way. In a span of two months, three Express hitters went on red-hot hitting streaks. Infielder Yangervis Solarte and outfielders Julio Borbon and Ryan Spilborghs each spent weeks hitting the ball all over the field. In fact, Solarte’s 22-game streak from April 19 to May 11 is now the franchise record. Borbon came one hit away from tying Solarte with a 21-game hitting streak from May 12 to June 12, a span which saw his batting average rise from .238 to .316. Spilborghs had a 16-game hitting streak that began from his first game with the Express, May 5 to May 22.
After only making a few transactions in the first two months, injuries in both Round Rock and Arlington have a created a lot of roster turnover in June. After only 16 roster moves through May, the number is now close to 50 at the end of June.
“It can get pretty crazy with guys going up and guys going down and half the time you don’t even know who’s on your team,” Express manager Bobby Jones said. “That is the fun part of it. You got to put bodies in and make things fit.”
The 2011 Express played some of its best baseball after the PCL All-Star break when they went 35-19 down the stretch. If some of talent from Frisco makes its way to Round Rock and the recently promoted players return, a run at a division title is not out of the realm of possibility.
“[Our team] will be better than the first half,” Butler said. “I think we are starting to come together and make strides.”
As the summer starts to heat up don’t overlook the E-Train.
By Will Weinstock
2009: 227 AB, 22 R, 61 H, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 8 SB, .269 BA, .313 OBP, .348 SLG
2010: 485 AB, 63 R, 131 H, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 4 SB, .270 BA, .319 OBP, .367 SLG
2011: 392 AB, 60 R, 115 H, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB, .293 BA, .353 OBP, .480 SLG
2012: 240 AB, 30 R, 66 H, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 3 SB, .275 BA, .311 OBP, .417 SLG
Coming in at number 10 is Matt Kata. When we were putting together our rankings we had a tough time deciding where to put Kata. We felt that the 34-year-old deserved inclusion because of his invaluable versatility, and his Express career numbers. But unlike all other nine members in our top ten he did not have one season where he put up outrageous numbers. Finally after much debate we settled on slotting Kata in at number 10.
Originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 9th round of the 1999 MLB Amateur Draft. Kata made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks in 2003 at the age of 25. He spent the next five seasons as a major league journeyman, shuttling between Triple-A and the major leagues with five different teams. Finally, Kata found a home in Round Rock four years ago, and aside from a 40 game stint with the Astros in 2009, he has been with the team ever since.
The Ohio native is the longest tenured Express player in our top ten. And in his time with the team he has truly become a fan favorite in the Round Rock community. When the Round Rock Express made the change from being an Astros to Rangers affiliate the one constant on the field was Kata. In minor league baseball when rosters are ever changing from year to year the Express is one of the few with a face for the franchise, and that is what the Express have in Kata.
What makes Kata’s career with the Express impressive is his versatility. Naturally a second basemen the 34-year-old has played at every position across the diamond in his four seasons with the team except pitcher and catcher. His versatility to a manager Bobby Jones is no better exemplified than on July 3. Instead of starting at third base where he has found most of his playing time this season, Kata saw left field next to his name on the lineup card. A couple innings into the game 1B Mike Bianucci was forced to leave with an injury, and Jones turned to Kata to play a position he has not played this season.
Life for a Triple-A team is dealing with the large amount of player movement back and forth from its major league affiliate. Part of the purpose of the Express is to develop talent, but to also help the Texas Rangers however they can. Triple-A teams make lots of transactions during the season, and half the time the manager does not even know who is on his roster. Last season the Express made 124 transactions, with 50 different players involved. That is why it is invaluable to have a guy like Kata who can play all over the field.
Similar to his abilities defensively Kata is a versatile player on offense as well. Kata is ranked in the top three of most offensive categories in Express history including: hits, runs, extra-base hits, total bases, and RBI. Kata has never hit over .300, stole 30 bases, or hit 20 home runs in a season, but what he has done in his career is get the job done whenever the manager calls his number. Epitomized by his .426 (23-for-54) average and 32 RBI with runners in scoring position this season.
In this era filled with egos and driven by numbers, Kata is atypical because of his commitment to the team, and is one of the last utility players in what is becoming a dying breed. Kata deservedly comes in at number 10 of the greatest players to don an Express jersey.
Top 10 Schedule:
Number 10: Matt Kata
Number 9: July 7
Number 8: July 8
Number 7: July 9
Number 6: July 10
Number 5: July 11
Number 4: July 16
Number 3: July 17
Number 2: July 18
Number 1: July 19