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Throughout the fall, we’ll take a look at the top 12 games of 2012. Today, we look at Game No. 8 on our list.
Aug. 20: at Express 2, Oklahoma City 1
In his antepenultimate start with the Express, Martin Perez delivered the best start of his professional career. The left-hander tossed his complete game and used only 97 pitches in the process. The lone run he allowed was unearned, scattering six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. It was the third of his 21 starts in which Perez did not walk a batter.
Consecutive one-out doubles from Luis Hernandez and Matt Kata in the bottom of the first gave the Express a 1-0 lead. Brandon Snyder doubled with two outs in the fifth and later scored on Julio Borbon’s double.
Oklahoma City’s lone run came in the sixth. Oklahoma City catcher Carlos Corporan squibbed a single down the third-base line. Snyder scooped the ball just in front of the bag; his attempt to get Corporan at first skipped away, allowing Corporan to reach second. Two batters later, Jimmy Paredes lined a 2-2 pitch off Perez’s leg. The ball ricocheted into shallow right-center, and Corporan scored.
Perez buckled down from there. He struck out the next batter – J.D. Martinez – on three straight pitches and induced an inning-inning pop-out from cleanup batter Matt Downs. Mike Hessman led off the seventh with a double but was stranded at third.
The RedHawks hardly made Perez work after he was hit by the comebacker. He used only 23 pitches (20 strikes) the rest of the way, retiring 11 of the game’s 13 batters. The lone Oklahoma City hit after Hessman’s double was a Downs one-out bunt single in the ninth. Perez then got consecutive pop-outs from Hessman and Matt Dominguez to end the game.
Of Perez’s 97 pitches, 71 were strikes. The outing came on the heels of a win at Reno in which he held the Pacific Coast League’s top hitting team to one run on six hits over eight innings. It was his fourth victory in a five-start span.
Perez also continued his dominance of Oklahoma City, improving to 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in three starts against the RedHawks.
Round Rock snapped a three-game losing streak with the win, ending their final skid of at least three games and their lone such slump in the season’s final six weeks. The Express won their next four games, continuing a stretch in which they won 10 of 13 and 15 of 20 games.
2012 EXPRESS MEMBERS STILL IN ACTION
Several 2012 Round Rock Express members still are in action this season. The current Texas Rangers roster features eight 2012 Express members: pitchers Michael Kirkman, Roy Oswalt, Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama, catcher Luis Martinez, infielder Brandon Snyder and outfielder Leonys Martin. Additionally, the Rangers roster includes outfielder Craig Gentry, who was an Express member last season. Other current Rangers who rehabbed with the Express this season are pitchers Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara and infielder Mitch Moreland.
Meanwhile, Double-A Frisco is alive and well in the Texas League playoffs (more on that below). Former Express members Val Majewski, Tommy Mendonca, Guilder Rodriguez and Justin Grimm have seen action through the RoughRiders’ first two games of the playoff games. Right-hander Neil Ramirez also is on Frisco’s active roster.
ROUGHRIDERS BUILD 2-0 SERIES LEAD
Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco is one win away from reaching the Texas League Championship Series. The RoughRiders lead their division series against Houston Astros affiliate Corpus Christi 2-0, winning both home games in dramatic fashion.
Wednesday, the RoughRiders got a one-out RBI double from Chris McGuiness that scored Leury Garcia with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Frisco edged Corpus Christi 6-5. The RoughRiders got hits from all nine starters, including former Express members Tommy Mendonca (1-for-4, run), Val Majewski (2-for-3, RBI, run, walk) and Guilder Rodriguez (1-for-3, RBI, walk). One of Majewski’s hits was a second-inning leadoff homer that tied the game 2-2. The RoughRiders plated three runs in the third to take a 5-2 lead before the Hooks posted solo spots in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to tie the game.
Frisco got another walk-off win Thursday night as Garcia blasted a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 victory. Rodriguez walked to open the ninth and moved to second on an Engel Beltre sacrifice bunt. Rodriguez then was caught trying to steal third with Garcia at the plate. Garcia, however, had the last laugh as he deposited a Ryan Rodebaugh 2-1 offering over the fence down the right-field line. Mendonca (1-for-2) and Rodriguez (0-for-2) both walked twice; Majewski scored the game-tying run as a pinch-runner in a two-run eighth. Justin Grimm worked two scoreless innings in relief for the RoughRiders, scattering a pair of hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Corpus Christi designated hitter Drew Locke, who played for the Express in 2010, was 0-for-4.
The best-of-five series now shifts to Corpus Christi’s Whataburger Field. Game three features former University of Missouri right-hander Nick Tepesch on the mound for the RoughRiders against Hooks right-hander Ross Seaton. Tepesch was 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 14 starts and two relief outings for Frisco during the regular season. He began the 2012 season with Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach, where he was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 12 starts. Seaton was 8-8 with a 4.07 ERA in 25 starts for the Hooks during the regular season.
Frisco has not announced starters for the final two games of the series should they be necessary. However, projections have Neil Ramirez going in game four and right-hander Cody Buckel in the series finale. Ramirez began the season with the Express and struggled through 15 starts (6-8, 7.66 ERA) after a promising Round Rock showing in 2011. He was reassigned to Frisco in late June and went 2-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance with the RoughRiders. Like Tepesch, Buckel started the season with Myrtle Beach; he was dominant with the Pelicans, going 5-3 with a 1.31 ERA and 91 strikeouts over 75.2 innings in 13 starts. Buckel was promoted to Frisco in mid-June and was 5-5 with a 3.78 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 69.0 innings in 10 starts and three relief outings with the RoughRiders.
FORMER EXPRESS MEMBERS ELSEWHERE
Pitchers Mark Hamburger and John Gaub, both of whom were Express members in 2012, completed their seasons with other Triple-A squads.
Hamburger, who was Round Rock’s pitcher of the year in 2011, was acquired by the San Diego Padres upon his mid-June release from the Rangers. However, he was not with the Padres long, going 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in one start and four relief outings with Triple-A Tucson. Hamburger was released in mid-July and nabbed by the Houston Astros, who assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. There, Hamburger was 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA in 17 relief appearances. His lone victory was Aug. 19 at Round Rock when he worked one and one-thirds scoreless innings with one strikeout and one walk in the RedHawks’ 5-2 win.
If you blinked in late May and early June, you likely missed Gaub’s stint with the Express. The veteran lefty started the season with Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay Rays) of the International League and was released May 20. The Rangers signed him three days later and assigned him to Round Rock, where did not record a decision or allow a run in five relief outings – the first four of which were on the road. Gaub threw 12 pitches in an Express uniform at The Dell Diamond, those coming in one perfect inning June 5 against Albuquerque. He was released shortly thereafter and acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals, who assigned him to Triple-A Memphis. Gaub spent the remainder of the season with the Redbirds, going 0-3 with one save and a 6.68 ERA in 33 relief appearances. He pitched in three games against the Express, including a scoreless inning July 13 at The Dell Diamond.
FORMER EXPRESS MEMBERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Several other former Express members currently are in the majors with organizations other than Texas. Here is a look at a couple; we’ll check in with others throughout the remainder of the season.
Luis Cruz (Express 2011) began the season with Triple-A Albuquerque (Los Angeles Dodgers) and hit .381 with eight homers, 46 RBI, 31 doubles and three triples in 74 games with the Isotopes. He was promoted to the Dodgers in early July and did not look back. His call-up was due to an injury to starting shortstop Gordon Dee. Cruz moved to third shortly after the Dodgers’ trade for Hanley Ramirez, who returned to shortstop after playing third with the Miami Marlins. (Remember all the ballyhoo surrounding his move to third when the Marlins acquired Jose Reyes in the off-season?) Cruz is hitting .306 with four homers, 30 RBI and 15 doubles in 54 games with the Dodgers. After leading Dodgers regulars with a .333 average in August, Cruz is off to an 8-for-20 start in five games this month (he had four hits Monday against San Diego). In fact, his August average tied for the National League’s seventh-best mark that month. Cruz has done most of his damage in key situations, hitting .352 with runners in scoring position.
Cody Ransom (Express 2006-2007) made it to the majors for the sixth consecutive season and the second straight with Arizona. This is his 10th big-league season with five organizations (Giants, Astros, Yankees, Phillies, Diamondbacks). Ransom started the 2012 campaign with the Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate Reno Aces, hitting .294 with two homers and nine RBI in 10 games before joining the Diamondbacks, for whom he played 17 games (.269, four homers, 12 RBI). He was claimed on waivers by Milwaukee in mid-May but struggled with the Brew Crew (.196, six homers, 26 RBI in 64 games). Arizona reclaimed Ransom off waivers last weekend, and he was 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored in his first game back Monday night.
30 August 2012 | The Dell Diamond | Round Rock, Texas
Records: Express (68-72), Zephyrs (73-67)
– Brandon Snyder game-winning, three-run homer in eighth inning
– Round Rock sweeps series 4-0
– Round Rock wins season series 11-5
– Express begin four-game series Friday at Oklahoma City – 7:05 p.m. CDT first pitch
– Friday’s scheduled starters: RR – LHP Zach Jackson (7-12, 4.53 ERA); OKC – LHP Rudy Owens (1-3, 4.76 ERA)
ROUND ROCK swept first series this season … won nine of last 11 games, 15 of last 20 … improved to league-best 25-11 since July 26 … won 11 of last 16 vs. New Orleans at The Dell Diamond … at least one homer in 10 of last 12 games, 16 of last 20 … 16 homers over last 10 games.
JULIO BORBON (2-for-5) six-game hitting streak (8-for-26) … one hit shy of Mark Saccomanno’s 2008 franchise record (157) … hit safely in 15 of last 16 games (26-for-67) … reached safely in 16 straight games … multiple hits in eight of last 15 games.
LUIS HERNANDEZ (3-for-5) hit safely in 18 of last 20 with Express … multiple hits in 12 of those games.
LEONYS MARTIN (1-for-3) six-game hitting streak (9-for-25) … intentionally walked twice … hit safely in 28 of last 30 games with Express … snapped streak of six straight games with at least one run scored.
BRAD NELSON (0-for-5) hitless in last 10 at bats.
JOEY BUTLER (2-for-4) clubbed 20th home run … hit safely in 16 of last 17 games (23-for-66).
YANGERVIS SOLARTE (1-for-4) six-game hitting streak (9-for-23) … hit 11th home run.
MIKE BIANUCCI (1-for-4) hit safely in six of last seven games with Express.
BRANDON SNYDER (2-for-4) clubbed second homer with Express.
ROBINZON DIAZ (0-for-3, walk) reached safely in five of six games with Express.
Silenced: Sounds win 5-2.
So Far, It’s Not Working: If you read our players to watch post earlier today, well… so far, our efforts are not working. Brandon Snyder is 0-for-2 with a strikeout, Koyie Hill is 0-for-2 including an inning-ending double play, and Justin Grimm has yielded four runs on eight hits and a walk with two strikeouts through five innings. Sounds lead 4-0 going to sixth.
Deja Blue All Over Again… Again… Again: Round Rock is wearing blue jerseys for the fifth consecutive game. The Express won each of the previous four games. If it ain’t broke…
Short Stop: Matt Kata is starting at shortstop tonight; it’s his first start at the position since May 13 at Tacoma. Luis Hernandez was added to the Rangers 40-man roster this afternoon and is with the parent club while Michael Young is on paternity leave. Alberto Gonzalez left last night’s game after being hit by a pitch. All that necessitates Kata’s fill-in at shortstop.
First Pitch: We’re underway at 7:08 p.m. CDT. Temperature at first pitch was 93 degrees – that’s 34 degrees in Mzuzu, Malawi.
Last night, we listed Leonys Martin as a player to watch with the explanation that no reason for doing such was necessary. Martin was 0-for-4. With that in mind, we’ll try to impose the opposite result with tonight’s players to watch.
BRANDON SNYDER enters tonight’s game hitless in his last nine at bats with five strikeouts in his last eight at bats. He is 1-for-15 (.067) over his last five games and 2-for-23 (.087) since his third-inning single Aug. 15 at Reno. Furthermore, he’s 4-for-17 (.235) with no homers, four RBI and seven strikeouts in five Aug. 24 games in his career. Reverse the curse.
KOYIE HILL is hitless in his last eight at bats with at least one strikeout in seven straight games (10 strikeouts). Somewhat surprisingly, Hill has played only one game on Aug. 24 since 2004. That was in 2008 with the Iowa Cubs when he was 2-for-3 with one homer, three RBI, two walks and one run scored. The opponent that night? The Oklahoma City RedHawks – then the Rangers Triple-A affiliate.
JUSTIN GRIMM is 0-2 with a 4.61 ERA in four starts and one piggy-back relief outing at The Dell Diamond. The losses came in each of his last two home starts – Aug. 8 vs. Las Vegas, Aug. 19 vs. Oklahoma City. He surrendered 10 earned runs on 18 hits over 10.2 innings in those games. This is Grimm’s first-ever professional outing on Aug. 24.
One Year Ago Today… Chad Tracy homered twice and drove in six runs as the Express blistered Albuquerque 16-8 at Isotopes Park. His first homer capped at nine-run fourth inning that matched the highest-scoring inning in franchise history. His six RBI gave him 100 for the year, one shy of the franchise record he would tie the following night and break two nights later.
BRANDON SNYDER has slumped to 2-for-18 since his third-inning single Aug. 15 at Reno, and he failed to reach base safely last night for the first time in 12 games. Look for him to reverse both trends tonight.
BRAD NELSON earned an evening of rest last night. It was his first since the Aug. 9 team off-day. Nelson has hit at a torrid pace since the All-Star break (.319, 10 HR, 26 RBI), especially at The Dell Diamond (.392, 7 HR, 14 RBI). He is tied for seventh in the PCL with 21 home runs (tied for 11th in Triple-A), fourth with 225 total bases (seventh in Triple-A) and tied for fourth with 51 extra-base hits. Given all that and a right-hander on the mound (.308, 17 HR, 59 RBI vs. righties), it’s hard not to take Nelson.
JAPANESE-BORN RELIEVERS: We’ll go out on a limb and predict that Yoshinori Tateyama and/or Koji Uehara will pitch in relief tonight (more likely the former). Uehara worked a scoreless inning of relief in a rehab assignment last night with two strikeouts; he likely will pitch again with the Express, but it may not be tonight. Tateyama has not pitched since Saturday. He is 2-0 with four saves, 21 strikeouts and no runs allowed over 19.1 innings in 15 outings at The Dell Diamond.
Job Complete: Martin Perez tossed his second complete game, giving the Express a 2-1 win.
Rub Some Dirt On It: Martin Perez took a comebacker off the leg with one out in the sixth inning. The result was an RBI single for Jimmy Paredes, cutting Round Rock’s lead to 2-1. Perez stayed in the game and has been nearly perfect since, retiring eight of nine batters on 16 pitches. He used five pitches in the seventh and six pitches in the eighth. Express still lead 2-1 going to the bottom of the eighth.
So Much For a Night Off: Alberto Gonzalez was ejected by first-base umpire Joel Hospodka after expressing displeasure with Hospodka’s ruling of his check swing on a third strike. Ryan Spilborghs has replaced Gonzalez in the lineup, playing left field. Brandon Snyder moves from left field to third base.
Sweet 16: Luis Hernandez ripped a one-out double in the bottom of the first, extending his hitting streak to 16 games. That ties for the fifth-longest in Express history (Triple-A era); Ryan Spilborghs also had a 16-game streak earlier this season. Matt Kata followed with a double of his own, giving the Express a 1-0 lead after one inning.
First Pitch: Underway at 7:06 p.m.
Close, But No Cigar: Round Rock loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth but couldn’t get a run across. Oklahoma City wins 5-2. The Express left the bases loaded in two of the last three innings.
Grimm Outcome: Oklahoma City takes a 4-2 lead on Carlos Corporan’s seventh-inning, two-run single. Justin Grimm got ahead 0-2 and made a good pitch in on Corporan’s hands; but, Corporan fisted a lollipop liner over the infield for the go-ahead hit. Ben Snyder spelled Grimm and got the Express out of the inning without further damage. Grimm went six and one-third innings and allowed four runs – three earned – on seven hits, one walk and one hit batter with three strikeouts. All in all, he pitched better than his line would indicate.
Snyder Warning: Ben Snyder beginning to loosen in the Express bullpen. His brother made the final out of the last inning, so it would be a while before a potential squaring off.
Hamburger, Hill: Mark Hamburger got a fly ball to center, walked Yangervis Solarte and struck out Koyie Hill to get the RedHawks out of the sixth. The Express left the bases loaded as Hamburger stranded both runners inherited from starter Fernando Abad, who allowed two runs on six hits, a walk and one hit batter with three strikeouts over five and two-thirds innings. Still 2-2 going to the seventh.
Hey! I Know That Guy! Former Express pitcher Mark Hamburger is now on the mound for Oklahoma City. Hamburger, who was designated for assignment when Roy Oswalt was added to the Rangers 40-man roster in June, spent five weeks with Tucson (San Diego Padres) before being released and signing with the Astros in mid-June. He is 0-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 11 appearances with the RedHawks. Hamburger is on the Astros 40-man roster.
Tonight’s Attendance: Much like what Godzilla did when he wanted a hot dog and a Slurpee, he… 8711.
Fourth-Degree Burns: Brad Snyder’s RBI double and a two-out throwing error allowed the RedHawks to tie the game 2-2 in the top of the fourth.
Did You Know? Thanks to his first-inning single, Brad Nelson has hit safely in 17 of 20 home games since the All-Star break. He is 27-for-67 (.403) at The Dell Diamond in that time.
King of the Hill: Koyie Hill laced a two-out RBI single to left-center, giving the Express a 2-0 lead after two innings. Credit the run to Ryan Spilborghs running on a full-count pitch to Brandon Snyder with one out. Snyder grounded out to short on a ball that likely would have been an inning-ending double play without Spilborghs in motion. Hill, who joined the Express last week, has hit safely in three of his first four games with the E-Train.
Snyder, Snyder… Snyder: Two Snyders are in tonight’s game… at least for now – Express third baseman Brandon Snyder and Oklahoma City right fielder Brad Snyder. While those two Snyders are not related, Brad Snyder is the brother of Express reliever Ben Snyder. The brothers faced each other three times this season; Brad is 1-for-3 with a strikeout.
Boom Boom Borbon: Julio Borbon homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning – a towering shot down the right-field line that landed just shy of the pool. It was Borbon’s ninth homer of the season. He had nine homers in 264 career minor league games entering this season. Borbon had 16 homers in 479 career professional games prior to 2012. It was Borbon’s first homer since July 29 at Memphis and first at The Dell Diamond since June 16 against Oklahoma City. Express lead 1-0 after the first inning.
First Pitch: Underway at 6:09 p.m.
JOEY BUTLER is riding a seven-game hitting streak (.333, 11-for-33). He hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games (20-for-63). However, he has been hit or miss of late with at least one strikeout in 12 straight games and two strikeouts in each of his last eight games. Butler is second on the team with 16 home runs, but he has not gone deep at The Dell Diamond since May 17 – a span of 43 games. We’re calling for that to end tonight.
BRANDON SNYDER snapped an eight-game hitting streak Friday night at Reno; he was 12-for-34 during the streak. Snyder got the night off Saturday. He’s back in the lineup tonight and tucked away in the eighth spot. Look for Snyder to return to his hitting ways after a one-game hiatus.
JUSTIN GRIMM won his last start (Aug. 14 at Reno), but he was anything but sharp (four runs, eight hits, two walks over 6.2 innings). He has not been at his best at home, going 0-1 with a 4.71 ERA, 10 walks and 10 strikeouts in three starts at The Dell Diamond. However, he was dominant against the Astros Double-A affiliate (Corpus Christi) in a home start with Frisco in late April. In that game, Grimm worked six shutout innings on four hits and a walk with nine strikeouts. Granted: Only one person in the Corpus Christi lineup that night is in the Oklahoma City lineup tonight (Jose Martinez), but we’re calling for Grimm to prove Rangers dominance over the Astros again tonight. Interestingly, the guy who followed Grimm on the mound that night in April with a three-inning save was Chad Bell, last night’s starter for the Express.
16 August 2012 | Aces Ballpark | Reno, Nev.
Records: Express (59-67), Aces (71-55)
– Julio Borbon leadoff triple in 10th inning … scored on errant pickoff throw from Reno catcher Ryan Budde
– Round Rock leads series 3-0
– Clinched second straight series … improved to 4-0-2 in last six series
– Express riding six-game winning streak
– Series finale Friday at 9:05 p.m. CDT
– Friday’s scheduled starters: RR – RHP Greg Reynolds (10-7, 4.90 ERA); RENO – RHP Trevor Bauer (4-1, 2.85 ERA)
ROUND ROCK won 16 of last 22 (league-best record during that time) … improved to 18-8 since five-run, ninth-inning rally July 22 vs. Omaha … won 12 of last 15 road games … season-best, six-game road winning streak … improved to 20-15 since All-Star break … extended franchise record with fifth straight nine-plus run game … eight of nine starters hit safely … 56 runs, 85 hits over last five games … 10-plus hits in six straight games … nine-plus hits in nine straight games (.352, 125-for-355) … improved to 13-0 since All-Star break when scoring at least seven runs … improved to 15-15 in one-run games, 8-3 since All-Star break … fourth straight victory in one-run games … improved to 6-4 in extra-inning games (3-1 on the road).
ZACH JACKSON (no-decision) left game leading 5-3 … held opponent to three or fewer earned runs in nine of last 10 starts (4-4) … allowed three or fewer earned runs in sixth straight start … second no-decision in last 16 outings (15 starts) … Express won his fifth straight start.
JOE ORTIZ earned first career Triple-A win.
JOHAN YAN earned first career Triple-A save.
JULIO BORBON (4-for-6) three-game hitting streak (.467, 7-for-15) … second straight multiple-hit game … first four-hit game since July 25 vs. Albuquerque (fourth of season) … seventh triple, tying for second-best season total in Express history.
LUIS HERNANDEZ (4-for-5, walk) extended hitting streak to 12 games (.482, 27-for-56) … 10th multiple-hit outing during streak … second four-hit game of season (June 29 vs. Nashville) … scored in fifth straight game.
JOEY BUTLER (3-for-6) five-game hitting streak (.346, 9-for-26) … first game with three-plus hits since five-hit effort July 18 at Nashville … hit safely in 11 of last 13 games (18-for-56) … at least one strikeout in 10 straight games (14 strikeouts) … sixth straight multiple-strikeout game, seventh in last eight games.
BRAD NELSON (0-for-6) hitless with at least five at bats for only second time this season (July 2 vs. New Orleans) … first 0-for-6 game since July 2, 2011 vs. Nashville.
RYAN SPILBORGHS (1-for-4, walk) six-game hitting streak (.320, 8-for-25) … first home run since July 30 at Memphis (12 games, 46 at bats) … third homer in last 67 games, 254 at bats … first game with four-plus RBI since Aug. 22, 2011 vs. Salt Lake (with Colorado Springs).
BRANDON SNYDER (1-for-5) extended hitting streak to eight games (.353, 12-for-34) … first homer with Express … scored in fifth straight game … hit safely in 11 of 12 games with Express.
YANGERVIS SOLARTE (1-for-4, walk) hit safely in six of last seven games (12-for-31).
ALBERTO HERNANDEZ (3-for-5) first game with Express … first three-hit game since May 30 with Rangers (vs. Seattle).
KOYIE HILL (1-for-5) hit safely in each of first two games with Express.