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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. 7 on our list.
May 2: at Express 10, New Orleans 5
A six-run eighth inning gave the Express a 10-5 victory over the visiting Zephyrs at The Dell Diamond. Matt Kata’s two-run single keyed the scoring outburst, which gave Round Rock the season’s first victory when trailing after seven innings.
Trailing 5-4, Tommy Mendonca sparked the comeback with a leadoff single. Yangervis Solarte later singled home Mendonca to tie the game, and Kata’s two-run single proved to be the game-winner. Joey Butler added a two-run double and later scored on a two-out New Orleans error.
The six-run inning matched Round Rock’s highest-scoring frame of the season to that date and remained the team’s highest-scoring eighth inning throughout the season. Coincidentally, the Express also scored six ninth-inning runs at New Orleans two weeks prior.
Ben Snyder was credited with the victory in relief of starter Martin Perez after working around Sergio Pedroza’s leadoff single for a scoreless top of the eighth. Tanner Scheppers retired the side in order in the top of the ninth with two strikeouts in a non-save situation. It was part of an eight-outing stretch for Scheppers in which he did not allow a run, also part of an 11-appearance span in which he allowed one run in 11.0innings (0.82 ERA) with five saves in as many opportunities.
Mendonca finished 3-for-4, including a home run and two RBI. Eight of nine Express starters hit safely; Kata, Solarte, Luis Hernandez, Brad Nelson and Luis Martinez all enjoyed two-hit nights. It was the 13th game of Solarte’s eventual franchise-record, 22-game hitting streak. Greg Miclat, the lone Express batter without a hit, had two sacrifice bunts, including one following Mendonca’s eighth-inning leadoff single.
The victory was part of a 6-1 stretch for the Express that included series victories over New Orleans and Memphis. That run got Round Rock to 17-16, unfortunately the season’s lone day over .500.
No. 8: at Express 2, Oklahoma City 1 (Aug. 20)
No. 9: Express 10, at New Orleans 0 (April 22)
No. 10: at Omaha 9, Express 8 (16 innings; April 10)
No. 11: Express 6, at Oklahoma City 3 (Sept. 1)
No. 12: Express 14, at Reno 1 (Aug. 15)
TOP 12 GAMES OF 2012
Throughout the fall, we’ll take a look at the top 12 games of 2012. Today, we look at Game No. 10 on our list.
April 10: at Omaha 9, Express 8 (16 innings)
The lone loss that makes our list was a definite memorable game, simply for the length. It went down as the longest game in franchise history both in terms of innings and time of game (five hours, 24 minutes). The game started at 11:06 a.m. and concluded during rush hour.
It was a boat race for the first five innings, and neither starter made it that far. David Lough was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, starting the scoring spree. Tommy Mendonca’s two-out RBI double tied the game in the top of the second, but the Storm Chasers answered with a three-spot in the bottom half that included a Johnny Giavotella’ two-run homer.
Round Rock again tied the game in the top of the third on Mike Bianucci’s three-run homer, but Omaha again answered with a three spot – this time on an Irving Falu three-run homer. The Express knotted the game in the top of the fifth on a Yangervis Solarte RBI double and a Mendoca two-run single.
That 6-6 score held until the 10th inning when Greg Miclat scored on a Leonys Martin RBI groundout. Once again, Omaha answered in the bottom of the inning when Derrick Robinson plated Irving Falu with a single to right. The Storm Chasers finally put the game away in the 16th when Falu reached on a two-out infield single and Jerrod Dyson followed with a game-winning triple.
Both teams had ample opportunities throughout the final nine innings. The Express stranded two runners in the seventh and two in the 15th. The Storm Chasers left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and stranded two runners in the 10th and 11th innings.
Mendonca had four of Round Rock’s 16 hits, while Robinson and Falu both enjoyed four-hit games for Omaha. The game’s only players to get at least three at bats and not get a hit were Express catcher Luis Martinez (0-for-3) and Storm Chasers catcher Max Ramirez (0-for-4, two walks). Round Rock used six pitchers, while Omaha used seven.
It was the first of seven straight one-run games for the Express – also a franchise record. It also was the first of seven Round Rock games to last at least 11 innings, including a pair of 13-inning games.
As we’ve mentioned before, several former Express players are now enjoying a postseason run with the Baltimore Orioles. Chris Davis is 4-for-10 through three games, including a two-run double that erased a 1-0 deficit in the Orioles’ 3-2 Game 2 win. He had two hits in each of the first two games before going 0-for-2 with a walk in Wednesday’s Game 3. Fellow former Express member Endy Chavez replaced Davis for defensive purposes in the late innings. Another former Express member – Darren O’Day – worked one scoreless inning of relief Thursday night after striking out the lone batter he faced in Game 2 and working a scoreless frame in the series opener.
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.
Records: Express (41-59), Storm Chasers (60-41)
Another game, another Will victory. Last night it was 1B Brad Nelson’s home run and tonight it was SS Greg Miclat’s stolen base. Miclat was 1-for-3 tonight with a stolen base and has now hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games. Nelson was 0-for-3 with a walk and snapped his four-game hitting streak. Tomorrow will be an important game, because the winner will have the first shot at choosing 1B Mitch Moreland on Monday night. Andrew (3-11), Wade (2-8), & Will (9-5).
Round Rock, Texas – Infielder Greg Miclat was activated from the disabled list today and will be available off the bench for he Express in tonight’s game against New Orleans.
Miclat was hitting .268 with 11 RBI and three stolen bases in 21 games before he went on the DL for second time.
This fills the Express roster its full 25 player capacity.
***A couple quick injury updates (1:35 CDT)***
A clue as to what is ailing 3B Tommy Mendonca:
For those curious about 3B Tommy Mendonca, he’ll have MRI on his left shoulder tomorrow.He’s had two surgeries on that same shoulder.
— Julia Morales (@JuliaMoralesYNN) June 18, 2012
Also, Greg Miclat left last night’s game after what looked like injuring his left hand slding into first base on an infield single. He will head to the disabled list today and will be replaced by a call-up from Frisco. More to come.