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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. 9 on our list.
April 22: Express 10, at New Orleans 0
Neil Ramirez, Aaron Heilman and Mark Hamburger combined on a three-hit shutout at Zephyr Field in Metairie, La. It proved to be the most productive start of the season for Ramirez during his time with the Express. Meanwhile, Round Rock batters pounded out 12 hits, including four home runs, pulling away with a six-run ninth inning.
Ramirez struck out six, scattered three hits and walked one over six innings. Heilman then took the baton and struck out two over a pair of perfect innings. Hamburger retired the side in order in the ninth with one strikeout.
Matt Kata led off the second with a double and later scored on a Luis Martinez groundout. Then, the home runs. Joey Butler, who played collegiately at the University of New Orleans, clubbed a two-run homer in the fourth, and Yangervis Solarte added a solo shot in the sixth.
Round Rock sent 11 men to the plate in the six-run ninth. Solarte led off with a double, and Martinez followed with a two-run homer. After walks from Julio Borbon and Luis Hernandez, Mike Bianucci drilled a three-run homer that was his fifth in 18 games at the Triple-A level. Back-to-back doubles from Kata and Butler capped the scoring.
Solarte finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk, while Bianucci, Kata, Butler and Martinez all enjoyed two-hit games.
The win began a 16-game stretch during which the Express were 11-5 – the season’s best stretch until the torrid stretch over final five weeks.
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.
2 September 2012 | Bricktown Ballpark | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Records: Express (69-74), RedHawks (77-65)
- Oklahoma City leads series 2-1
- Oklahoma City leads season series 9-6
- Series finale Monday at 11:05 a.m. CDT – season’s final game
- Monday’s scheduled starters: RR – LHP Chad Bell (5-4, 4.36 ERA); OKC – LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-4, 4.03 ERA)
One Down, One to Go: Tanner Scheppers struck out the side in the seventh in his first game back with the Express. His save preserved Round Rock’s 5-4 win. Game two in about 30 minutes.
Back-to-Back Blasts: Leonys Martin (12th) and Brad Nelson (24th) clubbed back-to-back homers with two outs in the top of the fourth, giving the Express a 5-3 lead. Round Rock’s last back-to-back homers were July 8 at Albuquerque – Matt Kata and Joey Butler. Nelson matched his 2011 home-run total with that blast.
Go Figure: Joey Butler, who played collegiately at the University of New Orleans, clubbed his 19th home run of the season in the top of the third, tying the game at 3-3. Ironically, it will go down as his 14th “road” homer of the season.
Chaser: Chase Lambin’s three-run homer in the bottom of the first put the Zephyrs up 3-2.
Mr. 200: Matt Kata delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the first. He now has 200 career RBI with the Express, joining Mark Saccomanno (236) and Brooks Conrad (221) as the only players in franchise history to reach the milestone.
First Pitch: We got underway at 5:48 p.m. – a 13-minute delay. Temperature at first pitch was 90 degrees – that’s 32 degrees in Nice, France.
Yes, We’re at Home: Round Rock “hosts” New Orleans tonight for a doubleheader at The Dell Diamond. However, the Zephyrs will be the designated home team and will bat last. First pitch of the opener is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. They’ve just pulled the tarp, so we should start on time.
26 August 2012 | The Dell Diamond | Round Rock, Texas
Records: Express (64-72), Sounds (63-73)
- Eric Farris two-run homer caps six-run ninth inning
- Round Rock wins series 3-2
- Season series tied 8-8
- Round Rock-New Orleans series moved to The Dell Diamond – DH Tuesday (5:35 p.m.), single games Wednesday (7:05 p.m.), Thursday (7:05 p.m.)
- Joey Butler extended hitting streak to 14 games with ninth-inning single
- Matt Kata played 405th career game with Express, breaking Mark Saccomanno’s franchise record
ROUND ROCK, Texas – Outfielder Joey Butler was named 2012 Round Rock Express Most Valuable Player prior to Sunday night’s game between the Express and Nashville Sounds. Butler, 26, was a 2012 Pacific Coast League Midseason All-Star after earning postseason league honors last year.
A product of the University of New Orleans, Butler was the Rangers’ 15th-round draft pick in 2008. Entering Sunday’s game, he was hitting .287 (134-for-467) with 18 home runs, 71 RBI, 27 doubles, 72 walks and 87 runs scored. His walk total matches Esteban German’s 2011 franchise record, and he is tied for the team lead with 17 multiple-RBI games. Butler currently is riding a 13-game hitting streak, his third streak of at least 10 games this season.
Butler, a Moss Point, Miss., native, has produced 10 games of at least three hits, including a five-hit night July 18 at Nashville. He leads the Express in runs scored, a total that ranks fifth in franchise history. He also is second on the team in home runs and RBI, tied for second in hits, and third in total bases and doubles. Butler also is fourth in the PCL with 11 outfield assists.
After beginning the 2011 season with Double-A Frisco, Butler spent the bulk of his fourth professional season with the Express. He now ranks in Round Rock’s career top-10 list in several statistical categories, including games (eighth, 242), runs (fourth, 162), hits (fifth, 271), doubles (seventh, 54), home runs (tied-fifth, 30), extra-base hits (seventh, 89), total bases (sixth, 425), RBI (seventh, 128) and walks (fourth, 115).
The Express are a league-best 21-10 since July 26. Butler is hitting .300 (33-for-110) with five homers and 23 RBI in 30 games during that stretch.
ZACH JACKSON is 10-1 with a 3.90 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances after July 25 over the past two seasons. There is absolutely no reason why. He just is.
JOEY BUTLER is hitting .400 with four home runs and 10 RBI in the fourth inning this season. There is absolutely no reason why. He just is.
RYAN SPILBORGHS is hitting .462 with three homers, 14 RBI, six doubles, and 10 runs scored in 15 games this season against Nashville. There is absolutely no reason why. He just is.
Might As Well Be An Inch As A Mile: Express win 6-5.
Safe at Home: Ryan Spilborghs slid under Humberto Quintero’s tag at home, scoring the go-ahead run on Julio Borbon‘s fielder’s choice. Express lead 6-5 going to the ninth.
Call to the Pen: Martin Perez exits the game after seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts. His outing was better than the line would indicate. Perez righted the ship after a rough first inning pitched quite well other than the mistake pitch (Halton’s homer). Nonetheless, neither starter will factor in tonight’s decision. Fabio Castillo takes over on the mound for the Express, who left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. Still 5-5 going to the eighth.
Vargas Vacates… the mound. He worked six innings and allowed five runs on nine hits, one walk and one hit batter with six strikeouts. The Express matched the most hits against Vargas this season (Oklahoma City, June 19). Jesus Sanchez takes over on the mound for the Sounds. Still 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh.
Attendance: Tonight’s attendance – much like the cost in USD for one semester of out-of-state tuition at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Ore., for the 2011-2012 academic year – 10,382.
Tit For Tat: Joey Butler answered in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run blast. It was his 18th homer of the season and 30th in two years with the Express. He is the seventh player in franchise history with at least 30 home runs, a list that includes teammates Matt Kata (30) and Brad Nelson (46).
High-Power Halton: Sean Halton blasted a two-run homer in the top of the fifth, giving the Sounds a 5-3 lead. It was his third homer of the series (he had two in the opener). It was the first multiple-run homer allowed by Martin Perez since June 10 when Omaha’s Tony Abreu hit a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Perez has allowed one home run every other outing since. Sounds lead 5-3 now going to the bottom of the sixth.
Mr. Express: Matt Kata‘s third-inning RBI single knotted the game 3-3. Coupled with his first-inning single, that gives Kata 114 career multiple-hit games with the Express, tying Mark Saccomanno’s franchise record. Coincidentally, Kata also tied Saccomanno’s career games played record tonight (405).
Answer: Round Rock responded with two runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning – RBI singles from Leonys Martin and Joey Butler. Martin was thrown out at third, rounding too much on Matt Kata‘s infield single. That cost the Express at least a run. Sounds starter Claudio Vargas matched his season high for most runs allowed in the first inning; he also surrendered two first-inning runs June 19 vs. Oklahoma City. Sounds lead 3-2 through one inning.
Shaky First: Martin Perez surrendered three first-inning runs – the most he’s allowed in the first inning since a four-run first May 25 at Nashville. In fact, it was the first time he allowed more than two runs in any inning since surrendering three runs in the fourth inning June 10 at Iowa – a span of 49.2 innings over six starts and one relief appearance. Sounds lead 3-0 in the bottom of the first.
First Pitch: We’re underway at 7:07 p.m. Temperature at first pitch was 90 degrees – that’s 32 degrees in Triesenberg, Liechtenstein.
MARTIN PEREZ vs. CLAUDIO VARAGS is a mound matchup worth watching. They’ve been two of the Pacific Coast League’s best starters since the All-Star break. Martin is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts and one relief outings, while Vargas is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in eight starts.
JOEY BUTLER is riding a 12-game hitting streak. It’s his third streak of at least 10 games this season.
MATT KATA plays his 405th game in an Express uniform tonight, tying Mark Saccomanno’s franchise record (Triple-A era). Kata also needs one multiple-hit outing to match Saccomanno’s franchise mark (114) in that category, as well.