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Top 12 Games of 2012 (No. 7)

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.

No. 7
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 (No. 9)

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.

No. 9
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.

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 (No. 10)

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.

No. 10
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.

No. 11:  Express 6, at Oklahoma City 3 (Sept. 1)
No. 12:  Express 14, at Reno 1 (Aug. 15)

 

BALTIMORE EXPRESS
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.

Express with Rangers

The Texas Rangers announced their active roster for tonight’s American League Wild Card Game Friday morning. The 25-man crew features six former Express members, including five that played for the Express this season. Another nine rehabbed with Round Rock at some point over the past two seasons – four this season.

Here is a look at the 15 players who have donned an Express uniform over the past two seasons (* – rehab):

*Adrian Beltre (2011)
*Nelson Cruz (2011)
*Scott Feldman (2011)
Craig Gentry (2011)
*Josh Hamilton (2011)
*Derek Holland (2012)
Michael Kirkman (2011, 2012)
Leonys Martin (2011, 2012)
Luis Martinez (2012)
*Mitch Moreland (2012)
*Mike Napoli (2011)
*Alexi Ogando (2012)
Roy Oswalt (2012)
Yoshinori Tateyama (2011, 2012)
*Koji Uehara (2012)

 

News and Notes (Sept. 7)

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.

A Catcher Down, Express Pick Up Old Friend Diaz

By Wade Hilligoss

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With Luis Martinez filling a catching void in the big leagues, the Express were left with just Elio Sarmiento behind the dish while on the current eight-game road trip. Enter Robbie Diaz. The Rangers signed the 28-year-old and assigned him to the E-Train to give the top of the system some catching depth. Here’s the skinny on Diaz:

2012: The 28-year-old was signed to a minor league deal Aug. 11 … second stint with the Rangers … hit .285 with four home runs and 31 RBI in 46 games with Salt Lake (AAA) in the Los Angeles Angels organization … released by Angels Aug. 7.

CAREER: Signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent on Nov. 19, 2000 … MLB debut April 23, 2008, with Toronto against Tampa Bay Rays … Traded Aug. 25, 2008 to Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Jose Bautista … played 31 games in the Major Leagues with Pittsburgh in 2009 season … spent 2010 in the Detroit Tigers organization with the Toledo Mud Hens … signed minor league deal with Rangers in 2011 … appreared in 55 games between Frisco (AA) and Round Rock (AAA) in 2011 … signed minor league deal with Los Angeles (AL) and was assigned to Salt Lake (AAA) where he hit .285 with four home runs and 31 RBI in 46 games … released by Angels Aug. 7.

2011: Assigned to Frisco (AA) to begin the season … shuttled between Frisco and Round Rock as extra catcher during the season … promoted twice, demoted three times … hit .357 with three home runs and eight RBI in 17 games with the RoughRiders … .hit .303 with four home runs and 14 RBI with the Express … collected at least one hit in 25 of 35 games with the Express … 13 multiple-hit games … hit safely in nine of 14 games with at least one plate appearance at The Dell Diamond … hit .333 (18-for-54) at The Dell Diamond … each of first 16 hits with Express were singles … hit .308 (16-for-52) when designated hitter; .295 (26-for-88) when catching … hit .338 (25-for-74) with the bases empty.

NOTABLE: Robinzon Diaz Henriquez … 2003 Appalachian League All-Star … 2004 South Atlantic League All-Star … Florida State League All-Star C in 2005 and 2006 … Traded Aug. 25, 2008 to Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Jose Bautista.

Rangers Recall Luis Martinez

This today from the Rangers and Express:

RANGERS PLACE C/1B MIKE NAPOLI ON 15-DAY DISABLED LIST;
RECALL C LUIS MARTINEZ FROM TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK

Arlington, Texas – The Texas Rangers announced this afternoon that the club has placed catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli on the 15-day disabled list with a left quadriceps strain.  To take his place on the active roster, the team has recalled catcher Luis Martinez (#15) from Triple-A Round Rock.

Napoli has batted .223 with 17 home runs and 40 RBI in 92 games for Texas this season.  He leads the club with 61 starts at catcher in 2012.  The first date he would be eligible to return is August 26.

Martinez will be in uniform tonight seeking to make his Texas debut.  He has spent the entire season at Round Rock, batting .270 (58-215) with 2 home runs, 15 doubles, 2 triples, 22 RBI, and 27 runs in 65 games.  He has compiled a .989 (5 E/438 TC) fielding percentage behind the plate for the Express, throwing out 14-of-69 (20.3%) attempted base stealers.  Martinez saw his only big league action with San Diego in 2011, playing in 22 games over three stints with a .203 average, one home run, and 10 RBI.

With these moves, the Rangers still have 39 players on the club’s 40-man roster.

Martinez Recalled, Yoshi Optioned

 

C Luis Martinez

This from the Rangers and Express this evening:

RANGERS RECALL C LUIS MARTINEZ FROM TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK;

OPTION RHP YOSHINORI TATEYAMA TO ROUND ROCK

Seattle, Wash. –The Texas Rangers announced prior to tonight’s game that the club has recalled catcher Luis Martinez (#15) from Triple-A Round Rock.  To make room on the active roster for Martinez, the team has optioned right-handed pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama to Round Rock.

Martinez, 27, will be in uniform and available for tonight’s game in Seattle, seeking to make his Texas debut.  He has spent the entire season with Round Rock, batting .262 (43-164) with 2 home runs, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 17 RBI, and 22 runs in 50 games.  The right-handed batter has hit .304 (14-46) against left-handed pitchers.  He has caught 10 of 47 (21.3%) attempted base stealers in the Pacific Coast League with a .987 (4 E/315 TC) fielding percentage in his team-high 50 games behind the plate for the Express.  Acquired in a December 21 trade with San Diego, Martinez saw his only major league action with the Padres in 2011, when he batted .203 with a home run and 10 RBI in 22 games.

Tateyama has made 4 appearances with Texas since his most recent recall on June 29.  He is 1-0 with an 11.37 ERA (16 ER/12.2 IP) in 11 overall relief outings with the Rangers in 2012.  He has spent the balance of the season with Round Rock.

With these moves, the Rangers still have a full 40-man roster

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