Results tagged ‘ Mike Bianucci ’
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. 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.
Injured infielder Mike Bianucci doubled for the Rookie Rangers last night as he attempts to make his way back from a hand injury he suffered in late June.
Bianucci has 14 home runs to go along with a .280 average in 78 games with the Express this season before the injury.
There is no timetable for his return, but it could coincide with roster changes made over the next three weeks.
Three roster moves today for the Express:
RHP Alexi Ogando (#41) will begin a rehab assignment tonight.
RHP Justin Grimm (#40) promoted to Round Rock from Frisco (AA) and will join rotation.
1B Mike Bianucci (#3) placed on disabled list.
The roster is full at 25 players. The DL is now at two: Bianucci and 3B Tommy Mendonca.
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
-C Elio Sarmiento was activated off the disabled list last night at was the designated hitter batting ninth.
-Saturday’s previously TBA starter against Albuquerque will now be LHP Ben Snyder.
-1B Mike Bianucci missed last night’s game with an unknown injury. He left Tuesday night’s game because of it but has not been placed on the DL.
By Will Weinstock
In Part II of an Express Tracks series chronicling the highlights of each month of the Round Rock Express 2012 season. This article covers the highlights of June. The Express finished the month with a record of 13-15 (38-48 overall) and are now 11.5 games back in the Southern Division.
Player of the Month: LHP Martin Perez
Highlights of June:
- OF Joey Butler was selected as a PCL All-Star in Buffalo on July 11.
- On June 30 the Texas Rangers won 7-2 against the Oakland A’s and all three pitchers used were in Round Rock at one point this season. LHP Martin Perez got the win in his first major league start with a line of 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, & 103 Pitches. Yoshinori Tateyama and Michael Kirkman came in to throw the final 3.2 innings of hitless ball to end the game.
- Former Express RHP Jordan Lyles went 2-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 29.0 innings.
- RHP Roy Oswalt made three starts with the Express in preparation for pitching in the majors. The first start was in front of a near capacity crowd of 11,532 fans and was his first time pitching in an Express jersey since his stint with the team in 2000.
Quote of the Month: “A lot of the people that were here when they first opened the stadium are still here today,” Oswalt said. “And getting to see the old faces and the people I still kind of remember the first time was nice.”
Impact Position Player: 1B Mike Bianucci (.277, 4 HR, 12 RBI)
Bianucci continues to mash the ball everywhere the Express play this season. But what has stood out most in the 26-year-old has been his defense. Originally drafted out of Auburn University as a third basemen, he has been moved all over the field in search of a position. At the lower levels Bianucci was playing mostly left and right field, but they were not a natural fit. In Round Rock the Virginia native has settled in nicely at first base. Before the year he had never played the position and was even listed as a designated hitter in the media guide. However, Bianucci has been made a nice transition, and is making noticeable improvement each week. So far he has committed only three errors in 78 games, and been one of the nice surprises for the Express.
Impact Pitcher: LHP Martin Perez (2-1, 3.10 ERA in June)
After a May 25 start against Nashville Martin Perez’s ERA had risen to 5.80 and things were not looking good for the lefthander hurler. To make matters worse, the Rangers decided to call up RHP Justin Grimm from Double-A instead of Perez when injuries hit in Arlington. But rather than getting down on himself Perez worked hard in his bullpen sessions and workouts. In addition, the 21-year-old started throwing more in the bullpen before games. Perez started pitching better and everything culminated in a 90 pitch complete game on June 21 at The Dell Diamond. Six days later the Venezuelan was promoted to the big leagues. And on June 30 Perez made his first major league start and threw 5.1 innings giving up only two runs.
Not In My House: Last month the highlight play was INF Yangervis Solarte’s walk off single on May 21. Exactly one month later OF Joey Butler climbed the wall in right field to rob Cubs prospect 1B Anthony Rizzo of yet another home run. Before being called up to the Cubs on June 25, Rizzo was leading the PCL with 23 homers. The Express would later to go on to win the game behind Perez’s complete game.
The Closer: When the Rangers called up RHP Tanner Scheppers on June 7, a void was left in the back end of the bullpen. Before being called up Scheppers had nine of the Express’s 11 saves on the season. Manager Bobby Jones decided to turn to nine-year major league veteran Aaron Heilman. Since being inserted into the closer’s role Heilman has been dominant going 6-for-6 in save opportunities. The 32-year-old had a 1.50 ERA in June, and will make the manager’s job tougher when Scheppers comes back to Round Rock.
Fairytale Story: Bell has made a long journey this season. He began his year in Class-A Myrtle Beach as a piggyback starter. Then the 23-year-old moved up to Double-A Frisco where he made six appearances as a reliever before being moved to the starting rotation. Finally, he came to Round Rock to take RHP Neil Ramirez’s place in the rotation. Bell made his Triple-A debut on June 26 at Iowa, and was impressive in going 5.2 innings and only giving up one earned run while striking out seven. Since being moved up to Round Rock, Bell is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA.
(MLB) Texas Rangers: 50-31, 5.0 game lead
(Double-A) Frisco Roughriders: 3-8, 6.5 games back
(Advanced-A) Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 10-3, 1.0 game lead
(A) Hickory Crawdads: 10-3, 2.0 game lead
(Short Season) Spokane Indians: 7-12, 4.0 games back
P Chad Bell (1-0, 1.59 ERA)
- CF Julio Borbon (.296, 7 HR, 32 RBI)
- SS Luis Hernandez (.243, 4 HR, 32 RBI)
- LF Ryan Spilborghs (.309, 4 HR, 24 RBI)
- 1B Mike Bianucci (.280, 14 HR, 48 RBI)
- DH Brad Nelson (.279, 11 HR, 47 RBI)
- RF Joey Butler (.282, 11 HR, 41 RBI)
- 3B Matt Kata (.290, 6 HR, 38 RBI)
- 2B Yangervis Solarte (.285, 6 HR, 36 RBI)
- C Dusty Brown (.246, 4 HR, 16 RBI)
My pick for today’s Express Player-to-Watch is DH Brad Nelson. Nelson, who has made a name for himself as a road warrior this season, has been relatively quiet at home this year. In particular, this recent home stretch Nelson has had trouble finding the power he is most well known for (a huge part of that coming against his former team who knew exactly how to pitch to him and how to shift their infield). Despite all that, Nelson has been swinging the bat well, and even hitting more balls hard than his numbers give him credit for but he just hasn’t been seeing the ball drop. That’s just baseball.
My prediction: Nelson sees those good swings pay off today. I think you can only keep a slugger quiet for so long, especially one who appears to be misfortunate rather than struggling. I am not going to predict a homerun for Nelson, because that has not worked out too well for me so far when I’ve tried it for Bianucci. I do however think that Nelson will be spending some quality time on the bases tonight. New Orleans is putting a right-hander on the mound, so Nelson, the bruising lefty, should feel right at home.
INF Mike Bianucci had a hit and an RBI last night in his first home game back in the cleanup spot since April. I like him to keep producing in the new middle of the order.
I am taking LHP Chad Bell tonight. Bell has made a long journey this season. He began his season starting out as a reliever in Class-A Myrtle Beach. Bell then moved up to Double-A Frisco where he made six appearances as a reliever before being moved to the starting rotation. Finally, he came to Round Rock to take RHP Neil Ramirez’s place in the rotation. He made his Triple-A debut on June 26 at Iowa, and was impressive in his lone start going 5.2 innings and only giving up one earned run while striking out seven. Since being moved into the rotation Bell is 3-2 with a 3.65 ERA at both Frisco and Round Rock. Look for the dominance to continue at The Dell Diamond tonight against the Zephyrs.
New Orleans Starters
P Omar Poveda (0-0, 0.00 ERA, first triple A start)
- CF Kevin Mattison (.257, 6 HR, 22 RBI)
- 2B Gil Velazquez (.288, 2 HR, 24 RBI)
- LF Chris Coghlan (.294, 0 HR, 11 RBI)
- 1B Mike Cervenak (.371, 4 HR, 32 RBI)
- RF Bryan Petersen (.304, 1 HR, 20 RBI)
- SS Donnie Murphy (.261, 6 HR, 9 RBI)
- 3B Nick Green (.342, 5 HR, 26 RBI)
- DH Luke Montz (.245, 13 HR, 35 RBI)
- C Clint Sammons (.200, 6 HR, 14 RBI)