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Beyond the Box Score: June in the Minors07/02/2008 10:00 AM ET
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
The purpose of "Beyond the Box Score" is to take a look back at the month that was in the Minor Leagues, highlighting some of the many curious and absurd incidents that have taken place. Enjoy, and please don't hesitate to get in touch with suggestions for future editions of this column.
Strange Doings Afoot in Inland Empire: On June 9, the Inland Empire 66ers defeated the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 17-7. In the ballgame, every player in the 66ers starting lineup had at least one hit, drove in at least one run and scored at least once.
The remarkable feat came on the heels of a very strange week for Inland Empire, during which the club pulled off a rare trifecta of rarely seen plays: They were victimized by the hidden ball trick May 31, Austin Gallagher hit an inside-the-park home run June 5, and Bridger Hunt lined into a 6-3-2-6 triple play June 7.
(Thanks to Inland Empire assistant director of broadcasting Luke Foth for the information).
Frisco Gets In On the Act: Inland Empire wasn't the only team this month that played a game in which every player in the starting lineup hit safely, drove in a run and scored. On June 12, the Frisco RoughRiders accomplished the feat in a 15-0 victory against the Corpus Christi Hooks, marking the first time in nearly two years that this occurred in the offense-friendly Texas League.
Let's Get This Party Started Right: The Class A Short-Season Aberdeen IronBirds kicked off their 2008 campaign with a nine-run first inning June 17. Fifteen men came to the plate in the frame, which was highlighted by Tom Baxter's grand slam. The IronBirds went on to defeat Hudson Valley,13-7.
At Least There Were No Lines at the Concession Stands: On June 14, the Iowa Cubs defeated the Nashville Sounds in a game in which the attendance was zero. With the city of Des Moines under a voluntary evacuation order due to flooding, the I-Cubs decided not to allow any fans into the stadium. After the ballgame, I-Cubs starting pitcher Sean Marshall compared the experience to playing at Wrigley Field: "Instead of 42,000 screaming fans, we had eight screaming staff members, minus the screaming," he said.
Making Up for Lost Time: Austin Jackson tied a Trenton Thunder team record June 1 by driving in seven runs in a 9-3 win over New Britain, marking the second time in the past two weeks that the 20-year-old prospect had accomplished the feat. Making Jackson's hitting heroics all the more impressive is the fact that he mustered just three RBIs in the entire month of April, and he had accumulated only 13 prior to his first seven-RBI game May 21. Despite this slow start, he leads the Thunder with 47 RBIs on the season.
Not a Moment Too Soon: On June 1, the West Michigan Whitecaps right-hander Alfredo Figaro faced the Dayton Dragons on a 110-pitch count. The 23-year-old hurled the second complete-game shutout of his career, recording the final out of the game with his 110th pitch.
That's All We Needed, Anyway: On June 3, the Savannah Sand Gnats crushed five first-inning home runs against the Columbus Catfish. They then were shut out for the final eight innings of the ballgame, but held on for a 7-4 win.
That's All We Needed, Part II: Facing Lynchburg on June 19th, the Kinston Indians teed off for 13 runs in the second inning. They went on to win the game, 13-8.
A Tough Pace to Sustain: Through the first two weeks of the Appalachian League season, Danville's Gerardo Rodriguez has homered six times. This is more than the entire roster of five of the circuit's 10 clubs.
A Tough Pace to Sustain, Part II: Through the first two weeks of the Northwest League season, Yakima's Collin Cowgill had hit more homers (six) than four of the circuit's eight ballclubs.
The Collapse of Rome: The Rome Braves would like to forget the events of June 5 as soon as possible. Five hurlers combined to issue 15 walks and the defense made six errors, leading to an embarrassing 13-2 defeat at the hands of the Charleston RiverDogs. Most egregiously, Eric Barrett and Jaye Chapman combined to walk 11 batters over the game's first four innings.
For the Record: The two new franchises in the Minor Leagues this season are the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, and both have already had members of the Opening Day roster play in the Major Leagues. T.J. Bohn became the first ex-IronPig in the bigs when he suited up for the Phillies on April 24, while the first former Natural was Jeff Fulchino. The 28-year-old righty made his debut with the Kansas City Royals on June 8.
Maybe He Should Lose More Often: After a 10-0 start to the season, Syracuse's John Parrish took the loss against Toledo on June 23 (his first loss in the Minor Leagues since 2003 with Double-A Bowie). Four days later, he received a callup to the Toronto Blue Jays.
When It Rains...: On June 17, the Louisville Bats edged the Rochester Red Wings, 10-9. Thirteen of the 16 players who hit safely in the ballgame collected two hits or more. Rochester second baseman Chris Basak led the way with four base knocks.
HBP Times Three: Also June 17, Missoula's Kyle Greene played the first game of his professional career and was hit by a pitch three times. The last time a batter had been plunked three times in one game in the Pioneer League was 1969.
Turning Three Twice: Getting hit by a pitch three times in one game is a statistically improbable occurrence, but it's downright commonplace compared to what the Missoula Osprey pulled off later in the week. Within a span of four days, the Osprey turned two triple plays. The first occurred June 19, when the club converted a rare 7-5-4 triple play against Billings. They followed that up four days later with a more orthodox 6-3 triple play, in which shortstop Reynaldo Navarro caught a line drive, stepped on second and then threw to first to complete the third triple play in team history and second in four days.
Doublin' Up: Since we were recently on the topic of remarkable events that occurred June 17, we may as well return to the fertile ground of Inland Empire. For on this day, Jaime Pedroza tied a California League record by hitting four doubles in the 66ers' 14-8 victory over Bakersfield. As an added bonus, the three-hour, 57-minute contest was just 10 minutes shy of establishing the Cal League record for the longest nine-inning game ever played.
Triple Trouble: Connecticut's Ben Copeland hit six triples in June and now leads the Eastern League with 11 on the season. Even more remarkable is the fact that four of these triples came in four consecutive ballgames (June 20-23), and all six occurred within a nine-game span.
Better Late Than Never: On June 19, Stockton's Archie Gilbert came to the plate in the ninth inning just a single shy of the cycle. The 24-year-old hit a ground ball that High Desert second baseman Cesar Fuentes bobbled, and the official scorer ruled it an error. However, after a half-inning of deliberation, the ruling was reversed. "I was hoping they'd give me a hit," said Gilbert after the game. "I was like, 'OK, I hit the ball hard.' But I thought, 'If they do, they do, and if they don't, they don't. But it would be real nice if they did.'"
The Guy Just Can't Catch a Break: Bowie's David Hernandez pitched six no-hit innings against the Altoona Curve on June 21, but had to settle for a no-decision in an eventual 5-0 Altoona win. He then pitched another six no-hit innings in his next start against Akron on June 26, but was touched up for two runs in the seventh and took the loss as the Aeros pulled out a 3-2 win.
Game-Winning Whiff: In what has to be one of the least inspiring walk-off victories imaginable, the Charlotte Knights defeated the Norfolk Tides on June 24 on the strength of a wild-pitch strikeout. With a runner on third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Paul Phillips swung at a wild pitch uncorked by Greg Aquino, allowing Javier Castillo to scamper home with the winning run.
All for One, One Hit for All: Six days later, the Charlotte Knights found yet another quirky way to defeat the Norfolk Tides as every player in the starting lineup collected one hit as the Knights defeated the Tides, 10-6.
But the most notable inning of this ballgame didn't feature any hits at all. After pitching a scoreless seventh frame, Rocky Cherry allowed three runs in the eighth on a walk, hit by pitch, error, intentional walk, wild pitch, sacrifice fly and passed ball.
Straight as the Crowe Flies: The stats of Akron's Trevor Crowe for the week of June 16-22: .464 (13-28), 9 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, 2 SB, .821 SLG.
The stats of Akron's Trevor Crowe for the week of June 23-29: 464 (13-28), 11 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB, .821 SLG.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.