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06/02/2008 10:00 AM ET
Beyond the Box Score: May in the Minors
A look at some of the quirkier happenings over the last month
Brevard County's Darren Ford stole an FSL-record five bases on May 5 -- without getting a hit. (Jerry Hale/


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.

Going Out With A Bang: On May 15, Tennessee Smokies shortstop Robinson Chirinos played his last game with the club before reporting to the Chicago Cubs' extended spring training program to begin transitioning to his new defensive position -- catcher. It turned out to be a game to remember for the 24-year-old Venezuelan, as he tied a Southern League record with three triples in the contest (his first three of the season, no less). It's difficult not to see Chirinos' standout performance as a defiant good-bye to his days as an infielder. Because once he returns to the Minors as a backstop, it's a virtual guarantee that the aches and pains associated with that demanding position will ensure he never hits three triples in a game again. Way to go out on top, Robinson.

Well, That's One Way to Do It: On May 5, Brevard County's Darren Ford tied a Florida State League record by stealing five bases in a game against Clearwater. But not only did Ford accomplish this feat in a losing cause, he didn't even hit safely in the contest. The 22-year-old speedster reached base on an error in the first inning and promptly stole second and third. In the third, he reached on a fielder's choice and swiped second. Ford then drew a walk in the sixth and once again stole second and third to give him five stolen bases on the evening. With the record in reach, Ford struck out in his final two at-bats. It then took him 14 games to accumulate another five stolen bases.

All Or Nothing: The good news -- Charlotte's Brad Eldred hit seven home runs in 14 games between May 15 and May 29. The bad news -- he had just nine total hits and a batting average of .155 over that span.

Just Two Walks, but Rodriguez Still Very Much on the Wild Side: On May 28, Midland's Henry Rodriguez set an unflattering Texas League record when he uncorked seven wild pitches during his start against Northwest Arkansas. The 21-year-old right-hander was yanked after yielding four runs on five hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings.

The Least Inspiring Ninth-Inning Rally in Baseball History: On May 5, the Birmingham Barons came to bat in the ninth against the Montgomery Biscuits trailing, 4-2. And then, magic struck. A very, very weak form of magic. On the "strength" of two singles, two walks, a hit batsman, a wild pitch and three errors, the Barons scored five runs in the frame and rallied for a 7-4 win. Birmingham sent 11 men to the plate in the inning, but only American Idol namesake David Cook was able to hit the ball out of the infield.

What Do We Have to Do To Get A Win Around Here?: Whenever a team is able to score 10 runs in an inning -- and 16 in a game -- it virtually guarantees a victory. But not if the team in question is the Las Vegas 51s, however. On April 30, the 51s plated 10 seventh-inning runs against the Albuquerque Isotopes -- and still ended the frame on the losing end of a 17-16 score. The Isotopes then scored an insurance run in the bottom of the inning and held on for an 18-16 win. (Note: this 18-16 game paled in comparison to the one played at Wrigley Field on April 17, 1976, when the Phillies overcame a 12-1 deficit and defeated the Cubs in 10 innings. Mike Schmidt blasted four home runs in the contest).

An Even Less Inspiring 10-run Inning: On May 10, the Inland Empire 66ers had an exceedingly comfortable 15-0 lead over the Lancaster JetHawks when they came to bat in the ninth inning. Nonetheless, the 66ers tacked on another 10 runs against Luis Segovia and Daniel Nava, a pair of position players who were enlisted to pitch in order to preserve the JetHawks' battered bullpen. The 66ers' merciless approach against this hapless duo made the 25-1 win the most lopsided victory in the Minor Leagues this season (even though Lancaster did rally for one run in the bottom of the ninth).

Hit Parade: Inland Empire's 25-1 massacre of the JetHawks represented the most runs a Minor League team has scored this season. But at this juncture you must be asking yourself, "What team had the most hits in one game?" I am here for you. On May 27, the Las Vegas 51s pounded out a season-high 25 hits in a 23-2 romp over Tucson. Sergio Garcia, one of 11 Las Vegas players to hit safely, led the way with five base knocks.

We Did It All For You, Mom: A no-hitter is always special, but Colorado Springs' no-no against Albuquerque on Mother's Day was a little less special than most. Four Sky Sox hurlers combined to walk nine batters in the contest, and the Isotopes' lineup was retired in order just twice. Franklin Morales started the game for Colorado Springs and allowed a run on six walks over five innings. Chris George issued two free passes over 1 2/3 frames, while Matt Daley walked one batter over 1 1/3 innings. Steven Register came on to pitch the ninth and shocked all in attendance by retiring the side in order to preserve the unorthodox no-hitter.

And Then, One Week Later...: Taking a cue from the Colorado Springs playbook, Frisco's Matt Harrison crafted his own walk-laden no-hitter against San Antonio on May 18. The 22-year-old southpaw walked six batters (and hit one) in the seven-inning contest, retiring the side in order just twice. The RoughRiders nonetheless coasted to a 2-0 victory. Harrison's effort was hardly typical of his season -- discounting the no-hitter, he walked just eight batters over 39 innings.

The No-Hitter That Wasn't, But Then Was, and Then Wasn't Again. Or Something Like That: On May 8, Hickory's Dustin Molleken faced the Savannah Sand Gnats and allowed just one hit over six shutout innings before a rain delay prematurely ended his night. Following the rain delay, Harrison Bishop came on in relief of Molleken and pitched two perfect innings before yielding Jose Jimenez's single to lead off the ninth. Unbeknownst to Bishop (and everyone else) at the time, that would turn out to be the Sand Gnats' first true hit of the ballgame. This is because after the conclusion of the game the official scorer changed the one hit that Molleken allowed -- Francisco Pena's second-inning single -- to an error.

Well, There Goes That: On May 27, Hagerstown's Luis Atilano pitched 3 1/3 no-hit innings against Kannapolis. But after an error and two walks, Logan Johnson broke up the nascent no-hit bid with a grand slam.

Lost In The Shuffle: One of the most impressive under-the-radar accomplishments in the Minor Leagues belongs to Jeremy Cummings. The Durham Bulls right-hander closed out his start on May 23 with six no-hit innings and then pitched 5 2/3 hitless frames in his next start on May 28th. For those keeping score at home, that means that Cummings reeled off a streak of 11 2/3 consecutive hitless frames. The 31-year-old is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA over four starts with the Bulls this season.

The Only Way To Guarantee A Win: Between April 29 and May 10, the Durham Bulls won five games and lost seven. All five victories were shutouts.

Go For Two: Of the 25 total hits in Lynchburg's 12-11 victory over Winston-Salem on May 14, an astounding 14 of them were doubles. Four players in the contest collected two doubles apiece, most notably Brandon Allen of the Warthogs. The burly first baseman hit for the cycle in the losing cause, including a ninth-inning triple which completed the feat.

Today Was A Good Day: Charleston's Brian Baisley on May 21: 5-for-6 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Brian Baisley on all other days of the season thus far: three home runs and six RBIs over 92 at-bats.

His True Calling?: On May 26 -- after nine seasons and 343 professional appearances -- Minor League veteran Ryan Bukvich started a game for the first time. The 30-year-old hurler took the mound for Norfolk in a second game of a doubleheader against Durham and earned the win after scattering three hits over five shutout innings.

It Had to Happen Eventually: Over 10 months ago -- July 22, 2007, to be exact -- Eddie Bonine took the mound for the Erie SeaWolves and suffered the loss. The 27-year-old then went 12-0 over his next 15 starts, a period of time that spanned two teams and two seasons. Bonine, now with the Toledo Mud Hens, finally ended up back in the loss column on May 27 when he allowed four runs over two innings against Buffalo.

Seeing Things Through to the Bitter End: Beloit's Michael Tarsi is the only player in the Minor Leagues to hurl three complete games this season -- in three consecutive starts no less. Making this feat less impressive, however, is the fact that he lost all three contests en route to an 0-6 start to his season.

Blanks A Lot: Augusta closer Daniel Otero has yet to allow a run over his first 20 appearances this season (spanning 20 2/3 innings). If this sounds familiar, it's because Otero started his 2007 campaign with 11 scoreless appearances en route to converting all 19 of his save opportunities.

Good Eye, Good Eye: Over his first 50 games this season, Richmond's Wes Timmons drew 29 walks against just 13 strikeouts.

Dramatic Turnaround: After bottoming out with an anemic .143 average on May 8th, Round Rock's Edwin Maysonet quickly got his act together. Since then he has hit .354 (29-for-82) and is now at a respectable .268 on the season.

Bizarro World, Pt. 1: Arkansas' Dan Denham over his first four starts this season: 1-4, 1.55 ERA. Dan Denham over his next five starts: 3-0, 4.66 ERA.

Bizarro World, Pt. 2: Jupiter's Jeff Allison over his first seven starts this season: 0-4, 1.60 ERA. Jeff Allison over his next four starts: 3-1, 7.11 ERA.

And, To Conclude, A Brief Glance At the Best and Worst Teams in the Minor Leagues: The Midwest League's Clinton LumberKings are at 38-14 and have the best winning percentage (.731) in all of the Minor Leagues. On the other end of the spectrum are the Florida State League's St. Lucie Mets, who are currently 12-44 and 23 games out of first place in the FSL's East Division.

Benjamin Hill is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.