Circling into the record books: Everett's Fred Bello hit an inside-the-park home run on July 2, a sixth-inning solo shot that snapped a 6-6 tie and propelled the AquaSox to victory over Salem-Keizer. It was the first time in 11 years that an Everett player had hit an inside-the-park homer, but Bello was just getting started. The second baseman connected for yet another inside-the-parker the very next day, a two-run homer that played a significant role in the AquaSox's 6-5 victory. After the game, Bello expressed what everyone was thinking.
"Who would have imagined that?" he exclaimed to the hometown Everett Herald. "It's not an easy thing to do once. But twice? That's crazy."
One good name deserves another: It may sound impossible, but the West Michigan Whitecaps' game on July 5 featured Luis Sanz pitching to Luis Sanz. The Venezuelan duo composing this identically named battery is, in fact, brothers: 22-year-old hurler Luis Angel and 19-year-old backstop Luis Alberto. Despite the strong familial connection, Sanz took the loss in that outing, allowing five runs over 6 2/3 innings as the Whitecaps fell to Dayton. The All-Luis Sanz battery made an encore appearance on July 22, and again a loss resulted. Sanz pitched well, however, allowing two runs -- one earned -- over five innings.
(For the record, a brother battery has not occurred in the Major Leagues since Larry and Norm Sherry suited up for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1962).
Tamargo, Tamargo: In what may have been a professional baseball first, the July 24 game between the Clinton LumberKings and Lansing Lugnuts featured a father and son managing against one another. John Tamargo Sr. is Clinton's longtime skipper, while Jr. (usually a hitting coach) was filling in for Lansing manager Sal Fasano. Youth triumphed over experience in this matchup, with the Lugnuts cruising to a 12-7 victory.
Rally-killer: Triple plays are rare in any circumstance, but especially when they are of the game-ending variety and marked in the scorebook as "9-6." That's what occurred on July 3 in San Jose, where the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. James Simmons, representing the tying run, lofted a deep drive to right field that was hauled in by Lancaster's Brett Barnes. He fired the ball to shortstop Barry Butera, who was able to take advantage of runners who were unsure whether or not a catch had been made. Butera tagged out Wendell Fairley, who'd been on first base, for out No. 2, then stepped on second to force Jose Flores. That was out No. 3, with the triple play handing Lancaster a 4-0 victory.
Killeen the ball: Hits were hard to come by during Sean Killeen's brief stint with the Lowell Spinners, but he sure made the most of them. He collected seven hits over his first 10 games but five left the ballpark. After his fifth homer on July 5, he was slugging .647, despite a .206 batting average. This was a far different story than last season, when Killeen went homerless over 23 ballgames in Lowell. The first baseman received a callup later in the month, and he's now a member of the Class A Greenville Drive.
Fireworks, lights don't: The crowd at the St. Lucie Mets game on July 4 got to enjoy the planned fireworks display a bit earlier than expected. A power outage suspended play with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, and the team took advantage of the darkness by treating fans to Independence Day pyrotechnics. The lights never did turn back on, however, and the game had to be resumed the following morning.
Zero zeros: It wouldn't be a "Crooked Numbers" column without at least one mention of a California League offensive onslaught. This month's most prominent example occurred on July 5 in High Desert, where visiting Rancho Cucamonga scored in every inning en route to plating a franchise-record 23 runs. The Quakes became just the second team in Cal League history to score in every inning, putting up five runs in the first and never looking back. Their 23rd and final run came with two outs in the ninth, with Rian Kiniry scoring on a passed ball to complete the rare feat.
Two rarities don't make a win: It's rare to score 13 runs in a game and lose, rarer still to have scored those 13 runs on the "strength" of only six hits. But that's what happened to the Reno Aces on July 6, as their 13 runs were augmented by 12 walks and three errors. It still wasn't enough, however, as the Sacramento River Cats eked out a 14-13 victory. The Aces scored three times in the bottom of the ninth inning and got the tying run to third base before Jeff Bailey popped out to end the monstrosity at 3 hours, 41 minutes.
Nothing is as it seems: Wilmington defeated Potomac on July 6, despite a bizarre play which turned a run into an out and a single into a double. Eric Hosmer hit what appeared to be a two-run double in the top of the fifth, but the umpires ruled that Fernando Garcia missed third base as he attempted to score from first. Garcia was ruled out on an appeal play, with Hosmer sent back to first, thanks to Rule 10.06.b.
Thefts aplenty: The Kinston Indians stole five bases against Myrtle Beach on July 1 -- and all five occurred in the seventh inning. Lucas Montero drew a leadoff walk, stole second and, after Bo Greenwell's walk, came around to score on Abner Abreu's single. Abreu was part of two double-steals, but he was stranded at third to end the inning.
A couple of touchdowns: The Cedar Rapids Kernels were on the wrong end of an 11-3 score when they came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning on July 18. But when the frame finished, they had a six-run lead. Twenty men came to the plate in the fateful inning, which featured 14 runs, 12 hits, three walks, a hit batter and an error. Shortstop Jon Karcich made three plate appearances, singling, homering and drawing a walk. Cedar Rapids won the game, 18-11, over Lake County.
Homering for the cycle: Blake Smith of the Great Lakes Loons homered in four straight games against South Bend, from July 4-6. In doing so, he completed the home run cycle in reverse order. The 22-year-old outfielder hit a grand slam on July 4, a three-run shot in Game 1 of a doubleheader on July 5, a two-run blast in the nightcap and a solo dinger on July 6.
Isn't that cute? The Bowie Baysox trio of Joel Guzman, Joe Mahoney and Brandon Waring hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the bottom of the fourth inning of a July 20 game against Binghamton. The rare feat was even more remarkable given the Baysox's parent club, the Baltimore Orioles, had accomplished the same feat moments earlier. Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton and Adam James were the participants in that tater triumvirate.
Home field of horrors: The Dayton Dragons have had an exceedingly tough time at their home ballpark, losing 17 straight games in the apparently unfriendly confines of Fifth Third Field. Dayton won a home game against Fort Wayne on June 28 but lost the next two games of the series, then went 0-for-July.
Whatever it takes: The Erie SeaWolves did not win at home through the entire month of June, going 0-12 in the suddenly unfriendly confines of Jerry Uht Park. To reverse this revolting development, the club wore its road uniforms during the July 5 home game (the first of an eight-game homestand). The SeaWolves defeated Bowie while wearing the road duds, a victory that sparked a four-game sweep.
Walk-off strikeout: Speaking of Erie's win over Bowie on July 5, it ended in extremely bizarre fashion. In the bottom of the 11th, the SeaWolves had the bases loaded and two outs when Bryan Pounds struck out on a passed ball by catcher Steven Lerud. Pounds made it to first safely as Andy Dirks scampered home with the winning run.
Walk-off rundown: Further game-ending craziness occurred in Potomac on July 16, as the Nationals scored two runs on an infield grounder. The P-Nats had runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the 10th when Bill Rhinehart hit a ground ball to first baseman Nate Recknagle, who threw to second to start a double play. The throw bounced off runner Robbie Jacobsen's helmet and into center field. That allowed Nicholas Moresi to score the tying run from second. Rhinehart was caught in a rundown between first and second, with Jacobsen breaking for home just as the out was made on the basepaths. Jacobsen's daring scamper was successful, giving Potomac an improbable 8-7 victory.
Let's play two-in-one: It took 18 innings, but the Lakewood BlueClaws beat the Delmarva Shorebirds, 8-7 on July 24. The BlueClaws plated three in the top of the ninth to take a 7-2 lead, but the Shorebirds stormed back with five in the bottom of the frame to force extras. After eight innings in which neither team scored, the BlueClaws got a run on a bases-loaded walk by moonlighting DH Levi Carolus.
Floridian slip: The Jupiter Hammerheads edged the Dunedin Blue Jays, 2-1, in a 17-inning marathon on July 21. In the fateful 17th, Kevin Mattison hit a one-out triple that deflected off the glove of right fielder Welinton Ramirez. As reliever Boomer Potts prepared to face the next batter, the ball slipped out of his hand and landed on the mound. This resulted in a balk, with Ramirez scoring the decisive run.
It just kept going and going and going ... And speaking of Florida State League marathons, the Daytona Cubs defeated the Charlotte Stone Crabs, 4-3, in a 19-inning game on July 19. The Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, then were blanked for 17 frames before Kyler Burke came through with an RBI double in the 19th. The game's losing pitcher was infielder Matt Hall, who tossed a scoreless 18th before allowing Burke's two-bagger. Earning the win was Matt Matulia, a 26-year-old "player/coach" listed on the roster as a second baseman. Matulia, who had only appeared in one other game this season (also as a pitcher), hurled five shutout innings.
An interminable slog: The above 19-inning game lasted 5 hours and 13 minutes, only 40 minutes more than it took Harrisburg and Altoona to play a nine-inning game on July 17. The Curve scored 10 runs in the ninth inning, pulling out an 18-15 victory in a contest that took 4 hours and 33 minutes. That's longer than any nine-inning game in the history of the National League.