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Crooked Numbers: Magical May
Exorcisms, black cats play their roles in month's madness
06/01/2011 11:23 AM ET
Mike Carp lost his bats but found himself a three-homer day.
Mike Carp lost his bats but found himself a three-homer day. (Richard Trask)
Not your typical twin-killing: It featured seven defenders taking part in three separate rundowns, but when all was said and done the New Britain Rock Cats had pulled off one of the strangest double plays of the new millennium. The unorthodox double play, turned at the expense of the Binghamton Mets on May 27, was scored 3-2-6-1-5-3-4-6-8. Good luck fitting that one in your scorebook.

Curses: Chris Balcolm-Miller and Tom Ebert combined to pitch a one-hitter for the Salem Red Sox on May 19, but the team nonetheless lost to Wilmington by a 1-0 score. Could this nefarious fate have had anything to do with the black cat that ran onto the field during the game? The appearance of this darkly hued feline resulted in a three-minute delay and served as an ominous harbinger of bad luck to come.

Crooked Numbers Include

More black magic: The struggling Inland Empire 66ers held an equipment-burning ritual prior to their game May 16 as part of an attempt to exorcise their losing ways. They then scored five runs in the first inning of that evening's game against Visalia, highlighted by back-to-back-to-back home runs! The lesson here is that voodoo works.

No superstition here: Mike Carp of the Tacoma Rainiers lost his bats after they rolled behind his locker prior to May 15's contest against New Orleans, but no matter. He borrowed teammate Matt Mangini's bat and went on to hit three homers and drive in six runs as part of an 18-6 Tacoma victory.

Dust off the broom: The Arkansas Travelers swept a doubleheader against the North Arkansas Naturals on May 21, marking the first time since 2005 that the team had accomplished the feat. In the interim, the Travs had split 23 doubleheaders while getting swept 13 times.

An epic afternoon: Syracuse's Michael Aubrey entered May 14's contest against Durham with no home runs over his first 21 games and 59 at-bats. That all changed in a hurry, as the veteran designated hitter slugged a homer in each of his first four at-bats! It was only the second four-homer game in Syracuse history and the first in the IL since 2006.

An epic evening: The longest game of the month was a 23-inning Florida State League marathon, in which Jupiter eked out a 2-1 win over Clearwater. The winning run came in the form of an RBI single off the bat of Jose Duarte, which allowed Jaime Ortiz to score on a close play at the plate. The ballgame featured 173 batters and took five hours and 37 minutes to play.

25s alive: The Mobile BayBears and Jackson Generals played 25 innings of baseball May 25. The BayBears rolled to an 8-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader, but the second game was a tad more hard-fought. The BayBears finally pulled out a 5-4 win in 18 innings, completing a twinbill sweep that featured seven hours and eight minutes of baseball. At the end of the evening, both teams possessed a record of 25-20.

Control freak: Joseph Wieland of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans has thrown 59 innings this season, racking up 70 strikeouts against just three walks! The right-hander issued one free pass in each of his first three starts, and since then has struck out 53 batters while walking zero.

Hey hey, ho ho, the results of this game have got to go! It is a rare occurrence indeed in which a managerial protest is upheld by the league, but that's what happened in a contest between the Bowling Green Hot Rods and West Michigan Whitecaps on May 18. Hot Rods manager Brady Williams filed the protest, after two of his team's runs were disallowed as part of a disputed sixth-inning play. The league agreed with Williams' protest, negating the Whitecaps' 6-3 victory. The two teams restarted the game in the sixth inning the next day, with Bowling Green going on to win by a score of 5-4.

A less successful protest: Triple plays are rare throughout baseball, but even rarer is the triple play in which the visiting team's manager is ejected for arguing while said play is taking place. That's what happened in Lakeland on May 22, with runners on first and second and Adalberto Santos at the plate. Santos hit a shallow pop up to right fielder Avisail Garcia that was ruled a catch by umpire Jose Rivera. The ball got away from the sliding Garcia, however, leading both base runners to believe that it had not been caught. They were easily retired on force plays at second and first, and as all this was happening Lakeland manager Carlos Garcia was thrown out of the game by Rivera for charging across the diamond from the third base coach's box to argue against this still-unfolding turn of events. Whew.

Refuse to lose: It took 18 innings for the San Jose Giants to pull out a 10-9 win over visiting Stockton on May 16, in a game that had enough drama to last an entire homestand. The teams were tied 4-4 after nine, then went on to score one run apiece in both the 11th and 13th to knot the score at 6-6. Stockton scored three in the 18th, but San Jose re-tied the game at 9-9 on the strength of a walk, double, single, sac bunt, wild pitch and sac fly. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases, and Jarrod Parker then reached on an error to give the Giants a highly improbable 10-9 victory.

Base-clogging bonanza: On May 20, the Lancaster JetHawks entered the bottom of the fourth inning trailing the High Desert Mavericks by a score of 6-0. What then ensued was this: single, walk, single, walk, single, single, homer, triple, walk, single and walk. Eleven batters reached base consecutively, and by the end of the inning the JetHawks had an 8-6 lead. Nonetheless, the Mavericks still won the game by a score of 13-9.

After you, I insist: The Fort Myers Miracle reeled off a six-game winning streak from May 1-6, despite the fact that their opponent scored first in all six ballgames. The Miracle reversed this trend on May 7, plating a run in the first inning of their contest against the Jupiter Hammerheads. Perhaps inevitably, they then went on to lose by a score of 20-2.

Beyond the call of duty: Todd Glaesmann of the Bowling Green Hot Rods enjoyed a two-homer game on May 12, despite not appearing in the contest until being inserted as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning. He stayed in the game as a right fielder, and in the 11th inning smacked a solo shot to give the Hot Rods a 6-5 lead. Fort Wayne tied it back at 6-6 in the bottom of the frame, but in the 13th Glaesmann connected for another solo shot. That one held up, with the Hot Rods notching a hard-fought 7-6 win.

All clear: It wasn't until May 13 that a member of the Buffalo Bisons connected for a three-run home run. Until then, the team had hit 20 solo dingers and four two-run shots. The player who ended this streak was second baseman Luis Hernandez, who hadn't hit any homers prior to his three-run blast against Louisville on May 13. His productive tater didn't alter the game's outcome, however, as the Bisons still lost by a score of 15-7.

Making up for lost time: Conor Gillaspie and Edgar Gonzalez hit back-to-back homers for the Fresno Grizzles on May 26, marking the first time in nearly 10 months that the team had accomplished the feat. It took just five innings for it happen again, as Brad Eldred and Jackson Williams went back-to-back in the eighth. The prodigious power output resulted in an 8-5 win over Oklahoma City.

Three-base phenomenons: Through the first 48 games of the season, Midland's Jermaine Mitchell has hit an astonishing 13 triples. No one else in the circuit has hit more than four. Nearly as impressive in that category has been Reno's Cole Gillespie. The left-fielder has hit 12 triples, more than he has connected for doubles (8) and home runs (3) combined.

Avalanche of the anomalous: The Dayton Dragons hit for the cycle within a wild six-run inning May 14, as part of a frame with more than its share of freakish plays. Donald Lutz's single deflected off the glove of pitcher Adys Portillo, Dominic D'Anna's double dropped in because Fort Wayne left fielder Jose Dore couldn't see the ball, Juan Duran's triple was the result of a collision between Dore and center fielder Rymer Liriano, and Devin Lohman hit a ball to right that turned out to be an inside-the-park home run.

Everybody hits! The Salt Lake Bees defeated the Fresno Grizzlies by a score of 15-14 on May 1. The teams combined for 34 hits in the contest, as the entire starting lineup of both teams hit safely and scored at least one run (the only player to log an at-bat and not garner a hit was catcher Jackson Williams, who still coaxed a bases-loaded walk and later came around to score). Twelve players drove in at least one run, and 11 enjoyed multi-hit games.

Neshek finally hits! Pat Neshek made his professional debut in 2002, but it took until May 1 for him to get his first professional at-bat. After pitching a scoreless eighth inning for the Tucson Padres, the sidearming reliever came to bat in the top of the ninth and, improbably, lined a single to center field. He then came back out in the ninth and earned the save. Not bad for a day's work.

The big breezy: The New Orleans Zephyrs hosted the Memphis RedBirds on May 5 in what turned out to be the coldest game in Zephyrs history. It was 58 degrees at game time, with wind speed measured at 25 miles an hour.

Doing a little with a lot: On May 5, the potent Salem Red Sox collected 13 hits and five walks and stole five bases. Despite this, the team scored only four runs and only two players were credited with an RBI. But despite that, Salem still pulled out a 4-3 win over Myrtle Beach in 10 innings.

Nowhere to run to: On May 7, the Rome Braves' roaming ways on the basepaths were stymied at every turn by the host Savannah Sand Gnats. As part of Savannah's 3-1 win, the team logged four outfield assists, two double plays, two baserunners caught stealing, and a pickoff.

Game of inches: Baseball can be a spectacularly frustrating game, and Tucson's Jesus Guzman would certainly have attested to this fact following a 4-3 loss to Fresno on May 8. With one out and one man on in the ninth inning, Guzman lifted a ball to center field that just missed clearing the fence. Instead he had to settle for a double, putting runners on second and third. Two batters later, Guzman tried to score from second on Guillermo Quiroz's line drive single to center field. Instead he was thrown out at the plate to end the game.

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