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Crooked Numbers: Mound mayhem06/01/2010 10:00 AM ET
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
The purpose of "Crooked Numbers" is to take a look back at the month that was in the Minors, highlighting some of the curious and absurd incidents that have taken place. Enjoy, and please don't hesitate to get in touch with suggestions.
Getting weirder all the time: Strange things start to happen when a game goes deep into extra innings. For proof of this phenomenon, observe the events that transpired in Winston-Salem on May 19. The Dash defeated visiting Myrtle Beach, 4-3, in 20 innings, and the game's winning pitcher was position player Kyle Shelton. After starting the game at second base, he switched to left field in the top of the 13th. He came on to pitch the top of the 20th, allowing just one hit. Shelton then singled in the bottom of the 20th, helping set up Chase Blackwood's game-winning hit. Prior to coming through in the 20th, Blackwood had gone 0-for-8 with six strikeouts. In fact, the clubs combined to whiff 52 times.
Backup catcher, winning pitcher: Mario Mercedes of the Peoria Chiefs is a catcher by trade, but on May 20 he entered the game in the bottom of the 14th inning to assume pitching duties. The moonlighting backstop pitched a scoreless frame against the Timber Rattlers and, in the top of the 15th, the Chiefs scored four runs to take a 9-5 lead. Mercedes returned for the bottom of the 15th and loaded the bases with two outs before exiting. Larry Suarez struck out Cutter Dykstra to end the game, making Mercedes the winning pitcher.
Things that make you go "huh?" One can always count on broadcasters to deliver the most esoteric of weird baseball facts, such as this one sent in by Kannapolis Intimidators play-by-play man Josh Ellis: "[Right-handed reliever] Brandon Kloess has allowed six straight infield singles, the last hit he allowed that reached the outfield was on May 3." Want some more Kloss ephemera? Consider this: "In each of his last five one-inning outings, Kloess has struck out the side."
Double your displeasure: It took the Arkansas Travelers 16 innings to eke out a 4-2 victory over the Tulsa Drillers on May 6, an effort that was aided considerably by seven double plays (matching the most in Texas League history). The Drillers hit into twin killings in the third, fifth, sixth, seventh, 11th, 12th and 14th innings. Tulsa went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 15 on base.
Collmenter has the POWer: Josh Collmenter was named California League Pitcher of the Week for the period ending April 25. His dominance with the Visalia Rawhide earned him a promotion two levels to the Triple-A Reno Aces, where he tossed seven shutout innings in his debut. This earned Collmenter the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Week nod, marking the second time in as many weeks he earned the honor. Naturally, Collmenter ended the month as a member of the Southern League's Mobile BayBears.
Rodriguez followed by Rodriguez followed by Rodriguez: between the Salt Lake Bees and Round Rock Express featured a preponderance of similarly named right-handed pitchers. Fernando Rodriguez came in to pitch the sixth inning for the Bees and was followed by Francisco Rodriguez in the seventh and Rafael Rodriguez in the eighth. The Rodriguezes combined to allow three runs, although -- in fairness -- they were all relinquished by Fernando.
A wild trip around the bases: The Lynchburg Hillcats earned a walk-off win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on May 7 in a game that had the wildest ending imaginable. Neftali Soto singled with one out in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Jose Gualdron. With two outs and Devin Mesoraco at the plate, Gualdron advanced to second, third and then scored, thanks to three wild pitches uncorked by Jaye Chapman. Mesoraco actually struck out on the third wild pitch but made it to first safely as Gualdron scampered home with the winning run.
Double wild: Kane County defeated Beloit, 3-2, on May 18, with the tying and winning runs both resulting from two-base wild pitches. In the seventh, a wild pitch by Kane Holbrooks allowed Myrio Richard to score from second to forge a 2-2 tie. In the ninth, Max Stassi advanced from first to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a single by Nino Leyja.
Small ball: The Springfield Cardinals scored 10 fourth-inning runs en route to a 13-2 rout of Arkansas on May 19, despite totaling just one extra-base hit in the frame. Outside of a two-run double by Aaron Miles, the inning consisted of eight singles, two walks and two errors.
Breakout! The Louisville Bats suffered through a miserable nine-game losing streak from April 23-May 2, totaling only 23 runs. They broke out of it in a big way on May 3, thrashing the Buffalo Bisons, 20-7. In doing so, they tied the franchise record for hits in a game (24) while scoring in every inning but the ninth.
Timo stands and delivers: The always versatile Timo Perez, a veteran of eight Major League seasons, took the mound for Albuquerque on May 7. The Isotopes were on the short end of an 11-1 deficit and Perez's task was simply to spell the beleaguered bullpen. He was more than up to the task, hurling a hitless inning.
Delayed gratification: Inclement weather caused the May 25 game between the Savannah Sand Gnats and Kannapolis Intimidators to be suspended in the 13th inning with the score tied 2-2. After a 17-hour "delay," the game resumed the following evening. It took only nine minutes for Savannah to win as the Sand Gnats plated a run in the bottom of the 13th.