California League notebook

News & notes for the week of Aug. 11

(Ken Weisenberger)

By Lisa Winston / | August 18, 2008 4:00 AM

Bakersfield Blaze (Texas Rangers)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Blaze were 2-5 on the week to drop to 23-32 in the second half of the North race, putting them in last place, 10 games out. At 59-66 overall, they're also in last in the Wild Card/seeding race at 10.5 games out. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, Bakersfield would not make it into the postseason.

WHO'S HOT? 1B Mauro Gomez had two hits and three RBIs on Aug. 11 and homered the next night to help pace a 15-hit attack in a 14-2 win against Stockton. ... 1B Ian Gac hit a pair of homers in a 7-1 win against Modesto on Aug. 15. ... RHP Evan Reed got the win in the 7-1 victory against Modesto, tossing six innings of three-hit ball and allowing one run while striking out six. ... C Chris Gradoville was hitting .330 in 57 games with the Blaze.

OFF TO FRISCO: OF Chad Tracy was promoted to Double-A Frisco on Aug. 8. The Rangers' third-round pick (and their second pick overall) in 2006, Tracy played outfield, first base, catcher and DH for the Blaze, hitting .286 with 13 home runs, 67 RBIs and a .471 slugging percentage before his promotion.

HIGHLIGHT REEL: The Blaze pounded Stockton, 14-2, on Aug. 12, collecting 15 hits on the night. The team was led by 3B John Whittleman who had a four-hit game, while OF Grant Gerrard and C Chris Gradoville had three hits each. The team burst out for a six-run first inning and never looked back scoring a season high in runs, surpassing its total of 13 against Visalia on May 28.

High Desert Mavericks (Seattle Mariners)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Mavs went 0-7 on the week with series sweeps at the hands of Lake Elsinore and Visalia. At 21-34 in the South second-half race, they're in last place at 10 games out. Their 53-72 overall mark is the worst record in the league and puts them eight out in the Wild Card/seeding race. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, High Desert would not make the playoffs.

WHO'S HOT? 3B Ronnie Prettyman had two hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs in the team's 8-4 loss to Lake Elsinore on Aug. 13. ... SS Carlos Triunfel had three hits in that game and was hitting .290, including a .371 mark in July and .346 in August after batting just .154 in June. ... 2B Christopher Minaker hit his league-leading 40th double of the season Aug. 10.

HIGH HOPES FADING: The Mavericks' seven-game losing streak may have been the final stake through the heart of the team's postseason hopes. High Desert was shut out, 9-0, by Visalia on Aug. 14 and collected just one hit against the Oaks the next night in a 10-2 loss.

Inland Empire 66ers (Los Angeles Dodgers)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The 66ers were 3-4 on the week and now stand at 27-28 in the South second-half race, a manageable four games out in fourth place. At 58-66 overall, they're in third place in the Wild Card/seeding race, 2.5 games out. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, they'd be the heartbreak team heading home.

WHO'S HOT? LHP Victor Garate returned to action Aug. 14, coming off the disabled list where he'd been sidelined with a blister, to strike out six in five innings in an 8-4 win against Lake Elsinore. He'd allowed one run and fanned 14 in his last 11 innings before going on the DL. ... OF Scott Van Slyke's two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth lifted the team to a 4-2 win against Lancaster on Aug. 12.

GILES' WILES: OF Tommy Giles had quietly been having a great season, but this week he made more noise. After driving in five runs in his team's 14-8 win against High Desert on Aug. 10, he added a three-hit game with another homer Aug. 16 in an 11-9 loss to Lake Elsinore. Giles hit .333 in July and was batting .320 in August and was third in the league with 89 RBIs and tied for third with 20 homers.

NEW FACE IN RELIEF: 2007 first-rounder RHP Chris Withrow made his 2008 debut Aug. 10, allowing one run on one hit in one inning, following that up with a perfect inning with two strikeouts Aug. 13.

SIX AND SIX FOR 66ers: The 66ers posted a pair of six-run innings in the team's 14-8 win against High Desert on Aug. 10. In the sixth inning, switch-hitting OF Matt Berezay paced the offense with a three-run homer.

Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: After a 5-2 week that saw the Storm score eight or more runs in four of those wins, the team climbed to 29-26 in the second-half South race, putting them two games back in third place. At 60-64 overall, they were in second place in the Wild Card/seeding race, a half-game back. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, the Storm would receive the No. 3 seed and host No. 2 seed Rancho Cucamonga in the opening game in the three-game South Division quarterfinal series.

WHO'S HOT? RHP Ernesto Frieri got the win in a 4-2 victory against High Desert Aug. 11, allowing one earned run in seven innings, striking out four. ... C Mitch Canham blasted a pair of homers in a 9-2 win against the Mavericks Aug. 11 as 1B Keoni Ruth added four RBIs in that game. ... 2B Eric Sogard had three hits to cap the sweep of the Mavs on Aug. 13, 8-4.

LOSING THE BIG BAT: OF Kellen Kulbacki officially went on the DL with a shoulder injury Aug. 14, but he had been on the sidelines since Aug. 5. The loss of his bat is especially rough since he was the hottest hitter on the team since the beginning of June and was hitting .349 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs. He would have been leading the league in batting, but no longer had enough at-bats to qualify for the leaderboard.

MAKING UP FOR LOST SUPERSTARS: Despite the missing Kulbacki, the Storm smashed 22 hits in a 16-4 win against Inland Empire on Aug. 15. Five players -- DH Luis Durango, in just his second game since joining the team to replace Kulbacki, OF Cedric Hunter, 3B Mike Joynt, OF Sam Carter and SS Jesus Lopez -- chipped in with at least three hits each. Hunter also drove in four runs, as did 1B Keoni Ruth.

Lancaster JetHawks (Boston Red Sox)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The JetHawks were 3-4 on the week to fall to second place in the South second-half race, one half-game out. They have already clinched home-field advantage in the division semifinals with a bye to that round.

WHO'S HOT? In his second game with the team since coming up from Class A Greenville, OF Ryan Kalish was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles in a 7-5 loss to Rancho Cucamonga on Aug. 15. Kalish, 20, was hitting .281 with 18 steals at Greenville. ... SS Yamaico Navarro was hitting .325 since joining the club in July and .379 so far in August.

BIG FINISH: The JetHawks scored all 11 runs in the last three innings to beat Inland Empire, 11-2. on Aug. 11. In their eight-run seventh inning, two-RBI singles by IF Luis Segovia and OF Zak Farkes were the key hits. In that frame, 13 batters came to the plate as the team capitalized on five walks, four hits, a hit batsman and a wild pitch.

MAKING UP FOR LOST CHIANG: 2B Kristopher Negron was making the loss of Taiwanese Olympian 2B Chih-Hsien Chiang more bearable with his live bat. Negron was hitting .316, with three hits including a double and a homer Aug. 10, a home run Aug. 13 and two RBIs Aug. 15. Chiang was hitting .303 when he left to join his country's Olympic squad.

TOUGH LOSS: OF Daniel Nava went on the DL on Aug. 12. Nava was batting .337, leading the league in hitting by a wide margin when he got hurt. He signed with the Red Sox this year out of an independent league.

Modesto Nuts (Colorado Rockies)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Nuts were 3-4 on the week, swept in a three-game set by Rancho Cucamonga, and they stand at 29-25 in the second-half North race at 3.5 games out. At 63-61 overall, they were in second in the Wild Card/seeding race, trailing Stockton by five games. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, Modesto would earn the No. 3 seed in the North and host No. 2 seed Stockton in the opener of the three-game quarterfinal series.

WHO'S HOT? OF Victor Ferrante had three hits and two RBIs in the team's 7-6 loss to Rancho Cucamonga on Aug. 12. ... RHP Aneury Rodriguez allowed four hits and struck out nine over seven innings in a 4-3 loss to the Quakes on Aug. 13.

EIGHT-SPOT FOR THE WIN: The Nuts scored all eight of their runs in the fifth inning of an 8-4 win against Bakersfield on Aug. 10, with C Mike McKenry in the middle of the offense with a leadoff double and later the same frame, a three-run homer. A two-RBI double by Radhames Nazario was also a key hit as the team collected seven hits in the inning.

FIRST ROUGH ONE, THEN BACK ON TRACK: RHP Jhoulys Chacin had his first bad outing of the year in a 6-2 loss to Rancho Cucamonga on Aug. 11, as he allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings. He rebounded Aug. 16 with a 3-1 win against Bakersfield for his Minor League-leading 17th win of the season between Modesto and Asheville. Chacin was also leading the Minors with 153 strikeouts. but his 2.16 ERA had him in fifth behind three starters with sub-2.00 ERAs. That may make it tougher for him to win the elusive Minor League Triple Crown, but still makes him a top contender for Pitcher of the Year.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: Going 6-1 on the week with a three-game sweep of Modesto, the Quakes stood at 31-24 in the South second half and moved into first in the division with a half-game lead over Lancaster. At 61-64 overall, they also held a slim half-game lead in the Wild Card/seeding race over Lake Elsinore, with a 2.5-game margin on Inland Empire. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, Rancho Cucamonga would win the second-half division title and the No. 2 seed, and it would face Lake Elsinore in the three-game South Division quarterfinals.

WHO'S HOT? C Hank Conger doubled and drove in two runs in the team's 4-3 win against Modesto on Aug. 13. ...IF Abel Nieves' .396 on-base average ranked him fifth in the league. He was hitting .301. ... RHP David Herndon was tied for second in the league with 16 saves.

WHEN YOU NEED AN SOS: Put out the call to RHP Sean O'Sullivan to save the day as he collected his league-best 15th win Aug. 11 in a 6-2 victory over Modesto, outdueling Nuts ace Jhoulys Chacin. O'Sullivan allowed one earned run on five hits over seven innings while striking out six. He didn't fare quite as well in his second outing of the week, Aug. 16, as he took the 7-3 loss to Lancaster, losing a shot to move into a tie for second in the Minors in wins.

KING OF THE MOUNT: 2B Ryan Mount may be the Quakes' current leadoff hitter, but he's been hitting like a cleanup man of late. He was not only hitting .358 in that spot but also had five homers, all of which had come since Aug. 9. He collected his first four-hit game of the year Aug. 10 as the team began its six-game winning streak with a 7-5 victory over Lancaster. The just-turned 22-year-old was a second-round pick in 2005. Mount moved into the leadoff spot recently, replacing CF Peter Bourjos, who dropped from leadoff to seventh since his bat cooled off a bit, batting just .185 in August after having been the league's leading hitter for awhile.

San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Giants were 5-2 on the week and allowed the opposition more than three runs just once in that span to remain atop the second-half North standings at 33-22, a 3.5-game lead. They have already won the first-half title in that division, so they have clinched a bye to the division semifinals, where they will have home-field advantage.

WHO'S HOT? RHP Kevin Pucetas ran his record to 10-0 this season and lowered his ERA to 2.47 with six innings of two-hit ball, striking out seven, in a 3-1 win against Visalia on Aug. 12. He now leads the league in ERA. ... LHP Jesse English tossed five innings of three-hit ball to pace the staff in a 2-0 win against Lake Elsinore on Aug. 10, the Giants' league-leading 11th shutout of the year. It was English's 12th win on the season. ... RHP Daniel Otero notched his 12th save with San Jose on Aug. 16 which was also his 30th save on the season adding in his Augusta numbers, tying him for second in the Minors in that category. ... DH Andy D'Alessio had two homers in the team's 5-2 win against Stockton Aug. 14.

MADAY ANSWERS MAYDAY CALL: With P Henry Sosa hurt and sent down to Class A Augusta to rehab, the Giants received RHP Daryl Maday from Double-A Connecticut to take Sosa's spot in the rotation. He responded in typical San Jose Giants-pitcher form with six innings of one-run ball in a 5-2 win against Stockton on Aug. 14, striking out eight. Maday had started the year at Augusta and posted a 9-4 record and 1.55 ERA before moving up to Connecticut in late July, with five of his last eight games with the GreenJackets shutout outings. He struggled with the skip up two levels, but clearly has regained his composure joining the San Jose rotation right before playoff time.

TAN TIME: Aussie LHP Clayton Tanner won two games on the week, allowing one hit in 6 2/3 innings and striking out six in a 4-1 win against Visalia on Aug. 11, then giving up two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings to beat Stockton, 6-4, on Aug. 16. He'd allowed two or fewer earned runs in his last six starts.

Stockton Ports (Oakland Athletics)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: At 4-3 on the week, Stockton remained in third place in the second-half North race at 26-28, 6.5 games out, but strengthened its hold in the Wild Card/seeding race at the same time. At 68-56 overall, the Ports extended their lead over Modesto to five games. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, Stockton would have the No. 2 seed in the North Division quarterfinals and face the No. 3-seeded Nuts.

WHO'S HOT? C Josh Donaldson continued to scorch the ball since arriving from the Cubs on July 10, hitting .378. He had a two-hit game with a homer in a 7-6 win against Visalia on Aug. 10 and added three hits, including two doubles, and four RBIs in a 9-4 win against Bakersfield on Aug. 13. ... OF Archie Gilbert had two hits and two steals in the 9-4 win against the Blaze. ... 2B/3B Frank Martinez's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth scored Gilbert with the winning run in the team's 7-6 win against Visalia on Aug. 10.

CARTER WATCH: The Christopher Carter watch continued as the 21-year-old third baseman homered for the fourth game in a row Aug. 10, a two-run shot in the first inning. He added another long ball on Aug. 14, his 35th of the season. He was ranked third in the Minors in homers and tied for fourth with 98 RBIs, to go with a .583 slugging percentage.

BROWN'S ODD AUGUST: CF Corey Brown, the Athletics' first-round pick in 2007, was also on fire for the Ports. The Oklahoma State product joined the club in July from Class A Kane County. Since Aug. 1, Brown had been hitting .323 with seven homers, going deep Aug. 3, 7, 9, 11 and 13 (as well as a pair Aug. 2).

Visalia Oaks (Arizona Diamondbacks)
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Oaks were 4-3 during a streaky week that saw them lose their first three games before winning the next four to head into the next week with the best winning skein in the league. They finished the span with a sweep of struggling High Desert. At 24-30, they were in fourth place in the North and 8.5 games out, while holding down a distant third place in the Wild Card/seeding race at 58-66, 10 games out of first and five games out of second. If the season ended after games of Aug. 16, Visalia would be out of contention for postseason play.

WHO'S HOT? OF Gregory Thomson homered off San Jose ace Kevin Pucetas on Aug. 12 in a 3-1 loss to the Giants, but that was one of just two hits the team could muster off last year's Minor League ERA leader. ... 1B Michael Mee was 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs in one of his first games after coming up from Class A South Bend on Aug. 13. ... RHP Wes Roemer tossed seven innings of four-hit shutout ball, fanning six, in a 9-0 win against High Desert on Aug. 14. ... OF Evan Frey had four hits and scored three runs in the team's 10-2 win against High Desert on Aug. 15, while SS Pedro Ciriaco homered and drove in three and C Ed Easley added a dinger in that game.

BECK AND CALL: RHP Chad Beck snapped the Oaks' four-game losing streak with 8 1/3 innings in which he allowed just one run, fanning eight, to beat San Jose 3-1 on Aug. 13. Beck has been making "new ace" noises, having allowed just three earned runs over his last three starts, striking out 27 and walking three in 21 innings. After posting a 1.65 ERA in relief for the Oaks to open the season, Beck allowed four earned runs in his first 20 innings as a starter before struggling with 25 earned runs in his next 21 innings.

BUCK, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: Visalia received RHP Dallas Buck from Class A South Bend for exactly one start before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the deal for OF Adam Dunn. In his lone start Aug. 7, he tossed five innings without allowing an earned run.

WHAT A ONE-HITTER: Four Oaks pitchers combined to limit High Desert to one hit in a 10-2 victory Aug. 15. Starter Bryan Augenstein, returning to the mound after being on the DL since mid-July, tossed three no-hit, shutout innings on a pitch limit. Jorge Perez came on and allowed two runs on one hit in his three frames. Scott Maine got the win with two hitless innings and closer Kyler Newby finished it off with one hitless frame.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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